The rise of craft and micro-breweries — “small producers best known for India pale ales and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers,” as The New Yorker describes them — has been well documented over the past several years. There are some 3,464 breweries in the U.S. and 119 in Texas, according to the latest Brewer’s Association stats, and dozens are slated to open any day. A neighborhood brewery/taproom is a hipster status symbol of sorts, and two Lake Highlands dads are putting our area on the brew map.
Brad Mall started making beer in his dorm room at Sewanee. “It tasted terrible,” he says. “Still, it was gone the same day it was ready.”
Throughout the years — as he studied, attended law school and became a husband, father and successful commercial litigator — he continued tinkering with his recipes and creating better beer. Many of his college buddies remained consumers of, and later, became investors in Oak Highlands Brewery, a 16,200-square-foot venue that Mall and his business partner Derrin Williams aim to open in a corner space of a Lake Highlands industrial park this summer. Williams, a father of three and geologist by trade says he always has enjoyed cooking and gardening. Brewing was an extension of his interest in science, flavor, hops, herbs, grains and such.
“Making beer is like cooking in the kitchen,” he explains. The initial beermaking process is extremely regimented and precise, he says. Then you tweak for taste. Mall and Williams met about 10 years ago and started OHB as a fun side business. Soon, their Freaky Deaky (“a smooth, high-gravity Belgian Tripel,” Williams says) and other standout ales started winning awards at festivals and competitions. Plans to open a storefront have been a long time coming.
“We’ve been working on this for several years,” Mall says. “We both have families to support. This is a well-planned venture. Half of our investors are Lake Highlands residents.”
In other words, this is going to work, whatever it takes. Their plans call for a three-vessel, thirty-barrel brewhouse and a taproom with about 20 taps available daily. Using a small pilot system that looks like something out of Breaking Bad, they intend to keep producing smaller batches of new beers. They say they hope to become a destination for craft beer aficionados. Code restrictions prevent the sale of food at production breweries, so the guys hope to partner with food trucks to provide eats. They also have enough room for live music shows and other big events, parties or fundraisers. Every month they plan to feature a charity beer, the proceeds from which will benefit a local nonprofit. When you enter OHB this summer, expect five beers on tap with rotating specialty beers. Look for a stylish bar and lounge area on which Brad’s wife Leigh, a professional designer, is consulting. Stock up on cool swag — OHB T-shirts, koozies and stickers — at the merch counter. Follow Oak Highlands Brewery on Facebook for up-to-date information on opening and special events.
Oak Highlands Brewery