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Life & Work with Brent Sapstead

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brent Sapstead.

Hi Brent, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Like many others, my brewing career started in my kitchen as a homebrewer. After a dozen or so drinkable results, I worked up the courage to ask Rob and Amy Cartright of Independence Brewing, at that time the newest brewers in town, if they’d be willing to entertain an extra set of hands from time to time. I cut my teeth at their brewery over the span of 3.5 years, learning the ropes of cleaning, packaging, cleaning, filtering, more cleaning, and eventually brewing. In the latter half of my stint at Indy, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know the team at Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, TX. They had recently moved into a new, much larger brewery and were looking for fresh folks to join their crew as they began ramping up production. I was offered a job on the keg line, which later moved to the brewhouse, and eventually to the position of Head Brewer & Production Manager. While the position was immensely rewarding, the commute from Austin began to grow old, particularly as it consumed more and more time away from my family. Then one day I took a tour of what would become Hold Out Brewing and its sister restaurant Better Half. I was blown away by the space, the location, and the team that was forming around the project. When I learned they needed someone to lead the brewery side of the business, I immediately offered my services, and here we are!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
We opened Better Half in early 2018 with the goal of opening Hold Out shortly thereafter but were stymied by unforeseen construction delays and budget overruns, only to finally open during the early days of COVID and a city-wide shutdown. As it did for many people, the pandemic proved to be a formidable foe for our businesses. We were beyond fortunate to have an immensely talented team that was able to reimagine service models at every turn, from carhop and delivery orders at Better Half to a complete shift in models at Hold Out that turned our taproom into a production space for mobile canning. Though we are now enjoying a return to “normal” in our restaurants, the fallout from COVID continues to affect both spaces ranging from supply chain issues all the way to staffing shortages. There’s always something to keep us on our toes!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
The thing I love most about the brewpub setting is the creativity that flows from the freedom to do {nearly} anything we want. We are not held back by the production constraints that can often accompany large distributing breweries. This, coupled with a smaller brewhouse, gives us a great deal of flexibility and allows us to stay nimble from a creativity standpoint, sometimes writing recipes on our toes the very day we are brewing them.

This flexibility has also allowed for some truly unique collaborations where we’ve worked with visual creatives (graphic designers, artists) in our peer group to craft recipes using their artwork and inspirations as the starting point, rather than the reverse. These beers have been equal parts learning opportunities for our non-brewer friends and enriching challenges for us as brewers, as we’ve explored recipe design as a medium for representing another person’s creative process. I love that we’ve been able to turn that process on its head and offer a different view of brewing to ourselves and our design friends.

What makes you happy?
Time with my family. Pizza & Yahtzee Fridays, Family movie Sundays, at our own home or on the road, it is my happy place always. Working in the alcohol industry brings more than its fair share of fun and happy times to the table, but it is the peaceful, quiet moments away from that scene that I look forward to the most.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Instagram: @holdoutbrewing @betterhalfbar

Image Credits:

Chris Mumford @mumfordphoto

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