Take one state capital, add 30,000 or so college students, stir in a rich football tradition and—voila!—you’ve got a can’t-miss recipe for good times. Take Austin, for instance. It’s the home of the University of Texas, ranked by Princeton Review as one of America’s top 10 party schools. It won’t take you long to find out that U-T’s ranking was richly deserved.
The interior resembles Delta House after a troupe of artistically inclined Goths swept in.
When I visited, I discovered that after a cool, wet summer at home, my system wasn’t prepared for temperatures in the 90s, with humidity to match. Fortunately, there’s a cure for that: don’t exert yourself; stay out of the sun; and, oh, yes, drink plenty of liquids. Austin was ready to oblige; it’s home to dozens of bars and clubs; and by day it operates the “Dillos,” free motorized trolleys that shuttle office workers—and the occasional Beer Traveler—around the city center.
My first stop was Opal Divine’s Free House (700 West Sixth St.). Named for co-owner Susan Parker’s saucy grandmother, it’s a Texified version of an Irish country pub. This 125-year-old structure sports a huge outside deck, with misting machines to combat the weather. Inside, half a dozen air-conditioned rooms accommodate a range of moods. After looking around, I found my way to a downstairs room and sat across from a tiny bar decorated with foreign currency stapled to the walls. The rows of taps, nearly 30 in all, included the local Live Oak, Real Ale, and St. Arnold’s breweries, as well as imports and national micros. The atmosphere was traditional, with one notable exception: free Wi-Fi, which is taking the town by storm.