INSIDE nORTH HOUSTON’S CRAFT BEER SCENE
he craft makers behind our area’s beer scene come in many free forms and backgrounds, but they all share one common ground, and that’s the love for well-made beer. Meet the faces behind Brash Brewing, Buffalo Bayou, Eureka Heights, Great Heights, Holler, Karbach, Platypus and Town In City. -Christina Martinez
Cover photo by Christina Martinez
Meet the head brewers of the neighborhood Vince Mandeville, Brash Brewing
Ryan Robertson, Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Hometown: Sharpstown, Houston A beer always in your fridge: Real Ale Four Square Favorite local restaurant: El Palenque in Spring
Hometown: Rockwell, TX A beer that’s always in your fridge: something local Favorite local restaurant: Pink’s Pizza
For Brash Brewing’s Vince Mandeville, beer started for him when his father took him to DeFalco’s, a shop that has what you need to brew your own wine or beer. “What we bought was the step above the Mr. Beer Kit that everyone gets a Christmas,” Mandeville said. “We made it and it was horrible. [My dad] stopped brewing and I kept going. Fast forward to my mid-20’s, and I got really serious into it and decided to join a homebrew club to bounce ideas off of. I couldn’t find a club that I really liked, so me and a couple of buddies started our own brew club, which is still going today – roughly for 20 years.” In his early 20’s, Vince found himself managing bars and restaurants. He carried his passion for beer through his work in the service industry, but didn’t think it was something he could do full time. Eventually, a couple of his bar workers started working at Rock Bottom Brewing
and that is what flipped the switch for Mandeville. “It was at that point that I went to Brock at Saint Arnold for two years strait,” he said. “I bought a pint glass from him during tours and I asked him for a job at every visit. That was back in 1998 and ’99 and Brock finally gave me a job in 2001. I started as assistant brewer.” From 2001 to 2013, Vince called Saint Arnold home. He learned the ropes from Dave Fougeron, who was then Saint Arnold’s head brewer, now of Southern Star Brewing. In his time spent there, Vince moved from assistant brewer to brewer, then to head brewer, and then to barrel room manager, a stint in quality control and quality assurance,
and he was even the lab guy for a while. “You became a very well rounded brewer. Brock gave you the resources for everything you would need to know about brewing, cellaring, filtration. The only thing that I never learned was packaging and I get to learn that here.” When asked if his work at Saint Arnold prepared him for Brash, Vince laughed and said, “nothing prepares you for Brash.” Brock is very organized and it’s all very regimental and Ben Fullelove is an idea man, Vince said. “Ben comes to me and says, ‘I want to put this beer out’ and asks me if it’s possible,” Mandeville said. “Most of the time, I tell him ‘No’ and he says, ‘Are you sure?’ So I try. We test batch and, eventually, come out with a finished beer. There isn’t one beer or style that Vince leans towards as a favorite. Reason being, every single beer pushes his limits on what he can do and for that, he’s rather proud of all of his Brash works. Outside of work, Vince and his wife Diana live up near Spring and he has the upmost respect for his wife and is grateful for her support in his brew career - “she is the stuffs,” he said.
Like many other young adults on the cuff of 21, beer started at an early age for Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s Ryan Robertson. In his early 20s, Robertson says craft beer wasn’t on his map just yet. When he turned 21 and was able to shop and see what was on the shelves, imports are what were prevalent. Eventually, Robertson discovered craft breweries and from there “it was off to the races.” Robertson found himself reading up on home brewing and making the moves to try his hand at brewing. His family moved him to Florida and he found himself working in a brewpub in the kitchen in 2007. “I pestered them every day for a year to start brewing,” Robertson said. “Eventually, they said yes because really I was the only one around.” Robertson was with the brewpub for about three years, until new management came in and changed things around. The brewpub eventually went
out of business, bringing Ryan and his family back to Texas in 2010. Restaurant management in Dallas is where Robertson found himself landing after his Florida stint – working at Uncle Buck’s Brewery & Steak House, Grapevine. “I was spending most of my time doing restaurant management and doing brewing one day out of the week,” he said. “I was applying at the time for something full time to brew. I was in Dallas at the time and there wasn’t much going on up there. My business partner now had reached out to me and talked to me about what he was wanting to do with Buff Brew. At the end of the phone call, I was pretty much bought in.” Ryan says he’s always wanted to be creative and he never really got the opportunity in his previous roles, but it is quite the opposite now at Buffalo Bayou Brewing. In technicalities, Robertson says he was Buff Brew’s first
employee on the tail end of 2011 and they started selling beer in 2012. He’s spent five years with the creative brewery and they currently have goals and plans to expand. “We’ve done 60 something beers and out of the regular beers, More Cowbell is probably my favorite,” Robertson said. Outside of Buff Brew, Robertson is married with two kids. See Head Brewers P. 9B
Page 2B • Saturday, October 21. 2017 • The Leader
Craft Chronicles: NEIPA a style for the ages or a fad soon forgotten Welcome to October Craft Chronicles which just happens to be in the Big Beer Edition! But, instead of chatting about a local brewery I’ll be tackling a controversial and popular topic among beer aficionados - Is the NEIPA haze craze a true beer style or will it be just another fad? In the homebrewing business, conversing with craft beer drinkers, commercial brewers and novices, I am in a great position to see both sides of this conundrum. It’s no secret to my friends that my opinion lies well within the ‘just a fad’ sentiment. But I’m open to exploring the NEIPA as a style and who knows, maybe my own opinion can be changed by the end of this article. So what is a NEIPA? NEIPA stands for New England India Pale Ale because the style was born, in a sense, on the East coast by renown breweries such as The Alchemist, Treehouse and Trillium. Its flavor
profile is described by one buzz word that encompasses most of the beers brewed with this style in mind, “Juicy.” Other popular style components are hazy, thick, grainy, honeylike and fruity. The NEIPA was born to be all about the hops, although the style has been morphing quickly and sometimes it can be difficult to nail down specifics. So, now let’s look at the pros and cons of the style. Pro, the NEIPA style lends itself very well to entry level craft beer drinkers. It is generally not very bitter in the realm of IPAs and has a relatively high finishing gravity giving the impression of sweetness. Remember the good ole’ days of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill? That was a gateway wine for more people than could ever be counted. NEIPAs are also notoriously packed with hops, which, duh, smell and taste great. This style usually sticks with the big citrus bomb hops of Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy
Photos by Christina Martinez Landon Weiershausen at Farmboy Brewshop pouring in his fermentables for his Farmboy New Englandish IPA brew.
