40 under 40 — Marco Rodriguez
Iota Alpha, 2001 — Recognized in: 2018
A joint mention of success, brothers Marco Rodriguez and Forrest Clark are the founders of one of Austin’s most successful breweries, Zilker Brewing Co. When Marco and Forest brewed their first batch of their now signature Marco IPA, they had no idea what impact it would have on their lives and the city of Austin at large. After a few years of success amongst friends, they decided to enter it in the homebrew IPA Category of the Great American Beer Festival. It wasn’t until they won first place that they realized that their brewing venture was about to become more than just a hobby.
Marco recalls how his and Forrest’s college experience would eventually impact their post-college life:
“I remember being very naive; more so, I think, than most college students. With Zeta Psi, I found a brotherhood which became my compass and a home away from home. Yes, there were the parties, but that’s not what I remember the most. My greatest memories are of the times spent with my fellow Zeta Psi brothers going on roadtrips, playing dodgeball, sitting on the front porch of the fraternity house, etc. It was during these times that long lasting friendships were formed. Forrest Clark was a fellow Zete at the University of Texas and a good friend of mine. We both got jobs after college and lived for the weekends like most everyone else. We had fun, and had a sense of security that comes with a steady job, but something was missing. We had been homebrewing together, along with his younger brother Patrick, for years. Then, in 2012, we decided to take the plunge and start our own brewery.”
Since officially starting Zilker Brewing Co. in 2012, Marco and Forest have not only been wildly successful at brewing and distributing their beer across the city, but also have played a large role in the community itself. They hold events at their taproom for hundreds of local and national charities, and even brew special beers specifically to raise money in support of the charities’ efforts. Most recently they released their Parks and Rec Pale Ale to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Zilker Park, their namesake. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Austin Parks Foundation so that the community can continue to enjoy beautiful public spaces for years to come.
“As I’ve gotten older, I don’t find myself at the fraternity house very often; thus, I am not in touch with the younger generations of brothers. I can say that college was one of the biggest personal growth experiences of my life. I think it’s one of the biggest anyone can have. Beyond that, starting and operating ZIlker Brewing Company has been an equally enormous personal growth experience. It has tested my fortitude and exposed my weaknesses more than anything else I have done, and it continues to do so. Starting your own business isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. But, I will say that you should find some way to continue to push yourself. This can be through a hobby, education, career, or starting a family. We live in a metaphorical circle of comfort. Do things that make you a little uncomfortable, and this circle will grow.” -Marco Rodriguez
Read more about Marco and Forrest’s ventures: