I’m glad to hear that there’s another microbrewery in the area, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for Southern Star beer the next time I’m someplace that might have a broad enough selection to include it. One item to note:
[Co-founder Dave] Fougeron also would like to see small breweries become local gathering spots. He and [Brian] Hutchins open their business to the public on Saturdays, offering free tours and handing out samples while Jeff Smith and Steve Sumner of the Outlaw Kookers keep the barbecue pits stoked outside. Fougeron said the tours create “a genuine feeling of community.”
“There should be thousands of breweries in America,” he said. “We’re Americans. We drink beer.”
Brock Wagner, the head of Saint Arnold, agreed that his former employee is both passionate and knowledgeable about his favorite subject. Also, he might be in business at just the right time.
Southern Star is only the second craft brewery in the Houston area, and it’s one of just a handful statewide. Yet there is something of a building boom going on, particularly in the Austin area, where four already are open and several others are at least in the planning stages.
Wagner, who runs the oldest and largest craft brewery in the state, sees plenty of room for growth. In Houston, he said, craft beer makes up less than 3 percent of sales.
“Long term,” he said, “I think we should all be working toward making craft beer about 10 percent of the market down here. That will take us all working together.”
Hopefully, one thing they’ll all be working together on is to improve the state of beer in Texas by trying once again to pass a bill that would allow microbreweries to sell their beer on premises. They made some progress in a second attempt at it in 2009 but ran into the usual resistance from the beer distributors’ lobby. Having one more microbrewer in Texas won’t make that much difference, but every little bit helps.