Women-Led Central District Brewing Wants to Bring Beer to Downtown Austin
IPAs, French saisons, and more
by Erin Russell
Longtime Austinites Angela Duley and Julie Ballato are bringing a brewery downtown with Central District Brewing. The two recently got approval to enter negotiations with the city to build Central District Brewing in the Austin Convention Center parking garage. Yes, in the parking garage, in a corner space on the first floor — Ballato said that one of the first steps to opening will be getting a noticeable sign.

Though they’re still in early stages of the project, the women are excited about having a brewery in the center of the city, easily accessible by foot or public transportation. They assured Eater that if they are unable to negotiate a lease with the city in this location, they’ll find another one close by (“Though we might have to change the name,” they joked). They shouldn’t have too much trouble: Lauraine Rizer, a real estate executive with the city, told the Austin Business Journal, “When we were going to put the space out to lease, we talked to council members [who said] they wanted us to activate that area at night.”

Central District Brewing will be a family affair, as Duley’s husband Adam will be the head brewer and Ballato’s husband Joe will put his experience in product development to use. “None of us decided to have a brewery,” explained Duley, “But it meshed our interests together.” The event space aspect of the brewery appealed to Julie, while Angela was drawn to the project after years of traveling with her husband, concluding that breweries were places to “find out about the city, have conversations, and connect with people.”

Duley reports that husband Adam is staying tight-lipped about his plans for the beer before opening, though recipes are tested at dinners with lucky friends. Adam is no stranger to brewing: He completed apprenticeships at The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing in California. He is reportedly planning an IPA (a favorite of his and Joe’s), a French saison (a slightly yeasty creation that Angela and Julie prefer), and a fruit-forward beer that’s palatable for all beer drinkers. He is also working on an Antwerp pale ale, as a visit to Antwerp with Angela sealed the idea of starting a brewery.

Plans are to forego distribution and have beer available on-site only. “We want to see your smiling face when we hand you a beer,” explained Angela. It’s also important to the pair that the brewery is a welcoming place to those who don’t drink. The brewery will serve root beer and sparkling juices as well as pre-packaged snacks (the space doesn’t have a kitchen). Assuming a lease is signed, the 3,580-foot space could be open in late 2018.

This is the first brewery in downtown Austin for five years, since the closing of Lovejoy’s in 2012, which sold its own beer, and before that, Bitter End Bistro and Brewery, which closed in the mid-2000s. Until Central District opens, the best bet for brews is probably beer garden Easy Tiger, Belgian specialists Mort Subite, or Bangers and Craft Pride on Rainey Street.

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