With an award-winning brewery that employs over fifty people, Baylor grad Adam DeBower is living his entrepreneurial dreams.
Story by Scott Spain-Smith
Adam DeBower came to Baylor to study anthropology with a concentration in forensics, and then went on to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice in New York. For the next few years he used his degrees working in the district attorney’s office in Manhattan. However, after a roommate gave him a beer homebrewing kit in 2006, Adam quickly found a new passion in life; he sold everything he had to begin looking for any job he could find in the beer industry. This is how he ended up at a brewery in Maryland that is now called Flying Dog.
While in the Maryland area Adam made some key connections, specifically befriending Will Golden. Will says of Adam, “Yeah, most people stop at pipe dreams, but Adam is very persistent. He is the motivator of the group. He just wouldn’t let [the idea of opening a brewery] die. It wasn’t just talk, he was like, “We’re doing this thing.” Adam, Will, Michael Graham, and Mike McGovern would become the four co-founders of Austin Beerworks.
Meeting Will was not the only crucial connection that Adam made. In 2007 he went to a Baylor Alumni Association watch party in Washington DC to watch Baylor play Texas A&M. Although the game did not go so well for the Bears, who lost 34-10, it was here that Adam met Courtney Forsell (‘04) who was working as a presidential appointee as the media coordinator for Henry Paulson. Adam describes many of the conversations in their first year of courtship as ending with, “I can’t tell you yet, but you’ll see it on the news tomorrow.” The two were wed in 2013.
After a few years in Maryland it was time for Adam to return to Texas where he worked at Real Ale in Blanco. While working there the early foundation for ABW was laid, and in 2010 he left to work fulltime launching the brewery.
Austin Beerworks likes to claim that they have only recently begun distributing outside of Austin, but their very first sale was at The Dancing Bear Pub in Waco on May 21, 2011. The Dancing Bear has long carried ABW and more recently Shorty’s Pizza Shack has added it to their beer list as well, thanks in large part to Adam and Courtney’s love of Baylor athletics. Pearlsnap, ABW’s flagship pilsner, is canned in bright green and gold.
While ABW has experienced huge growth in its short seven-year stint, so has the entire craft beer industry. When ABW began selling beer in 2011 there were only 37 breweries in Texas. Now there are over 250. While this is a huge area of growth for our state, Texas only ranks 46th in terms of number of breweries per capita. Adam devotes much of his spare time away from ABW to advocating fixes in antiquated beer regulations that inhibit and cap how much growth is possible for Texas craft breweries. He is also on the board of directors for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.
Back in 2011, the co-founders thought the brewery would be considered a success if they could ever get production up to around five thousand barrels. This year, ABW will produce around twenty-two thousand barrels, which is nearly 7.4 million pints of beer. While Adam was the connection between all of the founders, he doesn’t take any extra credit in their success, but attributes much of it to the different valuable skill sets each of them bring to the business. Just last year the brewery completed a five-million-dollar expansion, including an all new taproom, and the company currently employs over fifty people. And while the four founders are business partners, they also continue to build their friendships with one another, one pint at a time.