Quiz time: Do you like craft beer? If the answer is yes, GS 1221 should probably be on your usual rotation. If not, you may want to consider checking out the spot anyway.
Here’s the thing about GS 1221: It gets to the point. The latest bar to hit Broadway is a growler station for beer nuts, and it gets the job done without the unnecessary bull. You won’t find neon signs anywhere, and don’t bother looking for a mixed drink. This is straight beer with local flavors and then some (along with a few wine options available by the glass for the hop-averse).
Located on the bottom floor of the 1221 lofts, GS 1221 was opened by owner Frank Pakuszewski and is managed by April Poerner-Acevedo, formerly with Stella Public House and The Friendly Spot before that. The space is an exercise in minimalism, and it succeeds with a modern aesthetic that ever so carefully toes the line between inviting and cold.
The interior resembles a high school science lab with clean lines, tall stools, dark bar-top tables and an ultra-hygienic feel. I kept half expecting either home brewers to come out of the woodwork with their latest creation or perhaps Walter White to sneak out with a beaker. The 30 taps on the right side of the space add to the lab feel. No wacky tap handles here—just numbered rectangular levers. We’re here for the beer.
The barebones space does feature two major wall components—a “Discipline of Beer” timeline with important brewing dates on the left-hand side of the room and an old-school green chalkboard with the list of 30 beers featured on the right, much like the one found at Filling Station Tap Room, another spot that honors craft hops and malts with a passion.
While the list of featured brews changes frequently, GS 1221 prides itself in carrying local and not-so-local craft sips. Austin’s (512) Brewing shares the bill with San Antonio’s Alamo Brewing, as well as Bend, Ore.’s Deschutes Brewery and Longmont, Colo.’s Left Hand Brewing Company. There’s heavy hops along with light ciders and rare caskings. In other words, no one will go thirsty.
While the interior will only become more appealing as the summer heat wears on, there’s something to be said for GS 1221’s shaded patio. By quittin’ time, the loft’s parking garage has provided sufficient shade to cool down the patio several degrees—no need for umbrellas here. I should mention the juxtaposition of parking garage meets busy 281 highway while holding frosty beer was odd, but refreshing. The bar is being billed as part of the “Decade of Downtown” after all…
But onto the beer—I settled for a cider via Austin East Cider (which recently started canning its offerings) during my first visit, but returned for Karbach’s Weisse Versa, which combines two styles, a Bavarian hefeweizen and Belgian white for a citrusy and lightly floral beer. I was slightly disappointed in New Braunfels’ LuftWeiss, which the barkeep said would hold a few spicy notes. Still, it was a plenty smooth beer, nice for casual sipping all summer long.
Prices were fair. This being a growler station after all, there are beer to-go options. According to the bar’s website, 16 of the 30 taps are available to enjoy in the comforts of your own home with GS 1221 growlers priced at $6. The caveat being that both 32- and 64-ounce growlers are for off-premise consumption only. You can fill up starting at around $7.50 with prices rising to the high teens/low 20s for a 64-ounce fill.
For the serious beer enthusiasts looking for the freshest of growler fills, GS 1221 uses an imported Pegas Craft Tap system that removes oxygen, which means your beer will stay fresh for up to a month.
As a relatively recent Loopland transplant, I must say I’m almost envious of the 1221 inhabitants. There’s literally an apartment over the bar. This transcends neighborhood pub—GS 1221 is a friendly apartment complex beer joint. Residents have traded square feet for proximity to quality beers and that’s something I can support.