Circle of Life – A Fond Farewell to North Austin’s Oldest Brewery

Circle of Life – A Fond Farewell to North Austin’s Oldest Brewery

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Cheers to Circle Brewing Company – thank you for all the good times and great beer!

After a remarkable 15-year run, one of North Austin’s oldest breweries shut down its original facility on Braker Lane AND its new 23-acre property in Elgin. Circle Brewing Company has been an integral part of the Austin Brewery Community since its inception and has fully embraced Austin’s colorful vibe, supporting a long list of local charities, sporting events, and even politics. Like many businesses, Circle endured and survived numerous financial ups and downs but always found creative ways to make it through and not only survive but thrive. The team at Circle always created fun new ways to bring in crowds – from locally inspired beers to lively community events. Circle was even expanding with a new 23-acre facility in Elgin, and after a successful grand opening, it was a shock to us all that Circle would indeed be closing all its doors for good.

Enjoying the vibrant Austin craft beer scene at Austin Beer Garden Brewing in North Austin, where the passion for craft beer and the art of brewing converge, featuring a delightful batch crafted with care

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company

The Early Days

The Circle Brewing Company founders, Ben Sabel and Judson Mulherin are childhood friends and Purdue alumni who had a lifelong love of beer and experimental home brewing. They moved to Austin in 2008 to try to join the small but growing Austin brewing community. Early on, financial issues were a challenge — In their closing letter to the community, Ben and Judson reminisce about their rough financial beginnings, but we love the fact that they did not let this stop them:

“We embarked upon this journey back in 2008, when we started raising money two weeks into the financial crisis. As became a recurring motif for us, this was the first major example of our flawless business timing. With far too much optimism and not nearly enough money, we opened our doors with two draft beers (Blur Texas Hefe and Envy Amber) and barely a dozen draft accounts.”

Savor the rich array of batch craft beers in Austin, where the craft beer scene thrives with award-winning brews that exemplify the excellence of breweries throughout the city.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company

The beers were amazing. 

Like all small businesses, Ben and Judson had to lean on their community members for a bit of advice and sometimes ingredients – but they brewed and bottled a fantastic collection of beers with bold flavors that continued to expand and win the hearts of Austinites. During the first four years of business, selling beer directly to the public in Austin was illegal. Ben and Judson could focus solely on brewing, working on a 100% distribution model out of their unairconditioned warehouse on Braker Lane. 

As time passed, laws changed, and the Circle Brewing Company evolved a thousandfold. Circle stepped away from bottles, began canning their beer, and opened their first taproom. Although Ben and Judson were not terribly excited about opening and staffing a bar, the tiny industrial taproom soon became an Austin favorite. Customers would pack into the tiny industrial space lit by string lights and furnished with shiny red patent stools and a massive blackboard listing the beer offerings to enjoy Circle’s delightful drafts and pick up a few six-packs of brightly colored cans for the road

A Celebration of the Beers

Embark on a memorable brewery visit in Austin, where you can relish award-winning beers at some of the best breweries. Whether you're a connoisseur seeking good beer or looking to unwind in a large brewpub atmosphere, Austin's diverse brewery scene has something for every beer enthusiast to drink in and enjoy.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company

Although they started with just two beers – the Blue Texas Hefe and Envy Amber (both Delicious) – the team at Circle Brewery created a strong family of delicious beers through the years. Let’s take a moment to reflect upon some of their greatest hits, including:

OG Beers

  • Blur – REFRESHING, CITRUS, WHEAT – THE OG Texas Hefe – A Crisp German Wheat with a citrus aroma and a Texas twist of Caramel.
  • Envy Amber – BOLD, SMOOTH, MOLASSES – The OG – A perfectly well-rounded, full-bodied Amber derived its complex flavor from the dried fruit notes in earthy British Malts.
Discover a vibrant and fun place where many breweries come together, offering a perfect blend of beer, good food, and the charm of German beer styles. With a soccer field for entertainment, multiple food trucks serving delectable dishes, and inviting outdoor seating, this destination promises a delightful experience for all.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company

Second Wave Celebrating Austin:

