When Flix Brewhouse opened in Round Rock the summer of 2011, it was an experiment — a previously unheard-of combination movie theater and microbrewery. Sort of like the Alamo Drafthouse, except that the beer at Flix was and still is made in-house.
Needless to say, it’s proved to be a success. There are now a few additional Flix Brewhouses across the country, including two upcoming locations in Texas: one in Denton County and another in Sugar Land. And there are now big changes coming to the original Flix. With the upgrade to a 7-barrel system in June, the brewpub plans to double brewing capacity — allowing Flix to distribute into Austin.
Although very few bars will receive Flix beers on draft, that’s nonetheless a boon for Flix and head brewer Justin Rizza, who still hears groans from Austinites about how far of a drive north his brewery is.
“I want to have tap takeovers and introduce Austin to what Round Rock has to offer. Maybe inspire people to drive up here for a change,” he said.
He’s hoping the taste of Flix’s mainstay brews, like the Satellite Red IPA, Luna Rosa Wit and Saison de Walt (a tribute beer to Flix’s co-founder , Walt Powell) will lure more fans to try beers only available at Flix.
Having a bigger brewhouse will allow Rizza to produce a lot more specialty beers, including lagers, sours and other barrel-aged offerings. These are the beers that take up time and space to make, and now he’s got the room for them.
“We’ve done a couple bourbon barrel-aged beers, but I’m kind of more intrigued or inspired by the sour beers of Belgium,” Rizza said. “Most of the barrels I have are red wine barrels from Becker Vineyards. What I’ve been doing mostly is having the beer fermented clean, then transferred into the barrels with different blends of wild yeast and bacteria.”
The rotating Flix Funkhouse line where these funky beers come on has been building a following over time, Rizza said.
Plus, he’ll be able to make more beers that are based off movies. In December, when “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” first blasted into theaters, Flix Brewhouse released four “Star Wars” tribute beers; last month, when the theater was playing “Purple Rain” following Prince’s untimely death, Rizza put together a Little Red IPA. They tend to be hits, he said.
Even once the brewhouse is expanded, it’ll still be a little smaller than the ones at newer Flix locations. But that’s OK with Rizza, who has learned to make the most of a small space.
“I want to participate in Texas Craft Brewers Fest for the first time,” he said. “Business is on an up slope and not stopping. While we’ll be focusing production on keeping the tap wall filled here, we’ll send off core beers or seasonals as we can to take over the taps at the great multi-tap craft beer bars of Austin.”