Long before the days that I learned to appreciate a beer, there was Players. When I was in college, assuming the statute of limitations has expired, before turning of age, Bud Light and Shiner were the only beers I could judge anything by.
Then turning 21 and visiting my favorite burger joint, Players, I ordered the beer I’ve seen advertised on their walls for years before—a Live Oak Big Bark. Perhaps it was from this first beer that my affinity for Live Oak, and by association, all craft beer was born. Live Oak opened my eyes that Bud and Shiner didn’t have a monopoly on beer and that there was much more to see, to smell, to taste, and to experience.
I don’t believe they have anything else craft on tap, but this one beer was enough.
Sadly, Players will be closing soon. Centrally located next to The University of Texas at Austin campus, ten years ago, the University had their eyes set on tearing down Players to build a parking garage.
There was a great outcry. Michael Raia and I helped with a petition drive and website that gained mention in the Austin American-Statesman, the Daily Texan, and a radio interview on the Bobby Bones Show. I forget now how many thousands of signatures we gained.
Finally, the Texas Legislature passed a law forbidding eminent domain from being used by a university for the purpose of a lodging facility or parking facility for a lodging facility, dormitories excluded. Literally, laws were changed to keep this burger joint open ten years ago.
What a difference does a decade make. Back in 2005, the crux was forcing this local business to close while paying a price unfair in the eyes of the owner. The University never lost sight of the land and, while legally forbidden from reaching the price set by the owners, eventually, a private foundation serving the university was able to find an agreeable price and terms, acquire the property and turn it over to the University at the appraised value.
The terms allowed Players to stay open, basically, until the University was ready to move on utilizing the land.
Now, the University is ready.
For the beer aficionados, we all have our own Players—that place that opened our eyes to the world beyond the beers made in trillion-gallon barrels. I’m grateful for the random beer joint that bought kegs from a little Austin brewery.
Before Players closes forever in November, if you find yourself in Austin, stop by and have a Players combo with cheese, jalapeños, no tomatoes, with a strawberry shake. Stick around to watch the rest of whatever sporting event is on while drinking a booma-sized Live Oak Big Bark.
For our faithful readers, you’ll recognize Live Oak from our previous post about their Dunkelweizen and today (August 29, 2014) from 5-7 pm, they’re releasing their Oaktoberfest for the 2014 season at the brewery.
Check out Players: