Two dads made beer they wanted to drink, and the awards came rolling in
Oak Highlands Brewery’s best beers were perfected up to a decade before the two neighborhood dads opened for business. They knew they had a product that people would buy.
“We had already won a few awards,” says Brad Mall, who founded the brewery with partner Derrin Williams.
The Freaky Deaky, a triple Belgium brew with 10 percent alcohol content and a logo that sports a cross-dressing holy man, was their first homerun.
“That one we got right on the first try,” Williams says. It was the first blend to win an award, back when they were just homebrewers with corporate day jobs (Mall was a litigator, Williams a geologist). The awards kept coming, and a lifetime of beer drinking knowledge buoyed their continued success.
“There was lots of research,” Mall says, “lots of drinking.”
The pair developed seven brews they loved before considering a commercial endeavor, all of which are still on the menu. That includes the Derelict IPA, with unusual floral notes that balance the typically bitter flavor; and DFDub, a dunkelweizen with heavy hints of banana and clove. They’ve won five awards since going pro, in competitions ranging from the World Beer Cup (silver for the Chump Change) to the Best Little Brewfest in Texas (bronzes for both the Vanilla Porter and the Allgood).
“We perfected these recipes based on the beers we want to drink ourselves,” Williams says. “These are all our own recipes, just scaled up for commercial production.”
The Freaky Deaky remains the best seller on the menu, which has grown to nine regular draught offerings and four seasonal selections, like Chump Change, a spicy Imperial Black Saison. Then there’s the beers the dozen-or-so members on staff brew. Every Oak Highlands employee, from delivery drivers to marketing, has tried their hand at a blend, working with brewers Matt Pennington, Michael Harper and Kyle Larson.
“They love it,” Mall says of the brewers. “It gets boring to brew the same stuff over and over again.”
As the only brewery in Lake Highlands, the owners believe in giving back in the form of free beer at numerous charitable events and offering up auction prizes like the chance to brew your own beer. They also host food trucks almost every week, and have developed a cult-like Saturday following with some in the neighborhood.
“We’re dog friendly, we’re kid friendly,” Mall says, “we’re a lot of fun.”
Did you know: Both founders credit Texas’ original craft brewery, Shiner, as the first “good” beer they ever tasted, but admit their first sips of suds was “something terrible,” Brad Mall says.
Oak Highlands Brewery
Ambiance: Casual taproom
Price Range: $6-$8
Hours: 4-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 12-6 p.m. Saturday
10484 Brockwood Road