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Copper Tank

January, 2000

By Bobby Bush

Making the most of this Austin, Texas visit, we hit Copper Tank Brewing Company at noon on Sunday. Established in 1994, this partytime downtown brewpub has a younger sibling in Dallas and several GABF medals hanging on the wall. Sheets of copper line the booths along one side wall. Ancient brick walls and worn hardwood floors house a long snaking bar that traverses two large, dim rooms. Serving tanks are visible behind the cluttered bar.

Our sampler tray started with Copper Light, the “#1 selling brewpub beer in Texas.” As expected, it was thin with three-times the flavor of Bud Light, not something I’d make my number one. White Tail Pale Ale was better, though its taste profile was too close to that of Black Forest Pils, the next beer up. Honey Wheat was unusually hoppy for a wheat beer and left an interesting sour aftertaste. A ‘96 silver medal winner, Cliffhanger Alt was a session beer amber, working from a Belgian malt start to a bitter German hops finish. Big Dog Brown, done English style, was smooth with a warm malt approach, while Rob’s Oatmeal Stout had an even bigger malt complexity. Copper Tank also took GABF medals for two seasonal brews in 1998: gold for Mocha Madness Stout and silver with Fallfest Honey Rye.

As the Cotton Bowl cast its blurring colors on a huge projection screen, life seemed to move at half-pace, the aftermath of too much fun the night before. Following bartender Tom’s recommendation, we chased our sampler tray with an inviting brunch buffet. Head brewer Rob Cartwright stopped by to say hello before returning to his dining party. Copper Tank provided a quiet, sullenly delightful start to a brand new year. For real-time details try www.coppertank.citysearch.com.

Once again we were locked out, but not by a four o’clock opening time. The front door of The Draught Horse, a north Austin tap room-turned-brewpub, was plastered with a “closed on New Year’s Day” sign. And what a shame, because the Horse is a beer drinkers’ delight, serving their own beers and plenty of other micro and imported beers as well. Maybe another time.

We discovered another Texas capital city institution instead, but not before driving the wrong way on a one-way street to find the parking lot off 17th Street and Guadalupe. As is traditional in many UK bars, there were no stools at the bar of Dog & Duck Pub. It’s no coincidence- there’s a Dog & Duck in London as well. Just a friendly neighborhood bar with 28 taps and one hand pump- featuring Dylan’s Smooth Ale from Brain & Co. of Wales- we found a table in a mostly empty afternoon room and pints of Pyramid Snow Cap. A difficult decision, seeing the array of other wanting beers all deserving a taste, from Live Oaks Liberator, Pils and Hefeweizen to Fat Tire Amber to Fuller’s Old Time Winter Ale and Sierra Nevada Celebration. Domestic swill was available only in bottles. The menu featured UK pub grub, including the interestingly named Bubble and Squeak. We had to ask. This delicious meal consists of grilled cabbage and potatoes, the perfect beer companion (if pretzels and pizza had never been invented).

Publican Billy Forrester has created a warm, congenial atmosphere, that works as both a local bar and a beer drinker’s destination. On this afternoon, the backyard patio seemed more inviting than the stuffy indoor room. Blaring piped-in music and a boisterous crowd intent on drinking and conversation filled this small, fenced area. Birds flittered in the trees above. A sign read “No dogs allowed in the beer garden. No guns allowed in the beer garden. No folksingers allowed in the beer garden.” No dogs in a pub thusly named? Dog & Duck was awarded as one of Celebrator Beer News’ Top Tap Rooms in 1997. Find out why at www.citysearch.com/aus/dogandduckpub.

One more article in this series:Lovejoys

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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