and the like which are wildly popular these days with nearly all levels of craft beer drinkers. These are well liked all around flavors so how could a NEIPA not maintain its popularity for the long haul? Now for the cons. It is imperative for a NEIPA to be consumed fresh, which can be an issue as far as distribution and
Houston breweries taken home medals from GABF
irst up, Saint Arnold Brewing Co. won three medals for their craft beers at Great American Beer Festival (GABF) on Saturday, Oct. 14. Those three medals combined secured the Midsize Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year award for Texas’ oldest craft brewery. Saint Arnold took home the gold medal for Pumpkinator in the Pumpkin/Squash or Pumpkin Spice Beer category, a first at this competition for this brew. Bronze medals were awarded to Amber Ale in the Original or Special Bitter and Weedwacker in the German Style Wheat Ale categories, respectively. This is the third GABF medal for Amber Ale and fourth for Weedwacker. This year’s award haul brings the total number of GABF medals for Saint Arnold to 24, the most of any brewery in Texas. This is a great accomplishment in a year where the festival had 7,923 entries from 2,217 U.S. breweries, the most they have ever received. Next, we have Eureka Heights Brewing Co. taking home Gold in the AmericanStyle Cream Ale category for Buckle Bunny.
Contributed photo The winning team from Saint Arnold Brewing at the Great American Beer Festival.
“The award was a complete surprise,” Eureka’s Casey Motes said. “Buckle Bunny is a beer I brewed for my brother. He’s a professional cowboy and likes easy drinking beer and it usually was something big box - Buckle Bunny was my brew for him. He and his rodeo buddies even helped me pick the name. Also taking home hardward this year is the newly opened Holler Brewing Co. The Hollers took home a bronze medal in the ESB (Extra Special Bitters) category for their Holler ESB. “We’re very proud of it,”
John Holler said. “We tried to make it as true to style as we could. We won and we didn’t expect to win anything. It’s an extremely competitive festival. The 2017 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 293 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of homebrewers paired with professionals. The festival is presented by the Brewers Association.
shelf life is concerned. And whether homebrew or commercial, the longer the beer sits, the more it settles and the hops begin to degrade in power and flavor which is what the style is all about. Generally, this style commercially can be found through special brewery releases so they can pour through quickly. And back t o the Boone’s Farm days… many of those who enjoyed BF have happily moved on to drier, earthier wine styles after their sugar rush died down. In my opinion, it doesn’t bode well for keeping the style up front in customer’s minds. Further, my experience tells me that the NEIPA style craze is slowing down. Less people are trying to brew the style and as more and more brewer-
Landon Weiershausen Columnist
ies jump on the bandwagon to cash in the less “hot” the style will become. It’s not “cool” to do what everyone else is doing. I don’t think the style will ever disappear because hey, these beers can taste pretty good but will every brewery keep one on tap at all times like a pale ale or IPA? I don’t believe so, also considering the overall cost of production and general perceived customer value of a pint. Given all of these points, I think a good NEIPA can taste great and be a perfect brew to enjoy, but I just don’t see it as an everlasting beer style. So if NEIPAs are your thing, my advice is to get them while you can at your favorite brewery or learn to brew one so you can enjoy them forever!
Farmboy New Englandish IPA The haze craze of NEIPA is upon us and I have been coerced into brewing a beer in this style to appease the masses. I developed this recipe for a NEIPA mainly because everyone seemed to be using the same ingredients, i.e., flaked oats, Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe and Galaxy hops with London III ale yeast. While everyone claimed that their version was different, for this reason and that, I decided to handcuff myself and see what would happen. I didn’t allow myself to use any of the usual suspect ingredients and instead went with Idaho 7 and Denali hops and US-05 ale yeast. The result was bitter, refreshing and had a major pineapple kick to it. I call it the New EnglISH IPA.
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The Leader • Saturday, October 21. 2017 • Page 3B
Handcrafted in the Heights
Photos by Christina Martinez Tony Fenote, Town In City’s sales representative with one of their newly acquired company cars.
What it takes to tap into beer sales By Christina Martinez
Have you ever thought about where your beer comes from? This isn’t a question on where the beer was made – rather, let’s talk about how the beer you have in your hand made it to your favorite local watering hole for you to enjoy. Walk with me in the shoes of two local sales representatives. Eureka Heights Brewing Co. Brent Davis is the driving force behind Eureka Heights’ sales, branding, social media and so much more. Before venturing out on a few stops, Davis organized our day based off places he absolutely had to stop at first, then he prioritized his deliveries – yes, that’s also part of the job – noted which accounts only took appointments on that day and maximized his time by organizing by area and region. His itinerary also included possibility. “I’ll put more than I can probably accomplish, that way I push myself to do more,” he said. Our first stop lead us to Heights Bier Garten off of North Shepherd. Upon arrival, there was a line to see the managers – many there to pitch a new product(s) or check on their lines. While waiting in line, two distributers wagered with each other on who should go next – one distributer had a doctor’s appointment and needed to make it across town. The two agreed on a deal, shook hands and set a timer of 20 minutes of face time with the managers. An alarm even went off to let the distributer know his time was up. “Certain bars and restaurants will only meet on certain days,” Davis said. “So you have to take that into factor when you plan your day. You can get to a certain place and the line can be a factor into how you plan out your day.” The line at Heights Bier
Eureka Heights’ sales representative, Brent Davis.
