austin grab bag – goats, the ABGB, Leighelena and snack bar.
After I left (512) Brewing, I took the bus back to the Airstream to find this:
Goats fighting over cabbage.
Pumpkin and Pecan, goats that were procured from Craiglist for free by my host, were digging into the box of greens for the bulk of the afternoon.
I watched as they fought over kale and chard, only wanting the leaf that the other was already chomping on. Adorable.
As if that wasn’t going to make for a perfect day, I biked over to the Austin Beer Garden Brewery (ABGB, for short) to meet Caroline for a quick lunch.
The ABGB, which opened in August of 2013, was founded by Brian Peters and Amos Lowe, two guys who are very experienced in the brewpub area. They came from Uncle Billy’s, a very popular South Austin brewpub featuring barbecue.
The ABGB features pizza instead, along with a line-up of about 10 beers on draft. Roughly half of these beers are year-round and the others are rotating.
Their regular beers include two lagers and three ales including the Hell Yes Helles, and Day Trip Pale Ale. The rotating lines push the styles a bit more.
Offerings for early February (credit: ABGB site)
I tried the American ESB (a style that I find somewhat confusing) along with a slice of pizza and a salad. I found the beer enjoyable but it was essentially a malty pale ale; the English aspect of the Extra Special Bitter style was lost.
I loved the airplane-hangar like space and I would enjoy seeing this place when busy. I can imagine the industrial proportions becoming unbelievably cozy and warm, especially during happy hour or a live show.
The backdrop for the stage is fermenters — how cool!
I would recommend a visit to the ABGB, especially for live music or to enjoy the patio. They have ample bike racks, very affordable food, and helpful staff.
The rest of my final solo day was spent doing a bit more strolling down South Congress for an event called First Thursdays. On the first Thursday of each month, many shops along Congress stay open until as late as 10pm and many feature wine, cocktails, beer, or snacks.
I did a bit of research since it was chilly and I wanted to have some idea of who would be open. My first stop was one of the serendipitous highlights of my trip. I visited Leighelena Jewelry and discovered incredibly unique jewelry and a brilliant shopkeeper named Cameron.
The shop is easy to overlook, and little did I know that the place has been featured in Real Simple, Lucky, Redbook, and O Magazine, among others.
The flagship of Leighelena is their handmade jewelry, much of which is made from exotic animal hides – but not in the form that that sentence brings to mind.
Now I’m definitely not one to sport much animal print or generally support the use of living things for fashion, but not only are the animals responsibly sourced, the hides, skins, or scales are hand-dyed, transforming them into something totally unique!
Cameron was a delight. She patiently watched as I dismantled several pyramids of bracelets in order to find two perfect ones. She offered me my first ever Lone Star beer while we bemoaned the fact that our…uh, muscular calves…make it hard to find cowboy boots.
The Lone Star was terrible and awesome. I was so glad that I stopped in and made it out with some irreplaceable finds. Don’t skip Leighelena if you visit Austin. There are three locations – two in Austin and one in San Antonio – but several stores nationwide carry their products.
It was time for food on my First Thursday adventure. I took the recommendation of my host and hit up Snack Bar, a comfortably upscale restaurant with fireplaces and a 70’s retro design theme.
Again, I had no problem making friends. Minnesotans may be nice, but Austinites are not far off.
My server, Kamron, walked me through the tap list and I decided to try some local cider from Austin Eastciders. It was their Gold Top made with “vintage Bittersweet and Bittersharp apples” and had an intense and refreshing character.
Austin Eastciders is interested in producing pre-prohibition style cider using traditional apples. Their approach and product is quite similar to Minneapolis’ Sociable Cider Werks.
My bar neighbor, Kash, chatted with me about his go-to Austin beer, Real Ale’s Devil’s Backbone. Austin’s beloved go-to trippel is 8.2% ABV and will hit you hard.
The menu was generally very tempting, but I opted for the soup of the day and elote-style corn.
The purple cauliflower soup was supremely creamy and warm, perfect in my state of chill. In contrast, the corn was bright and spicy, featuring chili powder and Oaxaca cheese.
I was then talked into dessert by Kamron (he’s originally from Idaho, by the way, the man knows potatoes), who recommended the sweet potato pudding, something I had never had before. This was the piece de resistance: barely sweet with a topping of crunchy pecans and an intriguing hit of rosemary.
Goats, beer, artisan jewelry, cider, and sweet potato pudding. It was a fantastic day.
In the next few days stop by and read about Austin’s Hops & Grain Brewing, a very short trip to Austin Beerworks, an architectural tour, and more!
To be clear, I was in no way compensated by any of the people or places mentioned here (and I never am) — strictly opinions and praise of my own volition. Cheers!