Hops & Grain brewer Josh Hare hadn’t even started brewing his first batch of beer in time to attend the 2011 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. Now he's in the midst of planning his first anniversary party on Sunday, Oct. 7, the day after this year’s festival, and exactly one year to the day from when the first batch of Hops & Grain beer was brewed.
It’s been quite a year for the upstart East Side brewery. Hops & Grain introduced two year-round beers in cans within four months of opening and is adding its third beer in a can called The One They Call Zoe, named for Hare's little Papillion dog. Hare set out to brew 650 to 700 barrels in the first year, but will actually produce about 1,000 barrels.
“I’m working a lot harder than I expected.” Right now we are brewing our 26th different style of beer. We’ve done all of these styles in our three barrel green house brewing system. It’s kept the creative juices flowing,” said Hare.
His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed: Hops & Grain won a Gold Medal for its Alt-eration German Pilsner in the German Brown Ale/Dusseldorf Style Altbier category at the 2012 World Beer Cup international beer competition. “This is a huge thing to win with a style of beer that is so old and has been done well by so many German breweries,” Hare continued.
For Hops & Grain, success has spurred growth: The brewery has upgraded from manual canning to automated canning line and added tanks that will triple production capacity; they also expanded space by 1,200 feet to include a barrel cellar for temperature-controlled aging.
“Making it through the first year is a big milestone. We’re still operating as sustainably and efficiently as we can, and we’re growing. I’m proud of the whole culture at the tap room," Hare said. "We wanted to build a cool community in a neighborhood, and we are starting to do that. It’s fun to see the neighbors coming into the tap room on Friday afternoons.”
The Hops & Grain first anniversary party will be held on Sunday, October 7 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the brewery in East Austin, where Sixth Street dead-ends at Calles Street. There will be food from the Backstage Grill, live music and 12 beers on tap, eight of which were brewed exclusively for the anniversary.
The highlight of the event will be the “Beer Mile” at 3 p.m., a four-lap running race where competitors chug a beer on every lap. Lace up your sneakers and see if you can beat Josh and Meg Hare in the final race. You have to be fast and hold down your beer until you cross the finish line. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased in the tap room or online.