Garten moved us to go make a delivery at King’s Bier Haus on T.C Jester Boulevard. Davis unloaded his keg from the car, knocked on the back door, maneuvered through a working lunch kitchen, placed his keg in the refrigerated inventory room and made his way to chat with the manager. “Days really vary based off of your relationship with a customer,” Davis said. “Sometimes you can go in and pitch them new beers you want to push, something that’s just brewed or something that has limited availability,” he said. “With laid back customers, or ones that you have a great relationship with, you can usually walk behind the bar to check your line and let them know what their inventory looks like for you and grab their order.” We made our way back to Heights Bier Garten and a line awaited us again. We eventually made it to see the managers and they wanted to chat with Brent on the brewery’s recent winnings at the Great American Beer Festival. The managers chatted a good bit about anything and everything and a patient Davis eventually got to pitch them their award winning beer, a beer that they only had one keg left of and something that was freshly brewed. The managers placed an order of two kegs and they worked out delivery details. When it comes to pros and cons of the job, Davis enjoys the relationships and friendships he gets to make. “Beyond all of the friendships I’ve made, it’s cool to see Eureka on tap at all of the bars and places that I already liked to drink at.” On top of that, Davis enjoys taking things he has interest in – music, street art, standup comedy - and turning them into events at the brewery. On the downside, competition from national and regional accounts are a burden to overcome, along with long and late hours at night and on weekends, but the worst being staff turnover at bars. Town In City Brewing Co. Hired in January, Tony Fontenot is anything but a new chip on the block in the beer sales world – coming from the corporate world, previously with Houston Distributers, and pushing big beer brands like Miller. Fontenot was with Houston Distributers for 15 years. When it comes to planning out daily routes, Fontenot takes a more consistent route. “I run like a train,” Fontenot said. “I run the same account route every day of the week. On Wednesdays, my accounts know exactly when I’ll be walking in the door. If I have a sampling or tasting I need to
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schedule on a certain day, that can change up my route and I’ll let my accounts know if I won’t be in or if I’ll be late. It’s important for your customers to see you.” Our first stop was at Fuzzy’s Taco on West Gray. This is a notable account, as Town In City is the very first local brewery on tap and that’s across the board for the company – the company strictly deals with corporate accounts and Fuzzy’s general manager is a relationship Fontenot has maintained. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Tony walking through the door with a Town In City shirt on,” Fuzzy’s general manager Dennis Jones said. “If Tony was representing the beer, I knew it had to be good and it was.” After Fuzzy’s, we stopped at Little Woodrow’s, The Harp, and Patio Bar on Richmond. Manager Dennis Jones’ response on Fontenot’s switch to Town In City was a reoccurring reaction response from all of the managers we met that day. Being in the corporate life for 15 years and coming over to a small craft brewery is quite the switch, but Fontenot says it’s the best decision he’s ever made. “The corporate life was a good fit for me for those 15 years,” Fontenot said. “Here, I have a better quality of life. Before, there were so many brands and each one wanted you to promote a different program and each program had too many details. Here, I have one portfolio of beers. Justin and Steve are the best guys I’ve worked for. After all of these years, I feel appreciated.” Staff turnover at bars are the biggest factor Fontenot says he has to overcome. “You can put in countless hours and hard work with a manager and then the next time you walk in, they can be gone,” he said. “It’s like you have to start over and sometimes the new management may not warm up to you, even after all the previous work you put in.” Illegal contracts and deals are also something Fontenot says is an issue, and that they happen all of the time – especially when a new bar opens up, needs funds for a keg box and a company comes in to fund the box with the “deal” of only putting their beers on tap. All of Fontenot’s corporate training is being put to good use. Now, Fontenot finds himself in a teaching role for things that worked well on the corporate side and giving that knowledge to new and upcoming sales representatives – something he finds true joy in.
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Page 4B â€˘ Saturday, October 21. 2017 â€˘ The Leader
Where are they now? A look into our eight local breweries
By Landan Kuhlmann firstname.lastname@example.org
This past year has brought change on so many fronts, and our local brewers are no different. From established staple Karbach selling to Anheuser Busch to some smaller startups experiencing their first full year in the industry and every walk in between, The Leader decided to check in with our eight local breweries on where theyâ€™ve been and where theyâ€™re headed as 2017 draws to a close.
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Mere weeks ago, Head Brewer Kerry Embertson and Platypus celebrated their oneyear anniversary in the Houston market. Since opening its doors Sept. 30, 2016, Platypus has brewed about 700 barrels of product despite some initial growing pains, which has the company almost bursting at the seams considering its current 10-barrel brew house has a capacity of about 1,000 barrels. â€œAt the beginning you donâ€?t know which beers are going to take off -- a lot of my guesses were completely wrong,â€? Embertson joked. â€œSo, then you must change course and start brewing more of those, but you donâ€™t know for a while. Now itâ€™s easier to plan production, so weâ€™re not running out of stuff and we know what our big sellers are out to bars and to the town, which arenâ€™t necessarily the same.â€? As production has outpaced initial projections, Embertson received two new 60-barrel tanks earlier this week, which will allow Platypus to triple production. â€œWe would build a warehouse type brewery with a bigger brewing system, and then we would keep this one for fun stuff and one-off type beers. Currently we canâ€™t keep up with what people want, but thatâ€™s a good problem to have. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re getting the two new tanks so soon,â€? she said. â€œThat wasnâ€™t originally part of the first-year plan, but weâ€™re already out of space, so we have to. That will also allow us to use our smaller tanks to do a lot more one-offs and specialty beers. Now that we can brew bigger batches of our eight core beers, we can use our small tanks for more interesting stuff.â€? Further, Embertsonâ€™s plans include a hopeful campaign to be a nationally, and perhaps internationally, known product, and as such said current plans include a property expansion and more. â€œWe donâ€™t want to just be a Houston brewery,â€? she said. â€œTo do that, we need a room for a canning line, a bigger brewhouse, bigger fermenters and more, and thatâ€™s just impossible in our current constraints in this building.â€?
This time last year, owner and head brewer Casey Motes was just looking to get his brewery off the ground; this year, heâ€™s on the up and up. Year to date, Motes has produced about 700 barrels, which actually stands a little ahead of his original projections for the first full year. Further, he plans goal to add about 1,000 barrels each year. The largest catalyst in Motesâ€™ quest appears to be an expanded fermentation system, of which Eureka Heights recently doubled its capacity of 60-barrel fermenters to accompany its 30-barrel brew house. â€œThatâ€™s really where the biggest thing for us is going to be able to change, to just have more beer and brew more often,â€? Motes said. â€œBefore, we could only brew about two days a week, and now weâ€™ll be able to brew 3-4 days a week.â€? Driving the expansion, he said, was simply the marketâ€™s thirst and growth -- as Houston has grown, so too has the beer drinking population. â€œThe response has been really good for most of our beers, so weâ€™ve seen the opportunity to grow and do a little bit more. We were pretty close to home, we havenâ€™t tried to go too far out into the city -- weâ€™ve tried to just slowly grow, and as weâ€™ve grown weâ€™ve found opportunities to sell a little more, and people seem to be enjoy-
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An outside view of Karbach Brewing Co. located at 2032 Karbach St.
ing it,â€? Motes said. Despite the plan to increase production, Motes said overall expansion, distribution, etc., will be considered on a case by case basis. â€œMaybe weâ€™ll leave Houston at some point, but weâ€™re likely never going to leave Texas. Right now weâ€™re focused on Houston. Even if we never leave Houston, weâ€™re still going to be happy with that,â€? he said. â€œWe think thereâ€™s a lot of room to grow here with all the beer drinkers and a lot of people that arenâ€™t into craft beer yet. We think thereâ€™s a lot of people we can help convert to something thatâ€™s a little higher quality and support someone local.â€?
