Austin brewpub Pinthouse Pizza to open third location in Round Rock

After finding a niche in Austin as a family-friendly brewpub selling beer and pizza, Pinthouse Pizza is moving a little north of the city for its newest location in Round Rock. Construction will start this summer at a plot of land at Old Settlers and Interstate 35.

It might take longer to get this third brewpub up and running because Pinthouse is starting from the ground up, erecting an entirely new building rather than simply retrofitting an existing one, as with the first two on Burnet Road and South Lamar Boulevard. The team behind Pinthouse, which includes Director of Brewing Operations Joe Morhfeld, is excited to put their stamp on the project from the start.

“We’ll have more space to do what we want,” he said.

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Pinthouse Pizza will be making many more beers at an upcoming Round Rock location.

And why Round Rock? The town is appealing because it’s become an outpost of other Austin chains like Hopdoddy and the site of new restaurants from established Austin chefs like Jack Gilmore, who opened Salt Traders Coastal Cooking there last year to strong reviews.

“It just kind of made sense for us to move there, looking at the other restaurants around there and how they’re doing and the demographic,” Mohrfeld said. “With the population shift and everything, it seemed like a natural fit for us. And there’s still open land that we were able to grab.”

For his part, Mohrfeld plans to approach the brewing program there in the same way he has the other two: offering new and different beers at it with Pinthouse’s indelible balanced style.

“You’ll never find Man O’ War (Pinthouse Burnet’s flagship beer) at the south location, just like you won’t find Electric Jellyfish (Pinthouse Lamar’s flagship beer) at the north location,” Jacob Passey, head brewer at the South Lamar brewpub, said. “We might make similar beers with some crossover recipes, but for the most part, if you always go south and you want to go north, we want you to be able to try new beers. Or vice versa.”

That will be the case at Round Rock: Morhfeld is considering making Training Bines, another Pinthouse IPA, the flagship at Round Rock. People at the Burnet pub have already gotten to try it, as he and the brewers work to perfect it.

“It’s same thing we did with Lamar,” the second Pinthouse location to open, he said. “We had been working on a lot of the beers for Lamar for a year plus leading up to it. We just took the stuff that worked and took it down there. So it’s not like we’re starting completely fresh. We’re able to incubate the beers at the two locations and see what works.”

One thing you can count on at the Round Rock spot: lots more exciting IPAs, Pinthouse’s specialty style. The brewpub was founded in 2012 and quickly established itself as the place to go for fresh takes on the beloved beer.

For more information about Pinthouse Pizza, visit pinthousepizza.com.

Orf Brewing finally arrives, making ‘hybrid’ ales in East Austin

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Chris Orf is slowly getting kegs of his beers to local bars and will open the tasting room of Orf Brewing very soon. His brewery has been a long time coming.

Chris Orf might have the smallest professional brewing system in town, but that hasn’t stopped him from opening Orf Brewing after 11 years of dreaming and planning.

The former homebrewer, comedy writer and chemistry teacher wanted to start a brewery since moving to Austin in 2006 and seeing the potential for his own operation. Although there are far more breweries now than there were then, he believes he’s maintained a niche by offering what he calls hybrid ales — beers that don’t stay true to style — and pairing them with live comedy shows in Orf Brewing’s modest taproom at Burleson Road and East Ben White Boulevard.

“That’s why I say ‘creativity in ale forms,’” Orf said, pointing to the pun on his branded Orf Brewing T-shirt. “That’s my goal, to be part of that community of both beer brewers and entertainment comedy. Combine them so that you can enjoy my beer while you’re having a good time at maybe my show or somebody else’s show.”

For now, he’s just wanting to introduce locals to his beers. The four that he makes are slowly going on draft at bars and restaurants like Craft Pride, Tamale House East and the Whip In, and they’ll also be available when he opens the Orf Brewing taproom for the first time on May 20 for tours and tastings.

Orf said he’s lucky to have gotten the 1,500 sq. ft. warehouse for his brewery — they can be hard to come by in Austin nowadays, and his has plenty of room for growth. He acquired it more than two years ago, demolished the interior (which formerly housed a very illegal hotel) and rebuilt it into a brewing facility. Although he’s had help from friends, he’s done most of it all by himself.

