Interview – Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold Brewing
We are proud to present you with our latest brewer interview, with Saint Arnolds Brewmaster, Brock Wagner. When you think of Houston Craft Beer, you immediately think of Saint Arnold. We talk with Brock about the Houston Craft Beer Scene, as well as some upcoming new beers, and plans for the future. Enjoy, TFP.
The Full Pint – How is the craft beer scene doing in Houston? Might you guys head up a Houston Beer Week?
Brock Wagner: There is more and more interest in craft beer in Houston. It is difficult to find a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have any craft beer available these days. Many establishments put a focus on Texas craft beer too. This is a far cry from how it was here 10 years ago!
We haven’t really considered a Houston Beer Week just because our plate has been pretty full with constructing and moving to the new brewery. Although we are brewing from the newery now, we still have a lot to do here.
TFP – Tell us more about the new Movable Yeast Series, and what we can look forward to from that?
BW – We just rolled out the first in our Movable Yeast series, Saint Arnold Weedwacker. The purpose of this series is to educate beer drinkers on the flavor contribution of yeast. People spend a lot of time talking about malt and hops, but I think people have only a vague concept that yeast are flavor contributors. So what we are doing is taking one of our existing beers, keeping everything the same but the yeast and giving it a new name. Saint Arnold Weedwacker is Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer wort pitched with a Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast. The result is pretty striking! We are hoping that people will sample the beers side-by-side to really see the difference.
BW – Our favorite method is to meet and talk to the beer drinker. That’s the best way for us to convey who we are and what our beers are about. More and more, people are seeking flavorful beers and we fit that niche well. Also, the importance of being local and our involvement in the community is very important to people. We brew great beer, but Saint Arnold is about more than that.
TFP – If there was one Texas alcohol law that you would change for your benefit, what would it be?
BW – That’s an easy one: allow us to sell a limited amount of beer direct to the public.
TFP – Texas is gigantic, with that said, do you ever see yourself expanding to other states?
BW – Our goal is to grow and maintain our current distribution which is Texas and only Texas. Beer has traditionally been a local beverage and I believe that that is how is should be. The one exception to our Texas rule is Louisiana. After all, New Orleans is a lot closer to Houston than El Paso is.
TFP – Where do you see Saint Arnold going in the next 5 years?
BW – We would like to maintain our slow growth and periodically come out with some new, interesting beers. Other than that, not a lot should change.
TFP – We’ve been very impressed with your Divine Reserve Series. The trends in craft beer have been bigger beers over the past few years. What is your take on that trend, and will Saint Arnold start leaning towards more Divine Reserves now that you have a bigger facility?
BW – We have really enjoyed our Divine Reserve series and it has enabled us to scratch that creative itch even when our capacity constraints didn’t allow us to add any new beers to our portfolio. We never expected the furor that follows the release of each of these beers. We like to play with beers on the big end, but that isn’t what we are about. We like to brew flavorful, malty beers that you can enjoy everyday. 10% ABV beers are not everyday beers. I just think it is great that there is such variety out there. And ultimately the customers tell you what they want.
TFP – Would you give us the exclusive on What DR 10 will be?
BW – DR10 will be an English Barleywine. It is being brewing this week for release in November most likely. It will age well.
TFP – What is your favorite non- Saint Arnold Beer?
BW – This is a question that I get a lot and my answer is always the same: it depends where I am and what my mood is. When I travel, I seek out the great local craft beers. I was spoiled this summer by being up in Jackson Hole and drinking Snake River Brewing and Big Sky beers for a week.
TFP – What is your parting message to our readers/your loyal fans?
BW – Thanks for all the support over the past 16 years! Without our great customers, there would be no Saint Arnold and I’d have to go get a real job. Ugh!