Feature post by Ruvani De Silva
North Austin’s Circle Brewing is the latest Central Texas craft brewery to join the growing community of farm-to-glass breweries in the region. On August 24th, Circle broke ground at their new site out in Elgin TX, where they plan to brew up the first-ever ‘truly Texan’ beer made from ingredients grown entirely on their 7 acres of farmland. Founded back in 2010 by Ben Sabel and Jud Mulherin, Circle Brewing has a firm and respected place in the Austin beer scene. Their award-winning brews, including the Alibi Blonde, Archetype Historical IPA, and Doppel Blur Imperial Hefe can be found in bars and venues around the city (when bars and venues were still open of course), and have been popular choices in grocery stores pre-dating the pandemic. Circle differs from many of their contemporaries by eschewing the bells and whistles we often associate with modern craft beer and instead focus on creating high quality, innovative and dynamic beers using just water, malt, hops, and yeast. This may sound like a tall order when competing with some of the more experimental breweries in town, but anyone who has tried Circle’s darkly moreish licorice-malt Tuxedo T-Shirt Black IPA or rich velvet-choc Party Pig Imperial Porter will certainly testify that less can indeed be more.
While the concept of farm-to-glass, and indeed farm-to-table brewing becomes increasingly popular among both brewers and consumers, Circle’s move out east isn’t a response to the growing trend. Since Circle’s inception, Ben and Jud have been planning a move back to nature. “When Jud and I started Circle Brewing in 2010, we knew that our ultimate dream was to eventually move a little further from the city and build a sustainable farm-style brewery. One of our leading principles is simplicity – simplicity in brewing, simplicity in design – and there is nothing simpler than getting back to nature and getting your hands dirty” says Sabel. All brewing operations will be transferred to the new site, allowing space for additional seating in their North Austin taproom that will most certainly become a go-to spot for Austin FC fans, located as it is just minutes from the new stadium.
The new Circle site in Elgin will be the first brewery in town, and Circle plans to make the 6,000 square foot taproom into both a community hub and a beer-destination with live music and local events as well as exciting fresh beers from their on-site 20 barrel brewhouse. While Circle is planning to develop the site over time to offer a full farm-to-table menu, the current focus will be on growing core beer crops, with a clean German Pilsner planned as the first beer created entirely from ingredients grown on-site.
At just 23 miles from their current site, the new Circle facility will be a short and potentially very rewarding journey for Ausinite beer-lovers, and Ben hopes to attract visitors from further afield too. “If you haven’t made it out to Elgin, make a point to. Elgin is what Texas is all about, and we’re excited to be a part of it and plant our roots here” he says. Circle chose Elgin for their new home because there is a strong and visible focus on sustainable agriculture in the area. “The community in Elgin is very centered around sustainable agriculture and supporting local farmers”, Sabel informed us, “there is even a school for sustainable agriculture on the ACC campus in Elgin, reflecting the close ties between the school and the community”, all of which make Elgin ideally posited for the new Circle site.
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