“This is pretty much a one-man DIY operation,” he said. “I’ve been working on this idea for years and years and finally just started doing it for real, slowly as it goes, because when there’s one person and no money, it’s just what you have to do.”

He brews using a 55-gallon system, which is “really, really sweet for a homebrewer and really, really tiny for a professional brewer,” he said, and has bootstrapped together other aspects of the beer-making process that require technology he hasn’t been able to afford yet. He’s hoping for investors who will help him purchase a bigger system and better equipment.

In the meantime, the former University of Texas chemistry instructor — who said he gets joking comparisons all the time to Walter White in “Breaking Bad” as a result — continues to spread the gospel of hybrid beers. He started making beers purposely off-style after growing tired of the likes of pilsners, hefeweizens and pale ales. Orf Brewing take elements from these and other styles and combines them to make beers that he said aren’t quite like anything else on the market.

Here’s what he has to say about each of the four Orf beers.

  • Salutation Ale: “I would consider this one, a golden ale, to be my flagship. It’s got the grains of a pilsner, the hops of an American pale ale, and the yeast of a German kolsch. So it’s not quite any of them but somewhere in between.”
  • Honey Roast: “Honey Roast is exactly what it sounds like: I wanted something not as sweet as an amber but not as smoky and toast-filled as a black schwarzbier or black IPA. So this has a little bit of roasted barley and a little bit of honey, and it’s somewhere in between the two styles.”
  • Hoprocker India Irish Red Ale: “Hoprocker is my response to IPAs getting more and more bitter. I can’t handle this peel-the-enamel-off-your-teeth bitterness. And I like Irish reds. So I took an Irish red and hopped it like an IPA, giving it the malt body of the red with the hops of an IPA. It comes out a little more malty than an IPA does, but it’s a lot more hoppy than a typical red.”
  • Oocheemama Asian White Ale: “This is the one getting the most attention because it’s the most distinct. Oocheemama is what I call an Asian white ale because it’s a hybrid of a Belgian white and an Asian or Thai rice lager, specifically spiced to go with Asian food, like sushi. It’s got wheat and rice in the grain bill (usually you get one or the other), and then I spiced it. Instead of spicing it like a Belgian wit, which is usually coriander and orange peel, stuff like that, I used a little bit of orange peel, nutmeg, a bunch of ginger, and then I dry-hopped it, for lack of a better term, with jasmine flower petals. “

He got the idea for Oocheemama, he said, after talking to a former beer buyer for Uchi, who was frustrated about not being able to find a beer that would pair with Uchi cuisine.

With the Oocheemama, he found one. Its use of a dry English ale yeast mixed with a Belgian-style wheat beer and Asian-style spices makes the beer perhaps the best example of the sort of hybrid beers that Orf likes to make, but you won’t particularly notice the science when appreciating the art: the alluring aroma of the jasmine flowers followed by the earthy, sweet and spicy flavors of the other ingredients.

“Because it’s a lighter-than-normal wheat beer, that kind of lets the spices come through in a way that pairs really well with the food,” Orf said, noting that he hopes to have it at the Whip In so that people can enjoy it with Indian cuisine.

Orf Brewing will be open 1 to 6 p.m. May 20 at 4700 Burleson Rd., F. For more information, visit orfbrewing.com/home.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Orf Brewing has a small beer garden outside, tucked around a massive oak tree that owner Chris Orf estimates is 250 to 300 years old.

This post has been corrected to reflect the beer buyer who helped to inspire the creation of Oocheemama.

Flying Man Brewing set to soar in old Rogness building this summer

Flying Man Brewing is opening in Rogness Brewing’s old space, which the new owners are in the process of renovating to make their own.

The two co-founders behind an upcoming Pflugerville brewery seemed to have an easy start to their project.

They purchased the building that formerly housed Rogness Brewing, as well as all of the brewing equipment left behind, in August. They expected Flying Man Brewing, because of that, would be open in no time — but are now anticipating a summertime debut of the brewery and taproom, with an Indiegogo campaign up now to raise last-minute funds.

Adam Caudill and Matt Barker, who met through their mutual loves of flying and homebrewing, decided they didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the former tenants, Rogness, which closed up shop in mid-July with the promise that another brewery, in another space, was on the way. The building also needed plumbing and electrical updates to satisfy the City of Austin, which annexed that part of town after Rogness had already opened in 2012.

