Abilene’s newest crop of local libations
Craft beers and wines produced by smaller, regional wineries and breweries, once only available in larger markets, are now making appearances in communities of all sizes nationwide. Abilene is embracing the celebration of wine and beer with its own new crop of unique pubs, draft houses, breweries and wineries, and Abilene Scene hit the town for a pub crawl to give you a glimpse at a few local artisanal libations
WINERY AT WILLOW CREEK:
4353 S. Treadaway Blvd., 325.690.9463
Closed Sunday & Monday
Sometimes the best nights out are spent with good friends on your back porch, snacking lightly and sipping sweetly as the evening rolls by unnoticed. And this is exactly what you will experience at the Winery at Willow Creek. The unpretentious winery is both inviting and comfortable for anyone looking for a little bit of the “dolce vida,” as they call it. That isn’t just a lifestyle philosophy; it applies directly to their wines. They offer a few traditional wines, but the jewels in their crown are the home-bottled, one-of-a-kind, sweet wines. With noticeable flavors like dragon fruit, peach, watermelon and blackberry, these wines are for anyone who wants a palate-cleansing summer-y burst of flavor with every sip. After you enjoy your wines (by the bottle or the glass) on their patio overlooking Willow Creek and have noshed on the cheese and snack tray, you can peruse the unique gift shop stocked with whimsical gifts for the wine lover. The Winery at Willow Creek gets four stars and a few more “woo hoos!” for being the idyllic spot for a girls’ night out.
ABILENE BREWING CO. in CYPRESS STREET STATION:
158 Cypress Street
With its original architecture, rich and warm décor, and outstanding cuisine, Cypress Street Station has long served Abilene as one of its most beloved and premier dining spots. In 2009 they added to that reputation, becoming Abilene’s first and only brewpub: Abilene Brewing Co. The bar itself is beautifully crafted of heavy, dark wood and accentuated with comfortable club chairs around intimate tables. Behind the bar are three five-gallon stainless barrel tanks impeccably shined and holding a unique variety of handcrafted brews. Each beer is carefully crafted on site and offers a wide range of flavor profiles to fit your mood. Can’t decide which brew is for you? Sample the goods from a perfectly portioned flight served atop a unique wooden paddle. When you’ve picked your favorite, enjoy it with friends while watching the big game or networking with the suit-and-tie crowd after a long day at the office. When you’re ready to call it a night, purchase a growler and have it filled with your favorite to enjoy at home. Abilene Brewing Co. gets four stars and a few extra “high fives” for being an ultimate guys’ night out and the place that makes you glad you’re an adult.
BARLEY HOPPERS DRAFTHOUSE
721 South 1st Street
Once housing popular local watering holes like the Ironhorse and Fastlane, this newly renovated building is home to Abilene’s only all-craft-beer bar: Barley Hoppers Drafthouse. There’s a cool vibe here and an uplifting mood. Sure, you can catch the game on their larger than life sized TV, shoot pool with your buddies, and sing along with the tunes on the jukebox, but what you may not have expected is the expanse of draught craft beers. In case you missed the wall of beer taps behind the bar, you might notice the gargantuan chalkboards listing all of the craft beers available from a multitude of regions across the globe. If you’re overwhelmed, start with the sample flight of six beers. The bartender is knowledgeable and takes your tastes into consideration when preparing the flight, which is brought to your table and served in short mason jars on a long paddle. You’ll want to share with a friend, as the pours are more than generous. Barley Hoppers has an unassuming and inviting environment that makes you want to learn more about craft beer, fill your growler and make some new friends. This place is for the young and hip (and those who used to be), and it gets four stars and a few tickled taste buds for being a great place to turn anyone into a beer drinker.
THE MILL WINE BAR AND EVENT VENUE
239 Locust St.
Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
The unique renovation of a dilapidated elevator company into The Mill Wine Bar and Event Venue has exceeded expectations. Renovations have been meticulously executed to maintain the building’s original architecture, and the décor resonates with a comfortably rustic vibe and an abundance of what can only be referred to as Über-chic-ness. Touted as a premiere event center, the space can host weddings and parties numbering in the hundreds. But for a celebration of the everyday, visit the unique bar serving an inspiring list of boutique wines and craft beers. And if a cigar is your thing (or even if it normally isn’t), try a cigar from the cigar bar. Although the inside is stunning, you will be drawn to the garden to listen to live music as you sample your libations and snack on artisanal charcuterie straight off the carving board. Surrounded by beautiful, young grape vines and seated in a private cabana with your own fire pit right next to an awe-inspiring water feature, you’ll have a hard time believing you’re still in Abilene by the time the twinkle lights in the tree begin to glow. That’s why the Mill gets four stars and an extra kiss with your main squeeze for being a great reason to pay the sitter to stay until midnight.
PAPPY SLOKUM BREWING COMPANY
Open Saturdays 11-7
You may recall Pappy Slokum Brewing Co. featured in Abilene Scene in October 2013 as we shared the backstory of a grand pappy moonshine runner and the legacy he passed on to his grandson. Since then, Pappy Slokum Brewing Company has officially opened its doors to the public and, as promised, is serving first-rate craft brew every Saturday. This old building was is so fully converted you’ll never remember it was either an old gas station or car lot. Seating is in front in a modest tasting room with a few picnic tables in the warehouse out back. And since they are only open one day a week, they certainly make it count. But the artisanal suds aren’t the only reason to hang out all day. Pappy’s will keep you full all day with guest food vendors, like Juicy Pig’s own Willy Ford. Pappy’s is an all day party packed with locals who seem to already belong to a private club, and it feels a bit like you’ve just been let in on a big secret. But make no mistake; if this locale is on the down-low today, it won’t be for long. Pappy Slokum’s gets four stars and a secret handshake for being a hidden treasure that’s worth sharing.
For a complete list of restaurants, bars and wineries in Abilene check out our Restaurant Directory.