Uncle Billy's Brewery & Smokehouse is now closed in South Austin, but the brand isn't gone for good. Booze-lovers will be happy with what's taking its place on Barton Springs Road, too: popular local cider brand Austin Eastciders.
An Uncle Billy's production facility is in the works in Dripping Springs, but it won't be a replica of the former brewery. According to a statement released Monday morning, Uncle Billy's plans to continue producing its relatively new line of canned cocktails and spirits but will no longer brew beer. The Dripping Springs facility will have a tasting room and a food truck featuring some of the popular barbecue dishes from the old restaurant.
"The management and staff thank the customers for an incredible 13 years relaxing on the patio, listening to live music, and enjoying award-winning craft beers, distilled spirits, hand-crafted cocktails" and slow-smoked Texas barbecue, according to the statement by managing partner Bob Leggett.
Under Leggett's ownership, Uncle Billy's introduced a small line of spirits in early 2018 and a trio of ready-to-drink cocktails that fall. The ready-to-drink market has shown explosive growth (White Claw, anyone?) and has been a boon for the Uncle Billy's brand, which suffered earlier this year when contract brewing partner Celis Brewery filed for bankruptcy.
Uncle Billy's had relied on Celis' massive production facility to make the canned beers that were sold in local retailers and elsewhere in the marketplace until this year. Celis filed for bankruptcy in July, avoiding certain foreclosure, but had not brewed Uncle Billy's and other contract brands for several months before then. Uncle Billy's canned beers had been a big source of revenue.
In the former Uncle Billy's space in South Austin at 1530 Barton Springs Road, Austin Eastciders will open a second local tasting room.
"We don't have any details to share yet, but we're super excited to create a new Eastciders experience and become a part of the wonderful community of Zilker and Barton Springs Road," Dave Rule, vice president of marketing at Eastciders, said in a statement.
Eastciders — which recently surpassed Angry Orchard to become the No. 1 cider in Texas grocery stores — currently has a tasting room called the Collaboratory at 979 Springdale Road that will remain open.
Dallas' Bishop Cider announced this summer that it had taken over the former Joe's Crab Shack site at 600 E. Riverside Drive and will open a cider tasting room and arcade bar concept there sometime toward the end of this year. The two cideries will be within a 10-minute drive of each other.