• 12 Armadillos

11 Below Brewing Company

Today we are spotlighting a new microbrewery that will soon be opening in Houston, Texas.  11 Below Brewing Company will be located near the Cypress, Texas area.  We wanted to blog about 11 Below because we know one of the owners and are excited to share their information! Corrin’s husband, Dave, went to the University of Texas with one of the owners (Bryce Barker) and his wife Rosa. We asked Bryce to answer questions we have about the company. We want to support small businesses, so please go and like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter!

Who are the owners?  What are your backgrounds?

11 Below has 3 co-founders; Brandon Moss, Bryce Baker and Jeff Handojo in addition to hiring a professional head brewer named Keenan Zarling.  The 3 co-founders have backgrounds in oilfield services engineering and computer science – basically nothing to do with beer.  Keenan has a background in theater but also went to school for a formal education in brewing.

Why did you guys want to open a brewery? (What is your story?)

We’ve been brewing at home for the past 10ish years and just fell in love with creating our own recipes and playing with different brewing processes.  It’s very much an art and science so you can be creative and experiment, but you have to respect the processes to make sure you don’t make a big batch of gross.  Been there and done that many times.

Our “aha” moment was when we visited Karbach a few months after they opened about 3-4 years ago.  It was still small and we could make sense of how everything worked.  Of course, we had a few beers to drink and said, “We can do this!”  It took some time to convince the wives, but once we had the idea in our head, we couldn’t stop researching and planning.  It’s been a long 3 year process, but it’s finally all coming together.

Where is it located? 

Our brewery is located near Willowbrook mall about 1 mile south of 1960 off of Cutten Rd.  The address is 6820 Bourgeois Rd. Houston, TX 77066

Why the location choice?  Why Cypress?

In addition to the 4 of us living in the area for several years, the Spring/Cypress area is where Jeff was born and raised.  Jeff and Brandon also both attended Cy-Fair High School.  It also doesn’t hurt that nearest brewery (Karbach) for the area was a good 15 miles away.

When will it be open?

The million dollar question!  The vague answer is, “when the beer’s ready”, but we’re really pushing to have our first product out in the market by the end of March.  

What will the hours be?

After we get all 3 of our core beers out into the market, we’ll begin having tasting room hours on Saturday afternoons (hours are still TBD).  This will give folks a chance to come see the place, meet and greet the employees and most importantly, try some beer.

Will you offer brewery tours with samples or is it more of a sit down brewery?

We’re in a 10,600 sqft warehouse that’s basically one giant space.  We have a bar and some picnic tables to make it a little friendlier for folks to come relax.  We’ll have guided tours a few times each afternoon to give people the chance to see what we do and interact with brewers.  We’re hoping to make it pretty laid back and fun.

Will you guys serve food as well (snacks) or just beer?

We’ve been coordinating with a few food trucks to come serve their tasty treats at our Saturday events.  We’ll try to rotate through a handful to get some variety.

What makes your brewery different from the may craft breweries that have opened up around town?

All of our beers take fairly normal beers styles that are tweaked a little to give them more character and depth.  For example, we added rye malt to our amber ale to give it a subtle spiciness and add a good dose of citrusy hops toward the end of the brew.  We’re trying to make our beers a little more fun and interesting while being extremely refreshing for the hot/humid climate of Houston.   

Can your place be booked for events?

The brewery will be available for private events once we’re running smooth and have all the logistics worked out.

Will it be family friendly?

We’re striving to keep the brewery as family friendly as possible.  Keep in mind that it is production brewery that has inherently unsafe things for small children.  We constantly have to remind our own children to stay away from equipment and storage racks.

Where in the community will people be able to purchase your beer?

Our intent is to have our beer on tap at a variety of the restaurants and bars in the local community.  At the end of the day, it will rely on quality beer that the consumer enjoys to keep it on tap at your favorite watering hole.  We encourage folks to let the bar managers and restaurant owners know that we’re coming to market and let us know where the demand is for our beer.

What obstacles have you come across in this endeavor?

Oh the obstacles.  We could probably go on and on about the challenges of starting a brewery.  Rather than be a negative Nancy, I’d like to think that we’ve been pretty fortunate in our start-up phase.  Total build-out time will be about 5 months and it isn’t uncommon for it to take 9-12 months.  Being engineers, we want everything to go perfectly, but realize it isn’t feasible.  We’ve partnered with some awesome contractors and vendors that have been crucial to getting us open.  We’ve had our fair share of delays, but it’s a learning process and minor speed bump at best.

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon, you wake up and there are a few breweries that are about the same distance from my house.  You choose to go to 11 Below Brewing because……..

You’re going to get high quality beer, in a fun environment with good friends.  We’ll also regularly have test batches of beer that are only available at the brewery tasting room.  We have several additional beers that will launch later down the road and we’ll feature them at the brewery.  Public feedback will drive which beers come to market first.  As a side note, we also have nice bathrooms.

Would you be willing to visit very social communities (Example: Towne Lake) to offer beer tastings?

We might be able to swing something like that, but laws are pretty strict about serving alcohol outside of your licensed facility.  We’d have to do some digging to make sure we stay within the law.

Is there anything the extra you would like to tell us?

When we first launch, our products will only be available on draft.  We know that not everyone can scour the city to find our beer on tap.  We’ll keep our fans up-to-date with where to get our beers on Facebook, Twitter and our website.  In addition, we’re targeting to launch our beers in cans around football season.  We want people to be able to take our beer with them tailgating, fishing, golfing or to the beach.

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