Saturday afternoons in a dilapidated East Waco warehouse sound a bit different than they did just over a year ago. On Bridge Street, a building that used to store secondhand tires is now home to Brotherwell Brewing, the latest domino in a wave of development on the East side of the Brazos. When I visited the tap room last weekend, it was teeming with Baylor students, Magnolia tourists, and old money Wacoans alike. The vibe on the following Monday morning, however, was decidedly different.
"Monday is sort of for collecting myself from the weekend,” said Jacob Martinka, head brewer at Brotherwell. “Typically, weekends are very busy for us, so Monday is just an opportunity to get recentered.”
Martinka and his partner, David Stoneking, sit down together to examine the week's production needs, make sure they're prepared for the weekend's events, and schedule food trucks coming to the brewery.
"Really just get going, have a plan for the week, and moving on from there."
Mondays, like every day, are for cleaning. Spraying down the tap room, checking CO2 levels, and, of course, sampling the product for quality and consistency.
"We've got our second batch of our pilsner in the tank. It’s fermenting away right now. That’s our spring seasonal and we been very happy with how the first batch turned out so we’re hoping the same for second"
Brotherwell also offers the Texas Red IPA, the Bridge Street Wit, The Chisolm Pale Pale Ale, the Act of Faith Belgian Tripel, and the Sandman Imperial Stout. But as any small business owner knows, it's not only about making the products - the key is getting them in the hands of customers, one of the most difficult tasks a startup will face.
”It's not just a, ‘Hi! I’m a new brewery in town. Won’t you Try my beer?’ It’s how can we collaborative, work together, make it to where we’re both doing work. It continues to teach us what we need to be doing."
Thankfully, Brotherwell has been embraced by the community. Restaurants like Milo, George's, and Slow Rise Slice House, and pubs like Barnett's and Pinewood, cite Brotherwell as one of their top sellers. The brewery will be hosting a one-year anniversary party on April 27 to thank their loyal, growing fanbase.
"We're just gonna have a party out in our yard. Probably some music, some special release beers, some new stuff that nobody has every seen before. It’s going to be a good time."
Martinka and Stoneking were intentional about finding the perfect place for their operation. When Sam Brown, an East Waco property owner, showed them the old I-beam warehouse, the brewers knew they were in the right part of town, in large part because of the people who already lived and worked in the neighborhood.
"The folks in the area tended to be makers. There’s a lot of craft going on [in East Waco] and it only made sense for us to be a part of that."
Brotherwell Brewing is open at 400 Bridge Street every Saturday from 11am to 5ish. And even though their star is rising, the Brotherwell team isn't too big to sit down with customers for a conversation.
"If you'd like a tour, tug on our shirt sleeve and ask about it and we’d be more than happy. We spend our weeks on the brew floor and we love talking about it."
The Small Business Spotlight is presented by American Bank, with three convenient locations in town including an expanded branch downtown at Franklin and 4th.