Friday, July 15, 2011

Back from the dead

Well, it's been a while. Since my last post I went through a couple of periods of unemployment, and my dream of starting a brewery had all but died. I even sold off my brewing equipment so that I could pay some bills. When I was posting before, I had even picked out the place where I would open my little brewery. Since then, someone has leased the space and is, of all things, brewing beer. I was shattered.

I am doing a little better now and have revived the dream. Even if it's only a dream. I am inspired by the number of people who are going the nanobrewery route. Some appear to be fairly successful. Hell, even the folks who opened in my spot are about to upgrade to a new system and are on tap in establishments throughout the Greater Houston area. Kudos to them.

I am gradually getting back into brewing and am stacking paper so that I can make a go of it.

I think I can...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Naming the Beer.

I have been thinking of names for beers brewed by a Katy Proper. I want to stick to names that have some sort of historical connection to the town of Katy, Tx. The following are some ideas. feel free to comment if you have any ideas!

Eule: (pronounce "eye-lee") A summertime very drinkable lager that will use rice as an adjunct. I know it isn't reinheitsgebot to use rice, but Eule is the name of the man that introduced rice farming to Katy.

Cane Island IPA: Cane island is what Katy used to be called. Why? No idea, the only body of water around is a creek that was formerly known as Cane Creek. Most IPA's seem to have a nautical theme, and this is as nautical as Katy gets.

Katy Mares: Of course there are those who believe that katy wasn't named after the railroad. Some research about Katy Mares, the saloon keeper that served the railroad workers in katy, uncovered some stuff that might give some Ideas about what kind of beer it should be. She survived, and reopened after the storm of 1900 that pretty much wiped out everything in Katy. Prohibition finally did her business in. I'm thinking a very drinkable pilsner.

Tiger Red: I know, I know. A Taylor High School Alumnist blatantly nodding to the Katy Tigers...

Boxcar Ale: Okay now we are talking Taylor H.S.! This is one of many references that can be made to a railroad theme. Others include: A steam beer, based on Anchor steam. Red Caboose. Iron Spike.

If you're from Katy, You'll love these tee-shirts!

I have opened a store at and have designed some t-shirts for sale.

the logo is the same as my header. I blatantly stole the shield of the logo from the MKT railroad as a nod to the history of katy. As you may know Katy got it's name from the railroad(unless you are one who believes that the town got it's name from Katy Mares, a saloon keeper in the early 1900's).

Either way, show your Katy Pride with one of these t-shirts.

Friday, June 26, 2009

On site sales bill is dead!

I know it isn't really news, but there has been so little publicity about this bill that I just found out (only because I did a thorough search).

HB1062 and HB2094 are dead. Both were to allow changes that would allow texas microbreweries to sell their product on-site. The major opponent is the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, and boy are they powerful. They are major contributors to congressmen on both sides of the issue.

Why did it die? A number of reasons, to be sure. Not the least of which is the death of 14 microbreweries in Texas. Certainly if we needed more than our fingers to count the number of microbreweries still operating, Texas brewers could bring more resources to bear on the issue. Another is the lack of media coverage. If one wanted to follow this issue, one would have a hard time finding anything written about it. The Houston Press did a cover story, but I'm not entirely sure anyone reads the stories in the Press. At least nobody I know does.

Over on my sidebar is a link to a book by Sam Calagione called "Brewing Up a Business". It is very useful and inspiring to those who fancy starting a business. One of the obstacles Mr. Calagione had to overcome was the legislature in Delaware. You see, it wasn't legal to open a brewpub in Delaware. What did Sam do? Well, he changed the law, that's what. Obviously, he had fewer representatives to convince than we do. But now Sam Calagione can brew beer in his pub in Delaware and sell it right here in Texas. Texas brewpub owners can't sell package beer in Texas!

I know this all seems like too little, too late. But the next time this will come up is in 2011. There are only 2 years to get things rolling to the point that this is a topic that the average Texans is, at the very least, aware of.

