You may have already heard that the proprietors of the famous Eatsie Boys food truck are starting a microbrewery here in Houston, all while also starting an ice cream truck that should be up and running in the next few weeks and maintaining their original venture. The original name might sound familiar from my first post on the boom of breweries, Heady Brewing. While this name evoked different connotations for different people, it was Ryan Soroka’s driveway brewery name from his time in New Orleans while attending Tulane for his undergraduate studies. Alas, trademark issues have prevented them from using this name, but I think they have come up with something even better, with a tip of the hat to Houston, they decided on 8th Wonder Brewery. Houston is losing one of my (and many others, no doubt) childhood memories that I hold so dear: a baseball game, a delicious dome dog and of course, the Astrodome. The Astrodome has long since been called the 8th Wonder of the world, and while we may be losing a great piece of Houston history, the Eatsie Boys +1 (more on that later) have decided to keep the name alive and give their brewery a Houston vibe.
I had the chance to sit down with one of the Eatsie Boys, Ryan Soroka, the impetus behind their decision to start a microbrewery, and chat with him about his plans for the brewery, Houston and maintaining two food trucks. I first spoke to him back in May, shortly after they signed a lease in the up-and-coming East Downtown area, at Dallas & Hutchins, just a few short blocks from George R Brown, Minute Maid and the future Houston Dynamo stadium, for starters. I was relieved to hear that parking shouldn’t be an issue in this locale either, which is always a black cloud looming over a business when deciding on location in this city.
I was curious how three guys who run a successful food truck would fit in together at a brewery. Ryan, who owns the front of house and assistant brewing role, had the idea to start a brewery several years ago and has been homebrewing for 7-8 years now. He knows his partners at Eatsie Boys through various Houston channels, all the guys (except the +1) are native Houstonians, and the others will each have their place at the brewery, just as with the food trucks. Chef Matt Marcus, who is being featured at one of Justin Bayse’s pop-up dinners this summer, will be the “Culinary Liaison” in charge of developing beer dinners, food pairing suggestions, cooking with beer and anything else they can dream up. And if you’ve ever had the Eatsie Boys’ food (my personal favorite is the Pork Snuggie) then you know this will be a special treat. Alex Vassilakidis, another Eatsie Boy, is the back of house role, the finance and business guy, but they are all taking an active interest in the brewing side, which I imagine can only be a good time with these characters. Now for the +1, in Ryan’s recent time at UH where he got his MBA and a Master’s in Hospitality Management, he met Aaron Corsi, another long-time homebrewer and he has recently joined the team to start 8th Wonder Brewery, with the title of Master Brewer, something he has been dedicating his education to. While Ryan has been developing recipes for quite some time, he feels confident that Aaron’s expertise will help hone and tweak the recipes to exactly what they want, especially when they move to a 15 barrel system that they plan on purchasing as soon as funding is completed. Once they get their finance ducks in a row, they estimate that it will take anywhere from 4 to 5 months to get their equipment from Premier Stainless, out of San Diego. Though he said the would start having tastings of the beers brewed on their pilot 1/2 barrel system as soon as they get all the permitting squared away.
Speaking of permits, they have submitted all the paperwork and are now just waiting to get the official go-ahead, they did suffer some setbacks on timing with the name change they had to re-do some of the forms. They have only some minor construction that has to be completed for the 5,000 square foot warehouse to be a proper brewery, they need a cold storage and dry storage room as well as the drainage systems to be put in. I got to see some pictures of the inside and it looks like a pretty sweet place to drink some beers, it also gives you further insight as to why they chose the 8th Wonder Brewery name, but you’ll have to wait to see why.
Now that I knew more about these food truck guys who want to brew beer, I wanted to know about the actual beer. While Ryan wouldn’t let me in on most of the names for the beers they have created, he did at least give me the styles they would be debuting once they get into production mode. They are going to start out with an IPA, an Alt Amber Ale and a Blonde Ale, he assured me they wouldn’t be your everyday beers and that they hoped to start producing seasonals after a few months and rotate those, make them part of the standard line-up or head back to the drawing board. He hasn’t quite decided if they want to can their beers or hand-bottle, but they will definitely be self distributing and knows of a few places around town that are excited to see his beers on tap. They want to hit the Austin and Dallas markets as well, but definitely not before Houston gets it’s fair share. The tagline for 8th Wonder Brewery, according to Ryan, is “an innovative twist on traditional styles”.
As far as timing goes, Ryan thinks that next year, at the earliest, is when Houston would see their beers around town, though that doesn’t mean we won’t see a few kegs here and there once they get comfortable on their system. Ryan’s dream for 8th Wonder Brewery is something I think all of Houston can get behind, he wants it to be a community hangout, a place to go before and after you watch the games at the nearby stadiums, and even just watch the games there. Ryan has several other ideas for how to get the community involved and along the way, how to help revitalize East Downtown, hopefully he can succeed at both brewing and being a community advocate, because both are desperately needed in this town. I look forward to visiting the new space soon and testing out some sample batches from 8th Wonder Brewery.
You can follow the progress of 8th Wonder Brewery on Twitter. Look for their Facebook and website soon!