Austin Rock and Roll Barbeque and Beer Rodeo

by | Feb 11, 2024 | Beer, Food, Travel

Does Texas barbeque live up to the hype? How about their craft brews? We rounded up our posse and headed down to Austin to find out.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer

Why Austin?

My brother from another mother, Jeff, turned 60. To celebrate this milestone birthday, we flew to Austin, Texas, for barbeque, music, and beers. Why Austin, you ask?

To be honest, Jeff probably thought Hawaii would be a great 60th birthday trip, but with only one week of vacation to work and two days lost to travel (back and forth), that put the kibosh on that tropical excursion. As we were pondering a one-week getaway, I remembered our good friend, barbeque aficionado, and one hell of a pitmaster, Stephen Roginson. You may know Stephen as the awesome dude behind Batch Brewing in Detroit.

Stephen had posted some photos from his journey down to Texas in search of barbeque. I’d heard good things about Austin as a waypost for music, barbeque, and beer. It sounded like a perfect way to celebrate my brother’s birthday with some of the things he loves – craft beer, music, and good food.

That said, when I offered the suggestion, I was unsure how keen he was on Texas. However, we noticed that the week we were planning to go happened to be the first weekend of the Austin City Limits festival with the Foo Fighters. Now, with beer, barbeque, and the Foo Fighters, we had a deal. With plane tickets purchased and a snappy little Airbnb secured, we were off to Austin.

Foo Fighters-17

Meet Chad

It was something like 8 million degrees when we landed in Austin. We headed over to pick up our rental car from Dollar Rental. It took the usual ridiculously longer than it should have given I’d already provided all my details online, such as my credit card and driver’s license. We headed out to a small Chevy SUV, which looked nice enough for our low-dough rental. Sadly, we had no sound when plugging in my phone for navigation. Much fiddling, swapping of cords, and significant frustration determined that the sound system was not happening. Knowing that I’d be super bummed trying to navigate without the voice queues, Brenda suggested seeing if we could get a different car.

After another seemingly long wait, I got the keys to a new car–actually, not that new and not the same. It was a little black Nissan Kick. I was a little skeptical of this car, but it came through. We named it Chad. Apparently, Chad was an SUV. Yes, Nissan calls it a subcompact SUV, which has to be an oxymoron. Chad performed like a champ in the mostly stop-and-sometimes-go traffic in Austin. While our luggage barely fit, we were comfortable, the navigation worked great, and Chad was a breeze to parallel park.

Chad also came in handy when I realized I still had the keys to the original rental car in my pocket when we left the airport and drove downtown to Franklin’s. The line at Franklin’s was 8 million miles long, so we dropped Jeff and Angie off in line while Brenda and I zipped back to the airport. Not knowing how to get to the rental counter without going through the rental lot, I slid Chad into a little nook, and Brenda ran out. Sadly, I was nowhere near the rental counter, which meant Brenda had more than a few extra steps for the day. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer

Texas Barbeque

Franklin Barbeque

We arrived at Franklin Barbeque (900 E 11th St, Austin) around 1 pm after the unplanned return to the airport. The line was long. I estimated it at 8 million miles. Did I mention it was hot? The friendly team at Franklin’s came outside to give updates. Shouts of “running low on ribs!” or “low on sausage” caused several nervous glances between us. Thankfully, the line moved quickly, and we could order all the meat we wanted and a couple of cold beverages. 

Not knowing how much to get, we ordered a half pound of brisket, pulled pork, and turkey. All of them were fantastic, but the rub on the brisket was otherworldly. Tender and moist, the brisket practically melted in your mouth. Jeff and Angie had basically the same thing, although Jeff added some ribs that were out of this world tender and delicious. Clearly, this food was going to be tough to top.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Franklin's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Franklin's

Valentina’s Tex Mex

Our next day in Austin was another hot one, with temperatures rising just over 100 degrees. We headed to Buda, TX, for barbeque at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ (308 S Main St, Buda). This place is huge, and the line was short, so there was no waiting outside in the sun.

