As February inches closer, Houston (and especially the craft beer community) is anxiously awaiting Moon Tower-Inn‘s reopening. When they posted on their Facebook a few details of the reopening, one part particularly caught my eye: “yes we are putting in a BREWERY!!!!!”. So of course, I had to figure out who it was and what they were up to.
Luckily, I didn’t have to look too far.
As someone who has watched many a home brew session (hey, I stir and stuff!), I have had the pleasure of seeing the many wonders present at DeFalco’s, arguably Houston’s best (and now only?) home brew supply store. If you have ever been, you know the two most knowledgeable guys in the store, James McDonald and Andrew Byrd. Though, you probably know them as “Jimmy”/”Biddy Red” and “Horse”, respectively. These guys know their way around hops, malts, equipment and the brewing process inside and out. So naturally, being frequent guests of the old Moon Tower and friends with the management, when the opportunity came up to start a brewery on-site at the Moon Tower space, they were the first choice. If you have ever had the beer they have been home brewing for over 6 years now, you know this was a stellar choice in brewers. Although the home brewing community will be sad to lose their expertise at the store, I (and surely everyone else) am excited for their new venture into the brewing world, their passion.
One of the two new shipping containers being used to renovate the old space, to expand the kitchen and the tap wall to 42 taps, will be a walk-in cooler for cold storage. The brewhouse will be set-up in part of the office space, behind the old ordering counter. I wasn’t even aware there was an office. They have a 3 1/2 barrel brewhouse on order from Portland Kettleworks and are expecting delivery in mid-February. That’s definitely cutting it close to the planned February reopening. To go with the shiny new brewhouse they also have two 7 barrel fermenters, meaning that they will be doing double batches for their standard beers. They also have two 1/2 barrel fermenters for special one-off beers. None of the brewhouse is automated, every step of the process will rely on the manual know-how from James and Andrew, though I don’t think that should worry anyone.
James and Andrew will have 2 of the 42 taps to start off with. One will usually be their flagship “Second Ward Stout”, the recipe for which they are tweaking; they have even brewed a few special versions of the stout, including a vanilla whiskey version. The other designated tap will be a rotating brew, basically whatever they feel like brewing. They have been given the reigns to the brewing side of the new Moon Tower-Inn, and I am confident that this was a wise choice.
They definitely plan to have growler sales and even a special Moon Tower-Inn pint night every so often featuring their house brews. Even though James wouldn’t say who, they also want to do some collaboration brews with other local brewers (the list isn’t that long). Of course, they plan to have beer dinners, or regularly available pairings to go with the awesome hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and whatever else they put on the new menu. With the expansion of the kitchen, I can’t see them not adding items to the menu. They are even putting in bathrooms!
For now, it looks as though the only thing holding them back is the construction and arrival of equipment. Though I was told permits are in place, I didn’t see anything with Moon Tower in the TABC database, so apparently the permits are under some secret name, or have yet to be filed. Either way, this addition to the Houston craft beer scene should be welcomed with open arms. Not only is Moon Tower-Inn a great hang out spot, and a perfect place for live music, they will soon feature house made brews by some of the most talented guys in our city. Hopefully we will have more information soon on their grand reopening. I tried to convince James that he needs a twitter to tell everyone what they are up to, but I don’t think he bought it just yet.