Many businesses are struggling to some degree during Covid19. Maintaining a consistent stream of clientele whilst having to implement new rules and constantly adapt can be daunting. Imagine pouring your heart and soul into a new endeavor where you are planning for scenarios of every potential kink in the system. No surprise, opening during a pandemic is not typically in anyone’s realistic contingency plan.
I reached out to five breweries that are defying great odds to bring their passion for beer to the Austin community. Each varies on their levels of advancing towards opening, yet all were more than happy to fill us in on their recent experiences. One is mere days away from opening, another just recently broke ground, and the others are somewhere in the middle of fulfilling their vision. ALL, however, are the result of years of care and deep devotion. Stay tuned for updates on their future opening dates and make sure to get out and support them!
Hold Out Brewing – Brent Sapstead, Co-Founder & Head Brewer
Exciting news on Hold Out Brewing’s front! They are slated to open for to-go food and cans of beer starting Thursday, May 7th. They will be open noon – 8 pm, Thursday-Sunday.
Brent Sapstead, Co-Founder & Head Brewer provided us with insight to their vision. When asked about the history of the brewery he explained “in 2017 with a tour of a decidedly unique downtown space that would later become the home of Hold Out Brewing. Allow me to paint you a little picture…
Sometime in the early 1970s, a quonset hut of unknown origins was surgically spliced onto a house from the 1950s in a bizarre architectural experiment. Fast forward to three years ago and imagine crossing the threshold into this structural enigma to be greeted by a ’65 El Camino, baby grand piano, electronic drum machine, and a barrage of multicolored LED light strips being choreographed by a soundtrack of AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells.’ Ready to party yet? In the courtyard lives a 400-year-old, exploded live oak tree that looks like an Ent that should have been cast for John Hurt’s role in the movie ‘Alien.’ Just beyond that sits the future home of Better Half Coffee and Cocktails, followed by the ever-changing downtown Austin skyline…we knew we couldn’t say no.”
Photo Credit to Mumford Photos
When it comes to the challenges and rewards of this process Sapstead stated, “Everything has shifted. Dine-in is now take-out. Pints are now cans. And the people who we are so eager to share this with will have to be kept at a distance. Not the service model we had planned for, to say the least…Our passion for beer and service is a social one. I’m not afraid to drink a beer alone, but I sure do miss doing it in the company of others. I look forward to a proper cheers. And maybe a hug.” Brent, I think I speak for most when I declare, we are all excited for a proper cheers!
Hold Out is opening with four beer releases including an American Lager, Euro Pils, Pale Ale, and Juicy IPA as well as food to-go. You can preorder on their website. Make sure to stop in and give them a warm Austin welcome!
Humble Pint Brewing – Jared Wennstrom, Co-Owner & Brewer
A recent brewery addition to the Leander area is Humble Pint Brewing. I spoke with Jared Wennstrom who owns and operates the brewery with his wife Alicia. Both hail from Oregon and moved to Austin in the late ‘90s. Wennstrom credits the Oregon coast breweries of his youth and their principles as inspiration for opening a brewpub. He noted, “when places like Rogue, Deschutes, McMenamins and Widmer Bros were new and super-accessible to us as impressionable new craft beer drinkers. Those breweries at that time were all about accessibility, balance, experimentation, and fun. We want our beers to be similarly accessible and balanced.” Not bad influences, I would say!
According to Wennstrom, “Technically, we opened in *the middle* of a global pandemic. Our original plan was to open our taproom eleven days before shelter-in-place orders were invoked, and we held off because we could see which way things were headed, and our highest responsibility has to be for the safety of our customers and employees… Switching to a curbside or pickup model definitely made that personal interaction much harder.”
You can currently order food and beer-to-go from Humble Pint Brewing’s Website. Wennstrom is most looking forward to finally having the ability to entertain patrons in their space. “We want to be a place people come to gather and spend time with their friends and families, which is sorely lacking in the midst of the pandemic and will be extremely satisfying once it’s safe to do so again” Wennstrom expressed.
Make your way to Leander to welcome our new Humble Pint family. Swing by for a delicious pizza and some brightly designed cans of beer to go!
Frontyard Brewing – Kevin Jones, Co-Founder & Head Brewer
You may have noticed Frontyard Brewing’s cans on the shelves of your favorite store. While they have been distributing for a while, I spoke with Kevin Jones, Co-Founder & Head Brewer to find out their challenges in launching a space, thus far.