Instead of one giant tray of meat, we switched it up at Valentina’s. Brenda ordered the El Rey sandwich with a pile of brisket with pickles and BBQ sauce. Meanwhile, I stuck to the slabs of meat consisting of brisket, pulled chicken, and pulled pork. I added a side of beans for good measure. Everything was tasty. The Tex-Mex seasoning on the brisket was savory but a bit dry. The pulled chicken with bold seasoning was the winner. Jeff tried the ribs and reported they were a tad tough.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Valentina's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Valentina's

Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ

Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ (1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin) was within walking distance of our fun and funky Airbnb. We strolled over just before they opened and were treated to first-in-line dibs. I’m still trying to figure out why or how we were first, as the food at Micklethwait is fantastic. As you can probably guess, we ordered a mountain of meat, including brisket and sausage. The brisket was phenomenal. We all were torn between Micklethwait and Franklin’s. I thought Micklethwait was slightly less salty and better tasting, whereas Jeff favored Franklin by a nose.

One thing that sets Micklethwait apart is their sides. The potato salad was very nice (with a dash more salt added), and the beet salad was excellent. Another is the overall ambiance at Micklethwait. You felt like you were in a park. Perhaps the wonderfully shaded beer garden is the reason, thanks to Saddle Up Austin, who shared the lot with Micklethwait. Great beers and fantastic food are hard to beat.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Micklethwait
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Micklethwait

Leroy and Lewis Barbeque

Before heading out to broil in the heat on the first day of the Austin City Limits festival, we dropped into Leroy and Lewis Barbeque (121 Pickle Rd, Austin) to fill the tank. Like Micklethwait, Leroy and Lewis is situated in a beer garden/park setting with picnic tables and shade trees. Tasty beers are served at Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden.

We weren’t quite first in line, but damn close. Brenda and I combined forces for two trays of meat. I went with brisket and beef check while Brenda tried the Citra hop pork sausage and barbacoa. The brisket was savory and delicious. However, the shining star on the plate was the pork sausage. I’m not sure how much the hops added to the overall taste, but this was one of the best sausages I’ve ever had. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Leroy and Lewis
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Leroy and Lewis

Snow’s BBQ

Snow’s BBQ (516 Main St, Lexington) is legendary. We first heard about Snow’s and their pitmaster, Miss Tootsie, on Chef’s Table BBQ (Netflix). Snow’s came up again when our friend and superb pitmaster Stephen Roginson from Batch Brewing shared posts on social media about visiting this mecca of barbeque. These two events forged a mental note that if we ever went to Texas, we had to visit Snow’s.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

We were in Texas, so I planned to get to Snow’s. The journey is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, it isn’t that bad. You just have to get up way too early, bring a chair, and settle in. Snow’s is only open on Saturdays, and they start serving food at 8 am until 12 noon (or they run out).

The Journey

When mentioning our intentions to go to Snow’s, Stephen told us to arrive early – like no later than 5 am early. The weather had shifted the night before from highs near 100 to highs of 70. That morning, it was pretty chilly with a strong wind blowing when we loaded up Chad the Car with some camp chairs (thank you, Airbnb) and set off at 4 am from Austin. The hour drive was quiet with a trickle of traffic. For a moment, as we rolled into Lexington approaching Snow’s, I thought we might be one of the first folks in line. 

That fantasy vanished when I turned the corner to see cars parked along the streets. We found a place to park a short walk away. As we approached, the line became clear. At least 100 people in a queue started on the front porch and snaked around the lot. I overheard some in the front saying that the first person in line had been camping out since 10p the night before. Now that is dedication to barbeque. We took our place at the end of the line, conveniently near the smokers, and waited.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

Witnessing The Masters

I felt like we were backstage at a concert. We could see Miss Tootsie, Clay Cowgill (pitmaster), and Kerry Bexley (owner) working the pits. Miss Tootsie, who was 88 years old at the time, moved shovels full of hot coals, Clay turned briskets and pork shoulders or mopped ribs, and Kerry rolled coils of sausage in and out of smokers. We were able to witness the masters at work. They were using flavors to paint a culinary picture of delight.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

Free Beer!

