Since I love finding out about any potential new brewery in Texas, especially if it’s close, I looked through the list from my recent post and decided to investigate New Braunfels Brewing Company. I contacted Kelly Meyer, the founder, to set up a quick phone interview, with hopes to stop by on my next trip to San Antonio & Austin in late July.
They were founded just this year and plan to have brews available for sale in the fall, quite a time line considering the process of licensing, building, equipment set-up and brewing. Right now, their only competition in New Braunfels is Faust Brewing, a brewpub and restaurant that I have never been to (but plan to change that). Although he did say that there are others in the area that are just getting started- Guadalupe Brewing Company and one with a similar name to Kelly’s, that I couldn’t find anything on. New Braunfels hasn’t had a manufacturing brewery since 1925 and now they may have 3!
Kelly’s wife likes to say that she was the impetus for their idea of opening up a brewery since she bought him his first homebrew kit back in 2001 and he has been brewing and playing around with styles since then. Back in 2004, they opened up a fitness business and have since opened their 8th location. When that day came, Kelly decided that they wanted to open up a brewery; they make their money through their fitness business, so they could focus on making great beer and not necessarily growing an empire. So in February of this year, they started the process.
They have picked a great location in historic downtown New Braunfels (on Mill St.), but because of zoning restrictions they have to get special permission to brew there. They have to get approval from both the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council. Their last meeting with the city is in early August and their brewing equipment arrives shortly after that. They are dropping off their paperwork to the TABC soon and hope to do both the construction and licensing process concurrently.
Kelly has ordered a 1 1/2-2 barrel system to start off with and hopes to move to a bigger system after about 18 months and keep the original equipment for a pilot/experimental system.
New Braunfels Brewing Co’s flagship beer, El Hefe- a hefeweizen, should be available around mid September. The beer is brewed with pilsner malts, unmalted wheat, and white wheat malts, along with Cascade hops. I asked Kelly if he knew of No Label Brewing out in Katy, and if he knew that their hefeweizen is also called “El Hefe”, and he had definitely heard of No Label but was unaware that their beer was also named El Hefe, though he said that it is a working title for now and could change. Kelly hopes to make their big debut at the Gruene Food and Wine festival in early October.
I was also very curious about a comment he made on Facebook (that they would be a hybrid brewery/brewpub of sorts) to answer a question posed about whether they were a brewery or a brewpub, and he has quite an interesting plan. They are teaming up with a bar a block away as well as a restaurant down the street. They plan to end their tours at these locations where their beer will be on tap and potentially for sale (the restaurant owner has a retail license). This idea fits in well with the touristy feel of New Braunfels. They can even walk around town with their beers during special events (lucky!!).
What was interesting to me, was his idea of being an AOC but for beer (where a large portion of the ingredients used in the wine must come from that region). He is acquiring wheat from Comal county and is even growing his own Cascade hops to use in his beers. He is currently, and will continue, donating his spent grain to the Agriculture department at Canyon High School, his alma mater. He also plans to use a local honey in one of his recipes, which one he hasn’t figured out yet. Keeping things very local, including his planned distribution, which will only be New Braunfels and a few select places in the Austin and San Antonio markets.
Besides a hefeweizen, they will be brewing a dunkleweisse, one of Kelly’s favorite styles but beyond that he wouldn’t tell me more, other than to say they wanted to resurrect a few German styles that have all but died out.
It’s great to see more Texas breweries getting started, especially ones where the founders have a passion for beer and want to keep things local (even if it means more road trips for me!).
Thanks to Kelly for chatting with me and I look forward to being able to try the beers!
You can also follow New Braunfels Brewing Co on Twitter.