The Brewer's Table Is Not Your Average Brewpub
Discussing the core values of Austin's forthcoming public house at SXSW
"It's not about how beer and food pair together," says Jake Maddux, founder of East Austin's upcoming restaurant, the Brewer's Table. "It's about how they are the same thing." The wood-focused restaurant and brewery – which previewed its concept over the past year with pop-up dinners in Austin and around the country, and is slated to open at the end of March – brings together executive chef Zach Hunter, formerly of Fixe, and head brewer Drew Durish, from Live Oak Brewing. Over the last 12 months, the two have taught one another their respective crafts, and the result is food-focused beer and beer-focused food.
The philosophy is about minimizing waste. "If you're only using one thing one time you're not trying hard enough," explains Maddux. Spent grains might become beds to pickle or cure vegetables or fruits; fish have been cured in spent hops. "We've also made [spent hops] into a finishing salt that's incredibly aromatic." On the brewery side, Durish is exploring ways to use vegetable scraps in beer – things like tomato, basil, nutmeg, wildflowers, herbs, and fruits. "It's not fancy," says Maddux, "just a bit more thoughtful about what you can do when you have a brewery and a kitchen in the same building."
"There's a lot of flavors I didn't know existed," adds Durish. "The first time I tried shiso ..." he recalls, his eyes widening, "I knew that'd be going in a beer," he laughs. "Zach's got an incredible palate, so it's gonna be real fun to bring that into the brewery and also see how I can contribute to his kitchen."
The all-wood-fermentation brewery and all-wood-fired kitchen will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. The 140-seat eatery (Maddux dislikes the term "brewpub") features a chef's counter, a main bar with 30 taps, an outside patio, garden space for lawn games (bocce ball and horseshoes), and an open kitchen. Design Hound – formerly Kevin Stewart Architects and the team behind Dai Due, L'oca d'oro – is responsible for the interior, and neighbor Delta Millworks is fabricating all the wood tables and wall paneling. Of the 30 taps, four will be dedicated to wine, 18 will be rotating guest beers, and two will be nonalcoholic options, one of those a mesquite-bean root beer. The remaining six taps will be for "Drew's Brews," and the liquor license promises a full bar as well.
The lofty project has been in the works for five years, and the team was hoping to open doors in time for South by Southwest, and to coincide with the panel "Mesopotamia to Millennials: Beer & Food Connection," which Maddux proposed. The alehouse's opening has been pushed to the end of the month, but the talk will proceed as scheduled. "The last time there was a beer and food panel [at SXSW] it was in a room for about 30 people," says Maddux, "and ours is for 300." The panelists – including Caroline Wallace of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, Alison Tozzi Liu of the James Beard Foundation, and Richard Martin of Food Republic – will focus on two themes: 1) the idea of a new pairing menu in which there's actual crossover of ingredients, and 2) how working with food and beer will help eliminate food waste – essentially the two core values of Austin's forthcoming public house.
Mesopotamia to Millennials: Beer & Food ConnectionWednesday, March 14, 3:30pm, JW Marriott Salon AB
The Restaurant of the FutureMonday, March 12, 2pm; JW Marriott Salon AB
Yesterday it was all about fast-casual. Today fast-fine is the new new. What will tomorrow bring? Explore the evolving restaurant industry and the drivers that help explain why. Panelists include Josh Kulp, chef and owner of Chicago's Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Arielle Johnson, a flavor scientist at the MIT Media Lab who once posited in a Lucky Peach article, "Are Wine Flavor Descriptions Bullshit?"
The Future of Food DeliveryMonday, March 12, 5pm; JW Marriott Salon C
Been wondering what Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods will mean for grocery shopping as we know it? This panel explores the recent trends and future changes to our global food supply chain, including food origins, transportation, distribution, and consumer demand. Panelists include Dr. Robyn Metcalfe, UT lecturer and director of the nonprofit Food+City, whose annual Challenge Prize encourages entrants to solve problems within the food distribution system.