Family, the military and a passion for brewing beer and making wine are the core elements that mother and son team Lori and Mark Laack bring to Black Hawk Brewing Supply in Harker Heights.
Mark and Lori Laack are longtime home brewing enthusiasts who have extensive knowledge of ingredients, processes and the history of art.
“This is our first foray into retail, but Mom and Dad have been home brewing for about 20 years, and I’ve been brewing for about 15 on my own,” Mark Laack said. “Basically, if you can follow a recipe, you can make beer.”
The Laacks saw both the need and the opportunity to turn their passion into a business and opened the Harker Heights store in March.
“It wasn’t the greatest time to open a business with the economy the way it was, but we saw a niche there that we could fill,” Mark Laack said.
The gamble paid off more than they ever expected.
“There’s a lot more brewers than I thought there would be,” Lori Laack said. “We pick up people all the way down Interstate 35, Waco all the way down to Georgetown.”
The Laacks enjoy sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with others and founded the Beer Brigade, a local home brewing club, last year.
“It’s a nice hobby that you feel like you’ve accomplished something, and then you get to drink it, too,” Lori Laack said.
While it can be tricky for family members to work together, even families who are very close, the Laacks have found a way to achieve balance. Mother and son bring separate skills to the business and work as equal partners.
“You’ve got to treat each other with mutual respect. I think the biggest thing is that we both realize our strengths,” Mark Laack said. “(Mom) and my dad, they’re great parents, so they understand that my brother and I are capable adults. They raised us to be that way, and they treat us with respect.”
Mark Laack credits their life as a military family for the strong bonds they have, and that
military pride shows in the store’s name — his father was a Black Hawk pilot.
“Being a military family, my dad was stationed lots of different places, so we moved every three years. Like every military family you have fast, quick friends, but they’re not lifelong friends,” Mark Laack said. “Your lifelong friends are your family. You’re personally able to adapt, but your family is your support group. And that’s true for all military families. Your family is the key to having a successful career in the military.”
For Brian Ferguson, a Beer Brigade member and customer since opening day in March, the warmth and friendliness of the Laack family keeps him coming back to the store.
“What I like about the store is the family atmosphere. It’s a close brewing family,” Ferguson said.