When you think of a fun hang, your first thought typically isn’t about an industrial park. But that’s where I found myself on a beautiful evening. Friends and colleagues lined the outside picnic tables. Friendly bartenders served friendly beer in a friendly environment. Everyone had a brew in hand, enjoying the impromptu celebration.
And for good reason. With a balanced line of consistent crowd pleasers and beer geek favorites, Austin Beerworks has earned its place among the ATX craft beer elite. And with this month’s announcement of a massive brewhouse expansion, Austin Beerworks is celebrating its five-year anniversary in style.
Austin Beerworks Beginnings
The Austin Beerworks idea began with two friends digging beer, and grew into a tangled web of connections, changing careers and love for brewing. The founding four are head cellar-man Adam DeBower, brewmaster Will Golden, and business gurus Michael Graham and Mike McGovern. While they each came from different backgrounds and experiences, they all believed a high-quality brewery could thrive in Austin, Texas.
“When we first met, Adam knew everybody, but nobody else had met each other,” shared Graham. “We got together at the old Gingerman over some beers, had a great night and all got along. Looking back, it may have been a bit optimistic to think, ‘I like these guys. Let’s start a business together,’ but that’s pretty much how it happened.”
After the usual trials of raising money, getting equipment and finding a home, the first batch of Fire Eagle IPA was brewed on April 30, 2011. And the team never looked back.
Austin’s Go-to Beer
The center of Austin Beerworks is its ”core four” beers:
- Fire Eagle – Classic American IPA full of hop kick and lingering funk
- Peacemaker – Deceptively simple, yet flavorful, “anytime ale”
- Black Thunder – All the roastiness and malt backbone of a stout without the body
- Pearl Snap – Everyone’s favorite pilsner, crisp and refreshing
The underlying theme of the main beer line is keeping it clean. Rather than going for the flavor jugular every single time, Austin Beerworks tries to make beer that sits in the background, as opposed to being the center of attention. If your get-together is a concert, then Austin Beerworks wants to be the bass player. Supporting the good times with consistently awesome beer.
But don’t think they play it safe all the time. Austin Beerworks regularly crafts flavor-crazy seasonal offerings, like the extraordinary Sputnik coffee stout brewed with Cuvee Coffee, and the Heavy Machinery series, a rotating line of IPAs that rank among the best in town.
The current seasonal styles are the smooth, wheaty Heisenburg and Gold Fist, a deceptively boozy Belgian strong ale. And for its 5th anniversary, Austin Beerworks has released Gringo de Mayo, a rock solid Mexican lager. Variety mixed with core values of clean yet bold brewing makes each style feel part of a bigger family.
The Future for Austin Beerworks
But all of this awesome needs space to breathe. Two years ago, the team began the process of finding a bigger space to work their magic. After a number of close calls and near misses, Austin Beerworks has secured the property next door to expand the brewery. Serving as an extension of its current operation, the new property will allow Austin Beerworks to more than double current production.
Couple this with a barrel-aging program that’s about to mature, and the prospect of making more seasonal styles available in stores, and Austin Beerworks has a lot to look forward to.
But it all comes back to the experience. Whether you’re hanging out at the industrial-style taproom, enjoying a pint at your favorite bar or just chilling at home after a long day, Austin Beerworks wants to become your go-to.
“Now that we’re five years old, I think people have a relationship with us,” shared Michael Graham. “Now I hope our beer scratches an itch and tastes exactly as you remember it. That’s a very satisfying experience for me.”
Done and done. Austin Beerworks’ signature teardrop logo with a heroic “A” in the middle has become a mainstay of Austin barbeques, bar crawls and hangouts and will continue to be for years to come. And thanks to the new building and ever-expanding product line, the good times won’t be stopping anytime soon.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your favorite Austin Beerworks brew?