Traveling Tuesday (Flashback Edition): St. Arnold’s Brewery — Houston, Texas

This is the first half of a story of nice things happening to nice people (who worked very, very hard to make nice things happen).

I grew up in Houston (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before), and when I left there 30 years ago there was no craft brewing there.  Around the time I was leaving, Brock Wagner was moving there from Cincinnati to attend Rice University. Somewhere along the line he noticed that Houston was the largest city in the country without a microbrewery . He decided to do something about that and started the St. Arnold Brewing Company in 1994.  It’s now the oldest craft brewer in the State of Texas.  They only distribute in Texas, which would be a three or four state region anywhere else.

Carla and I visited there about a year-and-a-half ago when they were preparing to move from the industrial park where they started to a new facility near downtown. We visited there again last week to see the new place.  We thought it would be neat to run the pictures from the old place this week.  We’ll run pictures from the new place next week.

To give you a sense of what this beer means in Houston, they release a single-batch called “Divine Reserve” once a year.  Today is the day for Divine Reserve #10 to hit the stores. A liquor store downtown got 95 cases to sell.  110 people were in line a half-hour before the store opened. They had to tell people not to bother coming down because there wouldn’t be any left.

Old St. Arnold Entrance
The entrance to the brewery in its former location in an industrial park.

Brock Wagner at the old St. Arnold Brewery
Brewery co-founder and owner Brock Wagner at the bar of the old tasting room. He's a graduate of Cincinnati Country Day.

St. Florian Fermenter
Each brewing vessel gets the name of a saint. Sometimes people are elevated to sainthood because their name is on a brewing vessel.

St. Arnold carved door
A hand-carved wooden panel at the old brewery. They have their fun with religious references in names and such, but religious figures are treated with respect.
The kegging and bottling area at the old St. Arnold Brewery
The kegging area and part of the bottling line. Remember, this brewery supplies the entire state of Texas. Cramped doesn't begin to describe it.
The tasting area at the old St. Arnold Brewery
The tasting area at the old St. Arnold Brewery prior to being set up. Owner Brock Wagner jokes now that the brewery expanded to accomodate a larger tasting room.

We're moving!
The FAQ about the move posted at the old St. Arnold Brewery

To be continued …