Set in the Washington Heights District, John and Kathryn Holler have made the pursuit of quality beer and connections a personal mission, one they say take as seriously as themselves. The Hollers have brewed about 500 barrels to serve to a thirsty Houston public since first opening their doors in November of 2016, and they donâ€™t plan on stopping anytime soon. While the companyâ€™s 7-barrel brewing system and 15-barrel fermenting system (which they have employed since Day 1) may seem abnormal compared to those larger brewers,
John Holler said it is just right for the coupleâ€™s ultimate goal of simply creating quality beer for their neighbors â€œ[Our goal] is not to push beer to every corner of Houston, much less any other city. Weâ€™re first and foremost a neighborhood brewery,â€? he said. After starting out the lone rangers for about 6 months, the Hollers hired a brewer and a tap room manager, as well as a couple full-time employees that allow them to keep these tanks full. That said, Holler said while production has been on a slight uptick, the couple has no current plans to expand the barrel system or fermenting system, for a multitude of reasons. One of the first, of course, being simple fiscal responsibility. â€œWe wanted to limit the amount of capital we needed to put into this Â– we wanted maintain control so we wouldnÂ’t have to take out any sort of bank loan or give away a large share of our company, which we would have to do if we bought a large brew house,â€? he said. First and foremost, however, the couple strives to maintain that personal connection, with both their beer and their customers; after all, their name is on the company, so itâ€™s personal. As such, he said the current system is just right on many fronts.
â€œWe want to focus on quality, not necessarily quantity, so I donâ€™t need a 15 or 30-barrel system to do what I want to do,â€? he said. â€œFor what weâ€™re trying to do, 7-barrel is plenty big enough. Itâ€™s the perfect size.â€? Of course, Holler knows you never say never in this industry, and certain market factors could give them a nudge towards adding more barrels, but reiterated no expansion is on the immediate horizon. â€œIf we need to add tanks to do that we will, but we certainly have the equipment we need [to create quality, flavorful beer] now. If the demand comes and finds us, weâ€™ll respond to it, but weâ€™re not out seeking it,â€? he said. â€œWeâ€™re right where we want to be. Added equipment brings additional personnel, and every time I do that I get less conSee Expansion P. 6B
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The Leader • Saturday, October 21. 2017 • Page 5B
Women who are crafting the beer scene Sydney
By Betsy Denson email@example.com In early times, it was the women who brewed the beer. However, according to the Brewery History Society, the industrialization of the business over time caused women to be excluded. A 2003 article titled ‘Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History’ says that beginning in the 18th century, women were barred from brewing, except to be a barmaid or a pub owner. Well, the pendulum swings both ways and in the 21st century, women in beer are making a comeback. Here are some of their stories.
Favorite Platypus Beer at the moment: Aussie Saison, a Farmhouse Ale style beer “It’s brewed with Aussie hops and lemon myrtle. Very refreshing!” When Kerry Embertson, head brewer for Platypus Brewing, went to her first craft beer conference in 2008, she was one of three other women on the trade room floor. “We got a lot of attention,” she said. Flash forward ten years to the last conference Embertson attended where there were several thousand women in attendance. Things have changed for Embertson too. Her role at Platypus makes her the first woman head brewer in Texas. It’s a far cry from dentist – which is the career path Embertson was pursuing when she attended Humboldt State University in California. But a job waiting tables at Crescent City Brewhouse in New Orleans got her thinking differently. And her own proclaimed “lack of motor coordination,” plus an interest in the science behind brewing pushed her along another path. Plus, the craft beer movement was starting to take off along the California coast. Embertson took an internship at Karl Strauss Brewing for two years in San Diego where she says she learned “everything,” having no commercial experience. She also completed a seven month program at the American Brewers Guild – “half online and half there” – which allowed her to expand her knowledge. Next, she spent five years at Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, CA, where she was the head
brewer. It was a large operation which Embertson said was somewhat intimidating, but a great learning experience. “We had 75,000 barrels there,” Embertson said. For reference, one barrel equals 31.5 gallons of beer. “We made in one day there what we make in six months at Platypus. I had 30 guys who worked under me, and they all respected me.” A job opportunity for Embertson’s husband in Houston led her to seek out new opportunities as well. She was looking for a change because the job at Lost Coast was heavy on production planning and involved many hours at a desk. “This was a chance to get back to brewing,” she said. Embertson started in 2016 and relishes the smaller atmosphere and room for innovation. “You want to love your job,” she said.
Favorite Platypus Beer at the moment: Stars At Night, an American Porter style beer “It’s a coffee porter, but even in hot weather it’s refreshing.” Platypus doesn’t just have one female brewer. Sydney Porter works alongside Embertson at the brewery. They work with a 10 barrel system so every batch nets them 315 gallons of beer. Between the two of them, they can make four different brews at a time. “In the brewing world we are small, but we can do a lot more with two brewers,” said Porter. A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BS in ecology and evolutionary biology, Porter realized that graduate school would be in order to make a go at a career. As someone who had helped her father with his home brewing hobby for years, she also appreciated how “beer is basically a big vat of bio chemistry with pHs and formulas for beers and live organisms with the yeast.” So she took courses at the American Brewers Guild and got a job as a brewer for two years at Outer Light Brewery in Groton, CT. In December, she moved to Houston looking for brewing jobs and landed at Platypus last month. Like Embertson, Porter looks forward to putting her mark on the scene. “It’s a budding market here,”
Amber Moore with the Heights Bier Garten recently started a chapter of the Pink Boots society in Houston. Moore says that Pink Boots Houston has been a long time coming. “The amount of Houston ladies earning their living in craft beer is growing by the day,” she said. “We have brewers, chemists, sales reps, bartenders, accountants and craft beer hot sauce makers getting together monthly.” Moore says the group shares news, knowledge, job opportunities, good company and of course, beer. “Many of us have worked in the industry for years without ever crossing paths with many ladies in our field,” she said. “The opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences with each other is the main goal of PBS.” Once a woman joins Pink Boots, she also has access to an international network of female beer workers. The chapter will also be working to raise money for Pink Boots scholarships.
she said of Houston. “Everything is still bubbling and it’s very young. That’s the coolest part of it.” Porter enjoys working at a smaller brewery because she and Embertson do it all, from making beer to cleaning kegs to inventory and delivery. She says that brewing has traditionally been a man’s industry but that things are changing. “Houston just started a chapter of the Pink Boots Society,” said Embertson, noting the group is a non-profit organization supporting women working in the brewing industry. “It’s great camaraderie,” she said. “We can create really cool stuff, just like dudes.”
Favorite Holler Brewing Co. beer at the moment: ESB: Extra Special / Strong Bitter “It just won Bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.” When Kathryn Holler’s husband John got a home brewing kit as a groomsman’s gift in 2011, both husband and wife started to tinker with it. “We did it together when we home brewed,” she said. Their interest in home brewing continued to grow after a move to Qatar in 2013 where John Holler worked in the oil and gas industry and Kathryn was the accreditation coordinator for an international school, and eventually culminated into the Holler’s decision to start their own brewery. When the couple returned to the states, John went to Chicago for four months to attend the Siebel Institute of Technology, a technical school that focuses on brewing science. And Kathryn headed to Florida where she lived with her parents while working at Two Henrys Brewing Company in Plant City. There, she soaked in whatever professional brewing knowledge she could with regard to recipes, chemistry and kegging.
