Houston’s ‘Daisy Chain’ Yeast Experiment Produces Dozens of New Beers

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The Daisy Chain Experiment will produce dozens of beers with the same yeast. (Southern Star Brewing Co.)

It was a hurricane no Houstonian will ever forget. When Harvey hit the area in August 2017, the storm left no one untouched. But while the city flooded, so did support flood into the communities surrounding the devastation.

“We, along with many other breweries, held food, water, and supply drives to collect and donate to those in need,” says Sam Wright, head brewer at Southern Star Brewing Co. in Conroe, Texas. Wright says Hurricane Harvey slowed down beer production, and it was difficult for them to get their beer to the market, but that wasn’t what everyone was focused on at the time.

“The main impact was seeing the damage sustained by our fellow Houston-area residents,” Wright says. “Most of our employees are lifelong Houstonians, and can remember past hurricanes, such as Ike, Allison and Alicia. Harvey was much worse than those, both in total cost to repair, and how widespread people were displaced.”

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sam wright southern star brewing
Sam Wright, head brewer at Southern Star Brewing, thought of the Daisy Chain Experiment after Harvey. (Southern Star Brewing)

So the community came together, and it’s exactly that attitude that sparked an idea so crazy it just might work: a “daisy chain” to bring Houston-area breweries together with a single strain of yeast. It would start at Southern Star and make its way across dozens of other breweries, bringing them together in much the same way that Houstonians came together for Hurricane Harvey relief.

“The idea came from wanting to see how far it could go, and wanting to see our teams work together to put on pint nights and tap takeovers,” Wright says. “I knew the breweries were able to work together, but I wanted to see how many could pull it off.”

The Houston Daisy Chain Experiment promises to be a grand one. With only two rules — to use the yeast strain from Southern Star and to reference the project’s name on the packaging — the door is wide open for creativity. Each brewery can decide how they want to make their beer stand out in terms of everything from beer style to batch quantity.

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Before the project has even launched, two dozen independent breweries are showing their support. Aside from Southern Star, these Texas Craft Brewers Guild members have all signed on: 8th Wonder, Eureka Heights, Copperhead, 11 Below, Sigma, Braman, Lone Pint, Town in City, Bearded Fox, Brash, No Label, BAKFISH, Texas Leaguer, Buffalo Bayou, Platypus, City Acre, Holler, Fetching Lab, Whole Foods Brewing, Spindletap, Blackwater Draw, New Republic and Back Pew Brewing.

“Many of the breweries involved (and many who are not participating) held events and food/water/supply drives to raise money for local charities immediately after the storm,” Wright says. “One brewery, 8th Wonder, even sent out their military troop transport truck into floodwaters to rescue people who were trapped in their homes.”

“Houstonians have always put a lot of effort into helping others in need.” Sam Wright, Southern Star Brewing

In that spirit, Southern Star plans to donate $1 per pint sold at the release party on Feb. 23 to the Houston Food Bank. The other breweries will continue to release their individual Daisy Chain Experiment beers throughout the spring.

“When I first came up with the idea, it was mostly about the symbolism of our region’s craft breweries working together to show our unity in our local brewing community. But with the storm, followed by the Astros winning the 2017 World Series (finally!), it turned into more of a show of love for our entire community. Houstonians have always put a lot of effort into helping others in need, especially after major storms,” Wright says.

It’s something you can see in the long lines to volunteer and the way the city never fails to open its arms to those in need.

“I can’t imagine any other industry that would share resources and work together like this,” Wright says.

With a city like Houston holding them up, we look forward to seeing some of the amazing brews these sprout from the Daisy Chain Experiment.

Anna Mitchell is a digital journalist and lover of all dark beers. She was first enticed into the world of craft beer by New Holland's Dragon's Milk, and she's been hooked ever since. When she's not sipping on stouts, she's most likely hiking or taking photos of her cat. Her written work has been featured on Weather.com, MNN.com, and AdventureCats.org.

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