Do you like craft beer, but feel the #DrinkLocal movement is important? The best way to do that in Texas is to follow this blog. It gives you information on upcoming events, product rollouts, brewery openings, etc. throughout the entire state. It is dedicated to the Texas craft brewing scene that has been growing rapidly for the past 20 years.
The five-tool player is an elusive, yet coveted type of baseball player every team aspires to have. It’s the type of player that can hit for average, hit for power, as well as run, throw, and field well. These types of players are rare (think Jose Altuve).
A brewery can also be a five-tool player in the craft beer world. These places are ones that have 1) a nice beer variety, 2) an attractive space, 3) room for growth, 4) great people involved in the project, and 5) location, location, location. Texas Leaguer Brewing Company in Missouri City checks off all of those tools.
To understand Texas Leaguer is to understand the love of baseball these fine folks have. Everything is baseball-centric with the name of the brewery, beer names, the brewery’s nickname, and even the décor all relating to the love of the game. But baseball is just the beginning for what sort of experience one can expect at Texas Leaguer Brewing. Let’s examine by doing an in-depth analysis of this five-tool player in the Houston craft beer scene.
Tool #1 – A Nice Beer Variety
As owner Nathan Rees said to us, “everybody drinks IPAs.” Obviously, this is a blanket statement with some truth to it as the style tends to be one of the most popular among craft beer drinkers nationwide. However, what can separate a good brewery from a great brewery is how the beer selection appeals to the target audience – in this case, Fort Bend County beer drinkers.
What Texas Leaguer has done is develop a starting lineup of four staple beers that are easy drinking and mass appealing.
The Airmail Blonde is their easiest drinking beer with a slight bread flavor balanced out by a sweetness that finishes crisp and smooth with no bitterness.
Knuckle Bock is a darker bock beer that should please any fan of Shiner Bock. Designed to be mildly sweet, this beer is a must have for anybody looking for a caramel-sweet flavor from a German-style brew.
2-Hopper IPA is a dry-hopped IPA that utilizes El Dorado and Cascade hops, giving the beer a fruity and floral taste with a slight bitterness that is pleasant and not overpowering. According to Nathan, this has been their top seller thus far.
6-4-3 Belgian was our standout favorite of all that was on tap. This Belgian pale ale has all of the characteristics of a sweet Belgian beer with a rye-flavored spiciness. Also, the beer had a slight bitterness that made it finish crisp and clean. Plus, at only 5.0% ABV, it’s the type of beer we would enjoy all day long.
In addition, they have their Farm System beers that are small batch releases that either have short-term availability or are special releases. On tap during our visit were Chin Music, a rye pale ale that is their submission for the Houston Daisy Chain project and 6-4-3 with Apricots. Chin Music is one of the better Houston Daisy Chain offerings we’ve had as it was spicy, hoppy, and clean. 6-4-3 with Apricots was good and the fruit addition created a tart bomb, but we were still partial to the traditional 6-4-3 Belgian. Plus, an outstanding addition to the team is the Little Leaguer, a house-made root beer that is one of the best brewery-made sodas we’ve ever enjoyed.
Tool #2 – An Attractive Space
An industrial park may not be everybody’s first choice for a brewery, however we love it because of the utility of the space. For one, the high ceiling allows for you to feel comfortable among the large fermenters that line the inside of the space. Plus, the space is perfectly setup to allow for expansion with an entirely unutilized area near the bathrooms that is being tentatively earmarked as a future indoor taproom.
Lovingly called the “TXL Beerpark”, the taproom is filled with long tables and benches designed to have groups of people interact with one another. Plus, with it being opening weekend for the Astros, a huge projection screen was setup to enjoy the matchup with the Rangers inside the Beerpark.
A bonus of the open concept of the brewery is the ability to admire all of the brewing equipment inside of the area. The 20 BBL brewhouse is in full view for all visitors to observe, so any brewery aficionados or first-time visitors who have never seen brewing equipment are in for a treat.
Keep in mind, it still is spring in Texas, which is a fine time to enjoy the outdoor patio area. You’ll find a cornhole game to play in addition to picnic tables outfitted with umbrellas to give a little shade to anybody wanting to spend time outside. We ended up sitting outside and the size of the umbrellas made it pleasant and enjoyable.
