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Drinking Up Central Texas: Three Stops For Soda, Wine and Beer

Taking a road trip through Central Texas in the heat of the summer was probably not my brightest idea. As I ran from the air conditioned car to my air conditioned hotel room with each stop, the heat would engulf me just long enough to induce that thirst. Along the road, from Dallas to San Antonio, I found Texas doesn’t let you go thirsty, especially in the heat of July. If you find yourself in the sweltering heat of the Lone Star State, cool off by stopping at these spots for some of central Texas’ most famous drinks.

Sodas Down From Dallas and Over in Waco

Texas’ most famous soda is easily Dr Pepper, created in Waco, Texas, by pharmacist Charles C. Alderton in 1885. The city is home to the Dr Pepper Museum that tells of the history, creation and growth of the Dr Pepper soda. The museum on the National Register of Historic Places as the Home of Dr Pepper is mostly placards and Dr Pepper memorabilia. The sweetest treat comes from the on-site soda fountain where you can order up a Dr Pepper the old fashioned way with syrup and charged water. Dr Pepper remains the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America.

If you haven’t had enough of the fizzy stuff, you can detour to Dublin, Texas, home to Dublin Bottling Works. The site has been bottling various sodas for over 120 years. While it doesn’t bottle Dr Pepper anymore, you can tour the historic bottling facilities and sample what the site is filling up at the moment. Dublin Bottling Works was the last place that made Dr Pepper from the original formula.

Wines in Texas Hill Country

While most conjure up images of desert, cactus and cowboys when dreaming of Texas, the state actually boasts quite the opposite around Austin. Texas Hill Country is surrounding Austin. It is easy to reach by car from either city, usually requiring only an hour or two. The area is home to over 30 unique wineries, each with their own style of winemaking. Amidst rolling hills and oak trees, Hill Country is the most productive wine producer in the state.

If you want to sample the fruits of the land, Fredericksburg makes for a good base, near the largest concentration of vineyards. While the 19th century German settlement has plenty of other appeal, as it is full of B&Bs and antique shops, you will want to get sipping on some of the Hill Country’s wines just beyond its limits. Most wineries are open daily for tastings. There is even a Texas Hill Country Wine Trail that you can follow. Some of the most popular vineyards in the area include Becker Vineyards and Fall Creek Vineyards.

Brews in Shiner, Texas, at the Spoetzl Brewery

In 1909, a group of Czech and German immigrants gathered in the small settlement of Shiner, Texas, for one common goal: to create the classic Bavarian brews of their home countries. By 1914, Kosmos Spoetzl was recruited as the Shiner Brewing Association’s first brewmaster. And since that time, Shiner would always be known for most of his creations.

Today you can visit the K. Spoetzl Brewery, home to Shiner beer in the tiny town of Shiner in between Houston and San Antonio. Tours of the brewery are held on the weekdays, occurring in more frequency in the summer months. The tour takes visitors through the brewhouse with its shiny copper kettles, the fermentation process, storage and filtration areas, the bottle shop and the warehouse. At the end of it all, you can grab several samples of Shiner’s brews in the gift shop. Having a tasting room in a gift shop might be commercial genius, and all Shiner goods are up for sale as you sip on your beer.

 

Photo: Suzy Guese

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