As we stood in the cold wind waiting for Snow’s to open, more of their team showed up to get the store and bar open. Yes, Snow’s has a small bar that they open around 7 am and serves bloody marys and beer. My hands were freezing, but that was no reason to turn down an ice cold free beer. By this time, the sun was rising, and the friendly atmosphere started to elevate with excitement. I’m sure the free drinks didn’t hurt.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

Shortly before the bar opened, Kerry Bexley walked down the line, giving everyone a number. That number would later be drawn for the opportunity to jump to the front of the line or get some Snow’s swag. Sadly, we didn’t win any prizes, but it was fun to see some lucky winners decide if they wanted a free shirt or move up in the line.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

Come and Get It!

As dawn continued to brighten, staff carried large serving trays full of meat inside. Right at 8 am, doors opened, and the feeding frenzy began. In reality, it was a very calm affair, with the line moving gradually forward. You’d see folks emerge holding trays piled high with barbecue and sides. They’d grab a table near the pits and dig in. Miss Tootsie and Kerry were gracious enough to take photos with customers.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

The service was cafeteria style – you order up the type and amount of meat you’d like along with sides. Next thing you know, the knives are flying, and you’re handed a tray of amazing food. Given that you only live once and the probability of returning to Snow’s was low, we loaded up. We had sausage, smoked turkey, ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. To try to avoid the meat sweats, we added a potato salad and beans.

Everything was cooked to perfection. The brisket moist and wonderfully seasoned, the sausage bursting with flavor, the smoked turkey succulent, and the ribs falling off the bone. At no point was there ever a thought like, “Damn, I wish I had some sauce for this.” No sauce needed, just the fantastic flavors from the smoker and the pit masters rub.

The vibe at Snow’s is pretty special. You felt like you were part of a big community picnic, which just happened to have the most outstanding barbeque on the planet. Did I mention they also have free beer? Snow’s was an experience that I will always look back on with a smile.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Snow's

Terry Black’s Barbeque

Our final barbecue pit stop was Terry Black’s Barbeque (1003 Barton Springs Rd, Austin). After a day of checking out the Austin Riverwalk visiting with Stevie Ray Vaughan and a few breweries (more on the breweries later), it was time for another tray of meat. The space at Terry Black’s is low-key and relaxed. We were served in record time with zero wait.

We loaded up on smoked turkey, sausage, brisket and ribs. Once again, you can’t go wrong with this selection. The brisket was tender and delectable. If there was a weak point, the sausage tasted a bit fatty. The sides were solid, with decent potato salad and phenomenal green beans.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Terry Black's
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Terry Black's

Texas Barbeque Roundup

Remember how I said that the brisket at Franklin’s would be hard to beat? Remember how I also said that the sausage at Leroy and Lewis was the best I’ve ever eaten? Honestly, it was hard to pick just one after we’d tried all these places. However, I would elevate the brisket at Snow’s, a hair over Franklin’s and Snow’s again by a nose on the sausage front. In the end, we enjoyed amazing food at all of these places. The search for barbeque added a fun and unique twist to our Austin experience.

Austin Beers

I had read that Austin has a pretty cool craft beer scene. This made for another key selling point in spending a week in Austin. As with the barbeque, we tried to hit a few local breweries to see how they matched up with Michigan. Spoiler alert: the beers in Austin are great, but nothing beats Michigan beer. NOTHING!

Day-With-Jay-in-GR-2023-57

Live Oak Brewing

Have I mentioned that it is hot in Texas? Our first day in Austin was 103 degrees, with the sun blazing. We searched for beer and air conditioning after a super meal at Franklin Barbeque. We found both in plentiful supply at Live Oak Brewing.

Live Oak Brewing is just to the southeast of downtown Austin (1615 Crozier Ln, Del Valle). We found that nearly all the breweries are outside the city (except one). I’m not sure if that is some sort of strange zoning law or what. Nonetheless, we arrived at Live Oak Brewing, took a quick look at their outdoor seating area sweltering in the shade, and dashed indoors for cool comfort.

The beers at Live Oak are top-notch. I loved that they weren’t afraid to explore the clean, crisp beers with low alcohol. Not that I don’t like to pound a big beer here and there, but it is refreshing to find a lineup of beers tightly focused on providing a refreshing and great-tasting beer that isn’t going to knock you down a flight of stairs.

