East Austin brewery Hops & Grain closed its taproom permanently on 507 Calles Street, as first reported by Craft Beer Austin and detailed on the brewery’s website by owner and founder Josh Hare. The taproom shuttered as of December 3, so the brewery can turn its attention solely on the production and distribution of its beers.
“Since May, our taproom has struggled to get by,” amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. writes Hare on the site. While sales were “okay,” as he tells Eater separately, even during all of the back-and-forth of closings and reopenings by the state and changing guidances from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. He shared that at the end of this year, sales in the taproom will reach just 30 percent of their 2019 numbers. “With very few options and only limited taproom revenue to survive on, we just weren’t able to make math work,” he writes. As of its closing, the taproom had been open for on-site and to-go services.
Hops’s lost approximately 40 percent of its sales immediately, as Hare tells Eater, when the state closed on-site services at restaurants/bars/breweries in mid-March. Because the brewery’s net margins were around 10 percent, the revenue loss “put us in a place where we could no longer afford our operating expenses,” says Hare, so he decided to temporarily close the San Marcos location — the production facility and taproom — for the time being. However, “it became harder and hard to access the capital that we needed to reopen,” he says, and the San Marcos shutter turned into a permanent one several months later.
It’s because of that San Marcos closure that Hops’s beers haven’t been available in retail shops and grocery stores during this time. That location housed all of its production equipment and canning lines as of last summer. “We were no longer able to produce enough of our beer to fulfill orders,” Hare says. The last beer shipment they made to their distributor was in May.
With the closing of the Austin taproom, Hare plans on expanding Hops’s distribution and retail reaches. He’s also looking into other taproom possibilities for next year, as he tells Eater, but there are no concrete details as of this point.