AUSTIN (KXAN) — During a three-week winter hiatus from shooting the hit CW show Supernatural, Jensen Ackles spent his downtime cleaning bathrooms, installing mirrors and stringing up lights – that’s the glamorous life of a TV star who is now the co-owner of Family Business Beer Co., a craft brewery in the Austin area.
After 13 seasons and more than 260 episodes, Ackles can play Dean Winchester in his sleep, but this new gig has him joining forces with his wife, Danneel Ackles and his extended family.
When Ackles started homebrewing with his brother-in-law Gino Graul in Los Angeles, it was just a hobby.
“We would go in the backyard and tried to brew our own beer. It was horrible,” says Ackles with a chuckle. “Our friends were very kind and said that it wasn’t.”
Fast forward several years and the idea of starting a craft brewery became a reality when Ackles and his wife decided to move back to Texas after having their first child. Ackles, who is originally from North Texas, and Danneel Ackles, who is from Louisiana, always enjoyed visiting friends in Austin. Ackles’ co-star Jared Padalecki also calls Austin home, so there was a built-in friend base there.
“My wife and I needed to say ‘OK, where do we really want to be and where do we want to plant our roots?’ Coming back home to Texas, being around family, being around friends, was a priority for us. This was kind of the natural first choice.”
After moving back, the dream of a starting a brewery followed them. After looking at the craft beer scene in Austin, Ackles and his family thought it would “be a viable option” and took a chance.
The Hill Country property they ended up choosing on Hamilton Pool Road – less than 5 miles away from the Hamilton Pool Preserve – was barely up for sale when the family snatched it up. Over the past year, they cleared trees and laid down the foundation for what is now a beautiful brewery set amongst a rustic backdrop of oak trees and wild deer.
Since Ackles shoots in Vancouver, B.C. most months out of the year, his wife and her brother manage the day-to-day operations. The business found its head brewer in Nate Seale, the former head brewer at (512) Brewing Company. Once all the pieces were in place, the family set out to make the Family Business Beer Co. a place where they would want to take their own family and make beers they would want to drink.
“At the end of the day, if people come out here and they take a look around and they enjoy the beer, the food, and the music and just the fellowship that happens out here,” Ackles says. “I think that, in itself, will be a unique experience to whoever decides to walk through these doors.”
It is expected that some of the people walking through those doors will be Supernatural fans. Last week, a couple from Germany stopped by the brewery — even though it wasn’t open yet — because they were fans of the show. While fans will drive some of the business, Ackles realizes they’re not the ones who will be fixtures at the bar.
“As far as the Supernatural crowd, I think that will ebb and flow as we kind of move forward. If it does bring someone out here to enjoy what we’ve created out here, then I’ll take it.”
To make it inviting, the brewery has a large outdoor space dotted with picnic tables as well as an indoor, air-conditioned taproom for our Texas summers. With three children of their own, Danneel Ackles, who is also an actor, really wanted to make the venue kid-friendly, which is why there is a large playscape area where the kids can run around.
Danneel Ackles also brought her Louisiana roots with her to the brewery with the help of friends Jep and Jessica Robertson — of A&E’s Duck Dynasty fame. The Robertson’s have a food trailer called Jep’s Southern Roots onsite at the brewery. The food trailer specializes in Southern comfort food and Cajun favorites such as etouffee and jambalaya.
When the brewery opens on Wednesday, Jan. 10, visitors can expect a starting lineup of eight beers on tap, ranging from a light pale ale to the boozy imperial stout called “The Grackle Hill Imperial Stout” which is mash-up of the two family’s last names “Graul” and “Ackles.”
Ackles even had a hand in brewing the seasonal winter warmer beer that is currently on tap. But, to have him pick a favorite is kind of difficult.
“My favorite beer right now, because it kind of changes and that’s why I love the variety of beers we make because my taste does change. But right now, I’m really enjoying the King Biscuit – English Style Bitter.”
Currently, the brewery is starting small with a 15 barrel system that will make enough beer to support the taproom and keg distribution to a handful of bars. However, if you take a peek inside their brewery space, there is room to grow.
The taproom, located at 19510 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Other things you wanted to know about Ackles and the brewery:
- You might catch him at ABGB grabbing a beer since that’s his favorite brewpub in Austin. He also likes Live Oak’s Hefeweizen and Austin Beerworks’ Pearl Snap.
- Besides Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son,” Styx’s “Renegade” is his favorite classic rock song that’s been used in Supernatural. The song was used during the “Shapeshifter” Season 2, Episode 12.
- Favorite scene where drinking was involved: Christmas episode where they do a cheers with egg nog. Jared Padalecki, actor who plays Sam, spiked everyone’s drink but went heavy-handed with Ackles’ drink.
- Ackles noted the brewery has not been warded against the Shoju alcohol spirit. So, if you happen to get tipsy at the brewery, you might just see one.
What types of beer would the following Supernatural characters order at a bar – per Ackles:
- Sam Winchester – Pale Ale
- Dean Winchester – Stout
- John Winchester – Imperial Stout (Jeffrey Dean Morgan would also get an Imperial Stout)
- Mary Winchester – Pilsner
- Bobby Singer – Whiskey
- Castiel – Water
- Lucifer – Extra Special Bitter
- Crowley – Sour (editor’s note: we really think it should be a Scottish Ale)
- Ruby – Saison
- Charlie – Red