USA, TX: Elder Son Brewing in soft opening phase
Robert Frye never thought hed turn his homebrewing hobby into a career. But after 18 years in the oil and gas industry, including four downturns, he was ready for a change, the Houston Chronicle reported on October 25.
Elder Son Brewing, his new brewery in the Heights, is currently in its soft opening phase.
It started with the encouragement of his wife, friends and neighbors who drank his beer over the years. These were pipe dreams at the time, he says: a bunch of his buddies drinking in his driveway, asking him what he would name a brewery if he opened one someday.
It was the COVID-19 pandemic that actually pushed him over the edge. Theres never going to be a good time to leave this career and do something he actually enjoyed, he thought, so why not now?
In March 2020, he started looking at locations across Houston for a brick-and-mortar. He finally signed the lease in the current space, at 946 N. Shepherd Drive, that November. He quit his job, as a sales manager for a manufacturing company in the oil industry, just three weeks before opening.
Frye began homebrewing 12 years ago when he started dating his now-wife. Her brother was a homebrewer and the hobby started out as a way to get to know him.
Brewing is a rabbit hole, and I fell in, said Frye.
His homebrewing operation grew over the years. Frye jokes that perhaps his wife was so supportive of him opening a brewery because she wanted to clear the garage.
Five families have an ownership stake in Elder Son, ranging from 5 to 45 percent share. The brewery is small, with a 1,000-square-foot taproom and a 1,200-square-foot patio that has space for a food truck and a half-dozen picnic tables. Frye is making beer from a small 3-and-a-half-barrel system, an easy transition to make from homebrewing to commercial brewing.
As for the name, when his friends asked all those years, there was never any question about it: It was going to be Elder Son Brewing. Frye is a middle child but the oldest son, and his father always refers to him as his elder son, the formality of which he finds amusing.
Elder Son Brewing soft-opened on Oct. 23 with seven beers on tap; it will have 10 by this weekend.
Frye prefers making and drinking dark styles like stouts and porters. He feels strongly about brewing with Houston water, as a Houston brewery. Water makes beer styles what they are, and Frye says that the citys water profile is actually great for making stouts.
But he recognizes that not everyone wants to drink stouts and porters year-round in Texas. Hes mastered more than 30 different recipes that will rotate on the tap wall, including hazy IPAs, brown ales, wheat beers, milk stouts, milk porters, pale ales and more. There will also be an experimental tap, marked with an X, for Frye to test out some of his more creative brews on customers.
There are a lot of breweries in Houston that have already created an identity and I don't think we have yet, he said, adding that he wants to be a neighborhood taproom that adapts to the preferences of his regulars.
The long-term plan for Elder Son Brewing is to open satellite locations in various neighborhoods in Houston that dont already have a local taproom. Each outpost will tailor its brews to the residents in that area.
The team is also looking for a warehouse space to start canning, although Frye says he wants to sell to small local liquor stores as opposed to H-E-B or Specs.
Elder Son Brewing is now open to the public and will have its grand opening some time in November.
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