Name: Lara and Adam Crum
Age: 34 & 37
Title: Owner and Brewer (respectively)
Business name and address: Iron Gauntlet Brauhaus & Taproom, with Black Hawk Brewing Supply
Question: What does your business provide?
Answer: Iron Gauntlet Brauhaus is Killeen’s first and only craft microbrewery. We proudly brew every beer on premise, along with homemade Kombucha tea served directly from the tank or on tap with a rotating flavor addition.
The bar has a 20-faucet tap that is nearly full, to include a nitro cold brewed coffee from “Floresville Coffee Company”, another veteran-owned business in Texas.
As we do not have a kitchen, we rely on local food trucks, trailers and catering to provide our guests with local fare to enjoy while sipping on the freshest beer that Killeen has to offer.
Question: When did you get into business ownership? When did you bring your business to the local area?
Answer: The previous owner of the local homebrew supply store in Harker Heights was looking to fully retire and approached us in 2019 with the idea of buying the business from her. With our desire to eventually open a brewery of our own someday, it made perfect sense to take over the supply side of the house while Adam finished his time in the Army.
After taking ownership in July 2019, we almost immediately began scouting locations to eventually build a brewery when the City of Killeen approached us and showed a desire to have us make Killeen our home. Individuals like Mayor Segarra and Brian O’Conner, who is the VP of Economic Development for the city, really showed us that this was something that could happen here and that it would make an impact on Killeen and the surrounding areas.
Black Hawk Brewing Supply began moving into our current building at 400 Cheyenne Drive in early 2020, and was able to begin construction on the brewery while serving the homebrew community, and successfully opened Iron Gauntlet Brauhaus to the public on Nov. 13, 2020.
Question: Why did you start the business?
Answer: When we returned stateside from a three-year tour in Germany in 2015, it was shocking to find that there wasn’t a brewery in the city. It was especially odd to us that there wasn’t even a brewery closer than Austin or Waco.
Having grown accustomed to drinking locally made beer in every town and country that we visited in Europe, we wanted to continue having great beer at all times, so we started the journey of homebrewing in our own kitchen.
Once it became a regular activity and we both began winning awards for our beers in almost every competition entered, we realized that this was something we could do after the Army.
If you find something you love and you are good at, it only makes sense to make a career out of it, and that’s what we did. This is more than a job; it’s a passion and a real labor of love for us.
Question: What service do you provide to the local residents?
Answer: Besides serving craft beers, local wines, and soft drinks and juice, Iron Gauntlet intended from the very start to be looked at as a place where friends and family could come and gather to have a family friendly good time.
In the brewery we have a large selection of board and card games, an arcade machine, air hockey, and even a TV off to one section that is specifically for the kids to watch cartoons or play video games.
Not only do we have a daily rotating food truck choice, but we have weekly events such as Trivia Night, live music or Karaoke, axe throwing, and occasionally a free cookout provided by Iron Gauntlet.
We have had, and desire to have more, local vendors and crafters that set up a table or booth to sell items like jam, jerky, candles, and beauty products. We want Iron Gauntlet to be a place that people can come to and enjoy, without feeling like they have to drink a beer, and we see this just as much of a community center as it is a microbrewery.
Question: How has the coronavirus affected your business?
Answer: Honestly, the effects of the coronavirus was more of a benefit to us than it was for most businesses. Because of the types of products sold in the supply shop, we were considered an essential business by the county, and as such able to stay open.
Our two main competitors are in Austin, both of which are significantly larger than we are, and were forced to close down. This drove their customers to us in droves, to the point where we were ordering several pallets of ingredients and equipment a week.
From bakers and breweries, to bored non-essential workers and parents turned homeschool teachers looking for experiments to do, we quickly became an important function of reality at the time.
The only, and most frustrating, problem that we encountered at the time was in convincing a bank to provide a loan for the brewery. An alcohol-based start-up was nowhere on the minds of any financial institution.
The day before Fort Hood shut down due to the pandemic, Adam received his DD-214 and was officially retired from the Army. The ball was already rolling on starting the brewery and COVID-19 wasn’t going to stop that. Because of this, our overall plans had to be scaled down and we were able to find a veteran couple who saw the potential in this, becoming our private backers. With their support and our determination, we were able to build and open a brewery in an unheard of eight months time. Most professional brewers will tell you this should take years from start to finish, yet we did it in record time.
Question: What else do you want readers to know about your business?
Answer: Iron Gauntlet and Black Hawk wants Killeen to know that we are here for the long haul. During the build-up phase of the brewery, we were told by native and longtime residents that the reason so many businesses seem to open and close, changing hands, or alternating services and products, was because they are expected to fail.
Residents of this primarily military area often don’t trust that new companies will stay, or that they won’t be able to keep up with the transient nature of Fort Hood servicemen and women. We want to build that trust with the locals, so we are doing as much as we can to show we aren’t just a business, but a part of the community at large.
After brew days, we provide hundreds of pounds of grains to local farmers at no charge to supplement their feed. A custom batch of beer has already been brewed in partnership with a local non-profit to help veterans and their families.
In May we will be releasing a large run of a special beer in canned six-packs and on draft that will see significant proceeds returning to brain cancer research.
These types of partnerships are something we want to continue to do as we grow, hopefully showing Killeen and Fort Hood that we plan on being here and being a part of the community for good!
If you are interested in being featured in our weekly Business Owner Q&A story each Sunday, send an email to email@example.com.