FOUNDER OF FRIENDS & ALLIES BREWING
By Veronica Meewes
Photos by Brittany Dawn Short
Styled by Carrie Crowe
Photo Shoot at Aviator Nation
When Texas native Ben Sabin branched off from working at Thirsty Planet to start his own project, he wanted the name to be an homage to Texas, the friendship state — and in 2015 Friends & Allies Brewing was born. The brewery, located in the same east side industrial complex as Austin Eastciders and the Austin Bouldering Project, quickly became known for its Fresh Coast IPA, a fresh take on West Coast IPA, and Noisy Cricket, a low alcohol session IPA. These days, they’re pumping out 2,000 barrels of beer a year, and Ben still wears many hats. On any given day, you might find this multi-tasking owner self-distributing to any number of bars and convenience stores around town, or making appearances at pint nights and special dinners in various small towns outside the city.
What attracted you to the hospitality industry?
“My first hospitality job was in college working as a busboy at Vespaio. Vespaio really taught me what the hospitality industry was all about. Being at the lowest level in the front of house really gave me some perspective on how difficult and demanding it can be sometimes. It also taught me how fun it can be, and all the interesting people you get to meet.”
How would you say the industry has changed in the past year?
“We obviously lost a lot of good businesses last year. Our industry lost a huge chunk of revenue that comes from ‘on premise’ sales. I do see a lot of businesses coming together to help each other out, whether it’s through special dinner pairings or showcasing a local brewery for the week/month.”
What are your favorite and least favorite food and drink trends right now?
“My least favorite drink trends are the hard seltzers that are all over the market. It’s difficult to sell beer when these drinks are incredibly low calorie and can taste like any fruit flavor. My favorite trend is lower alcohol beers and seems to be shifting from IPAs back to more traditional lagers.”
When you’re not working, what can you usually be found doing?
“Running! Every morning I either run down South Lamar or I drive down to the trail at Town Lake and go about four to six miles. I have been doing this since 2005, when I first moved to Austin to attend St. Edward’s University.”
How would you describe your personal style on a day-to-day basis?
“My personal style is generally very relaxed because of the nature of my work. I’m usually wearing Under Armour running shoes (HOVR Sonic), a t-shirt with our logo on it and some Lululemon shorts. I tend to clash a lot with three different types of blue on, but hey, it’s my favorite color.”
Where do you like to shop locally for clothes?
“I have recently taken a liking to Poncho clothing company out of Austin. The shirts are typically for outdoor activities like fishing, but they work really well in the nine months of summer we get here in Central Texas. For very nice events or fancy dinners, I have several shirts from Tom James Company; these are custom fitted, button-down shirts, and most are typically blue because that’s my color of choice.”
Besides clothing, what else makes a fashion statement in Austin?
“I think unique hats are definitely on the rise, and boots are definitely still very relevant in Austin.”
How would you describe Austin style to someone from out of town?
“Completely covered in tattoos, a Ramones t-shirt and a denim jacket when it’s 102 degrees outside.”
Describe your perfect Austin day — what would you eat, drink, do and see?
“Run around Town Lake, get a smoothie at JuiceLand, a coffee at Cosmic and a beer at the Mean Eyed Cat.”