Now, Caudill and Barker are neck-deep in sawdust, pipes and the construction tools that will bring their smartly designed vision to life.

“It’s been a much bigger project than we originally thought,” Barker said. “We could have just left it exactly the way that it was, but we wanted to make it our own. That was really important to us because the ante’s going up every single day. You go into a brewery and you want a certain wow factor. For us, we want people to come in and leave and tell their friends, ‘Dude, you really need to check that place out. It looks amazing.'”

But Flying Man Brewing won’t just awe with a cool taproom. The two owners have hired Dan Wheeler, a former brewer at Rogness — and, most recently, at Solid Rock Brewing — who knows the ins and outs of the building and brewing system and how to update both to make them better.

As a result of his influence, the quality of the beer and the overall taproom experience for customers will also be better than it would have been, the Flying Man founders said.

“Dan’s become a pretty key part with what we’re doing now,” Caudill said. “He’s been able to help us future-proof the brewery. We’re going to be able to grow without any really big steps changing what we have to do. I think once we’re up and running that we’ll have room for a canning line. We have allocated space for that now.”

Wheeler, for his part, is excited to take the lessons he learned at Rogness and apply them to Flying Man. Caudill and Barker already knew they wanted to add insulation and install a large 18-foot fan on the ceiling to make the space more welcoming to taproom visitors, but Wheeler is able to share with them brewing-related ideas that he wishes could have been implemented at Rogness if the finances had been available.

“Now that we’re part of the city, everything has to be kind of brought to a different level, and it’s been fun going through there and making those changes and making them in a way that’s going to benefit the brewery,” he said. “It’s going to be easier to work in and hopefully make us more productive. Get more beer out there.”

He’ll be in charge of the brewing operations, for the most part, but each of them plan to contribute their recipes. Barker, for example, makes an orange-chocolate porter beloved among his friends and family that will now be made on a larger scale.

Flying Man Brewing will also release a blonde, a seasonal wheat, a saison, a red ale, an IPA, a double IPA and a stout, in addition to constantly rotating experimental brews. Because it’s licensed as a brewpub, Flying Man will offer bottles and crowlers of all of these beers to go. But before any customers visit the space, there will be a couple of beers already on the market to introduce locals ahead of time to what Flying Man can do.

“One of the first couple of beers we do is going to be a honey wheat with a little bit of molasses in it. It’s a pre-Prohibition German-style ale that I’ve done for several years and everyone seems to love,” Wheeler said.

Caudill and Barker are still brainstorming beer names, but they’re hoping to have an aviation theme with each of them. Barker is a competition hang glider pilot; Caudill, on the other hand, prefers paragliding. (Those might seem like similar windswept activities — think again.)

As a result of this other shared passion, both want to make sure their brewery becomes a hangout for people in the aviation industry. It was fellow pilots, often drinking their homebrew after flights and swapping “I thought I was going to die up there” stories, Barker said, who first encouraged them to open a brewery.

The Indiegogo campaign hopes to raise $25,000 toward that goal. Whether Flying Man Brewing is able to open by the end of summer isn’t dependent on the money, Caudill said, although it’ll certainly help.

“These projects are expensive, more than we budgeted for,” he said. “And to do it right, to finish it, we’ve got to raise some capital. We’re going to make it happen either way, but we think it’s an opportunity to reach out to the local market and offer them something and get a boost out there: who we are, what we’re about. We’ll offer them something, but in return we can finish the plumbing, the electrical, the backyard.”

Right now, Flying Man has about $3,500, with a little more than two weeks left until the campaign ends. To donate, check out the progress of the construction, or learn more about the brewery, visit facebook.com/FlyingManBeer.

One of the changes that Flying Man Brewing is making to the former Rogness space is placing the taproom bar directly across from the brewing equipment.

Two Wheel Brewing opens as Buda’s first and only brewery

Contributed by Two Wheel Brewing. Two Wheel Brewing founder Marc Woffenden, center, runs the Buda brewery with Doug Korte and Dennis Howell.

The founders of Two Wheel Brewing didn’t expect such a large turnout when it quietly opened for the first time last Friday — but Buda residents, in the town just south of Austin, had been thirsting for a brewery of their own for awhile and lined up out the door for a first taste of the beer.

