The Brewer’s Table, the highly anticipated beer-obsessed restaurant and brewery in Govalle, is finally opening sometime soon this month. The restaurant’s team — owner Jake Maddux, executive chef Zach Hunter, head brewer Drew Durish, head baker Sandeep Gyawali (of Miche Bread), beverage director Brandy Compton, and general manager Zach Sawyer — are hoping to show Austin a new kind of restaurant on 4715 East 5th Street, one that connects Texas ingredients through both beers and food.
The Brewer’s Table is no more brewery than it is a restaurant and vice versa. “It’s the conversation between the chef and the brewer about how they interact,” Maddux said. “Beer and food are the same things, there are just two different ways of executing it.” It’s not just the simple question of how a particular farmhouse ale pairs with a spicy dish, but how beer and food have evolved alongside and continue to play with each other since the beginning of history.
Or, as Hunter puts it: “Beer is food, brewing is cooking, bread is beer. It’s the same exact ingredients.” To emphasize that seamless amalgamation of beer and food, Brewer’s Table’s menu features dishes made with beer ingredients: hops, yeast, barley, malt.
There’s another benefit of this since sustainability is important to the restaurant: minimal waste. It’s the reason the brewery uses kitchen leftovers, like fruit peels, to build interesting beers flavors. And it’s why the the brewery’s spent grains will go to feed pigs from participating farms which will be later sold back to the restaurant to be cooked and served to diners.
The other key element of Brewer’s Table is wood. Beers are lagered in the massive Foeder tanks that line the aging cage found along one side of the restaurant. Every hot food dish served in the restaurant will be cooked, smoked, or grilled over the wood fire.
Brewer’s Table’s menu is based around family-style passed dishes, such as grilled and smoked meats and vegetables, boards, skewers, and fermented items. During past events and pop-up dinners, these have included smoked pork and barley boudin paired with beer-brined kraut, smoked swordfish, and street corn drizzled with beef fat mayo and puffed barley.
Under Durish, Brewer’s Table’s beers are fermented in wood barrels. Take the Common Lager, the restaurant’s signature beer, which was fermented on oak spirals. Then there’s the Vor Ort, a corn lager that uses German Perle hops.
The restaurant’s non-hoppy drinks include wine, cocktails, and soft drinks, overseen by Compton. She is a certified cicerone and a level one sommelier who joined Brewer’s Table most recently from Barley Swine.
The building of the Brewer’s Table’s is a repurposed Quonset hut, which seems quite serendipitous for a brewery, where barrel-shaped vessels are a common motif. However, the half-circle facility presented quite a few logistical difficulties in the building process. Architecture firm Design Hound had to get creative with the planning, which resulted in a unique use of space with soaring ceilings, skylights, stringed lights, and the mezzanine floor with the namesake brewer’s table.
There are fun details throughout the massive space, like the glass windows lining the side of the dining room, allowing diners a view into the beer aging room with beautiful, wooden Foeder tanks. The open kitchen includes views of the seven-foot-wide wood-fired oven.
The actual physical brewer’s table takes its cues from the idea behind the chef’s table. For Maddux, this meant creating a designated spot for industry members. “People that serve others, we will serve here,” he said, from bartenders and servers to first-responders and veterans. It will be “the ultimate spot for industry folk to have their moment in the sun.”
The community is important to Maddux. Creating and maintaining a community can make or break a restaurant. He is doing his utmost to ensure he creates a space that people keep coming back to, particularly service industry, like the brewer’s table. The Brewer’s Table even launched a crowdfunding campaign through NextSeed in 2016 so that people could become a part of the restaurant/brewery.
Outside at the Brewer’s Table is the usual catch-all Texas patio designed with help by landscape and garden design company Big Red Sun. There are long picnic tables, patio games, bocce courts, performance stage, fire pit, flower garden with dining seats. Wi-Fi is also available, which makes it easy to lounge around.
With Brewer’s Table, Maddux is also on a mission to create a positive work environment for his employees. “I’m all for using what we have to be as generous as we can be with everybody,” he said. Employees get benefits, guaranteed time-off, full support for anyone looking to become more knowledgeable about their craft, and even an ax-throwing target out back for people to take advantage of.
While this spirit of generosity may seem negligible, and perhaps even irrelevant to the diner who has never worked in the service industry, it could not, in fact, be more relevant; at the end of the day, what could be more generous than providing someone with a delicious meal, carefully crafted beer, and a comfortable environment to share with friends? Maddux summed this sentiment up perfectly: “We’re not in the business of saying no, it’s a matter of how you say yes.”