Karbach Will Keep You Cool This Summer
KARBACH BREWING CO.
Local Hero Award winner: Brewery
New faces have entered the Houston brewery scene in recent years with their fizzy pop-top cans and frosty long-neck bottles, quickly transforming Houston into a hotbed of cool experimentation, but few have commanded such insider respect and consumer admiration along the way as Karbach Brewing Co. Though it would be romantic to cite mere luck to Karbach’s unparalleled success, owners Chuck Robertson and Ken Goodman and brewmaster Eric Warner brought impressive pedigrees to the table when they launched the Karbach Street brewery in 2011.
Robertson and Goodman had previously founded the C.R. Goodman distributorship in the ’80s, which distributed more than 60 beer brands before they sold the company in 2008. Warner, on the other hand, had received a formal brewing education in Germany, going on to lead Colorado’s tremendous Flying Dog Brewery as its brewmaster and then CEO for a decade.
Marketing and Promotions Coordinator David Graham, the brewery’s first official employee, says the marriage of technique, attention to detail and a genuine affection for craft brew helps attract its nearly 2,000 to 3,000 visitors every week. “There was definitely this feeling in the beginning that we were creating something great here,” he says. “When you bring people into your place of business and let them taste all the great things you’re working on, the word gets around.”
Indeed the word did get around. Karbach’s original three-year plan aimed for 3,000 barrels in year one, 6,000 in year two and 9,000 in year three. However, in year one the company produced 8,100 barrels, followed by 19,000 in year two and 32,000 in year three. In 2013, The New Yorker magazine cited the brewery as the second-fastest-growing craft brewery in the United States, growing 1,112% from 2011–2012. Popular libations like the Karbach Hopadillo IPA have developed cult-like fandom, while more novel brews like the Karbachtoberfest and Mother in Lager have seized awards from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.
In Summer 2015, the brewery unveiled impressive new digs, with a 19,000-squarefoot, sprawling facility that includes a brewhouse, tasting room, event space and, best of all, a restaurant space—thanks to a game-changing, new law that allows breweries to sell beer for on-site consumption. With the addition of the restaurant space, the brewery was able to embrace local by featuring such Texas goods as R-C Ranch’s Wagyu beef, Harvest Moon’s microgreens, Blue Horizon Seafood’s Gulf Coast seafood, D'Artagnan Foods’ wild game and more. A farmers market has even worked its way onto the Karbach schedule every Thursday evening from 5pm–9pm.
And though beer ingredients like hops and yeast don’t usually come up in discussions of local, Graham emphasizes that Texas pride isn’t just about the Earth-bound ingredients.
“We’ve created a lot of jobs here and turned Karbach into a destination for both locals and visitors,” he says. “I think it’s impressive that Texas craft breweries have banded together to build each other up instead of tear each other down. That says a lot about the industry’s support of each other.”