  • Austin Anthem Ale – LIGHT. CITRUSY, CRUSHABLE – Created for the Austin Anthem – this crisp light beer is light, easy, and refreshing for everyone to enjoy during the heat of an Austin FC Game!
  • Alibi Blonde – CRISP, MALTY, CLEAN – The smooth and delicious pairing of an American Blonde with a German Malbock.
  • Ladybird – TROPICAL, DANK, FLORAL – Inspired by the endless fields of Bluebonnets throughout the Texas Hill Country, this American IPA features dank, tropical hop notes with a floral finish on a background of malty perfection.
  • Elgin Premium – CLASSIC SMOOTH, CRISP – Cheers to the new guy – may he RIP
A single, meticulously poured glass of Circle Brewing Company beer, capturing the essence of craftsmanship and the rich, golden hue of the brew. A delightful representation of the brewery's dedication to quality in every sip.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company


  • Fanny Pack – RAD, REFRESHING, MELON – A crisp, refreshing Kolsch bursting with Huell Melon Hops packaged in one of Circle Brewing Company’s most iconic cans.
  • Epic Playlist – CRISP, HOPPY, ON REPEAT – This crisp, light pale ale is packaged in a perfectly 90’s can and accompanied by its own Spotify playlist with every release.
  • Pacific Jade – BRIGHT JUICY, PINEAPPLE – A classic Belgian beer with jade hops, pineapple


  • Doppel Blur – SWEET BANANA CREAM – Kicking up the Blur Texas Hefe with Citrus, Banana, and cloves notes – this beer is a luscious treat!
  • Das Bier – CREAMY, TOASTY, ELEGANT – A true celebration of the traditional rich and toasty Octoberfest Lager.
  • Tuxedo T-Shirt – HOPPY, ROASTED, CLASSY – A crisp, uber-hoppy IPA that feels a little fancy and stands out in a crowd.
  • Party Pig – CHOCOLATEY, VELVET, UNRULY – deep chocolate notes pair perfectly with malty delights in this velvety, decadent Imperial Porter.
  • Perfekt Pils – TRADITIONAL, VIBRANT, UNDENIABLE – This light-colored pilsner infuses delicate noble hop citrus flavors and elevates any event.


  • Beto Beer – BOLD, REFRESHING, PROGRESSIVE  – Inspired by the nominee’s platform of inclusivity and positivity, Circle Brewing created this American Pale Ale to galvanize Texas to participate in the voting process.
  • Pink Velvet – Hazy IPA in Collaboration with the Pink Boots Society. Circle had never experimented with the style, so it was a true original.


  • Archetype – HISTORICAL, ENGLISH, SMOOTH – This beer embodies and celebrates everything that went into the early IPA style with historical accuracy – the brewers at Circle recreated the journey of this beer along the trade routes from Britain to Indian Shores – starting with British East Kent Golding hops, mirroring hop rates, and aging four months in white oak barrels – then adding a final inoculation of Brettanomyces. The final result was on point, winning Circle Brewing numerous awards!
  • Devils Night – DIABOLICAL, ROASTED, WHISKEY – Aged in Tennessee Whiskey Barrels, Rick Molasses, and smooth vanilla notes meld with dark roasted malts to create an award-winning beer that tastes out of this world.
A group of women gracefully practicing yoga in the vibrant ambiance of a brewery, creating a harmonious blend of relaxation and social enjoyment. The serene setting captures the essence of wellness and community in a unique brewery experience.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company


Although the beers were epic, it was not just the brews that drew people to Circle Brewing Company. This small but mighty tap room was in an industrial park walking distance from the Metrorail and Austin FC Stadium. Circle Brewing filled their parking lots with picnic tables, string lights, sun sails, and their calendars with fun community events. Events started with your typical collection of Austin brewery activities – 0.5K beer runs, yoga classes, and plant swaps – but soon, things got even bigger and better. Local food trucks were always onsite, and small local festivals and philanthropic events bloomed. 

Comprehensive List of Austin Breweries

Image Courtesy of Divine Canines


Circle became an early partner with Divine Canines and joined dozens of local brewers to raise money for therapy dogs as a highly anticipated stop during the annual Barks for Beer event in May. Barks for Beers is one of the best ways to discover new breweries in Austin! They celebrate the event every May with a new” Pawsport” that you buy and then get stamped (and a free beer!) at local breweries. The pawsport features breweries across the greater Austin area – making fun local happy hours and further away weekend destination Brewery trips out the Austin Hill Country.

