On Friday, 1/10/14, after six days in the Austin area and surrounding hill country, we headed south and stopped by New Braunfels Brewing Company (NBBCo), located one block off of the downtown square. The brewery was founded in 2011 by husband and wife team, Kelly and Lindsey Meyer, who had much success with running several locations of Anytime Fitness and decided to endeavor a new challenge. The company’s name is actually a resurrection of a brewery that was operating in the city until it was shut down during prohibition after a 1925 raid by the authorities. Originally operating under a manufacturer’s license as a 2 bbl nano-brewery, NBBCo recently upgraded to a more efficient, Slovenia made 15 bbl brew house and re-licensed as a brew-pub effective October 21, 2012 so that they could sell growlers and bottles to go from their tap room. For those of you out of state who are unfamiliar with Texas law, we have strict rules separating a production brewery and a brewpub. I won’t bore you with the details but thankfully TX made some amazing progress in the 2013 legislative session, however, there is still much more to be done in leveling the playing field.
We were pleased to speak with Kelly and Lindsey about their business and also had a delightful time chatting with their two employees, Rob and Willie B, as well as the local patrons who filled the tap room for the launch of the brewery’s latest sour offering, Spread Eagle.
New Braunfels Brewing Company is incredibly unique in that they have chosen to make all of their beers with precisely 85% wheat malt. Kelly remarked, “it makes it challenging but it also makes it more fun.” The reason for this approach is that long term they would like to have an estate where they can grow their own grains and source locally available materials; Wheat grows well in Comal County. Kelly elaborated that the inspiration came from the German breweries that are incredibly regional. Due to the high wheat concentration, they utilize a step infusion mashing technique in order to allow enzymes to adequately break down the proteins and extract the desired sugars more efficiently. House flavor is added by re-utilizing yeast that is cultured through Luft Weiss.
Each recipe is passionately crafted and, while German in influence, Kelly throws Reinheitsgebot and style guidelines to the wind. They have several elementally-inspired Weissbiers forming the staples as well as seasonals and, more recently, small batch sours. The brewery is working with two distributors to cover the San Antonio through Austin region and is currently in discussion with a third to incorporate the hill country west of New Braunfels.
Luft Weiss (sky) is a Texas style hefe, utilizing American Cascade hops. Kelly noted that it was a great seller during the summer and was available in 2 gallon kegs with plastic cups which could be taken to float the local rivers. Erde Weiss (earth) is a dunkel-style created with the idea of having a big imperial stout flavor in a 4.5% beer and is transformed into Wicked Fuel with addition of coffee. Feuer Weiss (fire) IPA utilizes spicy Saaz hops and even contains two dried ghost peppers in each batch which don’t add much heat but rather a touch of roastiness. Wasser Weiss (water) is a 3% Berliner Weiss style made with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves that is truly refreshing. Lindsey also told me about their ‘michelocal’ which pairs Fat e’s Spicy Mator mix with the ErdeWeiss or LuftWeiss.
Taproom hours are Thursday and Friday 5-8pm and tours are offered once per month on Saturday from 2-5pm. There is a 25 person limit which allows Kelly to provide a very detailed explanation of their brewing practices, showing tour-goers the exact hops and malts used in each beer so that they may gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the craft. Stop by the taproom and fill up a growler or stay and chat with the employees about their unique beers.
Thank you to the Meyers, Rob, and Willie B for their extensive kindness!
Author: Brandon Wurtz