That instant enthusiasm is gratifying for Marc Woffenden, who co-founded the brewery with his wife, Alexis, after he decided to turn his homebrewing hobby into something more. So far, Two Wheel Brewing is only open on Friday evenings, but as the brewery gets up and running — and as more beers are added to the tap wall in the tasting room — those hours will expand.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Two Wheel Brewing opened last weekend with two beers, the Budaful Blonde Ale and the Twin Creeks Pale Ale.

Woffenden, an Austin resident since the early 1990s, loves Texas’ vibrant capital city but deliberately chose its smaller southern neighbor for the brewery.

“We wanted to go to a community where a brewery would be welcomed,” he said.

And welcomed it was: He didn’t need to do much persuading to get Buda’s city officials on board with Two Wheel Brewing during the early planning stages. In an initial meeting, he told them what he wanted to do, and right away “about four of them said, ‘Done. Let’s do it.’ From day one, the city and the community was literally behind us,” he said.

Their support made steps like permitting easy, he said.

Although Woffenden and his wife had searched for property to lease, they ultimately decided to build a brewery from scratch on land just off South Loop Four, south of Buda’s charming Main Street. They bought the acreage in 2014, started construction in 2015 and wrapped it up late last year.

Besides Alexis, Woffenden has also relied on employees Dennis Howell and Doug Korte to launch Two Wheel Brewing. He met Howell through the American Brewers Guild in Vermont, a brewing school they attended, and got to know Korte through a softball league both participated in, albeit on opposing sides.

“We used to heckle each other for at least five years before we started working together here at the brewery,” Woffenden joked.

Now, he and Howell handle all the brewing, while Korte, the chief financial officer, manages many of the other duties necessary for running a business.

Two Wheel Brewing will have three beers on tap when it opens again on Friday: Budaful Blonde Ale, Twin Creeks Pale Ale and Amber German-style Altbier. The first two brews debuted last week, and the pale ale, “an old-school pale because it’s not pushed to the brink of hoppiness,” was particularly well-received, Woffenden said.

Next Friday will see the introduction of another Two Wheel beer, a West Coast-style IPA; after that, an ESB and a porter will join the lineup. The various styles are a result of the two brewers’ contrasting tastes.

“Dennis brewed up in New York, so he does East Coast-style beers like New England IPAs and the darker malty beers like porters and stouts. I like more of the lighter, crisper beers,” Woffenden said. “It’s been fun working together and coming up with recipes. We’ll have a nice mix.”

He’s proud of the new altbier — an Old World style not often produced here — but is especially hoping the Budaful Blonde Ale takes off because it’s for a good cause. Two Wheel Brewing is donating a portion of the proceeds from each pint of the blonde sold to a different local cause each month, starting with the PAWS Shelter of Central Texas in nearby Kyle.

The blonde is “our Buda beer,” he said.

Before founding Two Wheel Brewing, he worked as an elementary and middle school teacher. He loved his job, he said, but just couldn’t shake himself of the brewer’s bug and alternated his time between teaching and getting schooled himself at the American Brewers Guild. He graduated from the school in 2013; Howell followed suit in 2016.

At the moment, their main goal for Two Wheel, which has a brewpub permit versus a production brewery license, is to sell a bulk of their boozy product at the tasting room, for both on- and off-site consumption. (Growlers are coming soon.) The rest will eventually be sold at local bars and restaurants but only in draft format, not cans or bottles.

“We want to create a space where people come to hang out,” Woffenden said.

Although he said the tasting room remains a work-in-progress, it’s already got a handful of picnic benches, and a garage-style door at the front opens up to a small patio with more seating. More tables will be added to the yard.

Similarly still in the works is the main brewhouse at Two Wheel Brewing: Woffenden and Howell are currently brewing off a small 1 bbl pilot system and haven’t fully transitioned to the 20 bbl juggernaut nearby. But just having gotten this far is a good feeling for Woffenden, who named his brewery after his and Alexis’ longtime mutual hobby of biking.

“We say that we’re always on two wheels. Then us being the two owners, we’re the two wheels of the brewery also,” he said.

For now, Two Wheel Brewing is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays at 535 S. Loop 4; eventually, hours will be expanded to 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 12 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 12 to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit twowheelbrewing.com or facebook.com/twowheelbrewing.

Contributed by Two Wheel Brewing. Two Wheel Brewing is Buda’s first and only brewery, built from the ground up by Austin couple Marc and Alexis Woffenden.

