Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Brewery Coming in Austin: Circle Brewing.

Great article in the Austin Statesmen. Beer is apparently making a STRONG push in Texas, despite the beer distributor lobby trying to hold them back. In addition to Southern Star in Conroe, we shall soon have another brewery just up 290 in Austin, TX. Granted, Circle Brewing's founders are Tennessee folk, and we don't take kindly those people down here, especially the old Houston Oilers fans. But regardless it looks like they are coming along great. Also, looks like Circle will have some comp with Jester Brewing as well. CHALLENGE!!!

To brew, perchance to dream
By Patrick Beach Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 02:41 PM

If fund-raising and everything else goes as planned, we’ll have two new small breweries that call Austin home.

First up: Jeffrey Stuffing’s Jester King Craft Brewery. The former attorney and home brewer since 2003 hung up his barrister’s cap in June to work on the project full-time.

“There was a realization that this wasn’t gonna happen unless I was fully devoted,” says Stuffings, who’s currently getting professional experience helping Brian Peters at Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que.

I sampled Stuffings’ India Pale Ale and it’s really, really good. More encouraging is his fondness for crazy stuff — barley wines, smoked beers, big Belgian and chocolate stouts — as well as sessionable beers. “I really have a foot in both camps,” he says. “Right now I’m committed to brewing what I like.

The guy believes that in a decade Austin’s beer market will be comparable “to a Denver or a Portland.” Let us hope.

Stuffings has raised some $100,000 of the $800,000 he says he needs to get going and he’s set a deadline of March of next year to haul in the dough, although obviously he’d like it to be more like the end of this year. His vice president is Joseph V. Maida, who left a career in medicine to make beer.

So is this eating your life?

“Yeah,” Stuffings says says. “And it’s cool.”
You can learn more, including reading the company’s executive summary, at the site linked above.

Then there’s Nashville natives Ben Sabel (above right) and Judson Mulherin (left), who are starting Circle Brewing Co. These two have professional backgrounds almost as surprising as lawyer and doctor — Sabel was a talent agent in L.A. (“You’re never off work. You’re never on vacation) while Mulherin worked as an aviation mechanic and contractor in Denver and San Diego

So they’re complementary — Sabel has an MBA, Mulherin is the self-described “grease monkey” (although he has a degree, too). They’ve raised about $185,000 of an estimated $425,000 or so they say they need to get going. To start they’re aiming to brew an amber, a blonde bock and a Texas wheat.

So on paper these guys might not seem as wacky as Stuffings’ impending offerings, but they believe it’s important to have a solid front line before putting more adventurous product out the door.

Says Sabel: “While we might be choosing common categories, our beers are not common-tasting. We’re trying to fill holes in the market, especially the Austin market.”

That makes good business sense, but one of my persistent, low-level complaints about Texas brewers as a whole is their relative reluctance to challenge Texas beer lovers more. After they get going I hope they find room for more niche offerings and lead the charge toward a true Texas beer renaissance.

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