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Lovejoys

January, 2000

By Bobby Bush

Lovejoys Taproom Brewery is one of those brewpubs, like the now-defunct Bardo’s of Arlington, Virginia, that defies categorization while providing plenty of descriptive fodder. A hand-painted “Last Supper” adorns one wall of this Austin brewpub, but it’s a bit unusual. Jesus wears a cowboy hat and his disciples are drinking, what else, Texas-made beer. The juke box segues from Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen. I later played a little Zappa to even things out. Small with two pool tables and two short bars, separated by maybe 20 feet of floorspace, dank and dingy, Lovejoys is frugal when it comes to ambiance, yet inventing when it comes to beer

Lovejoys opened on Neches Street, just off the famous music/party strip known as Sixth Street in Austin, back in 1994 as a multi-tap beer bar. They added a brewery- or so the story goes because it is not visible from either bar- in 1997 and pour five of their own beers at the right hand bar. Twenty-eight micros and imports (Guinness, Bass, Anchor Special Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration, etc.) are available just a stumble and skip away at the other. A glass-fronted refrigerator also holds a variety of beers.

The helpful bartender, coaxed by several locals at the bar beside us, explained that a sampler tray was not really available. He offered a taste of anything we wanted to try instead. So, of course, we tried all the house beers. Dim Wit was a Belgian style white beer, not too estery or overbearing in coriander flavor. It actually was nice for a style that I’m not very fond of. Dennis Hopper IPA, Lovejoys’ best seller, glowed cloudy brownish-gold and boasted plenty of hops ebullience, while Sparky’s Special Ale, a brown, was appropriately malty. Sampson’s Pale Ale, served only cask conditioned, was nicely bittered through and through, a daunting American pale. Aged in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels, which provides a demonstrative tartness and mellow mouthfeel, a keg of Old Vixen had been brought up from the beer cellar for the A2K celebration. At 9% abv, this strong ale was close- in color, flavor and strength -to a barleywine. Expeditious finish and near aftertaste-less effect made Old Vixen an enjoyable drink, though one that quickly resulted in an ambush on brain cells and sobriety.

No frills, unless you count toilet paper and electricity. An iconoclastic bar-turned-brewpub, there are no pretenses or ulterior motives: Lovejoys is just about beer and all the fun that goes with it.

Except for a return trip to North By Northwest for lunch the next morning, Lovejoys was our final stop in Austin. We managed to spend quality time in five of the city’s six brewpubs and sample other Texas brews at two multi-tap beer bars. Throw in a wide variety of live music in a multitude of bars and clubs and the hospitable south Texas climate and you’ll see why Austin in one of the nation’s best beer party towns.

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

© Bobby Bush

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