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