“It was interesting to compare our experiences,” said Kathryn. “The way things were taught in school versus the way we were actually doing them.” In May of 2015, the Hollers started looking for a brewery home in Houston. “We wanted a place inside the loop with a lot of parking,” said Kathryn. The cool, artistic vibe they found near the burgeoning galleries of the First Ward was just the ticket and they started construction in May 2016, opening in November of that year. The need to cover all the bases in their business has led to Kathryn heading up sales and developing the brand while John focuses on brewing, although an early recipe of Kathryn’s which later became the brewery’s ESB, Extra Special Bitter, took a bronze at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. “John tweaked it,” noted Kathryn. Kathryn says that Holler also employs a full time tap room manager and part time brewer. The award from the Great American Beer Festival has definitely been a boon to the nearly year old brewery. “Sales have picked up considerably,” said Kathryn. She says that while she and her husband had good jobs before, which were more profitable than running a brewery, it was never their goal to strike it rich. “We want to grow organically and make world class beer,” said Kathryn. Kathryn is also connecting with other women in beer through the Pink Boots Society. “More and more women are getting involved,” she said.
Favorite Brash Brewing beer at the moment: Milk The Venom, an Imperial Stout “It’s brewed with cinnamon,
chipotle, coffee and toasted coconut that is perfect for the season.” When Vonnie Ballensky worked as the general manager at The Ginger Man more than ten years ago, most of the employees were women. “They had a really good training program on beer styles with beer tastings,” said Ballensky. “I took the training and later on did them.” A nine year stint at the Ben E. Keith Company, which does beverage distribution, further honed Ballensky’s knowledge. “I’ve been doing beer a long time,” she said. At Ben E. Keith, Ballensky worked with Ben Fullelove, both at the Petrol Station and at Brash Brewing Company. When Fullelove offered her a job in sales, Ballensky took the opportunity. “I do all kinds of stuff since we are so small - sales, customer relations and coordinating transfers of product throughout the state,” she said. And while Ballensky acknowledges that the beer industry is male dominated, she thinks that things are different within the craft beer industry. “People don’t make assumptions as easily,” she said. “If you offer good customer relations, good service and good product knowledge, there aren’t really barriers to success.”
Favorite beer at the moment: Town In City Uncommon Cowboy, a California Common beer “It’s our take on a California Common style, and the result is a hoppy amber lager. It’s a perfect fall session beer.” Jennifer Caldwell combined two loves when she, her boyfriend and two friends opened Dan Electros Guitar Bar in March of 2017. “We were drawn to the history of the place, and we love live music and we love the Heights,” said Caldwell. “Dan Electros has allowed us to
combine all of our biggest passions under one roof and really serve the community.” Caldwell has also worked as a bartender at Town in City Brewing Company since August of 2015. “I love the guys who run that place,” she said. “They’re really committed to the community. I’ve seen them do good deed after good deed there. For example, after Hurricane Harvey, they opened the tap room and basically gave away keg after keg of beer to people who made donations, and delivered almost 50 truckloads of donated supplies and thousands of their own dollars to help Houston recovery.” Caldwell started her career in beer at D&T Drive Inn, where she said she was really fortunate to learn their beer program. “I’ve been in love with beer for years, and learned very early on to suggest beers for people based on their drink preferences,” she said. “There are so many amazing and diverse beer styles that I really believe there is a beer for everyone. Amber Moore was a huge influence on me, and taught me to take a risk on beers that I may have otherwise ignored.” Caldwell has noticed over the years that some patrons are reluctant to take a beer recommendation from a woman. And that is a big mistake, at least as far as someone as knowledgeable as Caldwell is concerned. “My advice to beer lovers is to listen to their bartender’s recommendation,” Caldwell said. “When a bar has 20 to 50 beer options available, this becomes a consultative relationship, and your bartender is there to help you find something that you love. Nothing is more rewarding to me than helping someone find a beer that they really enjoy.”
Photo by Christina Martinez Kathryn Holler of Holler Brewing Co., located at 2206 Edwards St., lifting a slim of their latest brew to deliver.
Page 6B • Saturday, October 21. 2017 • The Leader
continued from 4B
nected from the product. I’m confident we can make quality beer with this size and system, and I want to focus on that first.
For owner Patrick Christian, the opening of his brewery off Wakefield Drive in Garden Oaks did not go as planned due to Hurricane Harvey. Christian and Great Heights served their first beer Aug. 23, less than a week before the historic storm battered the city. “It hasn’t really altered production; it just altered a recipe because of not being able to get the raw ingredients we needed,” Christian said, noting Great Heights has produced about 90 barrels in two months. With a 15-barrel brewing system and three 30-barrel fermenters, Christian said he can brew his core beers once a week; and he would possibly expand the system in an ideal world, but said the size now works for their current purpose of serving quality beer to neighbors while they get off the ground. “For us to expand our capacity, we just need to add more fermenters, and as of right now we don’t have any plans to do it soon. Maybe six months down the road or so but not right now,” he said. While some brewers such as Platypus wish to expand their craft nationwide, or even worldwide, Christian said he would be mildly surprised to sell a drop outside the Houston metro area. and does not foresee a massive expansion. “There are enough beer drinkers here that you can reach everyone,” he said. “The things that we’re doing and investments we’re making right now are more about being able to sell the beer we have the capacity to make. Being as new as we are, we’re nowhere near being able to sell more beer than we’re able to make.”
