A BIG DREAM IN A SMALL TOWN
Nearly three years ago, the co-owners of Abilene’s newest brewpub got together to start something new and unique in Abilene. David Kasselman, Matthew Cogburn, and Jeramie Sivley met at a local home brew club and realized very quickly that their dreams for creating their own brewery aligned.
“It was after a home brew meeting where we discovered each other,” said Sivley.
“We would have never met each other otherwise,” added Cogburn.
And it’s lucky indeed that the trio did meet, because now downtown Abilene has another establishment to boast about. The owners aim for quality in all they do, from brewing their own craft beers, to providing a European-style gourmet coffee bar, and hosting events in a space with a balcony and amazing views of the cityscape.
“There’s a lot that goes into just making this beer, and at the heart of it, and the most simple part of it, is that it all comes from a grain,” explained Sivley. “And our theory is the fact that if you start there and make sure that’s the best it can be, and build on that, doing everything along the way the right way then in the end the final product has to equal or exceed that idea of doing the best thing we can.”
Quality, education, and relationships in the community are what Kasselman says are the values of Grain Theory Brewery.
The brewery is located on the second floor of 202 Pine Street downtown. As you ascend the steps into the main space and bar area, the views immediately transport you to a new and exciting side of Abilene. The aesthetic is what Kasselman referred to as ‘modern industrial’ and everything from the furniture to the bar itself was meticulously created by a local artisan, Kurt Vidrine.
“Our furniture and everything is locally-made,” said Kasselman.
The owners wanted every piece of the business to be the highest quality and also beneficial for the community.
Opposite the bar are floor-to-ceiling murals created by local artist and ACU student, Jaime Scudder. There are two large glass bay-doors that open to the wrap-around balcony, where one can spend an evening enjoying the sunset and beautiful vistas of downtown Abilene.
From the front entrance you are greeted with a unique sight: the entire brewery is open for the public to see the process, even the advanced water filtration system.
“We wanted people to fully experience what it’s like in a brewery, so it’s manufacturing right here,” Kasselman said. “You will get to smell all the aromas when we’re brewing and you will see everything.”
The Coffee Bar across from the front entrance features Wonderstate Coffee out of Wisconsin where the emphasis is once again on quality and experiencing something new. Kasselman explained that the coffee at Grain Theory is different than the other to-go style coffee places in Abilene.
“The idea is that you come in here for coffee, we will be here in the morning brewing anyways so let’s add coffee on,” said Kasselman. “Again, we are looking at quality, experience and education so the coffee is in ceramic cups. It’s something more traditional and European-in-nature as well.”
There are 12 seasonally rotating taps to choose from at the hand-crafted bar top. And for those who don’t drink beer Grain Theory has a hand-selected wine menu.
“When we looked at wine we thought, ‘we know nothing about wine’ and so we have a wine buyer named Charlie Clark who has all sorts of wine certifications and is curating the wine menu,” said Kasselman. “The wines will be somewhat Texas centric, but his main thing is quality, so if it’s the quality is good enough, we are going to have it.”
Finally, food has not been forgotten, although once again it has a twist on the traditional. The owners call it ‘upscale bar food’ which includes Belgian frites, which are brined and then fried twice and include many sauce options. They also have a house-made sausages and fresh salads.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
The building, which houses Grain Theory Brewery, is actually a rated fallout shelter. That’s why the event space is called The Blakely Room – it’s named for Robert Blakely, the creator of the fallout shelter logo design. The space features a self-serve tap system, so patrons can pour their own glasses or create their own flights, after scanning a personal card. There is also a private balcony that attaches to the room as well as a large window through which you can see the beer being created. The Blakely Room can be used for wedding receptions, birthday parties and has a big screen projector that makes it ideal for meetings as well. For more information on renting out the space, contact Grain Theory Brewery.
Grain Theory – 202 Pine Street, Suite 201, Abilene, TX 79601
by Vikki Head