Daughter of famed Belgian brewer to bring Celis Brewery back to Austin

Contributed by Celis Brewery. Christine Celis and her daughter Daytona Camps are resurrecting the legacy of Christine's father, Pierre Celis, with the upcoming Celis Brewery in North Austin.
Contributed by Celis Brewery. Christine Celis and her daughter Daytona Camps are resurrecting the legacy of Christine’s father, Pierre Celis, with the upcoming Celis Brewery in North Austin.

The daughter of famed Belgian brewer Pierre Celis — who introduced Austin to good beer in the 1990s with the area’s first craft brewery, Celis — gets to use her and her father’s surname after all with her upcoming brewery.

Christine Celis announced last year that she would open a brewery in North Austin using her father’s old recipes, such as the Belgian witbier called Celis White that so captivated locals nearly three decades ago, but at the time she didn’t have the rights to the name Celis Brewery and called her project Flemish Fox Brewery & Craftworks.

Now, Celis Brewery is returning in full, with a targeted opening in April at 10001 Metric Blvd.

Christine recently reacquired the ‘Celis’ trademark from Total Beverage Solution and Craftbev International Amalgamated., Inc., the former domestic and international owners of the rights. Making that deal and having the Celis name back, she says, feels like “mission accomplished.”

“I was going to do whatever it took to get the name back in my family,” she says. “I think it was important for us but also for Austin, with Celis as Austin’s very first brewery, to have that legacy. We have a beautiful brewery to show for it. It’s here to stay, and it’s not going away.”

The two companies from whom Christine was able to buy back the rights to the Celis name were the last in a line of companies starting with Miller that owned the rights after Pierre sold to Miller in 2000, being unable to fully meet the demand for his beers. Even though Pierre’s dream of gaining Celis Brewery back didn’t come to fruition, it has, at least, for Christine, who intends to preserve much of his former vision alongside her daughter, third-generation brewer Daytona Camps.

Preserving Pierre Celis’ legacy extends to many of the beers that Celis Brewery will have on tap, including Celis White and Celis Grand Cru, two of his most well-known beers. The Celis White will even be made with the same original Belgian yeast strain that he carefully preserved for many years, even after losing the rights to his Austin brewery.

“It’s been 17 years without the Celis White as he made it, as I have not had the one with the original yeast strain,” Christine says. “It’s such an important component of the beer.”

But when visitors come to Celis Brewery in its first month being open, that beer probably won’t be available just yet. She says she wants to launch with a trio of IPAs — a Belgian-style IPA and two New England-style IPAs — and have Pierre’s original brews debut in the following month or two, “to give (people) a reason to come back to the taproom,” she says.

The taproom itself might be reason enough. Its most eye-catching feature will be a bar made out of one of the original Celis Brewery’s old copper kettles, cut in half so that the bottom serves as the base around which people will sit, with the top acting as a dome above. Eventually, Celis Brewery will also have a cafe and beer garden with lots of outdoor seating, but that’s going to be a future project, Christine says. For now, the focus is on getting the brewery up and running in the more than 20,000 sq. ft. space.

A good-sized portion of that space will be devoted to a nearly 50 barrel brewhouse “modified to the way my dad had his when he first started brewing,” Christine said. She was able to get the system made with the proper specifications thanks to Bert Van Hecke, a brewery engineer and consultant for Celis Brewery.

Another future project is particularly important to her: adding a beer museum that will showcase Pierre Celis’ original brewing equipment, which include a historic but weathered open mash tun, as well as two copper kettles, an open fermenter and a coolship for open-air fermentation. These aren’t the same pieces he brewed with in Austin in the 1990s.

Before he came to America, he worked at the old Hoegaarden brewery in Belgium, making it a household name with the introduction of the Belgian witbier recipe that became Celis White. Last year, his daughter brought over much of the original equipment he used, in the hopes of restoring it and displaying it at the new Celis Brewery. As much as she wants to show it off, she knows the most important thing right now is simply getting her brewery open.

“First of all, I want to focus on the Celis Brewery and make sure that’s really done; then I can focus on the next project, which is building the museum,” she says. “I want to make sure we put it all in place like he had it in Hooegarden, so when you walk in, it’ll be almost like an identical copy.”