Tool #3 – Room For Growth
As we mentioned, the space is setup for a future taproom expansion. The area is large enough to accommodate a large amount of people, have room for a bar build out, as well as having plenty of space for more table seating. With it being on the opposite side of the cold room, one can envision installing taps on the other side to setup a new bar with little major construction.
The other aspect of growth that we see is being able to add more fermenters to the Beerpark without making the space feel cramped. Already, the Beerpark is lined with large 40 BBL fermenters, but as Texas Leaguer continues to acquire new retail accounts (by Nathan’s account, it’s around 150 retail locations in and around the Greater Houston area), they will need to add equipment to accommodate the growth. Being able to do so in that space without sacrificing seating is a huge upside to the location.
Plus, the brewery 100% self-distributes their beer. All 150+ accounts are being served by the staff internally, meaning they are putting in a lot of work and could serve even more accounts in the future if a distribution deal is signed. That currently hasn’t happened, but if growth continues at such a rapid pace, it may be necessary to accommodate the growth.
Tool #4 – Great People Involved in the Project
The two masterminds behind Texas Leaguer are owner, Nathan Rees and head brewer, Doc Rebeck. When you look at the amount of work put in by both men to get this project up and running, it’s easy to see how Texas Leaguer has become a go-to brewery for people in Fort Bend County.
Since inception, both men have worked tirelessly to get the brewery’s name out into the public with many in the Houston craft beer scene realizing what great beer is being produced in Missouri City. Pint nights are starting to pop-up throughout the surrounding area and everything is being spearheaded by two people.
The willingness to talk about the beer, future plans, and the focus of the brewery is what made our visit to the Beerpark so great. Nathan spent a great deal of time speaking to us about what they want to do each year (i.e. getting Good Dog Houston to come out to the Beerpark for Astros Opening Day) as well as their business to date. The focus to grow organically and expand in a controlled manner was encouraging, especially after seeing other large breweries (i.e. Green Flash) try to grow too quickly and fail.
Tool #5 – Location, Location, Location
For a while, it seemed like Fort Bend County was cursed when it came to breweries with the closures of Fort Bend Brewing and Texian Brewing over the past few years. However, the area is home to roughly 750,000 people and currently is only represented by a handful of breweries with Texas Leaguer being in a prime position.
There currently is no full production brewery or brewpub within a 12 mile radius in any direction of Texas Leaguer (disclaimer: technically Ruba Brewing is within that radius, but beer releases are rare and sparse). This gives them an advantage as they are, many times, the only choice available to people wanting a local neighborhood brewery in the Sugar Land/Missouri City area. Accessibility to Texas Leaguer is easy with routes from Beltway 8, Highway 59 South, or Highway 90A.
Plus, with Fort Bend County being the fastest growing county in the Greater Houston area, they are in a position to capitalize on the growth of the surrounding area as more craft beer related bars and restaurants continue to open. Texas Leaguer seems to be the only brewery that will be in the Sugar Land/Missouri City area for a while meaning they should continue to capture the craft beer scene in the county for a long while.
We were thoroughly impressed with what Texas Leaguer is doing for the area and their expansion plans. Currently, they have taps available throughout most of the Greater Houston area stretching throughout the inner city as well as the outer suburbs. If you get a chance to try one of the Texas Leaguer beers, do so, and enjoy what they are putting out to the Houston craft beer community.
You can keep track of what’s going on a Texas Leaguer through their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Texas Leaguer is located at 13503 Pike Rd, Missouri City, TX 77489. The Beerpark is open every Friday and Saturday, but hours may vary, so check out the Facebook page for the most updated info on openings, especially as baseball season is gearing up.
What better way to kick off Mardi Gras Galveston 2018 than celebrating the opening of the second full production brewery in the city of Galveston. This one is particularly special as Devil and the Deep Brewery is within a stone’s throw of the famed Galveston Strand and is located on one of the main streets leading into the heart of the city. Plus, for selfish reasons, we’re thrilled to have a brewery two blocks from where we work our day jobs.
