Beer is about community. This has been the driving force behind Saint Arnold Brewing Company, and much of what drew me from homebrewing into the world of professional brewing. That, combined with a love of beer.
I discovered homebrewing in college, which led to my running a pub out of my dorm room (not sanctioned by the university). Friends would stop by for a beer, and soon people I didn’t know were coming by. From this, I discovered the community that naturally forms around beer.
My goal since high school was to have my own company. The original purpose was to make money. After college, I spent seven years in investment banking during the 1980s merger and acquisition boom. The work was interesting, but I watched as money corrupted people’s value systems. I realized that money did not make me want to get up in the morning. But making beer did. The epiphany came during Thanksgiving 1992.
I opened Saint Arnold in 1994. Our mission statement was (and is) to brew and sell the best beer in Texas, and to create an institution that Houston is proud of. But really, the singular focus at first was brewing beer. Being a self-taught homebrewer with some added lessons from my brewing mentor George Fix, I realized that scaling up to commercial production required a lot more knowledge than I had.
I read every brewing text I could find. I also discovered that more experienced brewers were generous with sharing their knowledge of the craft. Although busy with their own breweries, they would take time out of their day to help me with a variety of technical brewing issues. This is a favor that I now try to return by assisting other start-up breweries.
Today, we focus on both the community that we live in and the community that we have created. We team up with many organizations in Houston and around Texas in creating events that benefit them, while also introducing people to our beers. We donate to over 100 non-profits every year. We communicate directly with our customers through our newsletters, tours and special events. And, I personally reply to all emails to our brewery email address.
2010 St. Arnold One Pot Showdown
Each year, St. Arnold hosts the One Pot Showdown, where teams compete to make the best dish using St. Arnold beer as an ingredient. In 2010, 30 teams accepted the challenge and proceeds were donated to The Houston Food Bank.
Having outgrown our original brewery after 15 years, we purchased and renovated a 100 year old building on the edge of Houston’s central business district. There we installed a brewhouse that we acquired from a defunct Bavarian brewery in an old monastery. With this location, we hope to be a part of Houston’s community for many decades while getting to do what I love—brewing beer.