Photo taken at an Austin FC game

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company


When Austin FC took the city by storm, Circle began hosting massive watch parties for the Austin FC games that rivaled the electric enthusiasm of the stadium itself. Fans hopped off the Metro Rail line and either stopped by Circle Brewing on their way to the match, or simply stayed and cheered on the Verde at the brewery.   


And when Austinites needed help – Circle was to help. When COVID-19 hit, Circle Brewing set up a safe “drive thru” to serve thirsty Austinites.  Then during the epic Austin Freeze of 2021, Circle provided water to residents who had lost power and water during the ice storm.

Image Courtesy of Circle Brewing Company


Like many Austin Breweries, including Nomadic Brewing, Vista Brewing, and Beereburg Brewing, Circle Brewing Company was deeply committed to quality ingredients and sustainable processes.  Circle Brewing announced exciting plans to open a new Farm and Brewery in 2019 on a 23-acre in Elgin, TX, where they would grow many of their ingredients and offer a destination brewery experience celebrating both the beers and outdoors. Elgin is a growing town right outside of Austin, so this would also be a tremendous economic boost for the community. Unfortunately, due to the events of COVID-19, construction lagged, costs rose astronomically, and Circle Brewing Company had to postpone the opening of their Elgin Farm and Brewery to 2023.]

Then COVID[-19] came along to ensure the buildout took forever and cost twice as much,” they said. “Our biggest regret is not having the time to see our vision through and fulfilling the enormous potential we know would have paid off enormously. We’re sorry we didn’t have the time to see it to the end.”


At the time of Circle Brewing Company’s inception, the Texas Craft Brewing community was a small but mighty group of individuals from every walk of life. This tight group of growing craft brewers met monthly to share a beer and discuss their business. They were even there to lend a helping hand in the time of need. 

Ben and Judson shared:

“In our first two years of operation, we were so broke that we couldn’t even afford to buy yeast. But the Austin brewing community and the real spirit of camaraderie was such that we just had to drive out to Blanco and fill up a few corny kegs from our friends at Real Ale.”

These friendships remain intact for years, and the spirit of camaraderie is evident today not only in the support our local brewers give each other but also in the way they all band together to support the Austin Community. Circle Brewing has been an active supporter of Austin charities and community groups. They supported local healthy living, emerging artists, small businesses, fledgling sports teams, active politics, and brewing collaborations. Have you tasted the amazing Pink Velvet Hazy IPA they created with the Pink Boots Society

Honestly, so many people in Austin are such wild fans of Circle Brewing Company and their delicious beers that we were always excited for our next visit – even if no special events were happening.


Unfortunately, recent financial setbacks have hurt a few local breweries – and Circle Brewing is the third Austin Brewery to shut down over the past year, following in the footsteps of Fourth Tap, which shut down in t July 2022, and Adelberts, which shut its doors in October 2022.

“Our biggest regret is not having the time to see our vision through and fulfilling the enormous potential we know would have paid off enormously. It was a one-of-a-kind concept, a beautifully constructed facility located on a plot of land with limitless potential and a wonderfully supportive community. It was so close to becoming reality. We’re sorry we didn’t have the time to see it to the end.” Ben and Judson

Thank you, Ben and Judson, for all the amazing beers and fantastic times at Circle Brewing. We are super sad to see y’all shut your doors – but know you will have the strength and experience to create an exciting next adventure! We will save a seat, bar the bar, and keep our pint glasses open for what you plan to pour next.

RIP Circle Brewing Company – Cheers – thanks for the fun and great beers – You will be missed!

Sarah is a lifestyle author, designer, and lover of craft beers. She has been touring and supporting Austin Craft Breweries for years and works with a company directly sponsoring the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. You can find more of Sarah’s insight into the Austin brewery scene at Cheers!

Sarah Jane

Post Script: (Sarah Jane recently reached out to us asking to be a guest writer on The Beer Thrillers. You can look forward to seeing more of her articles here on the blog, covering the Austin area of Texas. We would like to thank her for her submissions and adding a voice from a different part of the country to our beer blog. It is great to get unique perspectives from around the country, and around the world, to add to the wonderful mix we have here at The Beer Thrillers. You can visit her site at

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