Essential all-day restaurant Better Half’s long-anticipated brewery Hold Out Brewing is finally opening — during a pandemic no less. Hold Out will open at 1208 West Fourth Street starting on Thursday, May 7. Though it wasn’t part of the original plan, beer and food will be served to-go for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the beers, head brewer Brent Sapstead said to expect a lot of hop-forward pale ales and fun fruited beers, like a fruited hazy IPA called P.R.E.A.M. Many beers are lower-ABV because, as he explained: “Our goal is to make beers that people can sit outside in the Texas heat [and] drink a few without getting completely bowled over.” Previously, he was head brewer and production manager at Real Ale Brewing.
Since Hold Out will serve only to-go beer, Sapstead expanded the lineup to include more adventurous beers to entice customers. “What sells in the to-go environment is different than what sells in a sit-down-on-the-patio-and-drink-a-bunch-of-beers environment,” he explained. Alongside the core beers, they want to “take advantage of the opportunity to play around, and have some fun and make some exciting beers to get people out of their house.”
The food menu features dishes like smashburgers, a kimchi hot dog, and an elote hot dog. The menu is being overseen by Better Half chef Rich Reimbolt.
Since both Better Half and Hold Out share a large patio on West Fourth Street, and guests will be able to mix and match from the menus whenever the team chooses to reopen dining room and patio safely.
Despite the governor’s orders that restaurants can open dining rooms at 25 percent capacity starting May 1, Sapstead said that both Hold Out and Better Half will stick to the to-go service model for now. “Our priority number one has always been the safety of both our staff and our customers,” he explained. “The safest play for now is to wait and see how we can best utilize our outdoor spaces to provide the desired customer experience, while still keeping things tight and safe for our guests. For now, that has yet to be defined.”
Hold Out was originally announced at the end of 2017. The project comes from Matthew Bolick and brothers Matt and Grady Wright of Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, who are also behind coffee shop and bar Little Brother, which has locations on Rainey Street and South Congress.
The brewery, which was pegged to open in late 2018, was delayed for so long because of an issue with the water line on Fourth Street, which they had to take care of. Sapstead summed it up: “We bought the City of Austin two pretty new lines to go down Fourth Street.”
By the time the city cleared Hold Out to open, the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down dining rooms across Austin in March. While the clearance would usually be a celebratory occasion, Sapstead said that, in this instance, it was “anticlimactic.” The team immediately had to figure out how to serve its beer to-go, which was not in the original plan. Luckily, a local canning company fit Hold Out into their busy schedule.
Like other openings during the pandemic, including Steamie’s Dumplings and Dear Diary coffeehouse, Hold Out had to open due to financial necessity. “With the delay that we’ve seen on this project,” said Sapstead, “we need Hold Out to open and hit a certain amount of dollar sales to stay afloat site-wide,” also referring to Better Half.
Hold Out orders can be placed in person or online Thursday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.