4th tap brewing co
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

4th Tap Brewing Co.

Located: 10615 Metric Blvd Austin, Texas

Distribution to begin mid October 2015.

The People

John Stecker and Chris Hamje have been brewing beer together for about four years after John introduced Chris to the art of home brewing. Soon the pair began taking their beers to weddings and corporate events looking for feedback to perfect their recipes. The hobby became more than just a distraction from their high tech jobs and eventually they both left the corporate world behind to pursue opening a brewery. John and Chris were both intrigued by the idea of the worker owned cooperative model and that fueled the idea to start the first Texas worker owned cooperative production brewery. Chris began working as a brewer for Black Star Co-op and they both enrolled in the Cooperative Business Institute at Cooperation Texas, where John currently serves on the board of directors. Starting a business under the cooperative model just made sense, “the production brewery is 100% worker owned and that promotes a collaborative family environment”, says John. The brewery currently has seven founding members and three full time employees: John as head of operations, Chris as head brewer and Mike Olfers as the newest employee heading up the cellar program.

The Beers

4th tap malts
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

The focus of 4th Tap beers is to source locally as much as possible, especially Texas ingredients that are underrepresented. In fact, their popular beer Sun Eater uses only Texas ingredients which means it doesn’t contain any barely or hops, so it’s a gluten free gruit that doesn’t have any of the negative aftertaste you get from many sorghum based beers, “we spent a long time removing the licorice flavor and added hand packed Mexican brown sugar to enhance the flavor”, explains Chris. You may have already had a 4th Tap Sun Eater at Black Star Co-op where it was a guest tap twice due to popularity. The other mainstay beers include Renewal, a tamarind wheat and Long Walk, a grapefruit IPA.

Along with the three mainstay beers, they have a “4th tap” rotating selection under the name Orbital. The brewery is planning to can the mainstay line and will can an Orbital selection based on popularity and consumption in the taproom. In the taproom, the beers are sold in flights or by the pint and as a bonus, if you return your empty flight paddle to the bar; they will pour you a full pint of your favorite choice for free!

4th tap kegs
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

The Brewery

The team spent a lot of time looking for just the right space. They wanted to ensure the brewery was in their neighborhood as one of the key tenants of a cooperative is community. So it made sense to situate the brewery in the community they live in and are part of. The brewery location will round out a brewing “quarter”, according to Chris and John, in North Austin near Circle Brewing, Adelbert’s and Austin Beer Works, “we love that we are close to other Austin breweries – we have a burgeoning brewery-district here in north Austin”.

4th tap fermentors
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

The team did a lot of research on mature markets outside of Texas to determine the right size brewhouse they should target. What they found was surprising, “we are still in an under represented market and the breweries in a mature market would never start with anything under a 30bbl system”, said Chris “the cost between a 15-30bbl system isn’t dramatic and now we can easily ramp up production”. They certainly have the space and the shiny new tanks are up and running in the new 30bbl brewhouse.

4th Tap Brewing Crew
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

You have your choice of environments while enjoying a beer at 4th tap, you can either sit at one of the picnic tables inside of the spacious brewery with your pup, or you can go inside the beautifully designed climate controlled taproom. Taking advantage of a blank slate, the team was able to build the taproom exactly the way they wanted to and it has all the bells and whistles of a brewpub including wifi, flat screen TVs, USB chargers and purse hooks under the bar.

4th Tap Bar
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

The brewery space is large enough that 4th Tap has actually paired up with Party World Rasslin – a local comedy wrestling troupe – installed a wrestling rink – and are in the process of hosting shows. There is an upcoming PWR show this Saturday at the brewery!

4th tap Party World Rasslin
Photo credit: Party World Rasslin
4th Tap Brewing Boxing ring
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

Upcoming 4th Tap Events: Oct 24th – Black Star tap takeover.
Oct 27th – Opal Divine’s Penn Field.
Oct 30th – The Draught House.
Details: Location: 10615 Metric Blvd Hours: Open 7 days a week, hours to be announced.
Pay Structure: Cash and Credit for pints or flights.
Kid Friendly: Yes.
Dog Friendly: Yes.
Parking: Dedicated lot in front of the building. Overflow parking along the cross street Denton.
Food: Rotational food trucks.
Good to know: The tap room is equipped with wifi, Televisions, USB chargers and purse hooks under the bar. Don’t forget to check out the occasional Party World Rasslin show as well!

4th Tap inside
Photo credit: Andrew Schwab

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