In the back of a corrugated metal building in Austin, Texas, behind a knitting shop and an indie bookstore, there is a small brewery. If you go during open Friday or Saturday night hours, you’ll see patrons sipping samples, lounging on lawn chairs and maybe grooving to a DJ. If brewmaster Jeff Bell is brewing anything up that night, you may even smell the pungent hops or smoked pecan, oak or alderwood chips on which he ages some of his batches.
But not everything is as it would seem at this brewery … because what it manufactures isn’t beer, it’s sake.
“I see an extension from craft brewing to sake,” says Bell, former manager of a homebrew supply shop who transitioned to brewing sake commercially after the owners of a local craft brewery bought Texas Sake Co. from its founders in 2015.
“It’s eclectic,” he says, “and it’s also new.”