Craft beer fans in Bastrop will soon be looking for a new go-to spot for drinking and dining: Bastrop Brewhouse, after not quite a year-and-a-half in business, is closing this weekend.
But the owner, Michael Candelario, is still pursuing his love for good beer. He's choosing to shutter his place so that he can "narrow his focus to operating a craft brewery, instead of a full-scale brewpub," as Austin Community Newspapers reporter Terry Hagerty noted in his story earlier this week. While that means people in the area might one day purchase Candelario's brews off store shelves, the decision was very difficult for him to make, and brewhouse regulars responded with dismay and sadness – as well as with plenty of words of support about his new project – when he announced the closing in a Facebook post last Thursday.
“A few months ago, you may remember, we posted our new hours along with an explanation that we were working on expanding our brewing capabilities beyond that of the Brewhouse,” Candelario said in the post. “To that end, I was approached by investors who were interested in building a new craft brewery. As the project progressed it became evident that we would need to be in the brewery business and not the brewpub business. As such it became a very painful and emotional decision that I would have to close the Brewhouse so that I could continue the plans for the craft brewery and stay on the schedule the investors and I had signed off on.”
Even before he had made the announcement on Facebook, many in the small town already knew that the brewhouse, "one of Bastrop’s landmark eateries and live music venues," is set to close on Sunday, Hagerty said. Candelario had told the employees of the brewpub the day before about his decision to close up shop.
It's not going quietly, though. I checked in with the brewhouse about specific Sunday plans, and Stefan Lubinski, director of operations there, said it'll be a night of live music and giveaways. Nonprofit reTREEt America, which replants in communities whose trees have been lost to disaster, as the ones near Bastrop were during the 2011 Labor Day fires, just happens to be throwing its second anniversary celebration there with two bands and a DJ. Lubinski said there will also be food and drink specials and giveaways of T-shirts, mugs and other memorabilia starting at the dinner hour and running through closing time.
Sunday night will also be a chance to try some of Bastrop Brewhouse's beers one last time. On tap are the Alley B Pale Ale, St. Camilla Honey Brown, Rusty Bucket Extra Pale Ale, Pine Loop Porter and the Lost Pines Double IPA, as well as beers from other breweries like Circle, Real Ale and Live Oak.
Lubinski said he doesn't know what's going to happen to the building once it closes, although employees have already seen interest in it from outside parties.
"I expect there will be something else here soon," he said. "My gut tells me someone will be open and operating here by the summertime."
That's a good sign for the locals who made the Bastrop Brewhouse – which we mentioned as one of the town's highlights in a profile of the small town last year – one of their favorite places to hang out.
Hagerty reported in his story that Dave Quinn, executive director of the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation, said the brewhouse has been a magnet for attracting people to downtown, and he's not sure what the status of the property is now that Candelario is closing it down. That's still being worked out.