Lager than life
East Austin craft brewery hops south of town to open brand-new taproom
San Marcos has been luring Austinites down I-35 for years, thanks to its upscale outlet shops, pristine rivers, and quaint town square. Now Austin-based brewery Hops & Grain is giving them a whole new reason to make the trek with the opening of a new brewery and taproom at 110 E. Martin Luther King Dr. on March 18.
According to chief communication officer Sheila Garcia, the move was partly out of necessity. “We were running out of space to produce the beer that locals are thirsty for,” she explains.
Instead of moving to a larger facility in Austin, founder Josh Hare decided to take the operation on the road. San Marcos’ outdoors-loving culture was a perfect fit for the brand — and the proximity to Austin allows the team to share resources between the two locations.
Like its Capital City cousin, the San Marcos brewery has sustainability worked into its DNA. Garcia says the green initiatives at the new spot include using 100-percent wind power, repurposing hot water to clean out the tank, and using a carbon dioxide recapturing machine from Austin company Earthly Labs.
The new outpost will take over from current Calles Street operation in East Austin in producing popular core beers like The One They Call Zoe, A Pale Mosaic, and Porter Culture. Meanwhile, the original location will transition into a research and development facility, while keeping its taproom fully functional.
The increased production capability will allow the brewery to eventually expand its reach deeper into Houston, West, and North Texas, although Garcia admits H&G isn’t in any rush. “We are not growing before we are ready,” she says.
Growth or not, the San Marcos location aims to be a part of the city’s community. “San Marcos is its own city and deserves its own spotlight,” says Garcia, noting that the brewery employs mostly locals and has been donating a percentage of the sales from the brand's River Beer lager to the San Marcos River Foundation for two years.
Hops & Grain is also working with another local business in a unique partnership. Next door restaurant Industry allows customers to order from the restaurant’s menu, then take a number next door. Servers then deliver food to patrons inside the brewery and make sure the bussing stations are kept spick and span. Soon, the eatery will be using Hop & Grain’s brews to create snacks like a mustard beer cheese.
“It’s essentially a food truck, but it happens to be a brick-and-mortar,” Garcia jokes.
Overall, Garcia says the company has had a positive reaction from the community, even while it is operating with limited hours. The full hours of 10 am to 10 pm kick off March 25 ahead of the April 20 grand opening. That occasion will be marked with a day of fun including live music, other entertainment, and pop-ups for local vendors.