Although our summer trip is winding down we did manage to find one more brewery to check out. The brewery is Martin House Brewing Company and, interestingly, we found it in the city where I grew up, Fort Worth. Due to state laws that were only recently changed, the craft brewery industry in Texas is in its infancy. Until just a couple of months ago a brewery could only sell their beer through distributors, not onsite. To get around this, the standard way for a Texas brewery to maintain a following with the public has been a Saturday afternoon “open house” where they “sell” you a pint glass that includes 3 or 4 “free” samples. This is the model we found at Martin House and so on Saturday Karen and I met up with my brother, Gary, and his wife, Vanessa, for “free” beer. In spite of the summer heat in the un-air-conditioned warehouse, the open bay doors on each end and the giant cooling fans made it quite comfortable inside.
Martin House has five beers in their current lineup:
- Day Break – 4 Grain Breakfast Beer
- River House – A Texas Saison
- The Imperial Texan – Double Red Ale
- SeptemberFest – Hoppy, Oatmeal Brown Ale
- There Will Be Stout – The Original Pretzel Stout
Today, they didn’t have the Day Break on tap but between the four of us we were able to try them all. Our favorite, by far, was the SeptemberFest. In spite of the “Hoppy” label, I thought this beer was smooth and well-balanced. The double red ale was the real hoppy one at the upper limit of what I can enjoy as far as hops go. I really don’t get adding the pretzels to the stout. I think it would have been a much better stout without them. It was good to get a couple of those new beer can shaped glasses instead of the typical pint glass that we already have way too many of. An indication that Martin House is a new brewery was the relatively small crowd that has discovered them. The last Saturday brewery event I attended in Fort Worth was at Rahr & Sons Brewing. The crowds are so large there that in spite of the several tap locations throughout the warehouse once you get a beer you might as well get right back in line because your glass will be empty by the time you get back to the front. Maybe before that happens at Martin House more Texas craft breweries will figure out how to do tap rooms like we found in Colorado and Oregon, where they just sell you a pint of their beer.
The next day Karen and I went to Central Market in Southlake to pick up a couple of items. While there we met John Anderson, the head brewer at No Label Brewing in Katy (next door to Houston back home). He was there handing out samples of their beer to promote their brewery. I asked him when we might see Texas breweries get away from this “buy a pint glass” thing and start serving their beers in tap rooms. John told us they had recently started doing just that on Fridays (along with their Saturday thing). This is great news and it will give us a good reason for another blog post when we return home.