Devil and the Deep is the culmination of four partners’ vision to create a brewery in Galveston that can serve tourists visiting the Strand as well as locals who are seeking island-brewed craft beer. We had the privilege of being able to attend a sneak peek of the brewery right before Christmas, so we had an idea that the end product was going to be stellar as the same staple beers served during the sneak peek were also full production beers on opening day.
By design, Devil and the Deep offers beers that are light, refreshing, and easy drinking. This allows more people to sit around, socialize, and get to know one another in their indoor beer garden environment. Most of what will be produced now and in the future will be beers that any beer drinker can enjoy, not just the craft beer fanatic. A huge draw to the brewery is the large indoor climate-controlled seating area that will allow the summer beach goers the opportunity to get out of the heat and enjoy some brews. Plus, the area is designed with family friendliness in mind as games like cornhole can be played inside while bringing your (well-behaved) canine friend to enjoy the space with the family.
On opening night, the brewery had three core beers on tap: their Belgian Rye, Blonde Ale, and Brown Ale. The Blonde Ale is an approachable selection to start out with as the sweet flavor and balanced hop to malt profile allows any beer drinker the opportunity to enjoy this one without needing to venture outside of their taste buds comfort zone. For something a little more full bodied, the Brown Ale creates a more nutty malted flavor that still has a sweetness that is pleasant for anybody looking for a more complete flavor profile while staying low in alcohol content. Perhaps their best beer, though, is their Belgian Rye. The rye provides a hint of spiciness to the pale ale, allowing the citrus flavor to be amplified and making it a pleasant beer to drink all day long. By far our favorite beer, this one has a slightly higher ABV than their other beers (6.4%), but still isn’t overpowering.
Despite not having a kitchen on-site, the brewery has struck a partnership with Sharky’s Tavern next door and they serve delicious pizza that you can bring to the brewery. This allows them to save space in the brewery for future expansion of brewing equipment, while providing options for food that support local business in the area.
In these early days of the brewery, hours of operation are going to be Fridays from 3:00 PM to midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 10:00 PM. As they move forward, they will be gradually increasing both the days and hours of operation.
Admittedly, SHADE is excited about this brewery as it’s in our hometown. But more importantly, we’re thrilled to see the Galveston County brewing scene continue to grow and be able to support another full production brewery. Mardi Gras is the perfect time to try them out since the area is vibrant and party-oriented. However, their location and beer quality should allow them to thrive and sustain year-round as they will cater to a crowd that wants island-brewed beer.
Want to check them out? Come down to Galveston Island and visit the Strand and their location at 2425 Postoffice St.
I don’t know what it is about the Texas gulf coast, but it’s got me. In addition to living full-time in Galveston, I thoroughly enjoy visiting towns along the same coast. The people have the same “island time” mentality where there is no rush, everybody is your neighbor (even if you’re meeting for the first time), and people accept you for who you are, regardless of any physical or philosophical differences. This has got to be the reason why my visit to Lorelei Brewing felt like home, even if it was a maiden voyage for me.
My first visit to Lorelei happened on, of all days, New Year’s Eve. With my family deciding that midnight would be for the younger generation to enjoy, I ventured out alone to Flour Bluff to visit a brewery that has a reputation of being one of the top destinations in South Texas. In full disclosure, I had enjoyed some of Lorelei’s beers in the past, so I knew what to expect from a quality standpoint. What I didn’t expect was the similarities between what I experience regularly at my local, Galveston Island Brewing, and what happened at Lorelei.
The taproom is tiny…REAL tiny. In a way, it makes for a better experience because you’re forced to get to know your neighbor. My neighbor happened to be a gentleman named Andy, who moonlights at the brewery part-time out of a pure love for what owners Varian and Laura Criser are trying to accomplish in the Corpus Christi area. The Crisers started out, like others, homebrewing. Deciding that this could be a career, they set out to open a brewery in an area of Texas where craft beer is only recently becoming popular.
Side note: There are real challenges for Lorelei in Corpus Christi. For example, I visited a couple of H-E-B stores in town and, let’s just say, it’s a veritable AB InBev showroom for beer as Bud Light still has the market cornered. However, the beer should speak for itself and the success that the brewery is seeing right now is due to the commitment to listening to what their customers want.
