Monday, May 23, 2016

Hemisphere shaping up for summer debut in Rockwall

All images © Brian Brown/Beer In Big D.
A year ago at this time, Rockwall was a Dallas suburb without a brewery. In a matter of weeks, though, the city's brewery count will be two after the long-awaited arrival of Hemisphere Brewing Co.

Ask founders Ruben Garcia and Brandon Mullins about their journey, and the first response is likely to be a sigh and a shake of the head. It's taken them five years to get to this point, with seemingly one obstacle after another getting in the way. And, while they've settled on Rockwall as Hemisphere's home, the path to opening their brewery actually began in another city.

"We originally planned to open in Richardson, but for a variety of reasons it just didn't work out," says Mullins. "Here in Rockwall, though, things seemed to fall in place a little easier and we felt like there was some amount of progress right away."

Yet, despite closing on the brewery's location in 2014, it's taking them another two years to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Part of the reason is that they are handling renovations to the interior and exterior of the structure themselves, while another is simply a matter of working through city and county requirements like anyone else.

That's why, even now, they aren't ready to commit to an opening date beyond saying that'll be early summer. Another factor is that pesky licensing process, which for them is now nothing more than a waiting game, but as soon as that completes they'll fire up the brewhouse and start building up a stock of beer.

On that note, Hemisphere will be working with a combination of equipment obtained from 903 Brewers in Sherman and the now-defunct Texas Big Beer Brewery of Buna. The brewery will employ a four-barrel system for production, with the operation being draft-only for the time being. Packaging is something that's in the long-term plan, but at least initially, Hemisphere will spend its time and resources on building the brand and getting beer to market by way of draft accounts.

Hemisphere's 3200 square foot building feels bigger than it is, thanks in part to the three large retractable
doors that open to the front. An additional door will lead to an outdoor beer garden in the back.

Product-wise, Hemisphere will launch with six beers, though which styles will be available on opening day has yet to be decided. Garcia and Mullins are hoping to differentiate by offering types of beer that may be under-represented as part of their portfolio, which will otherwise remain flexible with no hard and fast rules as to how long any given beer will be made available.

"We'll have an IPA and other approachable styles," says Mullins, "but we also plan to take advantage of our small-scale system to do a lot of experimentation. With that, we'll reserve one or two handles in the taproom for brewery exclusives and recipes where we'll be looking for consumer feedback to help decide if something is worthy of wide release. Beyond that, we may or may not have year-round beers, it just depends on consumer demand."

The creativity aspect, in fact, is what got Garcia and Mullins interested in opening a brewery in the first place. Both are musicians who've been homebrewing for about 10 years, and from time spent doing both, they see a philosophical parallel between the art of making music and the art of making beer. So, as they see it, the brewing process represents another way to express themselves.

"There are layers to a song just like there are layers to a beer," explains Garcia. "And, in both cases, it's all about putting all the pieces together and coming up with a great finished product. Whether it's beer or music, you want to be proud of what you make and you want to share the passion that went into it with others."

"Plus, for us it's that constant need for a creative outlet," adds Mullins. "It kind of goes along with the idea of idle hands when you get right down to it. When we're not writing music, we want to be making beer."

Regarding Hemisphere's location, the company's 3200 square foot building sits right across the street from Woodcreek Brewing Co., which should make the spot a destination for anyone looking to drink local beer in Rockwall. Of course, being located on the far eastern edge of the Metroplex also means trying to find ways to get people from Dallas and beyond to want to come out for a visit, but that's something the founders are keeping in mind as they design the space.

"Whether you're having a beer at the bar, or hanging out in the beer garden we'll create out back, we want the space to have a relaxed, chill vibe," says Mullins. "I mean, if you're going to make the drive, it outta be worth the trip. So, hopefully we're able to create an atmosphere that makes people want to stay a while."

As alluded to above, federal (TTB) and state (TABC) licenses are still pending for Hemisphere, but once obtained the brewery expects to be open for regular taproom hours, both on select nights during the week and on weekends.

Hemisphere Brewing Co.
2015 Kristy Lane

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