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Former Odell brewer Joe Mohrfeld talks new Pinthouse Pizza venture

Courtesy of Pinthouse Pizza

From chips and queso, to movies and popcorn, to Cory and Topanga, our world is full of classic combinations, but there is perhaps no greater duo, no holier union, than the combination of Beer and Pizza.

And lucky for Austin, we’re about to get heapin’ helpins of the two in the form of Pinthouse Pizza.

The highly anticipated brewpub will begin serving up handcrafted beer and pizza on Burnet Rd. later this fall.

Joe Mohrfeld, former head brewer of Odell, will be at the helm of Pinthouse’s brewing operations.

Mohrfeld recently sat down with Bitch Beer to discuss Pinthouse’s beer offerings, as well as why he left his post at Odell, one of Colorado’s most established microbreweries, to join forces with some friends starting a brewpub in Austin.

“There are some really great, young talented brewers here [in Austin], and there’s obviously some talented veterans who have been around, but I think we have the opportunity to become a destination beer city in three to five years,” Mohrfeld said. “In a way we are now, but I think we have an opportunity to be on the level of like a San Diego or Portland, or Denver-Boulder.”

After spending about seven months in Austin getting Pinthouse’s brewhouse outfitted, and perfecting pilot batches of what are soon to become his mainstay brews, the bearded, bandana-clad brewer is deeply optimistic about the future of Austin’s craft brewing industry.

“I think the next step is to take it from a really exciting regional scene, to now making people nationally excited about that’s going on here, he said. “It’s a really exciting moment to be on that front edge.”

While Mohrfeld said there will be some aspects of production brewing that he will miss, there is definitely a reason why he wanted to transition into a brewpub.

“For me, it was exciting to go into a brewpub,” he said. “We had a pilot system at Odell that was a 5 barrel system and we could brew up to like an 8 barrel batch, I really enjoyed that part of brewing. I thought it was just a lot of fun to make smaller batches and do more one-off stuff.”

More face-time with consumers was also a draw.

“I like the idea of interacting with people and really telling the story behind a beer,” he said. “I think it’s so important.”

Courtesy of Pinthouse Pizza

As for the story behind Pinthouse’s beer roster, Mohrfeld has really set his sights on brewing hop forward beers.

One of his mainstay brews will be a hoppy session ale just under five percent alcohol by volume.

“It’s going to be hopped pretty heavily, about two and a half pounds per barrel, but I’ve got some unique hops coming in from a farmer that I established a relationship with during my time at Odell,” Mohrfeld said. “They have a really neat lemon character and they’re low alpha, and they’re a lot cleaner than some other hops. They almost have like a sweetness to them, so it really lends to that session ale.”

Mohrfeld is self-admittedly going “old world” with his hop choices, which is fitting for this next beer.

“I’ll be doing what I’d call like a classically inspired pale ale,” he said. “It has a really interesting hop character. So many of the pale ales now have drifted into almost IPA territory, and I’m kind of trending a little bit more towards what I’d consider like a really nice pale ale, like one that you’d want to sit down and drink six of.” (Editor’s note: Yes Please!)

Pinthouse will also offer a strong, dry stout dispensed on CO2 and Nitro, and a very drinkable IPA, Mohrfeld said.

All in all, Mohrfeld plans to brew four mainstays, a rotating host of seasonals and limited quantity brews from the pilot system, plus a rotating IPA series called “The Fallen Cask.”

The series’ name was inspired by a piece of the IPA’s origin story, specifically, a tale of English dock workers who recovered fallen casks of pale ale in an English harbor which were meant to be bound for colonial India. While the ales were meant to die down in strength and bitterness over the long voyage, the dock workers discovered they liked their strong, fresh character prior to aging.

The series will rotate between a variety of IPAs–Imperials, Blacks, Single-hopped, you name it.

Although our first several visits to Pinthouse will likely consist of drinking each and every one of their original brews, at 45 taps, Pinthouse’s newly installed tap wall is definitely big enough to boast a variety of local, regional and national craft.

One of the reasons the Burnet Rd. location was chosen is because three of the six principals behind Pinthouse actually live in the Rosedale/Lo-Burn neighborhood. Convenient, yes, but it makes sense because they are  looking to create a true neighborhood joint.

Courtesy of Pinthouse Pizza

Though there are several guys involved, Mohrfeld is excited to have true creative freedom on the brewing side.

“They gave me this little corner of the world which I get to be an artist in, which is all I really wanted,” he said.

One of the things this freedom brings is the opportunity for collaboration. Mohrfeld has done many collaborative brews in the past during his time at Odell, and some of his favorites were not with local brewers, but with local artisans, organizations, individuals, etc. It’s a practice he plans to continue at Pinthouse with small-batch collaboration beers from the brewery’s pilot system.

While Mohrfeld is overseeing the beer, he is passionate about the brewpub’s pizza offerings.

“Obviously, pizza and beer go hand-in-hand,” he said. “And, it makes a lot of sense to me because, I mean, it’s such a communal thing, and we’re going to do kind of a picnic table style seating. You shouldn’t be sitting at home by yourself being a nerd about beer, beer is a social thing–to me, that’s the spirit of craft beer.”

Pinthouse Pizza is anticipating a mid-to-late October opening at 4729 Burnet Rd. For updates, check out their Facebook, Twitter and upcoming website.

-Caroline

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6 comments on “Former Odell brewer Joe Mohrfeld talks new Pinthouse Pizza venture

  1. Cindy
    September 20, 2012

    What a terriffic , well written and informed article. Thanks

  2. Teresa
    September 21, 2012

    We Rosedalians are so excited about Pinthouse! I can’t wait to have a beer and pint, while showing our support. Hurry up and open already :)

  3. Brian
    September 21, 2012

    We’ll definitely have to check this place out when we swing through Austin again. Love the beer scene there and it just keeps getting better.

  4. matt
    September 21, 2012

    His comments about Austin being a beer destination got me thinking about that, a lot. enough to write down my thoughts. http://buttercupindustries.com/?p=238
    I’ve been looking forward to this place for a while and it’s good to get a little insight into his brew process thoughts.

  5. Pingback: Texas Has Banner Year at 2013 Great American Beer Festival | Bitch Beer

  6. Pingback: Pinthouse Pizza Marks First Anniversary Tomorrow | Bitch Beer

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