On February 22nd, the Craft Beer Austin team embarked on a small team outing to visit some breweries that are new, interesting or different; or that we had just not been to before. The highlight of what we found was "The Hill Country Brewery You Need to Visit Now" (before it's too crowded to manage). Carter Creek Winery and Resort in Johnson City recently opened a brewery called Old 290 Brewery next to their wine tasting room and it is like no brewery I have ever visited.
Old 290 Brewery is fully open and the beer list is growing rapidly. Construction on the property is ongoing but the blueprint for success is obvious. The Carter's are committed to success in everything they do and you can viscerally feel the passion and care that they are investing into creating a top tier brewery with beer that has all of the potential to contend for awards. In addition, its situated next to a winery on a sprawling property with amazingly beautify villas and resort amenities. So, come for the beer and stay for the full experience.
We had a chance to interview their head brewer, Justin Zimmerman to get his perspective on Old 290 Brewery and where he wants to go with the vision and strategy behind this diamond in the rough that is forming off of US Hightway 290 just outside of Johnson City.
What is your brewing background?
"I started brewing in Lubbock Texas at a brewpub named Triple J Chophouse & Brew Co. I began helping with cleaning kegs and then slowly progressed to fermentors, brite tanks, and then the whole system. It was a true apprenticeship, and I slowly found myself in the position to be the head brewer. I ran the restaurant 4 days a week, then brewed, cleaned, transferred and kegged two days a week for 6 years."
How did the name come about?
"Old 290 Brewery came from the fact that our main road throughout the property is the actual old 290 road to Fredericksburg from Johnson City."
What styles are you primarily focusing on?
"I mainly brew ales, but our most popular right now is the Vienna style lager, named the Ladybird Lager. However, I do love brewing some Hoppy beers as well as some “oakey” beers for that barrel aged feel. Luckily we have no shortage of barrels in the area. Whether they are bourbon or wine I am excited for the prospect of turning out some complex mouth/soul pleasers."
What size is the brewhouse?
"We have a 15 bbl Prospero brewhouse. Due to cold storage space we are brewing half batches to insure we have 6 beers on tap, more to come in the future."
Do you plan to distribute the beer, or will it just be available onsite?
"We would like to distribute to a few select local locations were draft beer is available. Currently there are no plans to bottle or can."
What else do you want readers to know about the brewery?
"We are going to be featuring live music and we will have space for events. I cannot wait for October to be here, I love a good Oktoberfest celebration. We offer a great “home base” for anyone wanting to experience the hill country, and all it has to offer. Which is a lot considering all the winery’s and distilleries around the area."