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Circle Brewing, other Austin breweries now selling pints on-site

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com

With both state law and city zoning now synced up, more local breweries are starting to sell their beer by the pint straight from their tap wall — something that only a couple months ago, they weren’t able to do.

Last summer, the state legislature made it OK for Texas breweries to sell their beer on-site — a boon allowing them to become nightlife destinations in their own right — but Austin’s city code did not. City officials instructed the breweries within city limits to stop until the city code was fixed. In the meantime, Austin brewers had to revert back to the previous method of offering free pours and selling pint glasses, a practice, Hops and Grain’s Josh Hare said, that hurt their revenue. (Here’s the full story on that.)

Now that city code has changed, breweries like Circle and Adelbert’s are selling beers by the pint, and it’s already starting to pay off.

Circle Brewing had never had regular tasting room hours until about three weeks ago, when the brewery started opening its doors from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, offering pints for $4.

“We did quarterly events because we couldn’t sell beer here,” Ben Sabel, Circle’s founder, said. “(The city code amendment) opened a new door for us to not only bring people in, but give our fans that opportunity that wasn’t there before.”

Now, between 50 to 75 people visit Circle on Fridays, just the right amount of visitors for the small space. Sabel said he’s already considering adding additional days to have the tasting room open but hasn’t settled on the details just yet.

The tasting room opened as soon as he received the site exemption from the city, which he applied for about a month before, as soon he got word that the city’s amendment had passed. Since the exemption process took about a month for Circle, some other breweries might not have gotten their stamp of approval from the city yet. (And still others, like Hops & Grain, have additional hoops to jump through before they can sell beer on-site.)

Not far from Circle, Adelbert’s is offering two options for anyone who stops by the brewery for some beers. You can now pay $4 for each pint you have, or you can buy a $10 5 oz. tasting glass or $13 tulip glass and receive six samples. Adelbert’s general manager, Sarah Zomper Haney, said regulars or longtime fans tend to go for the first option, whereas new visitors like being able to have multiple tastings.

Adelbert’s is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Independence Brewing’s approach to offering beers on-site is also different. The brewery is currently giving out complimentary samples and, according to the website, encourages visitors to purchase an Independence glass for $10. The tasting room is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and from 1 to 3 p.m. on every first Saturday of the month.