Town in City
When Justin Engle set up shop on West Cavalcade, he had a dream, and the Houston beer scene has made it a reality. After brewing 250 barrels from its soft opening in June 2015 to the end of the year, Town in City has skyrocketed over the last two calendar years, producing around 600 barrels in 2016 and somewhere between 850-1,000 barrels thus far in 2017 to keep up with the growing demand. While the production suffered a bit of a setback in volume due to loaning a tank out to the Houston Cider company (Engle had hoped to double 2016 production), Engle said a multitude of changes has helped the brewery stay (surprisingly) close to that pace. In order to streamline the increased production, Engle said Town in City focused not so much on barrel system size (which has stayed steady with a 15barrel brewing system and 30- barrel fermentation system since opening) but on day-to-day processes which allow them to do so without sinking more capital into the system. “We’ve been keeping a keen eye on production schedules, such as making sure if a tank is open, it’s filled within 24 hours,” he said. “We’ve also been working hard with our sales team on day to day and week-to-week sales and project
Photo by Christina Martinez Head Brewer Kerry Embertson and Platypus Brewing, located at 1902 Washington Ave., will be increasing their 10-barrel system with two 60 barrel tanks, and tripling their current production.
out to see where we might have a little extra beer and push that out a little bit more onto the market; that way, we have that open tank available.” Last year, he said, Town in City was also under-utilizing the tank space, whereas this year they have been been filling them up with a little over 30 barrels, along with a few other small but important moves. “We’ve been working on some process changes, such as how we do dry hopping and increasing our carbonation capacity, to streamline things a little bit,” he said. “It’s a lot of smaller things that we’ve done to make a concise schedule, but we can still only move as fast as the yeast wants to move. We’re at the mercy of the yeast.” In terms of overall expansion, Engle is exploring growth of his product by condensing batch size in certain cases, among other things. “Thirty barrels is a lot to push out into a market, so what we’re looking at doing is buying some new 15-barrel tanks, so that we can do some specialty batches that everyone in Houston would like to drink, like niche-type beers,” he said. “We’re also going to look at buying some 60-barrel tanks to keep up with the demand. It’s one of those strange dynamics that we’re starting to get into.”
A Houston staple, Karbach has never experienced any issues with notoriety; however, 2016 brought even more of it with a sale to Anheuser Busch. As recently as 2012, Karbach was putting out about 8,200 barrels -- nothing to scoff at. However, in 2013 that number jumped to 18,627. And now, just a few years later, aided by the strength of the sale, the brewery produced 70,000 barrels of product by the end of 2016 -a figure barely imaginable given the condensed time frame. “We never anticipated growing where we are now, at least not this quickly, but the demand is there,” Brand Manager David Graham said. “We make a product that consumers really like, it’s a product that fits well within the market we’re in, and we make stuff that people of all palates can find something they like.” Graham said the current facility originally contained six 600-barrel fermenters, and the company recently added six more of those and more bright tanks. Now that those are online, he said it stands as a major plus to have that healthy capacity in order to keep fueling that growth, which is once again in double digits thus far in 2017. On the whole, Graham said the growth was not for the simple sake of the almighty dollar. “It hasn’t been a ‘Hey, let’s grow by some amount’ as much as it’s been the market telling us that they want more of it, so we’ve tried to find a way to make that happen,” he said. “The growth and demand has found us.”
Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Since opening its doors in 2012, Buffalo Bayou Brewing has never failed at being a coveted product, and the yearly production has kept pace with the Bayou City’s increasingly thirsty population. Marketing Manager Troy Witherspoon said the company produced about 8,600 barrels in 2016, and expects to be just shy of 10,000 barrels by the end of this year. Additionally, Witherspoon hinted production could be boosted by the opening of a new brewery in the third or fourth quarter of 2018. Originally, Buffalo Bayou opened its facility in 2012 with three 20-barrel fermenters along with a 20-barrel bright tank coming out of a 10barrel brewery. As the drinking population has boomed, however, Witherspoon said it necessitated a shift in course that has seen Buffalo Bayou’s production skyrocket each year in order to keep pace. “Since then, we’ve grown from those 60 barrels for fermentation to where we now have about 520 total barrels for fermentation, and we’re producing beer around the clock, five days a week,” he said. What inspired it? Witherspoon’s answer was simple: Houston’s amazing thirst. “We like to make beers that we ourselves would like to drink here. We’re all a bunch of fat kids and food nerds, so we’re always striving to try and get the best foods out there into a bottle,” he said with a hearty laugh. “It’s just really cool that there are folks in the city who love
these unique, creative flavors as much as we do, and the demand and feedback from the community has been so supportive. Every time we release a new beer with flavors we love, we’re just so pleased when we see how thirsty this city is for unique combinations.”
As its second full year recently wrapped up, brewer Ben Fullelove said production sat are about 3,000 barrels, which is nearly doubled from the brewery’s first full year of production. The only catch, Fullelove said, is that the brewery is just about at production capacity given its current state. “We recently bought a new fermenter, but beyond that, unless we buy more equipment we’re not going to be able to grow too much more,” he said. In June 2015, Brash began its Houston brewing journey with a 30-barrel brew house that it still uses as well as several 60-barrel fermenters, and has no current plans to expand the system any time soon beyond the additional fermenter, as Fullelove feels the size is right. “We had always planned -- or at least hoped to have the opportunity -- to make a lot of beer, from Day 1,” he said. “We were a little shocked at how fast we grew, because we weren’t looking to grow that fast. I had figured we would take it a little bit slower.” Despite the rapid growth however, Fullelove is cautious in thinking ahead, believing it’s dangerous for smaller brewers to attempt to emulate Karbach or other large breweries at such an early development stage. He said buying the extra fermenter materialized out of necessity more than any desire for extreme growth. “That’s sort of unrealistic in a lot of ways right now. I think you’re going to start to see craft beer become smaller, more internalized,” he said. “You’re going to see that barrelage come down as people go smaller, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s what craft beer has always been anyway.” While others have grown to accompany the growth and demand, Fullelove has a different plan that he believes to be most beneficial to Brash at its current stage while embracing the true culture and meaning of craft beer. “There are so many people doing it now,” he said, noting it was barely six years ago that Houston boasted merely three breweries (now it’s 45 by his count). “It’s a hyper-competitive industry right now, so I really think just taking it slow is the right option we have right now. And people forget it’s supposed to fun.” And that labor of love, he said, is the driving factor in keeping Brash at its current stage of development, producing a few thousand barrels for its dedicated base, growing as he sees fit. “If I wanted to chase the dollars, I could’ve gone into something much more lucrative -this is something you really want to be a part of. It seems like a lot of things start to be done for the wrong reasons,” he said. “We will grow at some point, but it’s going to come organically. As a small company you don’t want to grow too fast, because you’re still trying to fix issues, which take time. Plus I like being small -- small
The Leader â€˘ Saturday, October 21, 2017 â€˘ Page 7B
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Cont. from 1B
Casey Motes, Eureka Heights Brewing Co. Hometown: Fresno, California Beer always in your fridge: Hans Pils Favorite local restaurant: Hughie’s
Forth Worth and Texas Christian University is where Eureka Heights’ Casey Motes spent his undergraduate years and where he met his wife Lori. He studied mechanical engingeering with a side of beer. “Rahr and Sons opened when I turned 21,” Motes said. “We found out it was in this dingy, old warehouse in a bad part of town and we liked it. If you went and bought a pint glass with their logo on it for $10, you could drink for free – it was three of four beers a day. So as poor college kids, we realized we could go drink once a week on Saturdays.” Motes also found himself visiting places like the Miller plant and the original Flying Saucer down town. The Motes’ eventually moved to Houston in 2007 and one of the first things they did was visit the old Saint Arnold location. “I started home brewing right after I moved to Houston – I needed hobbies,” he said. I tried photography and wasn’t good at it. I tried a few others. I went and bought a home brew kit from DeFalco’s and stuck it on my stove and thought it was fun. Most of my beers were really bad. When we got our house, we had this patio and it became an extension of my home brewing.” In 2009, Motes got laid off and says then it was tough to find work. With extra time, he found himself home brewing more. Eventually, he found himself at the Houston Flying Saucer down town asking if they needed a bartender. The bartender told him they needed a doorman that night and Motes checked IDs at the door that very night. He eventually moved behind the bar and found himself submerged in the beer community – something Motes said he quite enjoyed. “Around that time, I got an offer for another engineering job and did that for about six months,” he said. “It was kush as a job that I could have wanted gets – I was doing the things I liked and I still wasn’t that happy. I did that for about six months and I knew if I couldn’t be happy there, it wasn’t for me.” In 2011, Saint Arnold was looking for a brewer at the time and Motes was able to get on there.
