Since my last chat with Rassul Zarinfar, founder of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, one of several new breweries hoping to enter the Houston craft beer scene, there have been a lot of updates to their progress getting into production mode. They expect their commercial equipment to arrive this week to their Cottage Grove location (south of I-10 near The Usual), for one. Rassul also let me know that they plan to open in late October, hopefully meaning that we will see some of their brews then as well. But, like the title of the post states, Rassul and the other founders have chosen a brewmaster to join the Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company team, adding someone with commercial experience to a group that is rich with industry experience. I had the chance to ask the new bremaster, Ryan Robertson, a few questions about his experience and what he brings to the table at the new Houston brewery.
Ryan, a native Texan, got his start in commercial brewing in 2004 at the Hops Grill and Brewery in Florida, at several of their locations. Though they have all but closed down in the last few years, Ryan was offered a unique opportunity. He had been home brewing for several years and was initially hired on as a cook for the brewpub; when they began looking for brewers, Ryan took the opportunity to hone his skills. In 2009, he returned home to Texas to accept the brewmaster position with Uncle Buck’s Brewery & Steakhouse in Grapevine. He again, had a very exciting opportunity to build beer recipes, as the only brewer in the company, from the ground up on a 15 barrel system, which is very large for a brewpub. With the freedom to create new recipes, he quickly realized the limitations a large system presents when trying to be creative and staying within the boundaries of a company’s budget and preferred style range. To combat the restrictions Ryan, “started separating off up to a barrel of the beers and trying different things” like barrel aging, using various types of wood chips for aging and using dried fruits, spices and wild yeast strains like Brettanomyces in the secondary fermentation. Some of these experiments were served in the brewpub under the tile of “Brewer’s Reserve”.
Like I mentioned above, Ryan is being added to what seems like a brewing dream team. One of the investors is currently working on a PhD in microbiology and has studied yeast at the National Institute of Health, along with another Microbiologist, a recipe developer for Buffalo Bayou Brewing, is coming from another well known brewery from Atlanta, Georgia, SweetWater Brewing Company.
I am excited to see what a diverse group of people like the team at Buffalo Bayou can do, hopefully that Brettanomyces experience and people familiar with yeast on a microbiological level can turn out some neat stuff like wild ales, lambic, flanders red and oud bruins, that aren’t done by anyone in the local market. That might also just be a selfish wish, since I love sours and would love to see someone do some locally. I am also looking forward to seeing what other beers they put in their line-up. Hopefully we’ll be trying some Buffalo Bayou Brewing beers in the next few months.