Sometimes, dreams just don’t work out the way we imagine them — but that hasn’t stopped one local entrepreneur from opening his second attempt at a brewery.
Thousand Oaks Brewing is now operating in the former Twisted X Brewing space in Cedar Park, which had only last year been occupied by IronSight Brewers. That brewery had been the collaboration of Grady Reynolds and Robert Chaney, brothers-in-law who shared the vision of opening a brewery.
Although the pair ultimately parted ways after not agreeing on the direction they wanted to take IronSight, Reynolds held onto the warehouse and transformed it into Thousand Oaks Brewing with the help of brewer Dave Heath, formerly of Rogness Brewing. He’s created four new beer recipes that are giving the new brewery, opened on weekends for tastings, a promising start in the Austin marketplace.
The closing of IronSight “wasn’t what I wanted to happen, but I’m glad it did because of where we’re at now. Kind of bittersweet, if you will,” Reynolds said.
It has become the best possible outcome for both him and Heath: Thousand Oaks provides a second chance at a dream job for both. Heath, who worked at Live Kombucha just before this position, had been looking for a way to get back into brewing beer and responded immediately to Reynolds’ job posting earlier this summer. They got to work within weeks on construction and opened the brewery about three months ago.
The beers have been launched on draft at area bars and eateries — including Cover 2 on Research Boulevard and the Growler Room on Burnet Road — within the past month. Already, reception has been positive, especially with Thousand Oaks’ flagship, the Rye Blonde.
Don’t let the style of the beer fool you. Though it’s a blonde ale, it’s got a striking amount of character thanks to the rye and embodies the type of beer that the duo wants to make: simple and straightforward, albeit with “a lot of in-depth flavors,” Reynolds said.
“During running the tasting room at Rogness, I’d get a lot of those ‘I don’t drink that dark beer’ kind of guys, and what they mean is, ‘I don’t drink anything that isn’t Bud, Miller or Coors,'” Heath said. “This is kind of my response to those guys. If you don’t want a big, heavy beer, that’s fine, but you can have a craft beer that’s light and enjoyable and that you can drink a lot of if you wanted to, but it also has flavor and it’s interesting.”
In fact, these sturdy, well-made brews that lack flashy ingredients are good examples of the direction he thinks craft beer as a whole is headed: not toward the extremes where it’s already been, he said, but back to the center, to the heart of why small breweries got started in the first place as a response to macro beer.
Eventually, Thousand Oaks Brewing — which also makes an amber ale, a pale ale and a porter — will have more exotic offerings like a barleywine or a double IPA. But for now, Heath said, the goal is to make “solid, approachable craft beer.”
“I think people into craft are getting worn out with the hoppiest beer ever, the most alcoholic beer ever, all those different ways of brewing,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with them, but now that we’re done with the extremes, we’re just concentrating on really good examples of what we’re trying to brew. Like a rye blonde. How do you make a blonde interesting? Everyone makes a blonde… I think the craft beer scene is getting through its crazy teenager years and getting to this point of, ‘Let’s just make some good examples of regular beers that you can sit and enjoy on any old day.'”
His attitude seems to match those of Thousand Oaks’ visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, who come simply because they want to have a good time. On Fridays, Reynolds said, the brewery attracts regulars from the surrounding neighborhood in Cedar Park, while Saturdays tend to have farther-flung “beer travelers” from Austin.
“I would love for (this part of town off) 1431 to be the Jester King, Thirsty Planet, Twisted X kind of area where people spend a couple hours at each place in an afternoon,” he said, noting how close Whitestone Brewery and Red Horn Coffee House and Brewpub are.
Thousand Oaks’ brewery is tiny, with only a single picnic bench inside for seating, but there’s plenty of space outside for people — and their kids and dogs — to hang out. Kids often ride their bikes up and down the drive separating each of the other warehouses around Thousand Oaks and doodle “hearts and rainbows about two feet wide on everything,” Heath said. “Friday nights and Saturdays are pretty fun. It’s nice to have my family be around for my professional life.”
Pets are also welcome. When Reynolds is around — he still works half the year in the oil fields — his dogs are, too.
“Piper and Whiskey are the brewery dogs,” he said. “They either wrestle with each other or sun bathe.”
One day, he and Heath hope to have a larger brewery, akin to Whitestone, while still keeping it small enough that fans will always know who the brewers are. Canned beers, to reach the people who won’t make a visit, are also a goal.
Thousand Oaks Brewing is located at 3200 Woodall Dr. #C-1, Cedar Park, with hours of 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit thousandoaksbrewing.com or facebook.com/thousandoaksbrewery.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Thousand Oaks is available at the Growler Room.