Texan: Beerquest '88: This time ... it's personal
BYLINE DIANE BURCH - 08/10/1988
It's 9 p.m. and you have $5 in your pocket. You're new in Austin
and don't know where to go. Your quest: beer. Lots of beer. And
avoiding frilly fern bars and knife fights. Poor University students
have almost unlimited options for drinking cheaply in Austin.
And if you get the crazy drinking urge before 7 p.m., your $5
can stretch even farther. Here are some of the more cost-effective
options; none of the bars charge a cover unless noted. But be
sure to designate a driver first, and those under 21, check with
the bar to make sure minors are welcome. Hole in the Wall
Arcade and Restaurant, 2538 Guadalupe St., has the advantage of
being across the street from campus. While parking is generally
unavailable near the bar, plenty of nearby campus lots open up
after 5 p.m. The Hole also has some of the best happy hour prices
around; from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, pitchers of Shiner
Bock or Budweiser are $2.90 (regularly $4.25) and mugs of beer
are 60 cents - about eight beers for your $5. Undoubtedly, however,
the best thing about the Hole is the free jukebox, which is in
the back room with six pool tables. Live bands are featured every
night, but this brings on a big minus: a cover charge, usually
$2-3, Thursday through Saturday. If quality is more important
than getting falling-down-drunk, Maggie Mae's Lime Street Station,
512 Trinity St., boasts one of the widest beer selections in Austin,
with 69 kinds of bottled imports, eight types of import drafts
and six kinds of domestic beer. Prices range from $2.25 for American
beer to $8 for a 26-ounce Belgian beer called Chimay Grande Reserve.
Sixteen-ounce drafts are $2.50, as are most bottled imports. Those
who think Busch is the champagne of beers are better off spending
their $5 elsewhere. Maggie Mae's is really two bars - the "dance
bar" on the corner of Trinity and Sixth Streets, and the real
bar, on the right. The biggest danger about going to Mag's is
that you will accidentally wander into the dance bar - where there
is a cover on weekends - into the world of Polo cologne and bowheads.
Other than talking and playing fun games while choosing and drinking
unknown beers, the "real bar" features little entertainment other
than live music on Saturdays. Sports fanatics may find the perfect
beer-guzzling joint is Madison Square Garden, 1410 S. Pleasant
Valley Road. The bar has six TVs, ranging from a 25-inch to 6-foot
big screens. Seating includes both tables for the oldsters and
bleacher-type benches for those with durable rumps. While the
beer prices aren't the cheapest, the bar offers free popcorn (better
than the movies, even) during happy hour, and you can choose from
seven types of draft beer and 20 varieties of cans and bottles.
MSG also admits minors. While you can't drink beer - sigh - you
can watch the big screen TVs as the Rangers lose again or the
Kansas City Royals make their run on the American League West.
And speaking of atmosphere, Deep Eddy Cabaret, 2315 Lake Austin
Blvd., is not too concerned about that - some of the more stylish
decorations include a velvet nude painting, numerous neon beer
signs and a 3-D light-up Spuds MacKenzie - but the beer is the
coldest in Austin, as in ice-forms-on-the-top-of-your-mug cold.
And your $5 will buy you two mini-pitchers of beer, which comes
out to about eight mugs. Deep Eddy has four types of beer on draft,
including Shiner Bock. Graduate students, UT faculty and staff
mostly frequent the Posse East, 2900 Duval St. While minors will
have little luck drinking beer at the Posse, underage students
are welcome. To drink tea. The Posse is a great favorite among
intramural sport participants after games, and hence, the air
can get a little ... locker room-ish. And for those craving that
Budweiser power lunch, happy hour starts at 11 a.m. Showdown,
2610 Guadalupe St., also has an indoor and outdoor section. Your
$5 will go farthest on a Tuesday - if you're a woman. Ladies'
night, 9 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays, features free draft beer for
all who are female and have IDs to prove it. The Showdown has
pool tables and dart boards as well as a few pinball machines.
Minors may as well stay home. The bar has a very strict ID-checking
policy and won't let minors in the bar or on the outside patio.
There are always plenty of empty pool tables at Side Pocket, 10701
N. Lamar Blvd. A fairly basic pool hall with beer only in bottles
and cans, Side Pocket is definitely a group outing. Most of the
female customers embrace spandex as a fashion statement. Most
of the men there seem fanatically opposed to washing their hair
more than once a week. The Side Pocket has a jukebox that features
all your favorite Dokken and other heavy metal tunes. An unwritten
rule at the bar is that Motley Crue's Girls, Girls, Girls gets
played a minimum of once an hour. Finally, some of the best deals
on imported beer are hiding down in the Texas Union Basement.
Foster's, for example, is only $2 a bottle. Even though that's
only two beers for your $5, that's all the Foster's most people
need. The bowling alley and pool hall are down in the basement,
and while there's almost always a waiting list, UT students can
bowl or shoot pool fairly cheaply. The bowling lanes are undoubtedly
the worst in town - bowlers who generally throw straight on will
find a mysterious new hook to their toss. Of course, if a more
private outing strikes your fancy, there's always Plan Z: hitting
the nearest H.E.B. for $1.65 generic beer. Five dollars will buy
you 18 bad beers and a sunset, if you drink it someplace like
Austin's scenic Mount Bonnell, out West 35th Street in West Austin.