The Pilz (Czech pils) was tight with a bit of hop bite on the finish. The winner winner chicken dinner goes to their Grodziskie (smoked Polish beer). The subtle hint of smoke and ultra-clean finish would have been perfect with a plate of brisket or a tasty pork sausage.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Live Oak Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Live Oak Brewing

Independence Brewing

On another bright, hot mother of a day, we found our way to Independence Brewing (3913 Todd Ln #607, Austin). The inside was dim and funky, with a view into the brewing area that was both industrial and inviting. We were standing behind a woman and another fella who was talking, and she said something like, “Oh, we aren’t in line.” As I moved forward, she remarked on my camera.

I explained we were visiting Austin for barbeque, music, and beer. I also mentioned that we had a site called Life In Michigan, where we share our stories, including adventures outside of the state. I had my Village Vinyl shirt on, which perhaps sparked a conversation on music. Long story short, this woman was the owner/president of Independence Brewing, Amy Cartwright. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Independence Brewing

She mentioned that pre-COVID, Independence Brewing did a lot of shows at the brewery and supported the local music scene. She introduced me to James Gonzalez (the fella standing next to her), their operations manager and the founder of the Texas Metal Collective. As you can guess, I was in heaven talking about metal music and beer. Both Amy and James were super friendly and easy to talk with. If this place weren’t in Texas, I’d want to move next door.

Enough about meeting the owner and metal music; how is the beer? In a word, stellar. I did a flight to try out Murrin’s Märzen, Hellesious Summer (Helles), Extra Special Bros (IPA), and their flagship Native Texan (German Pils). All of them were true to form. The Mazen is malty and delicious, the Helles is bright and clean, the IPA is subtly dank, and the Native Texan is just plain refreshing.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Independence Brewing

Besides the stellar beers and heavy music friendly vibe, Independence Brewing has this kick-ass black light lounge just off to the right of the bar behind a curtain. It is a groovy space to kick back and enjoy their sensational beers.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Independence Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Independence Brewing

Meanwhile Brewing

Meanwhile, at Meanwhile Brewing (3901 Promontory Point Dr, Austin), the weather was reasonable, if not coolish, making for a fine day to enjoy their massive beer garden. I’m serious; the taproom is decent-sized, but the beer garden is huge. It is like a metropark. The only bummer, and I know I’ll catch flack for this, was kids. Lots of kids–Kids running around screaming, uncontrolled and wild. I get that parents need to be able to have some time and chill, but damn, I don’t want to hang out with their kids. We even tried moving, and the kids kept coming.

The beers at Meanwhile are spectacular. I had their Oktoberfest, which was superb. It was a very refreshing, well-balanced, and delicious beer. Now, if I could have enjoyed that beer without 50,000 kids running around like a herd of pronghorn antelope running from a mountain lion, I might have had a great time at Meanwhile.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Meanwhile Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Meanwhile Brewing

Oasis Texas Brewing

With the monster heat giving way to overnight storms and a somewhat wet and rainy day to follow, we saddled up Chad the Car and headed out to Oasis Texas Brewing (6650 Comanche Trail Suite #301, Austin). While their address may say Austin, the brewery is a good 50-minute drive to the west. It is part of The Oasis On Lake Travis, a big dining and event space with spectacular views of Lake Travis (a reservoir in the Colorado River).

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Oasis Texas Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Oasis Texas Brewing

After wandering around the Oasis and into a couple of shops, we went upstairs to the brewery. They have a huge taproom with plenty of seats and access to the giant deck overlooking the lake. Sadly, the weather wasn’t the greatest for viewing the lake, but the deck was just fine for relaxing with a beer.

I grabbed an Oktoberfest and enjoyed some quiet time on the deck. The beer was good, but not quite as much body as the beers at St. Elmo or Independence. However, our friends Jeff and Angie found the SMASH IPA very nice.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Oasis Texas Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Oasis Texas Brewing

Zilker Brewing Co.

