Joe Mohrfeld Gives us the Scoop on Pinthouse Pizza #2

CDTEN-9WYAADy0r.jpg_largeIf you, like us, are extremely excited for Austin brewpub Pinthouse Pizza to open its second location later this year, you’re going to wanna check out the interview below with Pinthouse Director of Brewing Joe Mohrfeld. In it, he gives us the scoop on what to expect from the S. Lamar location!



Bitch Beer: Can you tell me a little bit about the offerings at the new location? Will it be the same food & beer menu as the original location, different specials, etc.? 

Joe Mohrfeld: I can’t speak to the food at this time other then to say it will be a very similar food menu. For the beer side we will be offering up a similar feel from our offerings, lots of hops! We won’t have the same mainstays at each location, they will be similar in feel, but you will likely see beers like Man O War show up at the South location from time to time. We will also be focusing on expanding our breadth of offering with more styles that we are not able to produce consistently at our current location due to capacity constraints i.e. kettle soured ales, barrel aged wild and sour ales, and more lager and belgian offerings. We will have a dedicated barrel room with an isolated air supply at this location that we will use for sour and wild ales so we can produce them without risk of cross contamination into our “clean” beers. We also have a cool design element that will be front and center for patrons to check out and will allow us to do some unique styles in a more traditional manner, but I will keep that a surprise for now…

BB: The new location is a former Chili’s, did that present any design challenges in the space since it’s such an iconic layout? Can you tell me a bit about the space in general? 

JM: Much like our current space, we are basically gutting the building and starting from scratch. As I type this we have 2.5 walls and a roof standing… everything else is demolished, you will be hard pressed to see the resemblance to a Chilli’s once we are done, similar to how our current space shares no similarities to its former business.  Basically the building allowed us to start with a similar floor plan to our current space but is roughly 1000 sq ft larger and gives us the ability to build out a nice outdoor space with unlimited parking! You will know you are in Pinthouse Pizza when you come in but it won’t feel like you are walking into just another copy of our Burnet rd pub.

BB: Let’s talk brewhouse. What system/capacity, etc. will y’all be working with at the new location & how does that compare to what you’re brewing on at the original location?
JM: We are installing a 7bbl Premier Stainless system again that is very similar to our current system. We are all very impressed with the quality of that system and the quality of the beers we are able to produce on it. We will have quite a bit more fermentation capacity however, almost twice as much in fact. We also had one of our fermenters designed specifically for us to produce some traditional styles in a more traditional manner. We will also have a dedicated barrel room for wild and sour ales and all of our “clean” liquor or virgin oak barrel production will stay at our Burnet rd location. We wanted to keep much of the system and process the same so we could continue to produce the styles we currently brew at the same high level and be able to expand on our style offerings.

BB: And what about the tap wall, any idea how many taps you’ll have?
JM: Our plan is to keep this tap wall at 45 taps like our Burnet rd location. We will be sending beer back and forth between the 2 pubs through Brown Distribution so patrons will likely see 20+ PHP beers on at each location. The remainder of the taps will again be dedicated to beers from around the world that we believe are world class examples of styles we like to drink or are excited about.

BB: Opening up a second location is obviously a great opportunity to reflect on the choices you made the first go-round, and identify a wish-list of things that could make your lives behind the scenes easier, customer experiences different, etc. Were there any notable deliberate choices y’all made going into this new location that you’re really excited about? 

JM: There are some changes we are making with this pub that we would have liked to be able to do at the first pub but were not able to for various reasons. We will have a small bottle cellar, a nice built out patio, a less “interactive” barrel aging program, etc etc etc but, overall we are very happy with the feel of the pub and we want that to remain. Our focus is always to be a family friendly, non-pretentious craft brewpub that focuses on a great product and great service.

BB: Opening up a second location is going to greatly increase your capacity over all, so you probably already know where I’m going with this….with this increase in capacity do you see yourselves being able to distribute off-premises? If so, what does that look like? 

JM: We have talked about this a lot over the last year, and signing with Brown Distributing gives us the ability to distribute if we decide we want to. It all depends on how busy this location is and if we have extra beer to distribute. We do have plans for a limited bottle release of Jaguar Shark in early summer and are looking at doing some small scale draft distribution for special events, but don’t hold your breath on large scale distribution via keg, bottle or can because we have no immediate plans, nor the capacity, for it right now.

BB: How hands-on will you be personally with the new location after it’s open? Do you plan to brew there from time to time or coordinator offerings between locations, or will you be leaving it in the hands of the head brewer for that location? 

JM: Jacob Passey, who has been with me from nearly day one, will be taking over as the Head Brewer down south and Trevor Kelly will be our Head Brewer on Burnet rd. These guys are great brewers and they will be responsible for making sure we are continuing to produce great beer at each pub day in and day out. I will be hanging around both pubs coordinating brews, working on new recipes with them, trying to find ways to improve our process and beers, meddling, wrangling barrels, contracting hops, etc. etc. etc. …and hopefully I will find time to actually boot up and brew occasionally. It is exciting to see Pinthouse grow so quickly and to give Jacob and Trevor the opportunity to take their skills to the next level They will each have their team of brewers as well that they will be helping to grow personally and professionally. My role will shift into that of Director of Production, which it sort of is already, and I will get to look at our processes, recipes, and bigger picture items from a new perspective so we can continue to grow and improve on our beers and stay relevant in an ever changing market. It is a very collaborative effort here at Pinthouse, there is no ego in our group of brewers, we all work together to make great beer, we all work on recipes together, sometimes Jacob mashes in, sometimes Trevor mashes in, and even sometimes I get to, but the process as a whole is so much bigger then simply brewing the beer and that process will remain a team effort in each pub with myself coordinating and coaching along the way.

BB: Any kind of general time frame for the opening yet? 

JM: We are hopeful for a late summer opening.


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