He brewed there for three and a half years. “At Saint Arnold, their mentality was that you need to learn and know how to do everything,” Motes said. “You brewed, unloaded grain, ground down grain, all brewing, managed tanks, yeast, filtration, carbonation and more. I think what I got out of two years there, it would have taken me five years somewhere else to learn what I did. There was so much work to go around, that I got to take on projects and see stuff that I probably wouldn’t have if I had gone somewhere else on different circumstances. So I was very fortunate there.” While there, Motes produced four beers: Fresh Hop IPA, Divine Reserve 14, Rye IPA in the Ikon series and Art Car. After Art Car is when Motes put in his notice as it was time to get plans off the ground for Eureka Heights. “Brock gave me his blessing, but told me I had his support only if I made good beer,” Motes said. Family is a big underline for Casey and he gives credit to his wife. “Without her, we couldn’t have done this. Part of the funding was an SPCA loan. Without her and that, this wouldn’t have been possible. Our baby Riley is getting to grow up in the brewery, and we think it’s great. Casey’s Mom was also one of the original investors.
John Holler, Holler Brewing Co. Hometown: Valrico, Florida Beer always in your fridge: Hans Pils Favorite local restaurant: Patrenella’s
Beer started for John Holler with home brewing, saying he was just OK at it. “I liked it, but I wasn’t a master brewer by any means,” Holler said. “Our interest was more in being part of the community of breweries – having a brewery is a place where we have a canvas to create something and a canvas to have dialogue with people. People will hopefully enjoy what we do and we connect with our neighbors over it. I think a lot of brewers get their start being a Master or award winning home brewer, but I wasn’t. My beers were pretty good, but nothing to talk about.” So Holler went to go get trained in the brew business at a technical school in Chicago, called
the Siebel Institute – it has a component of it in Munich, Germany as well. “It’s one of the famous brewing schools,” Holler said. “They boast that they are the nation’s oldest brewing school. Some of the Busch guys and Coors guys went there.” John attended school there in 2015 for an intensive three month program. He says the schools was his way of bridging the gap of being a pedestrian home brewer with a lot of interest and passion in beer, to being able to run a small brewery. John and his wife Kathryn quit their jobs in order to send John to beer school and start their steps forward for Holler Brewing. “Our needs for the brewery started in February 2015, so I quit my job in January 2015,” John said. “We were actually oversees at the time, so we had to be repatriated. We knew we wanted to open a brewery and make beer – one option is to hire a brewer, aside of costing a lot of money, it takes a lot of fun and a lot of control out of it. We wanted it to be truly our product.” Before quitting, John was an Industrial and Systems engineer – graduating for the University of Florida with his bachelors in industrial and systems engineering and after getting his MBA. His studies lead him strait to Exxon Mobil where he did a lot of commercial jobs with natural gas – a lot of sitting behind a desk and computer, John said. Serious plans for Holler started in 2014; designs submitted to the city in October 2015; construction started in May 2016 and he and his wife opened doors in November of 2016. The Holler ESB just took home a bronze medal in the Great American Beer Festival for the Holler ESB.
Kerry Embertson, Platypus Brewing Co. Hometown: Eureka, California Beer always in your fridge: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Favorite local restaurant: Velvet Taco
After graduating from Humboldt State University in California, Platypus Brewing’s Kerry Embertson was finishing pre-recs to go to dental school. Meanwhile, she was waiting tables in a brew pub. “The brewer came up to me one day when I was studying for dental school and he said to me, ‘you can use all of those classes to make beer,’” Embertson said. “And I thought that sounded way more fun than going to dental school. He started taking me to beer festivals with him and the beer community was just so great that I wanted to get into it.” In 2008, Kerry then went to brewing school at America’s Brewing Guild. After, she did an internship in 2009 at Karl Strauss Brewing in San Diego, California where they hired her on. “When I started with Karl Straus, I had never brewed professionally – I just had book knowledge,” she said. “I was really green, not knowing anything. I had a mentor there, and he taught me the whole process – how to brew, clean tanks, how to do everything from the ground up. I was at Karl Straus for two years.” Embertson recalls wanting to move back up to Northern California. Her previous boss was at Lost Coast Brewing and hired her on to be a brewer with his team. Six months in, her brew boss quit and Kerry was promoted to head brewer – a position she found herself in for five years. Kerry’s husband is what brought the two of
them to Houston, with a job opportunity at hand. “To be honest, I wasn’t exactly stoked about moving to Texas, but basically I was running this giant brewery in California – there were probably 30 guys under me – I was sitting behind a computer all of the time and I wasn’t really making beer anymore,” she said. “We had just done a 25 million dollar expansion and I wanted to get back to actually making beer.” Embertson said she saw Platypus Brewing’s ad for a head brewer and flew out for the interview. Kerry interviewed at a bar for three hours, enjoyed herself and took the job in June 2016. Kerry and her husband just moved to a home in the Heights and says they are having fun exploring the neighborhood.