Why Should you care? Well I'll tell you. Texas drinks more beer per capita than any other state. The craft beer market is the fastest growing segment of the industry. Search on Google and you will find blogs from hundreds of homebrewers in Texas. Each of these homebrewers fancies himself a budding microbrewer. As it stands now, the capital needed to start even the smallest of breweries is staggering. A huge chunk of each beer sold goes to the middlemen at WBDT. What if these small time brewers were able to start a small business with minimal capital? What if they were able to put more of the money for each beer sold into their pockets? What would happen?

Perhaps the answer lies in laws that we have already passed. Wine producers are allowed to sell their product on site. Small wine producers are popping up all over the state. They're not breaking the bank by any means. But the laws allow a small time producer to open a business and make a living.

Now would have been the perfect time for the passing of these bills. I wonder how many Texas homebrewers are either out of work or in fear of losing their jobs. It would be really cool to see each community have their own little nanobrewery that served to a small market. As it stands, a microbrewery needs to sell at least 10,000 barrels of beer a year to survive. Selling on-site nets the brewery a much greater profit. If these laws were passed, smaller breweries could open, and survive on half the production.

It just seems odd that Texans spend more on beer than any other state, and the majority of that money goes to brewers in other states. Wouldn't the state as a whole benefit from more breweries paying taxes?

Claiming my blog

Just a post to claim my blog on technorati. rvha92m87e

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I think I can, I think I can

Today is not quite the first day of this journey, but it is the first OFFICIAL day.

It really started about a year and a half ago when my girlfriend Susan and I were discussing what type of restaurant or bar we should open. She wanted to open a brewpub. I was skeptical. I knew that niether of us knew enough about making beer to even consider it.

Initially I shrugged off the idea, but promised to look into it. I looked up brewing on Wikipedia, and soon I couldn't get enough information. I read and read, and decided to make my own beer, just to see if I could. I did a ton of research and decided that I wanted to attempt a clone recipe of a beer I tried when we went to Key West.

So off I went to the local homebrewer's supply store(the only one in Houston). After an hour of "just looking", I approached the salesman with my recipe in hand. When he learned that it was my first brew, he immediately shot down any idea I may have had about trying that clone recipe. He pointed me toward the kits, that used malt extracts rather than whole grains. I bought a glass carboy, a plastic fermenting bucket and all the bells and whistles that are a homebrewer's kit.

I was so disappointed in my first brewing experience. I just knew it would be better if I started from scratch. The beer was okay, but it tasted, well, like a KIT. The next brew would be different. I made sure I was prepared when I entered the homebrew supply store. I knew exactly which grains, hops and yeast I wanted to brew my clone. I even fancied myself a brewmaster and improved on the clone. I bought another carboy and some other gadgets. I went to the outdoor store and purchased a stainless steel turkey cooker, and a five gallon cooler that I would fashion into a mash tun.

I then proceeded to go from extract brewing to triple-decoction mashing, skipping all steps in between. I had read and re-read Gregory Noonan's "NEW Brewing Lager Beer". I just knew I could do it. I got to it and it was so much more satisfying than adding extract to water and just boiling. There was fire! There was math! There was exact timing! This is what it was all about! My first all-grain brew was a triple decoction mash, fully lagered clone of Yuengling with my own twist. It was some seriously high-gravity stuff. It was about nine percent alcohol, and I could only drink two before getting hammered, but it was the best beer I ever tasted!

I have since gone back and tried step and infusion mashing, but decoction mashing is for me. It is a little harder, but I get so much more out of the grain used.

That's how this obsession got started, and there is no slowing down now. I have found something that I love doing and cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. I still work in restaurants and bars, but I'm gonna bootstrap my way into the brewing industry. Step 1 will be to construct my own brew sculpture and start brewing for the masses. Please check back any time to see the progress, and give to the cause by purchasing a t-shirt.