For an easy, breezy afternoon, head over to Zilker Brewing Co.(1701 E 6th St, Austin). Zilker was our last beer stop and the closest to downtown and our Airbnb. As you walk up, a vintage-looking neon sign sits in the middle of an outdoor beer garden at the front. Inside, you are greeted with walls full of quirky artwork. The taproom is stripped down and comfortable, exuding that laid-back vibe. 

The beers at Zilker are on point. I gave their Parks & Rec pale ale a go. It was a marvelous bright beer with a hint of citrus on the nose and a dry finish. If beer isn’t your thing, Zilker also has cider and wine. We enjoyed our beverages outdoors in near perfect weather. If I were to head back to Austin, I would definitely stop in for a beer or three here.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Zilker Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Zilker Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Zilker Brewing

Austin Beerworks

You’ll find Austin Beerworks about 10 miles north of downtown (3001 Industrial Terrace, Austin) in a somewhat industrial / warehouse area. In fact, when you walk in, you feel like you are entering a big warehouse full of beer. There are plenty of picnic tables inside and out. The covered beer garden is pet-friendly and welcoming.

Austin Beerworks had 26 beers, plus cider, wine, and wine-based cocktails, on tap. Since I had been on a light beer kick, I switched it up with their Black Thunder, a black lager, or Schwarzbier. Evidently, this tasty devil won gold at the Great American Beer Fest (GABF) in 2013. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin Beerworks
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin Beerworks

St. Elmo Brewing Co.

On our way back from Independence Brewing, we popped into St Elmo Brewing Co. It is in a funky warehouse location (440 E St Elmo Rd G-2, Austin) but relatively easy to find. We walked in, and the place was hopping. The taproom was packed with communal tables. The crowd was trending younger, but we found some friendly folks to sit with.

The beers here are top-notch, with a nice distribution of beer styles. Adding to the entertainment value, many of the beers sport names such as “Terry,” “Bruce,” “Gary,” and “Carl.” I was on an Oktoberfest kick and went for a pint of Schlagen. It’s a fine, balanced beer with a malty finish, as you’d hope and expect.

Overall, it is a cool space to hang out and enjoy a cold one. They also have a big screen, which would make this a good spot to enjoy a game with a brew or two.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - St. Elmo Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - St. Elmo Brewing
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - St. Elmo Brewing

The Music

If you search for cities known for music, Austin typically ranks up there in the top five. The city hit my radar many, many, many years ago when Stevie Ray Vaughan entered my world. I watched with slack-jawed amazement when he played Austin City Limits. While our visit was centered around barbeque and beer, we did plan to mix in music. Obviously, we would get a huge dose by attending the Austin City Limits festival. However, I hoped we would see the real scene at some legendary clubs. I’m sad to say we didn’t quite hit the mark on the local scene. With just a week and Austin City Limits taking 3 of those days, we couldn’t quite fit it in. That said, we did find a way to visit one.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer

Continental Club

One of the legendary clubs in Austin is the Continental Club. I associate this place with Stevie Ray Vaughan, a regular here before he hit the big time. I didn’t realize until we stopped in that Junior Brown was also a fixture here. Hell, a laundry list of legends has played this stage. If you want to go deep, check out this detailed history by Michael Corcoran and this story by Christopher Reynolds for the LA Times.

We arrived with Chad the Car finding a most excellent spot just a block away. Being old, we opted to hit the Continental Club early. We may have been the second or third folks to walk in. The inside of the Continental is classic, dark, and well-worn. The walls are covered with old photos and funky artwork with a pool table in the back. With a classy red curtain at the back, the stage faces toward the front door.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club

We ordered a Lone Star (aka Texas Budweiser) before snagging a few seats near the stage. It was a Thursday night, and Casper Rawls opened things up for the headliner at 10:30 pm. Casper was joined by Harmoni Kelley (bass), Floyd Domino (keys), and Chris Searles (drums). Each of these players is top-notch, and they put on a hell of a performance. The theme was mainly country, but that didn’t keep them from jumping into a bit of rockabilly or hint at the blues. 

