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5 Questions With Austin Beerworks Co-Founder Michael Graham

Austin Beerworks
Taylor Laabs

Adaptability is vital for any business to succeed. Adapt to the needs of your customers, supply, market trends, and everything in between. In 2020, the need for brewers to adapt is more pronounced than ever due to the ongoing pandemic and the numerous business continuity problems it presents. One brewer that continues to show its expertise in adaptation is Austin Beerworks, who continue to use their voice and platform to make a difference in the Texas beer scene.

To learn more about how Austin Beerworks has adapted their business during the pandemic, how they creatively circumvent some of Texas’ more unique brewery laws, and more, I asked Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham 5 Questions.

Two of four Austin Beerworks co-founders, Adam DeBower (l) and Michael Graham (r). Photo credit: John Anderson, The Austin Chronicle

How have you been able to sustain demand during the pandemic? What have been your key takeaways?

“Out in the retail market, we’ve sustained demand by foregoing a planned pricing increase and working extremely diligently to prevent any out-of-stocks on shelves (we self-distribute 100% of our beer). At our taproom, we’ve been trying to offer a new limited can release every week or two to keep giving our customers exciting reasons to stop by.”

Has your relationship with customers changed since the pandemic started?

“It feels like we’re cashing in on years of building up goodwill with our customers, from major retailers to individual consumers. The amount of support we’ve received over the past 5 months has been overwhelming.”

How did the #SaveTexasBreweries movement start and what can people do to support it?

“It was an initiative created and promoted by the Texas Craft Brewer’s Guild after finding that over 2/3 of Texas breweries anticipated going out of business before the end of 2020.  More information can be found at”

How has your team adapted to the Texas Governor’s 51% food requirement? How have you “creatively” followed the rules? 

“The law states that, in order to offer alcohol sales on-site, those alcohol sales must contribute less than 50% of total on-site sales. We’re fortunate that we own our own food truck, Can-tina, and that we’ve always sold a good amount of merchandise.  But, to make sure we stay compliant with the regulations we began offering a “meal package” with every beer purchase which consists of a $2 order of chips & salsa and a $2 discount on the beer.  This is an allowed practice by the TABC, it just took some digging through Code to find it.”

What are you looking to accomplish in the final few months of the year? What’s on the horizon?

“Gosh, I wish I could tell you. Honestly, we’re kinda done with medium-term planning. We’re still thinking about big picture things that might be years down the road, but we’ve learned not to try and guess what the world will be like next week or next month. It’s mostly just figuring out today and tomorrow.”

Feature image courtesy of Austin Beerworks’ Facebook. 

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