Contributed by Celis Brewery. The logo for the upcoming Celis Brewery will be reminiscent of the original one for fans who remember Celis in the 1990s.
Contributed by Celis Brewery. The logo for the upcoming Celis Brewery will be reminiscent of the original one for fans who remember Celis in the 1990s.

In the meantime, she and her daughter, Daytona, will be among the key people re-introducing Austin to Celis. There are plenty of people who remember Celis and are excited to have it back, but there are also many who will simply see Celis Brewery as the latest beer maker to open in this beer-loving town.

As a result, Celis Brewery will have an updated look — somewhat.

“The logo is going to be pretty much the same, but we’re going to update it to the 21st century,” Christine Celis says. “It’s going to look a little brighter. The people who bought Celis, they’ll recognize it right away.”

In addition to offering Celis beers on draft, she also plans to sell cans and bottles.

To keep an eye on the Celis Brewery’s progress and an announcement of a more official opening date, visit facebook.com/CelisBeers.

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This post has been corrected to reflect the address of Celis Brewery is 10001 Metric Blvd.

Austin Beerworks to host next pop-up of the Brewer’s Table

Photo by Tyler Malone. The Brewer's Table founder Jake Maddux, center, is hosting another pop-up with head brewer Drew Durish and executive chef Zach Hunter at Austin Beerworks.
Photo by Tyler Malone. The Brewer’s Table founder Jake Maddux, center, is hosting another pop-up with head brewer Drew Durish and executive chef Zach Hunter at Austin Beerworks.

The upcoming restaurant-brewery The Brewer’s Table has been hosting pop-ups in Austin and around the country, but those have mainly provided early tastes of what the food will be.

Now, beer lovers can also get a taste of the boozy side of the business.

On Feb. 19, the newly opened Austin Beerworks taproom is playing host to The Brewer’s Table team, which includes owner Jake Maddux, executive chef Zach Hunter (previously of Fixe) and head brewer Drew Durish (formerly of Live Oak Brewing). At the afternoon tasting, they’ll have samples of The Brewer’s Table’s signature beer and a small selection of bar snacks.

The casual event is in contrast to previous pop-ups at local restaurants Franklin Barbecue and Olamaie, which offered full sit-down meals for people to try.

This time, The Brewer’s Table will have free pours of their flagship brew, the Common Lager, designed by Durish but brewed for the pop-up by the Austin Beerworks team. Pair the beer with complimentary bites like beer nuts, made with candied chickpeas, puffed grains and seeds, chile and black lime.

Additional Austin Beerworks beers will also be available for purchase.

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Here’s the full menu of bar bites that Austinites will eventually enjoy at The Brewer’s Table, which is opening this year at 4715 E. Fifth St. Owner Maddux has envisioned the space to have wood-fermented beers and seasonally minded food that will have complementary flavors with the drinks.

  • Beer nuts
  • Smoked fish and cauliflower dip with Meyer lemon, salt and vinegar beer chips
  • Rye cured chicken rillette with root vegetable escabeche and sourdough rye bread
  • Beer grain falafel with farmer’s cheese and hop leaf harissa

The pop-up runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19. To RSVP, visit The Brewer’s Table’s event page on Facebook.

Hi Sign Brewing to open with four beers, including New England IPA

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hi Sign Brewing is introducing itself to Austin with a pale ale, left, and a blood-orange coffee stout, New England IPA and blonde ale.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hi Sign Brewing is introducing itself to Austin with a pale ale, left, and a blood-orange coffee stout, New England IPA and blonde ale.

Marine Corps veteran Mark Phillippe is about to open the latest Austin brewery thanks in part to the advice of two close friends and mentors who have made careers through the local beverage industry.

He is the founder of Hi Sign Brewing, which will quietly open its doors on Sunday just north of the intersection of Highway 183 and Texas 71 and plans to celebrate a grand opening in mid-March during South by Southwest. The brewery, located in a 6,600 sq. ft. warehouse space including an airy taproom, an automated brewhouse and a private events room, is the result of seven years of Phillippe’s hard work.

After a deployment to Afghanistan and nearly four full years in the military, he needed to find a new career — and decided, after many talks with Tito’s Handmade Vodka founder Tito Beveridge and Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka founder Clayton Christopher, that owning a brewery in Austin would bring him the most satisfaction.

