Another Hops & Grain beer is going into year-round cans, available later this month: the 78702 kölsch-style beer, named after the close-knit and supportive neighborhood surrounding the brewery.
The homage to the east side of Austin, where Hops & Grain has successfully been making beer and drawing in legions of locals since 2011, comes at a pinnacle time for the ever-growing brewery — it has just launched an investment campaign for a new brewing facility that will open in the heart of San Marcos. Here’s some information about both pieces of the brewery’s big news.
Less than a year after Hops & Grain made A Pale Mosaic, an American-style IPA, one of its canned mainstays beers, the East Austin brewery is doing the same with the kölsch, the sort of German-style ale that Hops & Grain owner Josh Hare and his brewers excel at making. It’s going into bright yellow, green and white cans that will hit local bars and stores on June 27, in time for the Fourth of July holiday next month.
And in the meantime, it’s on draft at the brewery taproom and in a couple of other area watering holes, including the Brew & Brew for this “Kolsch Explosion” event at 6 p.m. tonight.
It’s partly thanks to the pleas of loyal fans (namely, Mike Lambert of the Beerists podcast) that the kölsch has been canned. The kölsch had originally been a limited draft-only offering, but now the hashtag Lambert and others used to persuade Hops & Grain, #canthekölsch, is front and center on the packaging.
Ultimately, though, Hare wants to pay tribute to the many other Austinites who live in the Hops & Grain zip code.
“A big part of my hope for Hops & Grain when I opened it was to showcase the neighborhood I lived in, and I always loved how loyal people in 78702 is to their community,” he said. “I wanted to be a positively contributing member, so everything from how we dispose of our waste to how we interact with our neighbors, all of that is about wanting to be a good member of the community… We’ve been committed to the ’02, as we call it. So (naming) it was just a fun way to let people know where our commitments lie and where we come from and showing our pride.”
When you start noticing the cans on shelves, look to the skies around Austin — Hare is launching a corresponding billboard campaign all over town to let locals unfamiliar with the Hops & Grain brand know that it exists.
“Our goals in growth, in a lot of ways, mirror a lot of what (Austin) Beerworks does; I think that’s partially why we’re such good friends,” he said, referring to the North Austin brewery’s expansion plans. “Our commitment is to go deeper into Austin, but we have no desire to go far and wide beyond that.”
Onward to San Marcos
But one area where Hops & Grain does want to expand into, in a big way, is the college town of San Marcos, where a new brewery and taproom will be housed and powered 100 percent by wind energy, as per Hare’s focus on sustainability.
The new facility, which is going under construction in the next few months and then opened for business within a year, doesn’t have a location officially locked down yet. But Hare does have extensive plans for how he will fund the project: with the help of investors who can contribute $100 to $10,000 and will receive double their investment amount. He’s not asking for help from venture capitalists rolling in dough; he’s started a crowd-funding campaign that anybody with the money can contribute to — and already, it’s seeing some big bucks.
In just the day or so since announcing the new location, Hops & Grain has met its funding goal, with 156 investors raising $196,555. That’s an impressive feat but not surprising for anyone who knows Hare, a young, health-minded entrepreneur with business savvy and a deep love of beer.
“Since Day 1 our goal has been to craft high quality beers that tell a compelling story and go beyond our customers’ expectations,” Hops & Grain’s funding campaign on wefunder.com notes. “We operate a full time on-site laboratory and craft some of the most exciting and innovative beers in Texas in pursuit of this goal — efforts we plan to double in San Marcos. And our customers love us: we’ve had 100% year over year growth in our first location since 2011.”
The San Marcos space will brew all of Hops & Grain’s current beers, from the 78702 to the Pale Dog, which was moved to a seasonal beer last year because of production constraints. But that’s the idea behind the second location: Hops & Grain will be able to double capacity with a 20,000 barrel brewhouse and bring back some of the beers that its current facility doesn’t have the ability to make.
It’s also sure to attract a variety of new fans, being so close to Texas State University and in the thick of a young, fast-growing town. And like the 78702 part of Austin, Hare intends to make the new Hops & Grain brewery part of the San Marcos community.
“With that commitment to community, we’re incredibly excited to be able to raise funds for the next phase of our growth through this crowdfunding platform,” according to the funding campaign. “Enabling anyone interested to invest in our company, not just the wealthiest investors, is incredibly gratifying and truly encapsulates our company culture.”