Brewmasters' Panel Gives Inside Look Into Houston's Colorful Craft Brew Scene

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

Photo by Carla Soriano
From left; Dave Fougeron, president of Southern Star Brewing; Rassul Zarinfar, founder of Buffalo Brewing Co.; Brian Royo, head brewer and co-founder at No Label Brewing; Brock Wagner, founder of Saint Arnold Brewing Company; Jake Schiffer, president of Leprechaun Cider Company.

"With wine you've got a very narrow palette of colors to work, with but beer can be anything from Monet to Van Gogh to Salvador Dali to Pollock. We can do incredible things, paint with so many different colors" proclaimed Rassul Zarinfar, founder of Buffalo Brewing Co.

"There's no 's' is in St. Arnold," shouted Brock Wagner playfully.

"Recently we threw out a batch because the guys forgot to add the yeast," No Label's Brian Royo recounts, laughing.

These are just a couple of the sound bites that came out at the Brewmaster Panel held at Whole Foods Sugarland recently, a special Houston Beer Week event that's now in its third year. This year's panel was led by Ryan Lewis, Whole Foods Houston's first cicerone, and was made up of some of the crème de la crème of Houston's craft brewing scene. The panel participants began by introducing themselves and their brewery's philosophy.

Rassul Zarinfar, the enthusiastic Founder of Buffalo Brewing Co., began energetically: "We sold our first keg in January 2012. Buffalo Brewing is flavor- and science-driven. We like to brew with flowers, wits. I'm sure you've had one of beers and said 'what the hell were they thinking', but the beer's been good."

The quieter Brian Royo, No Label Brewing's head brewer and co-founder, said, "No Label Brewing is family owned and operated, and our philosophy is real simple: KISS: keep it simple, stupid."

Brock Wagner, the founder of Saint Arnold Brewing Company scanned the guys sitting on either side of him and said, "Hi, I'm old. Saint Arnold will be 20 years old in 2014. Our philosophy is to brew great beer, have fun while we do it, and promote beer culture and community. Community is highly connected to beer."

Jake Schiffer, the president of Leprechaun Cider Company, said, "At Leprechaun, we make apple cider in the Spanish sidra style, using champagne yeast. We use hand-picked apples --never apple concentrate, or sugars, or really...any additives."

Dave Fougeron, the president of Southern Star Brewing, walked in a bit late. In an apologetic tone, he explained that "there are a lot of cars between Conroe (where his brewery is) and Sugarland." He sat down and gave a short and sweet introduction: "I started Southern Star six years ago, and we're in it to make the best beer we possibly can."

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