For Solid Rock Brewing, brewing beer is a family affair.
Like many breweries, the Lake Travis area business started with three friends wanting to take their collective homebrewing experience to the next level.
Three of the partners, Steve Jones, Steve "Beaker" McCarthy and Curt Webber have over 70 years of homebrewing experience, if you combine each individual’s personal tally. Beyond basic beer making knowledge, each partner brings something different but essential to the table. McCarthy is the brewmaster and chief designer behind many of the beers (he also brews in a kilt, to honor his Irish heritage). Webber has an extensive background in maintenance (after working as a sumbariner in the US Navy for 12 years), and can "fix anything," and Jones worked in beer distribution for the "majority of his adult life."
Solid Rock’s other three partners are the men’s wives, Laurie Webber, Kim McCarthy and Leslie Jones, who have equal partnership status in the operation. Jones says they are largely responsible for the financial side of the company, raising investor capital and securing financing. "Day to day, in addition to backing us up in brewing and packaging operations, they act as a collective ministry of finance, basically making sure we don’t go crazy with our Home Depot line of credit," Jones said.
The group’s approach to brewing is simple, Jones explained. "We brew the beers that we like. Somebody said that we brew beers that fit like a favorite pair of jeans - that’s become kind of a catchphrase for us in terms of our philosophy. We’re not in this to hit the highest IBU; we’re definitely not in this thinking that we’ll make tons of money."
They already have one small batch brew on the market (that can be found right now at Cho Sushi in Lakeway and Steiner Ranch), a small batch specialty Golden Ale called Cho’Sen, which was devised to pair with Asian food. As big sushi fans, they wanted the beer to be "something that would provide a union with the rice while cleansing the palate with a residual dryness as would good sake." Cho’Sen uses rice in the grain bill "to pair with the rice bed and umami of sushi while also promoting a higher ABV cleansing dryness on the back end. Cho’Sen’s finish is a hop ride of slight florals and a light bitterness that act kind of like ginger to prepare for the next bite." While the beer was intended to pair with sushi, it is also available in lake-area restaurants and delis as well, including Chi-Town Chicago Style Eatery in Lakeway, and Down Under Deli in Spicewood.
In addition to Cho’Sen, they plan on brewing three year-round offerings, which will fall typically under classic American, German and English styles. There will be "a malt-forward Irish Red Ale ("Roundhead Red"), an IPA ("Dauntless"), and cream ale ("Solid Rock Cornerstone")" to start. They’ll also have an alternating seasonal stout rotation (every six months), featuring a "dry Irish stout ("Big Drought Stout") in the hot months and a Vanilla Milk Stout ("Trinity VMS") for the less-hot months." They will also take a note out of Hops & Grain’s book by taking their spent grains and turning them into dog biscuits, for four-legged friends.
Right now, they’re still in the middle of building the full-scale brewery, so if all goes well, the year-round beers should hit the market around October in bottles (12 oz.) and kegs.