Who’s behind Blue Owl Brewing? Suzy Shaffer, that’s hoo. (also free beer inside!)

Jeff Young and Suzy Shaffer

If you thought we were above puns, you’re probably new to the Spotlight Series. Let it be a lesson to you.

We first learned about Blue Owl Brewing through the good people at Austin Bike Tours and Rentals. We wanted to learn more and caught up with co-owner, Suzy Shaffer.

So settle in for this edition of the Spotlight Series and learn more about Suzy, Blue Owl, and how you can get free beer.

EAA: How did you get into the brewery business?

Suzy: I grew up in Fort Collins and idolized the burgeoning craft breweries in town while I was in college. This was back when Odell and New Belgium were still the little guys. It was a dream of mine to open my own brewery but I stayed “safely employed” until later in life. After a layoff, I did some mental exploration and concluded it was time to surround myself with my passions. I took a part-time job just simply to be around beer. That job was at Black Star Co-Op that quickly led to a full-time all-encompassing position on the business team. I met and worked with my now business partner, Jeff Young. After some “dream big” conversations we started talking realistically about what it would take to actually open our own spot. We both decided we were ready to take the plunge and saw an opportunity to create a unique brewery to match Austin’s uniqueness. Bada bing…Blue Owl Brewing!

EAA: What is sour beer?

Suzy: There are all sorts of ways to make a sour beer. Our approach to sour beer is applying our sour-mashing technique to familiar beer styles making them tart. We do this by introducing wild cultures of bacteria into the wort and allowing them to consume some of the sugars and produce acids. The dominant type of bacteria we select is called lactic acid bacteria. As the level of lactic acid increases with time, so does the “perceived sourness.” We chose this method because it maintains the integrity of the original style and we can utilize the naturally occurring bacteria from the grain.

EAA: Is there anything else that distinguishes Blue Owl from other beers?

Suzy: What distinguishes Blue Owl from other beers is that we aim to create a balance between the sour aspect and the original beer style. We have different levels of how sour each beer is depending on what style of beer we’re brewing, allowing everyone to find a sour they like! We also created Sour Units(SU), a measurement system that lets our customers know how sour the beer is, so they can pick their beer based on how sour they want to go.

EAA: When did you get to Austin?

Suzy: I think it has been about 15 years now. The company I was working for relocated me to open a location in Austin.  I remember Austin was one of the few places I would consider moving away from Colorado. I miss the mountains and my friends and family but I love Austin and have made it my home.

EAA: What would you recommend to people moving here?

Suzy: The summers are HOT and humid. Break yourself in early by going outside frequently in the springtime and look around for good swimming spots for summer salvation. If swimming isn’t your thing, a good cold drink often does the trick. 😉

EAA: What is your favorite Austin thing that most people don’t know about?

Suzy: Typically I’d have a list of activities like pop-up dinners, secret comedy shows, moonlight water parades, and gathering at Barton Springs to howl at the moon with hundreds of people. During the pandemic, life is all about nature and distance. I’ve found little pockets in parks and there are so many of them around town. My most recent find is Stephenson Nature Preserve. I’ve walked for hours without seeing one other person.

EAA: Any charities or non-profits you are interested in/work with/otherwise want to give a shout-out to?

Suzy: It’s so rough to single out any one particular non-profit, we support as many as possible. This last year, our major focus has been contributing to the Austin Justice Coalition and Central Texas Food Bank.

You can get sour beer from Blue Owl on their COVID safe patio, via contact-less pick up, or delivered to your place. And we’re going to do you even one better, we’re giving away a $50 Blue Owl gift certificate so you can try their whole portfolio.  All you have to do is sign up for our email list (top of the page or over on the right hand side) by March 12th. One of our subscribers will get a $50 gift certificates the very next day.