Julia Parma never imagined she’d one day be spending her days making beer — but she’s happily been the head brewer of the Liberty Hill area’s first craft brewery.
Bull Creek Brewing, a boozy project between her and other family members, including her husband, has been making small batches of beer in 22 oz. bombers since 2012. This year, however, Parma and her husband, Greg, have taken the brewery to a new level by moving to a bigger brewing system and expanding distribution of their bottled beers farther into Austin.
The addition of the 15 bbl system, as well as an automated bottling line, has meant that Parma is able to produce more beer than she ever could before. As a result, three Bull Creek beers are now in 12 oz. bottles at various bar and retail locations around town, including Sunrise Minimart, B.B. Rover’s, Craft Pride and more. A fuller lineup of Bull Creek brews are also available on draft at the brewery’s taproom, which will be open this weekend for a special tasting event.
On Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, visit the taproom to get a taste of Bull Creek’s Longhorn Blonde, Iron Balls Imperial Stout, Champs Au Sud Farmhouse Ale, Tommy Raj IPA and the Summer Slap, a summer seasonal. The taproom will be open with more regular hours in coming weeks.
The Longhorn Blonde, a golden-colored easy drinker; Iron Balls Imperial Stout, a bold and creamy mix of toasted malts; and the Champs Au Sud Farmhouse Ale, a mildly tart saison, are all available now in bottles. The Tommy Raj IPA and the Faded Extra Pale Ale are next in line to be bottled.
For Parma, brewing has been the easy part of the whole experience.
“It’s a lot of work because we’re not just brewing,” she said. “We’re running the rest of the business, too — marketing, planning events, distributing. But it’s fun.”
She graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in business and had been running an estate sales company until she got pregnant with her second child, she said, and decided to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile. But her father and her husband had other plans.
“They were sitting around one day and decided they wanted to brew beer,” she said with a laugh. “They liked drinking it, so they thought, why not be the ones making it?”
Although her husband came up with the recipes for each of Bull Creek Brewing’s seven beers after he learned to brew in 2011, his full-time job as a financial analyst keeps him away from the brewhouse. That’s where Parma comes in — she’s found it easy and enjoyable to mill the grain, pitch the yeast, supervise the bottling line and do other important tasks around the brewery that result in 12 tasty ounces of bottled beer.
She also knows that her role leading a brewing team still isn’t so common for women these days and appreciates that she gets to be one of them.
“It’s exciting to be a woman brewer; I think I’m one of the only ones in the area specifically in the head brewer position,” she said.
But she hasn’t been the only one working hard to make Bull Creek Brewing a success. She’s still proud of her husband’s ability to create so many solid beer recipes, noting that she and the rest of the family “don’t know how my husband does it; he hasn’t had that many strikeouts,” she said. “Everything has been really good.”
Bull Creek Brewing joins other small brewing ventures in the smaller towns surrounding Austin, such as Leander’s Bindlestick Brewing and Georgetown’s upcoming Rentsch Brewing (which had some trouble acquiring all the necessary permits but is now brewing up initial batches).
Bull Creek Brewing’s Weekend Day Sipping. 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. 7100 FM 3405, Liberty Hill. www.bullcreekbrewing.com.