Earlier this month Sheryl and I went to the AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival. This is one of our favorite beer festivals of the year, and this year there were a ton of brewing companies there that we don’t normally see in Arizona. For instance, Cigar City Brewing brought cans of Jai Alai. Sun King Brewery was there pouring a bunch of beers including Fistful Of Hops. Later in the day, we found Hops & Grains and decided to try some of their beers.
They only had a couple of beers available, but I sparked a conversation with the guy pouring. I asked him, “How are you affiliated with the brewery.” His response was funny.
“Well, I founded the brewery. I write the recipes and I brew the beer. I am pretty familiar with the entire operation.” Sure enough he was right, and Josh Hare and I became quick friends. I really enjoyed his beers, too, and wanted to learn more about the brewery. That inspired this interview. I wasn’t able to visit the brewery in Austin, Texas, but promised Josh the next time I am in town I will swing by the brewery. Matter of fact, I’ve never been to Austin, so it gives me an excuse to go!
The beer festival was fun, and it allowed us to meet guys like Josh. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Josh Hare. Cheers!
Tell me more about Hops & Grain.
Hops & Grain is a 4-year-old brewery located just east of downtown in the thriving arts district of east 6th street. We currently offer 6 beers available year round in aluminum cans and kegs for draft service. Our team consists of twelve incredible men and women devoted to our mission of enhancing the human experience.
We met at AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival. But your beers are not distributed to Arizona. Where can people find your beers?
Our beers are currently distributed in the greater Austin area and some very limited distribution in Houston.
How many different beers do you brew? Out of those, how many are on draft and how many are available in cans/bottles?
We brew quite a few different beers from our hop forward Dispensary Series to our wild and sour series called the Volumes of Funk. 6 of our beers are packaged in cans and the rest are only available on draft.
There are a lot of brewing companies out there. When not drinking your own beer, who are some of your favorite brewing companies?
Some of my favorite breweries that are not located in our state are Odell Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Co., but my favorite local breweries are Austin Beerworks and Pinthouse Pizza.
What is your favorite style of beer?
Hop forward lagers.
What are brew biscuits?
Brew Biscuits are a line of dog treats that we produce by up cycling our spent brewing grain.
You guys are in Austin, Texas. Have you ever been to Austin City Limits?
Every year since the first! It’s a massive undertaking for the city, but ends up being a great showcase of the food and music that our town is known for. Unfortunately Anheuser-Busch has a stronghold on the sponsorship, so we don’t have as many local beers available at the festival but many can be found just down the road.
What does sustainability mean to you and the brewery?
Sustainability, to us, is a mindset. You never get it perfect, but being committed to reducing impact and providing a sustainable workplace for your team is at the core of what we believe in. Good planets are hard to find!
Have you ever made a mistake when brewing a batch of beer?
All the time; that’s the beauty in our industry is that we are constantly learning. If anyone tells you they haven’t made a mistake, then I would avoid their beer.
In your humble opinion, what is the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
The beer that I’m the most proud of is The One They Call Zoe because it’s enabled us to introduce so many people to all the other great products that we make. It’s a pleasantly dry hopped pale lager that is very hard to disagree with!
What is The Greenhouse?
The Greenhouse is a series of beers that we originally brewed on our 3 bbl pilot system. From that system we have introduced all of our year-round products based on the feedback that we receive in our tasting room, the only place where The Greenhouse offerings are available. It’s the place where we plant seeds and hope they grow into full blown adults!
Barrel aging beers seems to be a trend right now. We are starting to see breweries age in whiskey barrels, tequila barrels… Even rum barrels. Are you guys aging beers in barrels yet?
We’ve been barrel aging our beer since we opened in 2011. It’s not a large portion of our production, but it’s a wonderful place to incorporate flavors and textures that are next to impossible to bring out without the influence of oak.
Have you ever been to the Great American Beer Festival?
We’ve been every year since we’ve been open, and love it
What’s next for Hops & Grain?
We are in the middle of a big expansion that will increase our annual capacity to 10,000 bbls. After that is complete we’ll be working to maximize that new capacity and continue to innovate. And we’ll be releasing some large format bottles of our Volumes of Funk series later in the year.
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Do what you love because you love it, not because it’s the cool thing to do. Life’s a garden; dig it!