Another Austin brewery I knew I had to check out after writing my post on New Texas Breweries, was Hops & Grain, who are focused on creating sustainability through every aspect of the brewing process. They are even using the spent grain to make handmade dog treats, aptly named Brew Biscuits. They are currently available in several places around Austin.
Like Austin Beerworks (see my follow-up on these guys here) they plan to package their product in cans. Hops & Grain have developed two flagship beers, the Pale Dog- an American Pale Ale and Alt-eration Ale. They also have what they are calling the “Greenhouse” a 3 barrel pilot system that allows for creativity, pushing the envelope of traditional styles and techniques. The beers brewed on this system can be either their seasonal brews or just purely experimental.
Recently, the brewery’s designer/advertising partner, Madhouse Larry, released photos of both the can designs, that have been sent off for approval, and the tap handles for identifying Hops & Grain on draft at your favorite bar. See pictures below.
I contacted Josh, the founder, about visiting the under-construction brewery while I would be in Austin, and he kindly agreed!
Josh has been in Austin for about 6 years now, arriving to train for an Iron Man competition from Colorado (have to work off all that beer somehow!) and decided to just stay! In Colorado he worked in the industry at Boulder Beer Company and at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. In Austin, he worked for a running store for a few years until he left to devote all of his time to Hops & Grain.
When you arrive at the brewery location in east Austin, it almost looks abandoned, but alas, it is a brand new development and Josh/Hops & Grain are the first tenants to be building out their space. He has a five year lease with an option to rent more space if necessary. He picked a prime location in the corner of the building to set up his 30 barrel system from Premier Stainless.
Josh does not have all the equipment set up, he is still waiting on construction to be completed, but is hoping to have the tasting room open in late July or early August. He plans to have 10 taps in the tasting room, including one nitro tap, which is awesome. There is nothing quite like a nice, creamy beer on nitro. He has a few more steps to go before he can get production in full swing, like a health department inspection and the rest of construction to be finished, but he is close! He already has label approval for several more styles than his flagship beers and also plans to put these bad boys (see picture below) to use to age a barleywine, an imperial stout and other styles that age well (I may have asked for a Sour!).
The first run of can designs should arrive in a few weeks from Conroe’s Crown Holdings. I also got to see the canning machine which currently will can about 10 beers a minute. He will be going through a local distributor, the name of which was not told to me for business reasons, but I am happy to see them going that route, hopefully it doesn’t make distributing any harder on them. As far as production goes, Josh told us that “from grain to glass” (I liked that phrase) the German Alt beer would take around 4 weeks, while the Pale Ale would take around 2 weeks.
Obviously we were trying beers while walking around and chatting about the brewery and the rest of the space in the empty building. We started with a Belgian Strong Ale that was light and crisp. Honestly, this was my 3rd brewery of the day, so my tasting notes aren’t the greatest, but I do remember liking it!
We also had, what was definitely mine and John’s favorite, a Coffee Schwarzbier that is brewed with a local coffee, Ruta Maya. The coffee is cold pressed and I got the best coffee flavor I have ever tasted in a beer. It was the perfect roasty taste, without any of the bitter after taste, light-bodied and a light, dry finish. I hope we see this in his tasting room!
The last beer we tried from Josh (in his adorable wedding pint glasses, Congrats again!) was the flagship Pale Ale. I, unfortunately, was too busy drinking and talking (what’s new?) to take a picture. It was light, crisp and balanced, a great flagship beer. I think it’s one of those beers you need to have to capture a bigger beer drinking audience.
I had such a great time visiting with Josh, chatting about Hops & Grain, his story of arriving in Austin and trying his beers. You can definitely see that he loves his craft beer and can’t wait to share it with the rest of Austin (and hopefully Houston at some point!). I appreciate the hospitality and will definitely be back to visit!