A couple months ago, downtown Austin gained a new brewery for the first time in seven years (its only brewery, actually). There was one tiny catch, however: Central District Brewing didn't yet have beers on tap that its brewers had made.
Instead, the aptly named business featured guest options, almost exclusively, from Austin breweries that either rarely distribute or maintain a small footprint in the local market. But the beer program is about to change in a major way with the grand opening of the brewery at Red River and East Fifth streets, which will unveil the first four beers made on Central District's small on-site brewing system.
Taste the new beers at the two-day grand opening celebration on May 18-19. The all-day parties this weekend will have live music, Batch kolaches, special opening merchandise and those inaugural house beers from co-owner and master brewer Adam Duley. He has created the following: the Belgian Wit, Belgian Pale Ale, French Saison and Ultra Limited Hazy IPA.
"We wanted to launch our brewery with these four beers in particular because it showcases a variety of styles, and all have a distinct sense of place," he said, noting that in the future, the house beer program will constantly rotate and won't necessarily have core, always-on-tap options.
Here's a first look at each of the grand opening brews.
Belgian Wit: A beer made with the soon-to-arrive warmer weather in mind, this wheat ale is made Belgian-style with coriander, orange peel and Belgian yeast. Witbiers were revived after falling into obscurity in large part thanks to Austin's own Celis Brewery — the original, 1990s-era brewery with Pierre Celis at the helm — and Duley wants to honor that history with his own take on the wit.
Belgian Pale Ale: Of this light, low-ABV offering, Duley notes that "it reminds me of (a) recent trip to Antwerp," a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt where De Koninck's APA (Antwaarpse Pale Ale, but that's a mouthful) is found at practically every cafe you could wander into.
French Saison: Duley's wife Angela helps him behind the scenes at Central District, but well before their time running a brewery here, the couple used to live in France and "frequently enjoyed world-class saisons," he said, while exploring the picturesque countryside. Like the others, this straw-colored French Saison is true to style and has "rich, herbaceous aromas with plenty of stone fruit."
Ultra Limited Hazy IPA: Well, look. At this point, every brewery's got to have at least one hazy IPA on tap, right? It's also a style that Duley has come to favor, and he used the primary hops of Azacca and Simcoe to draw out the juicy, citrusy character he wanted.
Taste these during the free grand opening celebration, which runs from 11 a.m. to midnight on May 18 and noon to 8 p.m. May 19 at 417 Red River St. The brewery is one of the ground-level shops you can find in the Austin Convention Center parking garage. For more information, visit centraldistrictbrewing.com.