Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hoppy Birthday, Uncle Billy's!

In honor of Uncle Billy's 2nd Anniversary, here's my review of the Austin BBQ/Microbrewery from, where you can dig dozens, no, make that hundreds of my write-ups.

Uncle Billy's Brew & Que offers two of my favorite things under one roof: Texas barbecue and craft-brewed beer. That in itself would almost be enough to ensure a good review, but I am happy to say that Uncle Billy's delivers the goods beer-wise as well as with their tasty barbecued meats.

Brewmaster Brian Peters used to do his thing at the Bitter End, the Austin brewpub that was much beloved but unfortunately shut down after a fire in 2005. He was also a founder of Live Oak Brewing Company. He was brought in to revamp Uncle Billy's brewing operation in 2007, and since then he has brought things to another level.

Among his creations featured as regular taps are:

Organic Amber: A smooth amber ale brewed with organic barley, malty with mellow hoppiness; very nice indeed.

Axe Handle Pale Ale: My favorite of the full-time offerings at Uncle Billy's, a dry-hopped pale ale with a kick. Well-balanced and flavorful, perfect for washing down a plate of ribs.

Back 40 Blonde Ale: The name is decidedly down-home, but this is an authentic Kolsch-style ale made with German malt and hops. Ideal for quenching your thirst on a 100-degree afternoon while relaxing on Uncle Billy's outdoor deck.

Haystack Hefenweizen: Wheat beers are not my fave, but this is an excellent example of the style, an unfiltered Bavarian-style weiss with, according to the menu, "banana and clove notes."

Uncle Billy's also features a rotating hop tap featuring their heavy-hitting IPAs and seasonal specials, and a dark and malty tap featuring delicious porters and stouts. They offer samplers (5 ales for $8, 6 for $9), as well as guest taps from other local brewers. On Tuesdays, pints are $2 all day.

If you opt for take-out, you can also enjoy Uncle Billy's microbrew in half-gallon growlers to go ($16, with subsequent refills at $10).Now, on to the barbecue. All meats are served family style, with your choice of beef brisket (lean or moist), pork ribs, chopped beef, pulled pork, sausage, and smoked chicken or turkey. May I most heartily recommend their incredible jalapeno cheese sausage, which balances the smoky, spicy, and cheesy in equal increments. Delicious.

Props for Uncle Billy's zesty sauce, which combines Southern twang and Texan pepperiness in an explosion of flavor that complements the taste of the various meats very nicely.Sides include outstanding potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, glazed carrots, mac & cheese, and potatoes french fried or mashed (sadly, they do not offer any country gravy to go with them taters). For starters, try the homemade fried pickles (awesome), or the BBQ sliders, the smoked chicken wings (served with Buffalo, spicy BBQ, or their mind-melting habanero sauces), or the chili & queso fries.There's also a kids' menu featuring sausage wraps, corny dogs, chicken tenders, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Located on Barton Springs, just down the road apiece from the Green Mesquite, another top Austin rib joint that offers damn fine BBQ, but I tend to favor Uncle Billy's, thanks to their unique combination of brew and 'que. My compliments to the owners, Zach Fuentes and Bob Gillette, and master brewmeister Brian Peters for a great job all around.

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