Saint Arnold helped start the craft beer movement in Texas when it opened in 1994.
HOUSTON — Cheers, guys! It’s National Drink Beer Day.
Here in Houston, we have a lot of options, but the craft beer scene really got its start 27 years ago when Brock Wagner founded Saint Arnold Brewing Co., the oldest craft brewery in Texas.
“Twenty-seven years ago, if you said to somebody, ‘What kind of beer do you want?’ that probably meant ‘Do you want Bud, Miller or Coors?’ Today, if somebody says, ‘Hey, what beer do you want? Do you want amber ale? A hazy pale ale? An IPA? A kolsch?’ The whole mindset of what beer is is very different,” Wagner says.
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That evolution is clear on Saint Arnold’s menu, which includes everything from Amber Ale, its first beer, to Harmony, its new hazy pale ale.
“I spent years making sure our beer was really clear. Now all the kids want beer that’s hazy. Kind of mind-blowing to some of us old fogies,” laughs Wagner. “It’s delicious. It’s got all of these fresh, ripe hops in it.”
Saint A’s offerings seemed to expand right along with the number of breweries in Houston.
“For many years, there weren’t very many of us around. Going back to 15 years in business, there were maybe 10 shipping craft breweries in the state,” Wagner says. “Today there’s more than 300. There are more than 50 in the Houston area.”
That’s right: there are more than 50 craft breweries in the Houston area. A quick search on social media will show you how they’re popping up from Conroe to League City, from Richmond to Kingwood and everywhere in between, including downtown Houston.
When it opens before the end of the year, Frost Town Brewing will be Houston’s newest craft brewery. Founder John Sorensen shares that it’s been in the works for years.
“My father had an idea to start a brewery about 10 years ago. Just because of some other life complications that got in the way, it didn’t materialize,” says Sorensen. “A couple years ago, I picked it up and we brought on some members — my wife and a friend of mine who’s a brewer — and we took it from there.”
The name Frost Town comes from the brewery’s location at 100 North Jackson St. in what used to be Houston’s first working-class neighborhood.
“To be able to tie together Houston beer history along with the location and the beers that we’re making, I think that’s what makes us unique,” Sorensen says.
As for the beers, he says the core to Frost Town’s values is all about making them sessionable and keeping them lighter so they can be enjoyed despite the Houston heat.
“That’s the goal,” says Sorensen.
On this National Drink Beer Day, you can’t celebrate at Frost Town, but he encourages you to give it a try next year. In the meantime, there are plenty of other brews with which to celebrate.
“The diversity of the beer scene is part of what keeps it so healthy,” Wagner adds.