The Leader • Saturday, October 21. 2017 • Page 9B
Sean Bednarz, Great Heights Brewing Co. Hometown: Houston Beer always in your fridge: Pussy Wagon Favorite local restaurant: Hughie’s
Beer happened for Great Heights Brewing’s Sean Bednarz for a couple of reasons. First, he’s an engineer and building things with his hands has always been an interest. Second, he’s been home brewing for 10 plus years and lastly, he lived in California for a few years with good beer all around. Living in California, Bednarz stumbled upon a Pliny the Elder. This is the beer that put brewing on Bednarz’s map – he had to replicate the recipe at home. “When I first started brewing in 2006, that’s really what I did – replicate beer recipes that I really liked,” he said. “I got started with that Mr. Beer Kit – that plastic bucket looking thing - and started brewing on my stove. I eventually started building half barrel systems, something similar to what we have here at Great Heights for test batches.” Sean went to Notre Dame for his undergrad, majoring in aerospace engineering. Immediately following, he continued on the aerospace engineering track at MIT and got his masters. He did an internship with NASA Johnson Space Center and went and took a job out in California with the Aerospace Coorperation. “I was doing watch vehicle guidance analysis, which is kind of a nerdy job behind a desk and I got tired of not interacting with people,” he said. “So I joined RamCorporation, which is kind of a policy think tank – I did that for about ten years. I was leading projects for the air force and others. That was 2007-2016. I was constantly out talking to people. It was like a management consultant job – you got out and listened to someone’s problem and you then formulate a way to research it. It was a cool job, but it was a lot of pressure. I was pretty regularly interacting and briefing three and four star generals – that was a stressful thing, or at least for me it is.” The job was also a lot of travel for Bednarz - he deployed to Afghanistan for three months, assisting to implement a training for the Afghan local police force. Unique experiences like that were common, but Bednarz knew he wanted to open a brewery and was business planning about two years
into that job. In fact, he almost quit to go start up a brewery in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t the right fit. Sean moved back to Austin, Texas in 2012 with the intent of starting a Texas brewery. His old friend, and now business partner, Patrick Christian convinced him that Houston was the place for a brewery in 2015. “He wanted me to move back because he specifically wanted to open up a brewery in the Heights or here in Garden Oaks – his idea was to be the neighborhood brewery,” Bednarz said. “You go to Austin and you have to be in the industrial area, it’s not the quite same as being able to walk to the brewery. I moved back as a leap of faith, hoping we could find a place. When we got here, it was pretty clear that this was the place for us.” Roughly two years ago to the day is when plans came together for Great Heights Brewing. Sean and Patrick had keys to their place a year ago and just opened doors during Hurricane Harvey. Sean and his wife Nicole live in Garden Oaks and like others, he gives credit to his wife for all the things she does behind the scenes. “She’s created all of our identity and design, but she’s also helped us think through big picture items like, who we want to be, atmosphere we want our tap room – things that we probably were too busy to focus on if someone didn’t get us to focus on.”
Eric Warner, Karbach Brewing Co. Hometown: Denver, Colorado Beer always in your fridge: Something new and different Favorite local restaurant: Tarka Indian Kitchen
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Karbach’s Eric Warner remembers his first sip of beer, at a young age, being from Coors. Warner said he wasn’t keen on the taste at age seven, so he took a break from beer and picked it back up around high school and college. Warner took the liking of German in college. So much, he made it his undergraduate major and this afforded him to travel to the country during his studies. “I loved the country and wanted to get back there somehow,” Warner said. College was in Portland, Oregon and he worked at a pizza joint. Warner recalls the owner taking the staff on a brewery tour and that’s where he had his epiphany moment. “I saw how they made beer and I thought that was my ticket back to Europe,” he said. “So I looked into brewing school at the Technical University of Munich.” Warner said he didn’t have any problem getting in and says schooling was even free because it was part of the German/State system. Before starting, he had to do an internship and he did that in Germany. “I knocked on doors and someone was crazy enough to hire me,” he said. “They stuck me on the bottling line and nine months later, I got to do everything. It was a two year university program; the internship made it three and I graduated in 1990. I did a little bit of home brewing while in Germany. There was no such thing as home brew shops, so it was difficult to get your hands on what you needed. There, I honed my skills making lagers and wheat beers.” In 1990, Warner moved back to the states after brew school and says he did various things like, co-producing the Great American Beer
Eric Werner (photo by Leroy Gibbins).
Fest, consulting projects, but in the back of his mind knew he wanted to open a brewery. So he did - opening Gabernash Brewing, later merging with Left Hand Brewing. Next, he joined Flying Dog Brewing and, eventually, his paths crossed with Karbach founder, Ken Goodman. “The Karbach founders had been in distribution, but didn’t understand beer making,” he said. “I originally consulted on the project in 2008 and it didn’t really go anywhere. In the Spring of 2010, I got a call from Ken Goodman and we rekindled the project, I was on as a consulting roll, and we liked each other and working together. That lead me to becoming one of the founders of the brewery and the rest is history.” Eric says he enjoys brewing lagers the most and enjoys being a resource for others to bounce ideas off of. “There’s so many new people coming up in the craft beer industry and I like being a resource,” he said. “Way back when, there weren’t a lot of resources. German beers and German information is sometimes hard to come by, so I like to give that back where I can.”
Justin Engle, Town In City & Cider Co.
Hometown: Lititz, Pennsylvania Beer always in your fridge: Coors Banquet Favorite local restaurant: Alma Latina on North Shepherd
Justin Engle grew up in Lititz, Pennsylvania and said he was a science nerd even back in grade school – winning science fairs for environmental and ecology projects. His love for science took him to Lebanon Valley College where he did his bachelors in Chemistry and graduated in 2005. After a stint of studying and living in Melvin, Australia, Engle went on to get his Masters of Science and Chemistry at Colorado School of Minds. “There, I guess I went to the ‘dark side’ and did my masters in the analytical chemistry field,” Engle said. “I was doing a lot of starch analysis and I was also home brewing - I learned that it was just a big chemistry project.” After his Masters, Engle had five job interviews - anywhere from being a rocket scientist at NASA, to an associate researcher at the Queensland in Australia, bourbon chemist with Jeam Beam, and a couple pharmaceutical jobs. He signed with Jeam Beam. At the time, Jeam Beam did layoffs and he didn’t stay long. After, he signed with Roche Diagnostics – a pharm company – and was in their analytical dept. making sure their products had testing methods to it. “It was a fun job, very intensive,” he said. “That was in Indianapolis in 2009 - 2010 and at the time I had enough and ended up moving down to Houston.” Engle got picked up by Exxon Mobil in Bay-
town. During that time, Engle was a resident in the Norhill neighborhood where they had a crawfish boil. For the boil, Justin made an Amber and an IPA. Neighbors asked where they could buy the beers and he talked to neighbors about his plans of opening a brewery. In August of 2012 is when the Calvacade Drive property was purchased for Town In City and they just celebrated their two year anniversary this past August. Engle is currently on the cuff of opening his newest endeavor, Cider Co. - more details on that to come. Justin and his partner Steve live in Norhill and say they don’t leave the neighborhood often, especially not to drink. You can often find them at Lei Low or Dan Electro’s. Years later, Justin said he’s still getting to do his nerdy science projects.
October 21 Section B