Thursday, July 1, 2010

Little Known Secret: Your First Brewery Tour

Our story unfolds about two years ago in Houston, Texas. My cousin and I were deciding what to do on a Saturday morning and he remembered hearing that a local brewery has tours every weekend. Houston isn’t well known for breweries probably because of the local penchant for cold thirst quenching beers, oil-fueled generic consumerism, and national brand consciousness; however, some do exist. At the time, I was just getting into brewing so it sounded interesting. Man was I ever in for a surprise.

When we arrived at St. Arnolds, the line was already out into the parking lot and around the building. Eventually we got to the front and paid the admission fee, which I think was ten bucks. We were handed three wooden sample tokens and a small (8oz.) plastic “Sample Cup.” We then entered a giant empty warehouse with three bars and picnic tables in the front, and a small bottling line and brew tanks in the back. We suspected something was up when people with Pizzas and heaping bags of Taco Town started arriving in droves.

The tour consisted of a guy getting up in a cherry picker, giving a five minute explanation of the brewery, equipment, and current taps; then the party started. We bought “Souvenir” pint glasses, which could still be filled for one token and had a merry old time. Best Saturday morning ever.

Breweries are nothing if not crafty in skirting local liquor laws. Legislation is generally set up to keep Milwaukee in your refrigerator and to keep the smaller upstarts (with their higher quality and higher prices) out of the market entirely. Since we paid for the “Tour” and were given “Free” samples (by returning a souvenir token) they must have found a way to get around those asinine restrictions. I’ve since been to another Brewery like this one in Raleigh (Lone Rider). Now you know; check your town for something like this if you like good craft beer and local businesses.

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