Owned by brothers Matt and Grady Wright and their friend Matthew Bolick, who also founded Wright Bros. Brew & Brew—Hold Out Brewing and Better Half Coffee and Cocktails share a courtyard in downtown Austin, Texas, offering visitors the option of either fresh-brewed beer in a revamped metal hanger or quality coffee in a minimalist café setting. But what links the two spaces is more than just the ownership; they also share a musical connection.
While the coffee shop and brewpub currently feature music mostly curated by staff, the original playlists were put together by Bolick. “The goal has always been to provide a few long running playlists,” Bolick says. “A morning, noon, and night kinda setup. It’s more of a jumping-off point for the staff.” The only rule is no full albums.
In the mornings, guests might be welcomed by the sound of James Carr or Ryan Sambol if it’s a sunny day, or acts like Bedhead, Codeine, or Red House Painters if it’s raining outside. The mood, Bolick says, is “like what would I spin in the morning while making a pour over and some tacos.”
As the days ease into happy hour, the atmosphere shifts to tracks that are a little more energetic. “It has to sound right with a beer in hand, but we ain’t partying just yet,” Bolick says. “I’m a huge dub/reggae guy, so you’re gonna get Prince Jammy, King Tubby, Bullwackies All Stars, Johnny Osbourne, and tons of other great stuff. Country classics are always good for drinking, plus this is Texas, so you’ll hear some familiar songs.”
For late night at the brewery, Bolick leans into a few personal favorites. “I tend to sneak in some heavier stuff like Metz, Whores, Hot Snakes, and Jesus Lizard. That vibe just feels right at the brewery to me. I do tend to sprinkle in some ’90s emo and hope no one gets too bummed about it.”
Overall, it’s an eclectic mix that taps into Austin’s effortless-chic anima, encouraging drinkers to sit back and relax or “not work too hard” as locals typically offer as a greeting when coming or going. “I just love when I walk into the space and the levels are perfect, beers are in hands, smiles are on faces, and something like Unwound is holding it all together,” Bolick says. “I’m like, ‘Holy shit, this is the bar I wanna drink at.’”