It’s 10:52am in Spicewood, Texas.
Curt Webber, one of the trio of founders of Solid Rock Brewing and resident brewer is busy stirring the hot liquids inside of an imposing mash tun, while his partners-in-beer bustle about, all working on their respective steps in the process.
I find a dry spot among the loft where Stephen “Beaker” McCarthy is hard at work with the grains, an indispensable step in the magic that is beer creation.
Tuesday is Brew Day at Solid Rock Brewing and even though the men haven’t stopped for lunch yet, the building smells of rich malts and all manner of beer goodness. Swiftly and with purpose the three brew artists work to concoct another large batch of their tasty beers. Steve “Jonesy” Jones is cleaning and preparing the various stages of the day’s production.
If there was ever a time to throw yourself into the craft beer scene — this is it.
“Working with the grain is a very visceral experience; you get this feeling of being close to the earth and the farmers,” Stephen “Beaker” remarks as he pours out a test tube full of milled grains for me to sample. I’ve had my hands in bales of grain before, but the way Beaker describes the flavors of the starches lets me know there’s just as much of an art to beer brewing as it is a science.
“We’re all home brewers and know each other from church and we had independent conversations about brewing,” Beaker tells me as we descend past his lab and into the cool room, the place downstairs where they store their kegs and bottles waiting to be picked up by the beer distributors.
As he gets the taps ready to pour a sample of their four mainstays, he opens up about Solid Rock’s beer brewing philosophy, which no doubt leaves a splash in every draft they create.
“People who want to come into craft, I like to call them ‘craft curious.’ They have heard about craft (beer) and I don’t want you to come in and get blown away with something,” Beaker says as he finishes a pour of their Roundhead Red Irish Ale. “So I’ll introduce you to a beer with a color that you’re used to and then what we’re going to do is introduce you to a beer at that point, that not only is it the same color but actually tastes really good.”
Ahh, so there is the secret.
In a world bursting at the seams with craft beers that boast flavors pushed to the max, Solid Rock is the six pack you always have on hand that you know everyone will like. That’s what the guys are going for and so far, it seems to be catching on around the Lake Travis area.
All About the Beers
Their beer cabinet currently holds four mainstays and some occasional seasonal stouts. Many craft beer drinkers have likely tasted their Cornerstone Cream Ale or their Dauntless IPA.
An interesting collaboration with John Cho of Cho Sushi in Steiner Ranch and Lakeway led to a collaboration with the sushi chef, culminating in Cho’ Sen — a light, crisp brew that is higher in alcohol and can be savored with sushi or on its own.
The more that Beaker explains the process by which the brewers select their malts, hops and unique flavor combinations, the more I realize that beer brewing seems more like a balance between art and science, a fine line that he treads well in the wake of his Electrical Engineering degree from Texas A & M. His extensive background in home brewing was buttressed well with Jones’ and Curt’s beer knowledge.
Jonesey had years of experience after graduating from UT and working in beer distribution; Curt Webber comes from a background in the Navy and deals with the support and maintenance of many of their pieces of equipment. And while their backgrounds might seem varied, the men were all brought together by their love of brewing.
After many discussions about brewing and distilling as a business, it was time to sit down and hatch out a plan.
In early 2011, the triad met on Beaker’s back porch with the goal of creating a proposal. The three pledged to brew every weekend (they did), and the brewers quickly gained steam in the direction of moving into their own space and getting all of the business and financial aspects of running a brewery underway. A few years later, they officially secured the spot in Spicewood that they call home.
2014 has been a huge year for Solid Rock Brewing and there seem to be good things on the horizon for fans of their beer — canned beers in the summer and a tasting at their space in May.
Solid Rock near Lake Travis
If you haven’t been able to pick up a pack of their brews, you can find their beers throughout the Lake Travis area including HEB, Schmidt Family Barbeque, and Spec’s.
On May 31 from 11-2pm there will be a tasting out at the brewery to sample some of their malty mixtures. It’s a perfect time to take an afternoon to get to know your Lake Travis neighbors and try a brew or two.
Solid Rock Brewing
2214 Bee Creek Road Spicewood, TX 78669 (map)