“It seemed like a career you were passionate about wasn’t about the money,” he said. “I’d see them and how much they were enjoying their lives, and it was because they’d found something they had a lot of passion for.”

Although Christopher and Beveridge both found their fortunes through vodka, Phillippe is banking on beer because of a love for the fermented beverage that he discovered at his family’s Montana cabin in the early 2000s. He’s enlisted Andrew Shelton, formerly of Revolver Brewing, to take on the head brewer position at Hi Sign Brewing — a job that has so far stretched Shelton’s creative brewing muscles.

Hi Sign is opening with four beers: a blonde ale, a pale ale, a New England IPA and a blood-orange coffee stout made with Café Ubuntu beans roasted by Allegro Coffee.

The New England IPA — a quasi-style of beer marked by hazy, juicy and not-so-bitter characteristics from lots of hops — is relatively new to Austin, providing Hi Sign a niche. In town, IPA master Pinthouse Pizza is the most known for experimenting with them (most notably with the highly sought-after Electric Jellyfish), but Hi Sign is hoping to draw attention to the style as well.

Shelton, who arrived most recently from Big Storm Brewing in Florida, had never done one before but researched New England IPAs (also called Northeastern-style IPAs) before drafting a recipe for Hi Sign’s version. The result is a cloudy, tangerine-colored brew that “someone might drink and be like, ‘Is this orange juice?’ In my mind, that means we’ve got a brewer who knows what he’s doing,” Phillippe said.

Although the beer hasn’t proven easy to do because of the amount of hops required to make it, Shelton said he is excited to continue experimenting with the “unique project. How do you come up with new techniques that will keep it hoppy but not lose the flavor, the haziness? It’s going to be fun to work out.”

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Introducing Austin to a true-to-style New England IPA was Phillippe’s idea. So was the blood-orange coffee stout made with lightly roasted Kenyan beans, a caffeinated collaboration with his friend Zane Wilemon. Shelton, however, decided a pale ale in the lineup was a good idea “to have a safe beer. It’s kind of in between the blonde ale and the New England IPA in terms of hoppiness,” he said.

The blonde ale, the first Hi Sign brew, was the result of needing a simple, easy-to-produce beer that would calibrate the new 15-barrel brewhouse system, which has been automated through Siemens technology. Having a system that heavily automated — and able to more easily produce the same good-quality beers over and over again, a consistency that Phillippe has sought from the start — is unusual for such a young brewery, but he believes “keeping the beer consistent” is important.

That’s part of what he has learned is key from the counsel of Beveridge and Christopher, who pushed him to pursue Hi Sign Brewing from the conception of his vision. Both have taught him that it’s OK to fail but that it’s best to “learn enough to be dangerous and then go out and hire the best,” he said.

The brewery gets its name from a sign he would regularly see during visits to his family’s Montana cabin in college, in the small town of Lincoln. Those seemingly innocuous vacations, it turned out, would mark the start of a growing passion for craft beer. The sign just seemed to symbolize the turning point those days served for him, he said.

“Someone had taken a barrel top, a big white barrel top, and some red reflective tape and written the word ‘hi’ on it. And then nailed it to this post. So it acted as a sign marker. So what you’d say is, ‘Turn at the hi sign,'” he said.

Before you turned at the sign, however, you’d make sure you were armed with beer to last you the trip.

“The thing to do up there, 15 years ago and still to this day, is fly into the airport, find a brewery and pick up your five or six growlers of beer for the weekend and then go to your cabin,” he said. “You go fish and hang out. We would be sitting on these little hand-made benches around a bonfire at night and drinking beer out of growlers. That was the first time I could remember drinking an IPA and thinking, ‘Wow, what is this? This is really good beer.'”

Hi Sign Brewing is located at 1201 Old Bastrop Hwy. After this weekend, taproom hours will be 2 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, noon to midnight Fridays-Sundays. For more information, visit facebook.com/hisignbrewing.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. IPAs generally aren't supposed to be hazy, but a sub-style of the hoppy beer that originated in the Northeast U.S. has made them not only hazy but lacking in bitterness as well. Hi Sign Brewing is introducing one to the Austin market.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. IPAs generally aren’t supposed to be hazy, but a sub-style of the hoppy beer that originated in the Northeast U.S. has made them not only hazy but lacking in bitterness as well. Hi Sign Brewing is introducing one to the Austin market.