Location: 15435 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Adding to the ever-growing, popular Fitzhugh “brewery row” Road in Dripping Springs is aptly named Fitzhugh Brewing. The picturesque Hill Country winding roads will be welcoming their newest brewing family member on October 23rd. I sat down in their gorgeous bright new space to learn all things Fitzhugh from the woman behind the idea and the brewer behind the beer.
Who is Fitzhugh Brewing?
Fitzhugh Brewing is the creation of the daughter/father team, Kerbey Smith and Dubb Smith. The Smith family has owned the property for years and realized the potential of the beautiful blank canvas that was laid before them. Dubb, a seasoned contractor, home builder, developer, and appraiser by trade has overseen the entire building process and put his loving touch into every nook and cranny of the space. If you happen to meet him while you’re there, BUY HIM A BEER. Man has earned it!
Although the Smiths have been fans of the beer world for a while, they didn’t have experience in brewing beer or in the process of opening a brewery. Luckily, the beer world tends to be a magnet for great collaborative people. Through a little serendipity, “friend of a friend” situation they came to find Head Brewer & Partner Nathan Rice who has substantial experience from breweries like New Braunfels Brewing, 3 Stars Brewing Co in Washington, DC, and most recently Maverick Whiskey Distillery & Brewery in San Antonio. Since tracking him down, Kerbey has passed her Cicerone training in order to be as hands-on in her new business as she can be.
Kerbey hopes they have created a space where all feel welcome. “We are very inclusive, that’s always been my main goal for this place. We are a brewery that anyone can walk in regardless of their beer knowledge and get a great tasting beer and gain some beer knowledge if you want that. We want our menus to be informational and easy to understand, we want our beers to taste great for all pallets, not just the beer aficionado. We want a place that a man from Portland that loves beer and a local family from Dripping Springs can come in and have a really great experience that suits each of them perfectly,” she says.
Tell Us About Your Menu
The brewery boasts an in-house kitchen with food provided by Pokey Joe’s Smokehouse’s newest endeavor, PEJ Kitchens. You can expect their world-class barbecue, with additional upscale options. care was taken to provide items intended to go hand in hand with the beer. Like barbecue nachos, brisket pot pie, curry rubbed burnt ends, hemp coleslaw, and braised pork shoulder (with Fitzhugh’s Porter beer sauce).
On top of having the opportunity to order individual pints, you can also enjoy their beer flight boards. They have gone a step further; however, also offering a food and beer pairing flight board. Small food items have been specially chosen by the chef to pair perfectly with the beers, creating a truly complementary experience.
When you arrive, you will order your beer from the bar and receive it immediately. For food items, a text message will be sent to alert you when ready at the indoor or outdoor pickup window.
Kerbey is a total trooper when it comes to beer. Like so many, she has a gluten allergy. Typically, this would make drinking beer a bit of an obstacle considering beer is a grain-based beverage. Luckily the team has Rice as their brewer. He focuses on “forgotten beer” and historic styles from around the world…among others! Rice has considered using alternative ingredients like sunflower seeds, buckwheat, rice, and corn instead of the traditional barley, wheat, and rye. He states, “One of the things we use is called clarity firm and it actually binds to the gluten proteins during the fermentation process suspension…[the beers are] not gluten-free, but they’re definitely gluten-reduced.”
Rice has done a deep dive into his beer recipe development and research. With Fitzhugh’s RO (Reverse Osmosis) water filtration system he is able to hone in recipes that transport you to the location of their origin. For example, he literally called Alice Springs, Australia’s water department to find out what minerals it possessed in order to replicate the profile for his Australian Sparkling Ale. The same goes for Lyon, France, and his French Ale. (Take his word for it, Texas well water does not taste good.) Drink Fitzhugh instead!
The property sits on roughly 3 acres of land, brimming with Live Oak trees. The spacious beer garden has 25 picnic tables, and 30 Adirondack chairs sprinkled throughout. They have something for everyone, including the kiddos. The playscape gives a family-friendly space allowing the grown-ups to sit back and relax while the youngsters can get all the fresh air fun they could dream of.
The taproom is a crisp white with massive windows and farmhouse vintage details. The tall ceilings give you the feeling of being in a rustic charming chapel in the country. Hey, beer can absolutely be a religious experience!
Owners of the venue Pecan Springs Ranch, the Smiths are no novice to event space or working to create special experiences with their clientele. Various spaces are available to be rented out for events like private parties and rehearsal dinners. Whether you are reserving the beer garden, the smaller partitioned event space in the brewery (fits about 25 with social distancing), or require a full space buyout, they have you covered.
Plans are in place to utilize both an indoor small stage and an outdoor stage for local musicians to perform on. They are also planning to host beer garden movie nights, artisan art fairs, and even farmers markets.
The pristine 7 barrel brewhouse holds five fermenters. Of those, four are 7 BBL fermenters, and the other, 15 BBL. Their eight brite tanks also act as serving tanks with the chilled lines coming underneath the concrete slab into the tap wall. Beer as fresh as you can ask for.
You can expect ample parking, wifi, as well as a dog and family-friendly space at Fitzhugh. Since they are a brewpub, the non-beer drinkers can also enjoy hard seltzers from Mighty Swell and Blue Norther, ciders from Fairweather Cider Co, canned wine from Infinite Monkey Theorem and Sway Rose, as well as William Chris kegged wine.
With the goal of always supporting as many local brands as possible, they hope to create unique opportunities for their guests. Just ask the happy, tipsy cows. (Not really, no cows have actually tasted the beer.) HOWEVER, Fitzhugh has found a family-owned ranch in operation since the early 1900’s that they donate their spent grain to. They focus on creating a sustainable system on all fronts. According to Rice, the rancher “comes and picks up our grain, feeds it to his cattle and then we’re hoping once we get that going that we will buy some of his beef.” Full circle sustainable brilliance.
After a private family & friends soft opening, the general public can plan on making the trek out to Fitzhugh October on 23rd!
The team has fun Halloween plans, to boot! If you’re ho-hum about the party pooper that is the pandemic and are looking for creative ways to still trick-or-treat with the kids, follow them on Facebook or Instagram to hear the details!
Welcome to the community, Fitzhugh Brewing!
[Feature photo credit to Amy Scarbrough, Al Gawlik Photography]