Hi Sign Brewing recently announced the grand opening of its new 13,000-sq-ft East Austin taproom and production facility located at 730 Shady Lane. Hi Sign opened its doors on July 9 for a public grand opening celebration. At the party, Hi Sign debuted three new beers (two summer seasonals and one permanent addition) alongside updated logo and can designs by creative agency FugginHuggin, noting we couldn’t find a photo of the can designs.
Founder and CEO Mark Phillippe credits local support for Hi Sign’s success in the aftermath of a recession that shuttered independent businesses worldwide. “We wouldn’t have survived the last five years without our Austin community,” Phillippe said. “They sustained us over the last two years –– this new place is for them.”
“As the Austin craft beer market matured, it became apparent that we weren’t going to survive at our old location on Bastrop Highway, almost entirely due to the devastating, several-years-long Hwy 183 construction project,” Phillippe explained. “But, a scarcity of resources forced us to focus sharply on packaging and product.”
Hi Sign’s new home on Shady Lane has a rich beverage production and packaging history. It originally opened as an RC Cola bottling facility in the 1950s, and later became Shiner’s first beer distribution center in Austin. In the 90s, the building was occupied by Hill Country Brewing & Bottling. 20 years later, the space is returning to its beverage industry roots as it becomes Hi Sign Brewing’s new home. Phillippe selected OPA Design Studio, an award winning architecture firm specializing in breweries and distilleries, to reimagine the space while paying homage to its unique history.
“After meeting with Ambrose [Taylor], the building’s previous owner, my vision for the project was to make minimal changes to the building — it already had amazing bones,” said Phillippe. “We have this incredible structure, and we wanted to design the space in a way that reused as many of the original materials as possible, and keep some of its history alive.”
The footprint of the new brewery is more than twice the size of Hi Sign’s previous facility, providing the space needed to ramp up production of the brand’s core beers and allow Hi Sign to reincorporate limited-release offerings.
“Between the extra room and upgraded equipment, we’ll increase to a production capacity of just over 8,000 barrels per year,” said Phillippe.
Phillippe is a former United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer who served in Afghanistan. After returning from deployment, he began homebrewing for his fellow marines while stationed in Twentynine Palms, California. Eager to dive deeper into craft beer, he sought out and completed extensive craft brewing coursework at UC Davis and Portland State University, immersing himself in the study of manufacturing and distribution of craft beer. In 2015, Phillippe began work on his dream of building Hi Sign and opened its first taproom and production facility in Austin in 2017.
“I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs for a long time,” Phillippe said, “and thought I had a pretty good idea of what my future might look like — writing the business plan, building financial models, courting investors, trying to get a bank loan, etc. But in my wildest dreams I never could have imagined the challenges I’ve faced both personally and professionally over the last five years. It’s been an ultramarathon. Ultimately, what still drives me is a sincere and genuine passion for great beer. I still get that rush when I taste something fresh out of the tank and know that we nailed it. Craft brewing is for us very much about the search; striving to make technically excellent beers. Whether it’s perfecting a pilsner or improving our IPAs, the journey will always be about making great beer.”