Pastor opens new brewery in East Austin

Stephen Acevedo

Beginning his career as a pastor in Missoula, Montana, the last place Christian Cryder expected to find himself was in Austin with a brewing company. 

“We had planted a church for people who were not church people, so I spent a lot of time hanging out in bars and breweries and coffee shops because I felt like I connected with those people well,” Cryder said.

When Cryder and his associates decided to start a nonprofit along with his church, they realized they needed a fun and effective way to raise money for it. He had the idea to partner with a small brewery to sell All Souls Ale, a seasonal beer named after his church. And so, a friendship was born between Cryder and Bjorn Nabozney, a local brewer.

“Every time we’d get together, Bjorn would talk about God, but then he’d also be like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to start a brewery,’” Cryder said. 

At first Cryder felt selling beer while preaching the word of God would be hypocritical, but soon changed his mind when Bjorn explained to Cryder that monks used to brew beer regularly in monasteries in the Middle Ages. Cryder was sold.

After three years of searching for the perfect location, Cryder finally opened Lazarus Brewing with help from his partner Azrriel Salazar, a 23-year-old chef he met at his favorite taco shop, El Primo. Lazarus doesn’t just sell beer, but also serves up fresh coffee and authentic Mexican street food.

The food Salazar serves at Lazarus feels more like something you’d find at a food truck than a brewery. The menu is comprised mostly of breakfast tacos, street tacos and tortas, with a few snack foods like queso. 

All the street tacos are true to their authentic form. The doubled up light corn tortillas pack a good flavor, but aren’t strong enough to mask any of the ingredients they’re holding. The al pastor is cooked with its trademark pineapple, the carne asada is firm but not overdone and the pollo verde has a perfect tang from the housemade tomatillo sauce. 

The best option on the menu, though, is the pork carnitas. Wonderfully tender and greasy, the only things that can make it any better is the addition of some of the house salsa and avocado. 

All of the tacos offered on the menu can also be ordered as a torta, a better option for anyone looking for a full meal. The torta rolls are fantastic, with a thin brittle layer of crust on the outside and a soft, warm inside. Whatever flavor lost from the meat on account of the white bread is made up for by the addition of lettuce, tomato, onion and salsa. 

The best snack option is the fried chickpeas. The bowl of fried, salted chickpeas with a touch of lime offers a creative alternative to the tired bar peanuts trope and makes the perfect fodder for anyone who wants something to munch on with their coffee or beer. 

Although it seems that they’re still trying to gain their footing as a new establishment, the folks at Lazarus do a fine job of expressing their passions through the food and drinks they serve to East Austin. 

“We don’t think we know everything about beer, coffee or tacos,” Cryder said. “We just love creating (them) and sharing them with our friends.”