By the time the sun went down, the bar was full, and folks were cutting a rug out on the dance floor. Listening to the band and enjoying a brew, I couldn’t help but daydream of Stevie Ray on that same stage. Years ago, he’d been the local guy jamming at the Continental. Goes to show you that those local bands could one day be up on the big stage, so enjoy them up close and personal while you can.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Continental Club

Austin City Limits Festival

I won’t lie; I was oblivious to 95% of the musical acts booked to play the first weekend of the Austin City Limits Festival. The main appeal for me was to see the Foo Fighters again. There were a few other acts, such as Alanis Morissette, Teskey Brothers, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, but otherwise, this festival was definitely not on my radar and not in my wheelhouse. And just like that, I found more than I bargained for.

Day 1 of ACL

After a delicious lunch at Leroy and Lewis, we went downtown to catch the shuttle bus for the first Friday show at the Austin City Limits Festival. The organization of this festival is top-notch. All the information on how to get into the festival and what to expect was accurate. As it was earlier in the day, it was no problem getting on the shuttle. After a short and comfortable ride, we walked what felt like half a mile to the entrance.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Have I mentioned that it gets HOT in Austin? It was high noon when we made it to the festival grounds, and let me tell you, it was sizzling. Wherever there was shade, a pile of people were squeezing into it. So much so that I started to wonder why these folks paid all this money to sit a mile and a half from the stage in a splinter of shade. Don’t get me wrong, the sound was good from a distance, but something about spending the whole day searching for shade doesn’t add up. I’ve got more to say, but let’s continue.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Country and Soul

The music on Friday was great. Weaving our way through the crowd, we started our day with Asleep At The Wheel playing a hell of a set of country swing (Hot takes: “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Miles and Miles of Texas”). We then wandered over to check out The Altons with their Motown meets retro-rock vibe. They played a short set that was very entertaining (hot take: “In The Meantime”). Back across the festival grounds, we trundled to catch a portion of Thee Sacred Souls, with lead vocalist Josh Lane making his way out into the crowd. They definitely amped up the audience, evoking that classic soul and R&B sound that worked so well for artists such as Otis Redding and Al Green. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Speaking of soulful R&B, we couldn’t get as close to the stage as we would have liked but still had a good view and great sound from The Teskey Brothers. I had no idea they were from Australia. You could swear they are from West Grand Blvd in Detroit from, say, 1964. They played an emotive set that had the crowd mesmerized.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Bonus Tracks with Dave and Brené

We had an early morning planned for the next day, so we only stayed late enough to catch Bonus Tracks featuring Dave Grohl and Brené Brown. This one event made ACL worthwhile. The area in front of the small stage was packed with fans, yet we found ourselves not too far removed. 

Ever since seeing Dave’s movie Sound City, I’ve always thought it would be cool to share a beer and hang out. This wasn’t quite that intimate, but it was close. Brené played a series of clips from classic tunes such as Donna Summers’ “I Will Survive,” Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” For each song, they would riff on the qualities of the music that move us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. 

It was a real treat to get both Dave and Brené’s perspective. They made the entire session fun and insightful. For a deep dive with the Bonus Tracks session videos, check out this great story by Joni Hoffman for The Buzz Magazines.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Day 2 of ACL

Our morning started very early with Snow’s BBQ experience. The cold front that came through overnight had made standing in the sun doable for another day at the Austin City Limits Festival. We arrived mid-afternoon and paid an ungodly amount of money for a tall boy of Independence Brewing’s Native Texan. It was great that they had craft beers at ACL, but nearly 20 bucks a beer is fucking stupid.

Kingfish and Tanya

Gold-plated beer in hand, we couldn’t find anywhere to really see Christone “Kingfish” Ingram except a slice of space near the VIP entrance. It didn’t really matter as the sound was great. Man, that guy can jam. I made a mental note to get to one of his gigs in the future.

It was amazing how many young kids crammed close to the stage for Tanya Tucker. If you can, check out the documentary she did with Brandi Carlile, The Return of Tanya Tucker. Watching that ahead of the show provided a greater awareness of her impact on country music. Her set was fun, with plenty of folks singing along. The only bummer was a couple of dickheads that decided to barge in front and block our view. This nearly turned into a fight as one guy about my age got riled up and was about to kick this kid’s ass. His wife pulled him away, and the punk was spared an ass-whooping.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Alanis

We braved the surging river of people making their way to the main stage. With an inlet in sight, we paddled hard to a spot that wasn’t 30 miles from the stage. Looking around, it was an ocean of people. Many had chairs strewn all over, making navigating to a spot to stand tough, but we managed. What the fuck is up with these people and their fucking chairs? Our goal was to get a good view of the Foo Fighters, and since Alanis Morissette was playing before them, we nestled in.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Alanis Morissette put on one hell of an outstanding show. She radiated a spirit of delight that reflected into the audience. By the end of the set, she was headbanging, and I was entranced. I’d been aware of her music. I mean, who hasn’t heard “You Oughta Know” and “Ironic,” but I didn’t realize how powerful those songs would be live. Catching Alanis live at ACL was undoubtedly a highlight.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

The Foos

Ah, the Foo Fighters, what a band. Seeing them at ACL was slightly bittersweet, given the loss of drummer Taylor Hawkins. I’m sure Taylor would have been stoked by the energy on this night. From the first heavy chugging notes of “All My Life” to the fist-pumping pulse of “Everlong,” the Foo Fighters touched each and every one of us in this endless sea of people. It was an electric performance that capped a fantastic day.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

ACL Final Notes

After two days of the Austin City Limits Festival us old folks had had it. The night before, after the Foo Fighters, we spent hours trying to get back to our car parked downtown. The process of getting a shuttle back was a shit show of epic proportions. On the third day of ACL, we had no artists we were keen to see except perhaps Mumford and Sons. We decided to bail out shortly after arriving and went in search of beer and food instead.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Austin City Limits Festival

Odds and Ends

Uncommon Objects

When we mentioned our trip to Austin on Facebook, our friend Janelle from Kognisjon Bryggeri suggested some places to check out. One was Uncommon Objects (1602 Fort View Rd, Austin). This is one of the best antique stores I’ve ever visited. The name of the place perfectly describes what you’ll find inside. Stacked from floor to ceiling is all this crazy stuff. There are the typical blue glass vases and an assortment of old china, but the rest was odd and wonderful.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Uncommon Objects
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Uncommon Objects
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Uncommon Objects

Drinks Records

The other suggestion Janelle shared was Drinks Records (2001 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin). I believe that records and beer are a perfect combination. When I find both under one roof, it is heaven. Drinks Records has an excellent bar that is dive bar-ish without being super grungy. Off to the side, in a separate room you’ll find a small yet wonderful selection of albums. Most are new, but a few used records are tucked in for good measure. We’d seen Alanis the day before our visit, so I picked up her greatest hits album and Return of the Space Cowboy by Jamiroquai. Instead of having to hassle with trying to get these into my carry-on bag, Drinks Records shipped them home. Bonus!

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Drink Records
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Drink Records
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Drink Records

Voodoo Donuts

In between our quests for barbeque and beer, we strolled the streets of downtown Austin. We sauntered by the capitol and made a pilgrimage to see Stevie Ray Vaughan’s statue by the river. During our wanderings, we happened upon a display of donuts with names such as Marshall Mathers (an M&M coated donut) and Diablos Rex (a donut with a pentagram). This strange and intriguing donut joint is called Voodoo Donuts (212 E 6th St, Austin). 

The inside of Voodoo Donuts is as unique and off-center as their donuts. It is filled with strange art and a liberal use of the color pink to match the pink boxes they use for their donuts. A rotating case near the counter displays the fried confectionary wonders. With so many delicious choices, you can’t go wrong. We opted for Diablos Rex and Dirt. Diablos Rex is a chocolate donut with chocolate frosting. The white icing is in the shape of a pentagram with red sprinkles. However, I think ours looked more like a starburst than the sign of Satan. The Dirt donut was our favorite–a big fluffy glazed donut with white icing covered in crushed Oreo cookies guaranteed to give you a gigantic sugar buzz. 

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Voodoo Donuts
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Voodoo Donuts
Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer - Voodoo Donuts

Pictures

Plenty of photos from our Austin barbeque, beer, and music adventure are in the gallery. Take a look and enjoy.

Austin Texas Barbeque and Beer

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