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Brew guide: Twisted X Brewing Co. offers a taste of Tex-Mex in the Hill Country

After homebrewing since the late 1990s, friends Shane Bordeau and Jim Sampson set out to fill a regional niche in the Austin beer scene. In 2011, they started a small brewing operation called Twisted X Brewing Co. out of a storage unit in Cedar Park, where they focused on producing a series of lagers with local flavors and ingredients pegged as “Tex-Mex Beer.” Ingredients such as jalapeños and prickly pears weave their way through the lagers, which are intended to provide a more flavorful local option similar to popular Mexican-style beers.

Thanks to swift growth during its first years, Twisted X soon outgrew the Cedar Park operation, and Bordeau and Sampson started working on a full-scale, 10,000-square-foot building in the Dripping Springs area that increased the brewery’s production from three barrels to 30 barrels.

The new space opened on Nov. 23 with a big opening party that — despite frigid temperatures and biting wind — drew crowds interested in tasting the beer, which include four flagship brews: Twisted X Premium Lager, Cow Creek Lager, Chupahopra IPA and Fuego Jalapeno Pilsner. These are on tap in the tasting room, where visitors can buy beer by the glass. They’re also available at certain bars and restaurants around town.

In addition to the much larger facilities, Bourdeau and Sampson have other plans for expansion, including producing craft beer-infused salsa (with just a hint of ghost pepper, so be careful) and a bottling line that will get Twisted X into stores. The four main beers will most likely start showing up in 12 oz. bottles early next year at places such as Whip In, Whole Foods and Spec’s. Twisted X also has a couple of specialty beers, including the Senor Viejo Imperial Black Lager, aged in tequila barrels, that will be bottled into 22 oz. bombers in March. For now, the salsa is only for tasting at the taproom, but look for it in stores sometime next year.

Bourdeau and Sampson also have a recipe in place to make a Mexican-style coca-cola, similar to the way St. Arnold produces a draft root beer. And farther into the future, the team will likely aim for obtaining a distillery permit to pursue a Ranger Creek “brewstillery” style operation, producing spirits following their signature Tex-Mex style.

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