Chris Hamje grew up in North Austin, so it made sense to choose his own neighborhood as a location for the brewing facilities of 4th Tap Brewing Co-Op.
“We’re local kids; this is our neighborhood,” he said, adding four of the brewery’s other worker-owners also live in North Austin. “We’re from here and we built this here.”
The brewery is still under construction at 10615 Metric Blvd., but when it opens in late July or early August it will also have a taproom—with air conditioning—open daily to the public. The space will have tables and benches made from pallets and glass windows overlooking the production side.
“You can see it all, and it reinforces the idea of the cooperative,” co-owner/operator John Stecker said.
4th Tap is worker-owned and -operated, and Hamje and Stecker established that model to protect the integrity of the brewery. They are the two full-time owner/operators, and six others owners are involved in the ownership and operation.
Although 4th Tap is located about a half-mile from both Adelbert’s Brewery and Circle Brewing Co. and 1.5 miles from Austin Beerworks, Stecker said he does not see it as competition.
“It creates a brewery quarter,” he said. “It raises awareness of breweries in North Austin.”
Hamje and Stecker first met about five years ago when they played in a band together. Stecker, a biochemist, taught Hamje, an engineer, how to brew at home and the partnership grew from there.
“We were brewing a lot and kegging it,” Stecker said. “We brewed for my wedding and other weddings and events.”
Their focus will be producing refreshing beers enjoyable in the hot Texas weather. That also reinforced the idea of selling in cans versus bottles, Hamje said.
4th Tap will have three mainstay beers with a fourth rotating limited-release beer to experiment with new recipes, Hamje said.
The first mainstay is Long Walk IPA, flavored with grapefruit to accentuate the citrusy hops, Hamje said. Another mainstay is Renewal, a wheat ale using tamarind fruit to give it a sour taste. The final mainstay is Sun Eater Texas Ale, which uses only ingredients from Texas, meaning no barley or hops. Hamje said that made the sorghum beer naturally gluten free and champagne-like.
Black Star Co-Op, where Hamje brewed beer for three years, offered to serve 4th Tap’s beers as a way for the new brewery to test the market.
“Co-ops help other co-ops out,” Hamje said.