During my visit, I immediately noticed that everybody knew everybody else. This can be a little overwhelming if you’re the newbie visiting for the first time, but friendliness and fearlessness goes a long way with other craft beer folks. As I mentioned, Andy and I started talking beer and he immediately wanted to show me the brewhouse as he was amazed at how much equipment could be fit into such a small space. He wasn’t lying, there were fermenters less than a centimeter apart and they frequently have to work around the kegs and the keg washer that also occupies the space.
The welcoming nature of everybody at the brewery kept me there. It’s clear that it’s a family-friendly location (that also happens to be dog-friendly). The two dogs that were roaming around the taproom seemed to know a good portion of the clientele and who to visit for petting. It was noticeable that Lorelei has made a name for itself based on friendly people working there and visiting. Plus, another impressive tidbit: there were at least five Cicerone certified beer servers on staff. Having a knowledgeable staff at the brewery is a MUST if they plan on growing craft beer in the area.
The success that Lorelei is seeing is the reason why they are so pressed for space right now. The taproom was packed and people were coming and going throughout the entire evening. With a tap list of five beers (including their two staple beers), I had to try as many as possible. Knowing that Khryseis (blonde ale) and Ephyra (double IPA) are both in cans, I started with Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, their Czech pilsner that is a limited run and nearly gone. One of the better Czech pilsners being made right now, this beer had the spicy bite that you’d expect, while finishing clean and crisp on the palate.
During that beer, Andy kept talking about Mer-Dude, the Russian Imperial Coffee Milk Stout that is going to be Lorelei’s next year-round beer in cans. Learning that it was available on nitro solidified the choice. At 9.5% ABV, this beer is a beast, but served a vital purpose of warming the blood on the cold winter’s evening. Infused with local cold brew coffee from Coffee Waves, this beer could have been a train wreck due to the complication of so many different flavors. However, Lorelei balanced the notes perfectly by not adding too much coffee, thus giving it a welcome hint of the cold brew flavor upon the first sip while keeping the sweetness of a milk stout before finally finishing with a nutty roasted malt taste. The complexity of the brew is what will hopefully allow this beer to sell easily throughout the year, despite its traditional winter seasonal style.
Finally, Ephyra had to be the finisher since I’m a hop-hound. The tropical flavor of the beer owes itself to the addition of Citra, Simcoe, and Waimae hops. The beer, despite clocking in at 9% ABV, is surprisingly easy drinking. The citrus and pine flavors balance out the bitterness of the brew.
Upon writing this article, I learned that a major expansion will be underway soon to allow the brewery to grow in its current location and give the patrons more space to stretch their legs and enjoy Lorelei beers. We can’t wait to see the end result as this will hopefully allow the brewery to be more experimental and have even more offerings available in the taproom, while keeping up with their current distribution profile of the San Antonio and South Texas areas. This place is definitely a gem along the Texas gulf coast.
Bad news out of Fredericksburg as Pedernales Brewing is closing their doors. The e-mail sent to us by Lee Hereford, President/CEO of Pedernales Brewing, states, “Unfortunately, we have closed the Taproom, and are for sale; preferably as an on-going concern. We made some great beer. Since June ’14, we’ve entered 21 major beer competions [sic] including GABF, World Cup, US Open Beer Championships, LA International, etc. We won 30 Golds, 20 Silvers, 10 Bronzes and 2 Best of Show awards, with 10 different beers; Gold medals with nine beers. Unfortunately, top quality is not enough. We hope to find another brewery that would like to continue our mission.”
As of right now, the brewery is currently for sale and they are looking for a brewery to purchase the location and equipment to continue the legacy of brewing at the location. As many of you know, their LOBO series and Robert Earl Keen series of beers were widely recognized throughout the state with the country music legend, himself, frequently visiting the taproom and promoting the label.
Pedernales Brewing Company was one of the longer-running Texas craft breweries in the state, originally opening in July 2009. Distribution for their beer began in 2012 and was readily available throughout much of the state. Surprisingly, they were represented at the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival in Galveston during Thanksgiving weekend, so the news comes as a bit of a surprise to this publication.
To date, their social media has not yet announced the closure, but it is updated on the web as ‘Permanently Closed.’ We, at SHADEtxCraft, thoroughly enjoyed the beers (especially the REK Honey Pils) and wish the entire team the best of luck in their future endeavors.