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At Flix Brewhouse, trifecta of eat, drink, watch

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Within the past few years, a number of cinema-eateries have opened in the Austin area, all catering to slightly different audiences and all fighting the notion that they are Alamo Drafthouse wannabes.

Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock, which opened just in time for the "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" premiere last summer, sets itself apart with the claim that it is the only first-run movie theater in the world with a microbrewery.

Of the 48 beers on tap in the bar in the theater lobby, eight are brewed in house, and another 20 or so come from area breweries including Live Oak, 512 and Twisted X. Head brewer Justin Rizza, who formerly worked at Independence Brewing in Austin, makes four beers that are available year-round - an easy-drinking Golden Ale, 10-Day Scottish Ale, Satellite Belgian Red and a hoppy Lupulus IPA - and a seasonal beer such as the Blood Orange Wit on tap now that rotates out every few months. Rizza has a barrel full of sour ale that will ferment for about a year before it's ready to serve as one of these seasonal offerings. (Between the restaurant and the movie theater, they have 75 beers to choose from, which by their count, is the third-largest selection in Central Texas.)

One of the in-house beers is the product of a home brew contest that Flix hosts every few months with the local homebrew guilds. Flix asks homebrewers to create a beer within a certain style, such as a stout or saison, and the winner gets to brew with Rizza at the Flix production facility to make a batch that customers can buy. The winner also picks a charity to receive a portion of the proceeds.

In recent months, home brewers with the Round Rock Homebrewers Guild and the Texas Carboys have created a Texas Pecan Brown Ale and a Black Gold Russian Imperial Stout. The winner of the most recent contest was Corey Martin, a member of the Austin Zealots who was one of the winners of last year's Samuel Adams' home brewer contest. (That winning beer - a Munich Dunkel called A Dark Night in Munich - will be nationally distributed in the Sam Adams Longshot variety pack in the next few weeks.) Martin's Saison de Belgium will be featured at Flix through the end of the month. Next month's brew will be a Belgian triple.

They aren't just serious about making and offering good beer; the management team wants to make sure the staff is knowledgeable about what they are serving. Every month, the servers and bar staff go on a field trip to one of the local breweries to meet the brewers and find out about how the beers are made.

A few other details make Flix stand out: They offer priority seating based on when you buy the ticket - this is often referred to as Southwest Airline-style seating, and Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League recently said he's considering this method of seating for his Austin-area theaters - and the tables in the theater slide out so you don't have to lean forward to eat. The servers take orders on a hand-held device that sends the order straight to the kitchen, and if you want to order something in the middle of the show, you push a button that electronically notifies the staff.

Except on holidays, which are traditionally big movie-going days, Flix offers mostly late afternoon and evening shows during the week and full days of shows on the weekends. During the summer months, general manager Justin Richardson said, they'll expand the schedule to offer more morning and mid-day shows during the week.

Chef Scott Reed, who graduated from the Texas Culinary Academy before it became the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, is in charge of the kitchens at both Flix and HomeField Grill, which opened a year before Flix just a few doors down in the same shopping center. Both establishments are owned by the same company, but each has a different menu catered to the audience, said Walt Powell, vice president of operations for both facilities.

At Flix, the dishes have to be easy enough to eat in the dark, even if you're wearing 3D glasses, Powell said, and they also have to be quick to make. With six theaters and more than 800 seats, the kitchen has to handle hundreds of orders that might all come in at the same time. Reed recently revamped the menu, which focuses primarily on sandwiches and pizzas made with from-scratch dough, to add dishes such as toasted edamame, carnitas tacos and a few more vegetarian options.

You don't have to buy a ticket to see a movie in order to eat or drink in the spacious Flix lobby. Richardson said they are starting a series of brewer and winemaker dinners where guests will focus on the food and beverages instead of what's showing on one of the screens inside the theater. (To find out about upcoming events, check out the website, flixbrewhouse.com.)

They are also playing around with similar "creative programming" to connect food and film. When "The Lorax" premieres on March 2, they are hosting a daylong birthday celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss, complete with cake, party hats and a special menu complete with green eggs and ham.

abroyles@statesman.com; 912-2504

Get your beer, movie fix all across town

Flix Brewhouse isn't the only place in the area where you can enjoy an adult beverage at the movies. Here's a look at a few other theaters where you can watch the latest art flick or summer blockbuster with a frosty drink in hand.

- Emma Janzen

The Alamo Drafthouse

The Alamo Drafthouse locations are an obvious pick for drinking in the flickering shadows of the cinema. Alamo Lake Creek is the best for beer, with 40 choices on tap (11 of which are local) and a variety of bottled brews available, which you can order individually or by the bucket (6 bottles to a bucket).

If wine is more to your liking, all locations offer red, white or sparkling wines, including both wines in the Alamo's new signature series "The Bottle of Wits." And make sure you don't overlook the (512) Pecan Porter or Guinness Shakes, if you prefer your buzz with dessert.

Alamo Ritz, and the upcoming Slaughter theater have a further edge over other Alamo locations - both have a full bar and specialty cocktails designed by beverage director Bill Norris, in addition to the beer and wine selections.

Violet Crown Cinema

Though you can't order from the comfort of your seat as you can at the Alamo, the Violet Crown Cinema has a cozy cocktail lounge with a full menu of craft cocktails, 10 beers on draught (a handful in bottles and cans) and a selection of reasonably priced wines by the glass or bottle. Any adult beverage can be taken into the theater for the screening.

Blue Starlite Drive-In

If you're in a vintage mood, and feel like hitting up the drive-in, Blue Starlite allows you to bring your own beverages to enjoy in the pedestrian seating area. If you rent out the space for private parties, you can bring an entire bar set-up.

Flix Brewhouse