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Zilker Brewing Company's co-founder is paving the way for Latino brewers

As one of Austin’s most beloved breweries, Zilker Brewing Company has become a hot spot for locals and out-of-towners alike.

AUSTIN, Texas — As part of KVUE's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we dropped by a taproom in the heart of East Austin to speak with one of the minds behind the grind.

Marco Rodriguez, co-founder and director of brewing operations at Zilker Brewing Company, started homebrewing in a garage with brother duo Forrest and Patrick Clark. The three Austin natives would eventually grow their homebrew hobby into the success story that is now their brewery.

“We were dedicated to it,” Rodriguez said. “We entered these competitions and we started winning. We decided, ‘Let’s make a run at it and try and make this a business.’”

The trio named their brewery after Andrew Jackson Zilker, an early Austin settler who embodied their own enterprising attitude.

“He was one of those rags-to-riches type stories. Immigrant works hard, becomes a wealthy man and gives back to the community at the very end," Rodriguez said.

As one of the few – if not the only  – Latino head brewers in Austin, Rodriguez inspires business leaders and beer lovers to celebrate their heritage on the path to self-fulfillment.

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“It usually takes somebody from the outside to say, ‘Hey, you guys are doing great,’” Rodriguez said. “Most recently, I’ve noticed within the Hispanic community here in Austin, usually it’s an older Hispanic male who wants to shake my hand and just smile and say, ‘Nice to meet you.’ And that feels good.”

By bottling their entrepreneurial spirit and embracing the inclusive nature of Austin, Rodriguez and the Clark brothers have helped the brewery become a local mainstay. Zilker is bringing neighbors together and tapping into the success of Latino self-starters everywhere.

“That feels good,” Rodriguez said. “It feels like I’ve had some sort of impact on the community.”

To learn more about Rodriguez and the Zilker Brewing Company’s story, check out the brewery's Instagram or drop by their taproom on East Sixth Street.

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