October 27th, 2011
The First Sip: Karbach Brewing Co.
Is it wrong that I got giddy with excitement when I found out that a new brewery was opening just five minutes from my house? Karbach Brewery, the new kid on the Houston Craft beer scene opened its doors this past Monday and I made sure I was there. All in the name of responsibly bringing you, dear reader, all the news you can use. Sure, the chance to sample free beer was an inducement, but surely, that can’t be held against me?
Considering that the Brewery is so close to my home turf, I had no idea where Karbach Street was or where I’d find the brewery. Luckily, the distribution truck with their logo emblazoned on it acted as a welcoming beacon as I slowly crept down the side street. As I parked, I was amazed at the size of the fledgling brewery.
Just seven short weeks in, Karbach is firing on all cylinders and they are working to manage supply and demand in order to keep their four beers flowing at local bars. Right now, the Brewery is only offering it’s beers on draft at bars around town, but the plan is to move into bars in Sugar Land and Conroe and they have identified 11 counties around Houston that they plan to utilize as their home base. They also hope to boost production so that they can start canning their beer, but no decision has been made on a time frame.
In talking to partner Ken Goodman, he made sure to point out that though they were a new brewery, they weren’t a start up and that they had plenty of experience in the beer industry. With a dream of always owning a brewery, Goodman and his partner sold their beer distribution business to Ben E. Keith and recruited brewmaster Eric Warner to come to Houston. The decision to set up shop in Houston, which was influenced by the small number of craft breweries in the Houston area, was cemented by the fact that they already owned the warehouse on Karbach.
With a beer lineup of four brews, Karbach offers something for all tastes. Their four beers include: Sympathy for the Lager, Hopadilla IPA, Rodeo Clown Double IPA and Weiss Versa Heffewiezen. For your edification, I made sure to try all four. Again, just doing my part. While I enjoyed all of the brews and wouldn’t turn my nose up if offered, there were two that stood out to me and would keep me coming back for more.
The Weiss Versa was the first brew I tried. It is a cross between a Belgian-style Wit and a German Heffeweizen, combining the citrus and coriander components of the wit with the naturally occurring clove, nutmeg and banana flavors found in heffeweizens. The pairing, dreamed up by brewmaster Erik Warner and brewery partner David Greenwood, definitely works and offers a nice smooth finish for those hot Houston summer days.
The Rodeo Clown Double IPA, at nine percent ABV, packs a punch. With a strong, hoppy flavor, this beer will definitely appeal to the craft beer knurds and will give Karbach an offering that will be right at home on the taps at Petrol Station or The Ginger Man. While it gave my tastebuds quite a shock after the relative smoothness of the Weiss Versa, it wasn’t as unpalatable as some of the hoppier beers I’ve had the occassion to try.
With Karbach Brewery, Houston adds a welcome new addition to it’s fledgling Craft Beer scene, but with the resources behind the brewery, it won’t surprise me if it isn’t long before they make the move to the big time. If you’re looking to find Karbach on tap, head to the usual suspects like Petrol Station, Flying Saucer, The Ginger Man or Liberty Station. Different beers are at different locations and they are looking to the public to guide them in deciding which beer becomes the flagship, so be sure to do your part.