Jeff Sable started homebrewing with his father in 1999, using extract kits and a turkey fryer to make their own beer.
Nearly 25 years later, Sable, a professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Christian Brothers University, is taking his longtime hobby and passion to a new level.
He’s about to open his own brewery.
Urban Consequence Brewing Co. will open its door to the public on Friday, May 19, serving small-batch craft beers, hard seltzers and sodas.
To start, Urban Consequence’s taproom will be open Friday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. If business is good, the taproom days and hours might be expanded.
“Part of that is because of my day job, part of that is just being conservative starting out,” Sable said.
Urban Consequence is sandwiched between Cafe 1912 and Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant at 239 Cooper St. The location was previously an insurance office, a consignment shop, and a hair salon, among other things.
The taproom will accommodate a maximum of 50 people, though Sable may build a small deck in the back for some outdoor seating, if all goes well.
“I can probably stand behind the bar and talk to everybody in the place, because it’s so small,” said Sable, who is both the sole proprietor and — for now — the only brewer.
Craft beer and homebrew
Sable, who grew up on a small farm in Springfield, Missouri, was not much of a beer drinker early on.
“When I was in college, I didn’t really like beer, which is crazy,” he said.
But when Sable tried Boulevard’s Unfiltered Wheat Beer, he was intrigued, and started exploring what the burgeoning craft beer scene had to offer.
In 1999, Sable talked his father into buying a homebrew kit, which provided the spark for a lifelong interest and something he bonded over with his dad.
After his father passed away in 2017, Sable and his wife were moving some of his father’s things, including the homebrewing equipment, to Memphis. On the road, they stopped at the homebrew store he used to go to with his father, south of Springfield.
“They had a Grainfather electric system — an all-grain system — on sale, and my wife encouraged me to go ahead and get it,” he said.
With that purchase, Sable leveled up his brewing game.
As Sable continued to homebrew, get more gear, and experiment with recipes, he shared his beers with friends.
“People kept saying, ‘Can I buy some of your beer?’ and, ‘This is really good’ — that kind of thing.”
Sable started to consider opening his own brewery.
“Insanity,” he said, “prevailed.”
Naming Urban Consequence
Sable came up with a list of possible brewery names — maybe 100 total — that he shared with his wife and a friend from college. Everyone liked Urban Consequence.
As Sable continued to think about it, his story — moving from a farm to a city — “really fit with the name.”
And there are some historical reasons, as well.
“There’s an argument, or there’s some evidence, that the beer industry really pushed urbanization,” Sable said.
“One great story I found was in London, (where) the brewing industry really pushed the modernization of their water supply, because they needed so much water.”
The environmental impact of urbanization, and the importance of breweries to be good stewards of the environment, is another reason for the name.
Urban Consequence’s primary logo features some Memphis landmarks, including the Hernando-DeSoto Bridge and the Pyramid, next to brewing vessels, a keg and a mug.
In 2021, the Memphis Business Journal ran a story announcing the planned opening of Urban Consequence in the fall of that year.
Things didn’t go quite as anticipated.
Sable said he had “every expectation” of opening up that fall. But since he and his wife both have full-time jobs (she’s also a university professor), dealing with issues quickly when they arose was a challenge.
As Sable learned, when opening a brewery these days, delays are to be expected.
“There were some surprises along the way, but to be honest, a lot of it was sort of construction-related, code enforcement issues, things like that, and (things) sometimes actually went backward rather than forward.”
But, after some fits and starts, opening day for Urban Consequence is finally here.
A brewery ‘cluster’ in Midtown
With Boscos located to the north on Madison, just off Cooper, and Memphis Made Brewing and Cooper House Project to the south on Cooper, Urban Consequence is the latest addition to what’s become a brewery corridor in Midtown.
Sable calls it a coincidence that Urban Consequence is situated among so many other breweries, though he loves the serendipity.
Sable had been a regular customer at Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant since he moved to Memphis in 2008. His son was 3 when the family moved here, and his son’s height is measured on the wall in a back corner of the restaurant.
When Sable found out the space next to Barksdale was available — the owners of the restaurant also own the brewery space — he signed a lease.
“I’m really excited. .. I know Denver’s got a lot of this — there are little clusters of breweries, especially smaller ones,” he said.
“I think it’s a neat thing, and the breweries kind of supporting one another is exciting.”
Urban Consequence’s beers
Urban Consequence is opening with four year-round beers, informed by some “homebrew beta testing” and the opinions of his family and friends. The year-round beers, as described by Sable, are:
- Hefeweizen: “I’ve always loved wheat beers. That’s kind of what got me into craft brewing, or craft brews, in general. So that’s a pretty traditional German Bavarian Wheat beer recipe.”
- Irish Red Ale with Rye: “It’s a very traditional Irish red ale recipe, with a little bit of rye in it that gives it kind of a drier (mouthfeel), a little bit of spice.”
- Simcoe SMaSH IPA: “I think my favorite is the Simcoe SMaSH. I love the piney-ness of it. … For me, it reminds me of growing up. We had a lot of evergreen trees, a lot of cedar trees, on our property. And there was just one place in particular where there was kind of a little … cave underneath like three or four pine trees. And I remember going in there when there was snow, and just hanging out in the crisp air, and the cedar smell. And that’s what that kind of is to me. It’s a very personal beer. It was the first beer that I was very intentional about developing a recipe.”
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Milk Stout: “Kind of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a glass — with some alcohol.” This beer won’t be available when the brewery opens this weekend, but it’s coming soon.
In addition to the regular year-round beers, Urban Consequence will feature some “irregular” special-release beers, as well as hard seltzers and even some sodas.
“It was really important to me from the get-go to have options for people who either didn’t like beer, didn’t want to drink (alcohol), (or) kids, that kind of thing. I wanted to have that kind of atmosphere where everybody could come in and do different things,” Sable said.
Urban Consequence’s brewing system is a small, two-barrel system, which makes just 62 gallons of beer. Sable expects to be brewing once or twice a week.
“If we have a particular beer or two that do really well, I can probably fit a four-barrel fermentation tank in here. So we could double batch, back to back, in a day.”
What to expect at Urban Consequence
Sable said he has no plans to distribute his beers, which means the taproom at Urban Consequence will be the only place to try and buy the beers.
In addition to pints sold in the taproom, Sable said he’ll fill growlers for people that bring them in. In the future, he’s also considering offering his beers to-go in “Twistee” cans — pre-seamed cans with an oxygen scavenging cap.
Urban Consequence will likely add some food options — at least some prepackaged snacks — soon.
Meanwhile, Sable, who’s added a ramp outside, an accessible bathroom and is considering adding menus in Braille, wants his brewery to a place that’s inclusive.
“I really want everybody to feel welcome,” he said. “That’s really important.”