North Austin brewery plans move to ranch land outside of the city, near Elgin

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North Austin brewery plans move to ranch land outside of the city, near Elgin

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Arianna Auber / American-Statesman
Circle Brewing's Lady Bird IPA is their latest year-round release, a 7.2 percent beer easy on the bitterness and full of tropical fruit flavors.

When the lease on its warehouse facility is up in a couple of years, Circle Brewing aims to make a big change — a move outside of Austin, where the brewers will have the space for their dream of running a destination brewery.

Their plans are in the very early stages now. The two Circle co-founders, Judson Mulherin and Ben Sabel, are still looking for the right plot of land to make the ambitious project happen. 

“We're going to change formats into a ranch-style brewery, fully sustainable and built from the ground up,” Mulherin said. 

That’ll be a drastic change from Circle’s current location on Braker Lane. The large warehouse with a brewery on one side and a taproom on the other gets drafty during cold winter days and rather warm during the steamy summer months. Though locals regularly flock to the taproom during open hours no matter the time of year, the brewery wants to be able to offer a more homey setting for people to drink Circle beers on-site.

“We want to eventually have livestock and some crops, and we want to do at least one beer with all Texas ingredients,” Mulherin said, noting that it might not be as hard to grow hops here as people might think. “We’re excited to build from the ground up a place that would be ours.” 

He and Sabel, two childhood friends who opened Circle in 2011, have chosen to look east of the city, near Elgin, because not much is there right now. Many subdivisions are being built, however.

Circle Brewing is currently located in what’s considered one of Austin’s best brewery hubs, a few-mile stretch of North Austin where the likes of Adelbert’s Brewery, Austin Beerworks, Oskar Blues, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op and Celis Brewing also have set up shop. 

What has always helped Circle to stand out in Central Texas’ increasingly crowded beer industry is its devotion to the ancient German beer purity law known as ‘reinheitsgebot,’ or a practice that dictates making beer with only the four main ingredients of water, hops, malt and yeast. Not many breweries follow it these days, but Circle does. The only time you’ll see ingredients like strawberries in Circle beer is if it’s on cask.

And that won’t change with the move outside of Austin, Mulherin said. 

The future isn’t the only thing that has him and Sabel excited. Circle Brewing has released a new beer in cans: the Lady Bird IPA, “one of our most highly rated year-round taps since we released it, pretty much,” he said.

The juicy IPA is made with a relatively unknown hop, Idaho 7, “which gives tons of tropical fruit flavors and a little bit of dankness,” Mulherin said. “We'd always planned on having a fourth hoppy release and had gotten rid of our Hop Overboard because it's not what people are looking for in the Austin market. They wanted something big; Hop Overboard was a session IPA.”

Look for the blue and yellow cans of Lady Bird on store shelves and in bars and restaurants very soon. Circle Brewing is hosting a can launch at the Mohawk on Friday

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