As a brewery that started out in production and is now opening a physical space, I wanted to know what obstacles have arisen from putting a business together in that particular order. “It’s been an interesting balancing act. There’s the excitement of the new space and all of the attention that’s required to make sure it’s built out correctly and finished well but at the same time, we’ve still got a fully operating brewery that needs to continue to operate. The idea was to get up and running, test the waters and see how our beer would be received (really glad that part went well by the way) and show banks and investors that we could do this on a larger scale. We’ve learned so many things from a process, business, and physical space standpoint that have prepared us for the next place,” Jones said.
When it comes to future goals and plans for the brewery, Jones expressed, “the main thing we want people to know is that this brewery is about them. The name Frontyard Brewing came from the idea of those little Friday night cul-de-sac gatherings where everyone grabs their lawn chair and gathers around a cooler while the kids play in the street. That chair planted in the front yard is an open invitation to the neighbors or even just the occasional passersby to come hang out; to be a part of our family. We want to get to know our neighbors and be a pillar for our community. If we ever feel we’re not serving our local community well, that’s our first red flag that we’ve lost focus on what we got into this for in the first place and we need to course correct.”
Photo Credit to Frontyard Brewing
Pandemic aside, along with construction nearing its final stages, Frontyard Brewing is targeting to open in early July. Stay tuned for further updates, and make sure to get out and visit them when able! You can find Frontyard beer currently in distribution by going to the locator tool on their website.
Meanwhile Brewing – Nao Ohdera, Director of Brewing Operations
A new brewery taking shape in SE Austin is Meanwhile Brewing. The brains behind this space are the duo of Nao Ohdera & Will Jaquiss, both from Breakside Brewery in Portland, Oregon. I was able to catch up with Ohdera to check on their progress.
Initially scheduled to open in a few weeks, with construction and delivery delays, this has been pushed to an unknown future date. Ohdera discussed the rewarding aspects of working towards the opening, asserting, “It has been our dream to open a brewery, so it’s still amazing to see it come to fruition even with all the unforeseen challenges. It’s also great to work towards building a culture and a new place for our community.”
Photo Credit to Meanwhile Brewing
Ohdera said when they fully launch, “We want to be known for quality and variety, so that’s what we plan on offering. Our goal is to try to make 50 different beers the first year. We’ll have solid ipas and lagers of course, but we want to have a bunch of sours, barrel-aged beer, culinary-inspired beers. We want to have fun with it… We look forward to being that place for everyone once we are able to do so safely.”
With plans to offer food trucks, a stage, playgrounds, soccer fields, and more, you will not want to miss out on all these guys have in the works. Make sure to keep an eye out for future opening updates!
Ghost Note Brewing – Thelma Coleman, Co-Founder & Owner
Joining the picturesque Dripping Springs destination scene is Ghost Note Brewing. I spoke with Thelma Coleman who co-founded Ghost Note alongside her husband Kenny.
This is a really interesting take as they just recently broke ground on their space. Because they are so fresh in their beginnings Coleman expressed, “The pandemic has certainly not affected us to any degree that it has for many businesses which were already operating when the economy was basically shut-down in March. We feel very fortunate that we have not had to lay off any employees or close our doors as many breweries and businesses have had to do.” Coleman went on to say “deciding to start our brewery was a mixed bag of exhilaration and fear… but once the commitment to actually ‘pull the trigger’ was made, it has been a wild ride… The Craft Beer Industry is one that is welcoming, helpful, and offers support to all its colleagues so that has been one of the biggest pleasures is to be a part of such a great group.”
Photo Credit to Ghost Note Brewing
Upon opening, they plan on serving their four initial core beers which will consist of a Pilsner, a California Common, an IPA, and a Saison. Ghost Note is aspiring to open sometime in the summer and Coleman hopes those coming to visit, “whether they come for the fresh air or the good beer, we want folks to feel safe, comfortable and welcome to our little piece of Earth. The last thing we want to do is risk making anyone sick…May we all get back to that safe place, sooner than later.” Thelma, what a beautiful sentiment that I think we all can get on board with.
Be sure to follow CraftBeerAustin.com as well as each brewery’s social accounts for updates. Cheers to our new future brewery neighbors! As always, please continue to show support for your local breweries. Stay safe, Austin.