Hats off to Arianna, over at Austin 360, for her excellent little article on Lazarus Brewing (check it out here!). She asked some great questions, and we thought you might enjoy reading our answers...
Q: Who are the people involved in Lazarus, and why did you decide to open a brewery together?
That sounds like such a simple question, but it's actually quite a story. To answer it, I need to go back a bit.
I spent 14 years in software back in the first internet boom and was very successful, but also very unsatisfied. Eventually I decided to make a career change and went into...ministry (yikes). I went to seminary, and then I became a pastor (mostly to people who had given up on church). But along the way I also started brewing beer (after the hops I had planted exploded and took over my garden). And then our little church partnered with Big Sky Brewing in Missoula, MT, to brew a beer called All Souls Ale (all the profits went to support a local non-profit we had helped start).
But in the process of all that, I became friends with Bjorn, the founder of Big Sky (who definitely wasn't into church). But Bjorn kept telling me I should start a brewery (pastors used to do this!). And eventually I decided he might be right. So two and a half years ago we moved to Austin to pursue this crazy dream (my third career, I guess). And now it's finally becoming a reality: the funds are raised, we have an incredible location, an even more incredible brewer, and all systems are go.
So who's involved? Well, my wife Marilyn has been roasting coffee for 10+ years (so coffee is definitely a component). And Marcus was the GM at Hopfields (we've known him since he was 10, so that was a natural connection too). I met our taco guy at a food truck here in Austin (he started teaching me how to make stuff the way they do back in Mexico, and somewhere along the way we just became friends). And our brewer is still under wraps (we need a couple more weeks before we can reveal - let's just say this it was a very fortuitous set of events that allowed us to connect).
So that's the team, or the most visible parts of it anyway. And everyone is on their own unique journey. But somehow, all these crazy storylines converge around coffee, beer, tacos and friendship here in east Austin. And so here we are...
Q: What kinds of beers are y'all seeking to make?
Again, this is a really good question. First of all, we're a pints on premise operation (what I'd call a West Coast style brewery). Our focus is not on distribution, or trying to get our beer into as many places as possible. Instead our focus is on creating a space where people really want to hang out, all through the day, multiple times a week (if you want our beer, you'll have to come here). This is the kind of brewery we fell in love with when we discovered craft beer, and we felt like it hadn't really caught on yet in a place like Austin.
So we'll have a 10 barrel system (think 310 gallon batches), with 16 taps. Many of those will be "goto" beers that are familiar and accessible (IPAs, stouts, lagers, etc). In my mind, this is where you demonstrate that you know how to make classic beers well. So we'll have a wide range of beers that appeal to a wide range of people. But because we have a second building (the former Cool Store), we also have a unique opportunity to create specialty beers that are much more challenging and interesting (think sours, wilds, and barrel fermented beers... almost like a mini-Jester King right in the heart of Austin). And some of these will be high gravity seasonals that we package in 750s and sell on premise for people to take home.
We'll also make our own rootbeer, and we'll have topo chico and mexican cokes, as well as a selection of wines, for people that don't drink beer. And of course, great espresso. We're kind of saying "What kind of beverages play a big part of people's lives?" and lets create a space that brings all of those together under one roof. With street tacos. You can't go wrong with great tacos...
Q: How is progress coming on the brewery? When should people expect it to open, and where is it located?
We've got a great location on the northeast corner of E 6th and Chicon (it's about 12 blocks E of I35, right across the street from Whisler's and just down from Zilker Brewing, which is a great place, btw!). We have two buildings (the old Bike Texas building, and the old Cool Store space). And right now, our main focus is on building out the Bike Texas building, which will be the main brewing / taproom space. We're currently in permitting (which never moves as fast as you'd like), but we hope to be doing construction in July and to be open by October. Knock on wood...
Q: Where did the name Lazarus Brewing come from? What's the origin of the name?
Well, the connection might be obvious given my background. It comes from the Bible – Lazarus was a guy that Jesus raised from the dead. I like the imagery (death to life). I like the irony (modern brewing has Christian roots; I'm a pastor starting a brewery); but mostly I just think it's a great, strong name that feels like it fits my own story. So we ran with it.
Thank you so much, Christian. Appreciate your response.
Sure thing. I hope it helps. Holler if you'd like to know more... Or sign up to get updates!