To celebrate the closing of a major new contract at our joint venture, my company visited the Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the oldest craft beer in Texas. Located in the old Houston school district administrative building north of downtown, they brew and bottle the beer on site. After lunch and brews in their lunch room (lots of great burgers; we also liked the jerk chicken and the chicken curry special), we gathered to take a tour of the facility.
Our guide is not a brewer: his job apparently is being a guide, and drinking a lot of beer. He talked about the history of the building (it had burned twice and eventually become the school district’s junk storage area), as well as the founding of the 20-year-old business.
We first visited the brewing rooms. Our group being composed of approximately 50% process engineers, we naturally were interested in the PVFs (pipe, valves, and fittings), how they maintained temperature, on what pressures the systems were run, and of course the guide knew none of that, although he did pass around packages of hops for us to sniff (at least I think it was hops), told us about his favorite beers, and encouraged us to grab another pint before we headed downstairs.
I recommend the Christmas stout, although off season you have to pick from one of their nine other year-round choices.
Unfortunately for most of you, Saint Arnold beer is sold only in selected stores and bars in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. I used to dislike beer until I discovered microbreweries while living in Colorado, where I also discovered is wasn’t beer I disliked, but rather Coors/Bud/Michelob/Miller Lite/random-sour-watery-crap. This was my first brewery tour (I had toured the Jack Daniels’ distillery in Lynchburg, where they did not give out samples because dry county.)
I have since noticed Saint Arnold on tap in a few locale restaurants. If you have a chance and like beers, give it a try.