Impacting Denton one beer at a time
UNT graduate student uses passion for brewing to bring community together
Lifting the lid of the stainless steel fermenter tank, 23-year-old Austin Ford scoops out a sample of the mash, an oatmeal-like liquid. Fluorescent lights hang above the brewing room where Ford is working, the sound of running machines fill the space.
Climbing down the tank’s ladder, Ford takes a few steps over to the walk-in fridge and leaves the mash inside to cool it down.
Then, he waits.
As a brewer at the Denton County Brewing Company, practicing patience is one of the many aspects of Ford’s job.
“I don’t make beer, I make wort and yeast makes beer,” Ford said. “So, my entire job is to provide the appropriate conditions for yeast to do what it needs to do.”
This was not the career the University of North Texas graduate student expected to be doing when he started studying hospitality management back in 2014 as an undergraduate.
But since choosing this path, Ford realizes the opportunities he has to connect people together in ways he never expected through beer.
“It’s a vessel in that it allows for so much community development,” Ford said.
Ford’s journey into brewing did not begin until he saw his first batch of beer brewed in 2017 at Barley & Board. At the time, he was working at the Denton Square restaurant as a cook.
The reason Ford originally came to UNT’s hospitality management program was that he wanted to be a chef. He had grown up learning how to make pastries from his mom and started cooking during his junior year at Porter High School in Porter, Oklahoma.
His plans to go into the culinary industry came to a halt when he witnessed brewing for the first time at Barley & Board. At the time, he had already decided he wanted a career change and brewing seemed to be the answer.
“At a certain point you have to plan for the future,” Ford said. “Working in the brewery that time it was very, very apparent that there was stress involved, just like there is in every job, but this is a more long term stress. This is something that I can address and I know how to fix these problems.”
He began as Barley & Board’s Head Brewer on January 1, 2018 and has immersed himself in the world of brewing ever since. Ford enjoys the process behind brewing but the main part of beer he loves the most is how central it is to the community.
This passion for connecting people in Denton through beer is what inspired Ford to create the Home Brewers League through Barley & Board. The monthly event was a way for Ford to celebrate a local brewer by making their beer and also including the community by having a release party for each brew.
Since the event began in June 2018, Ford said he has watched people come to every event and has seen the impact it has on the community firsthand.
“You don’t get that in coffee, you don’t get that in wine,” Ford said. “It’s very unique to brewing, which that’s where the passion comes from. It’s not from the beer. I love the beer, I love making beer but it’s the people. I mean honestly, that’s the whole reason I do it.”
Now, he is one year into his hospitality management graduate studies and just began his new job as a brewer at the Denton County Brewing Company. For Ford, he knows no matter where he is he will to continue pouring his passion for people and beer into Denton.
“I’ve spent the past year giving back to this community, investing in this community and proving that we can do something here,” Ford said. “We can bring people together even more than beer already does and that’s something that I want to continue doing in my career.”