Two female brewery owners to bring brewing back to downtown Austin

6:16 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 Drinks
Tamir Kalifa/Tamir Kalifa for American-States
Beer may be pouring as soon as next year at a planned brewery in the building where the Austin Visitor Center is located, a prime spot downtown.

Austin seems to get a new brewery every month — but since Lovejoy’s Taproom closed in the summer of 2012, the downtown area hasn’t had one. Two local women, Julie Ballato and Angela Duley, aim to change that with the aptly named Central District Brewing, to be located at 417 Red River St. near the Austin Convention Center.

After the Aug. 3 Austin City Council meeting, they are one step closer to opening but still have a long way to go. The location — retail space in the northwest corner of the Austin Convention Center Parking Garage, just south of Fifth Street — is owned by the city, which means East Holly LLC, the company Ballato and Duley founded to open their brewery, needed permission from the Austin City Council to officially rent it.

Now that they’ve gotten it, they still have to finalize a lease agreement. But Ballato already feels like they’ve overcome a big obstacle on the road to opening Central District Brewing. She had first seen the building in 2014 and, after walking the 3,580 sq. ft. of space within it, felt “our idea really came together within that space,” she said.

“We knew (opening the brewery) was going to be a longer process because the property is owned by the City of Austin, but it was worth it,” she said.

No doubt another obstacle or two will try to block her and Duley’s path to opening the brewery, but right now, the co-owners are planning on a late 2018 ETA.

Central District Brewing is going to be a family affair: Ballato and Duley’s husbands are also directly involved. Duley’s husband, Adam, will head up the brewing program, and Joe Ballato, as chief product officer, will lend his expertise in product development at marketing the brewery. He’ll also work in the brewhouse when he can.

Adam Duley has the bona fides to craft a beer program in what will become Austin’s most centrally located brewery, having homebrewed for many years and apprenticed at The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing in California for six weeks (where another brewer, Nathan Crane of Friends & Allies Brewing, also forged his brewing chops). Already, Duley is putting together the beers that will be on offer at Central District.

“We’re not aiming for a specific style, like all sours or or all IPAs or something,” Ballato said. “Adam likes to call it ‘approachable’ beer, beers that will appeal to a wider audience since we’ll be downtown and we feel like we’ll have a wide spectrum of guests. We want to make sure we have something for everyone.”

Those will include year-round offerings, seasonal beers and even nonalcoholic root beer and sparkling juices for those who don’t drink beer.

Most of the beer produced at Central District Brewing, she added, will be served on-site — rather than packaged and shipped off for purchase elsewhere — because of the prime locale. Its proximity to several downtown hotels, the convention center and many nightlife spots mean that it’ll attract locals and tourists alike, Ballato said, and might be some visitors’ first impression of an Austin brewery.

“We want people to have an experience with the beer at our location in the heart of the city. That’s definitely an appeal,” she said.

Additionally, Central District plans to offer workshops on tasting, beer production and the rich history of brewing beer in Austin.

Keep an eye on the progress of the brewery at centraldistrictbrewing.com, which will link you to Central District’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

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