Garrison Brothers may not be the largest distillery in the world (or even in Texas), but damn if it isn’t one of the friendliest.
Pull into Garrison Brothers’ Hye-based facility and you’ll find yourself immediately immersed in something more akin to a bourbon-soaked playground than a stuffy distillery experience. Wholly unserious, your experience begins on the Garrison Brothers lawn, where kids are at play and cornhole is in full swing. It looks like horseshoes might have been in the mix at one point, but methinks iron bars and drinking probably don’t mix.
I didn’t eat here, but the smell from the grill is outstanding and fully Texified, with plenty of chicken fried everything on the menu. A cocktail list is extensive — try the frozen Dr. Pepper with a shot of bourbon — but if you want a beer or wine, you can grab one from the honor fridge and pay what you’d like. (Bizarrely, Garrison Brothers can sell bourbon, but it can’t sell Shiner.)
You can actually take those beers with you on the tour, which is a quick pickup ride up the hill. No worries about having kids along for the ride here: On our tour, one young girl got to work behind the bar with our guide. The level of expansion being undertaken here is significant; it will at least double the space occupied by the current operation. Meanwhile, things here are supremely folksy and old fashioned: No computer controls, and bottling is done with the aid of volunteers who work all day for breakfast, lunch, and shots, and not in that order.
Tours take about 90 minutes — which includes everything from tasting the fermenting mash, sipping white dog, touring the bottling line, and enjoying a (large) shot of Garrison Brothers at the end of the experience. $10 per person, $20 on Saturdays, and free if you show up on a horse. Reservations are essential.