Beer has always had a way of bringing people together. Now, local breweries have become the hub of community gatherings and information. From events to engage the public to giving back through fundraising, breweries are helping the neighborhood one beer at a time.
Having a beer with buddies after a long day of work is what many people look forward to. There’s a camaraderie that’s created, especially when it’s over fresh, locally brewed beer.
“I think beer and community go together, that’s sort of a lot about what beer is,” said Casey Motes of Eureka Heights Brew Co, 941 W. 18th St.
With one of the first buildings in the U.S. was public house, Motes joked that the founding families built a church then realized they needed a pub.
“I think there’s always been some of that [community] around beer especially. When you get together a lot of Texas brewery traditions, [you see] big open houses on Saturdays where everyone floods in and you’re all crammed next to each other trying some local beer,” said Motes.
Some of the excitement behind breweries and local beer is that the beer lover can see where and how the beer is made. Eureka is at home in a large, open warehouse, giving any customer the opportunity to see the machines they use while sipping on a beer that was made from them.
Supporting local business is another big part of why local breweries are becoming so popular. Aside from great quality beer, the money being put in is going toward the local economy.
And in general, beer has a lower alcohol level compared to other alcohols, making it more approachable to the consumer.
“We really wanted to focus on lower alcohol, accessible beers because that’s what we like to drink. We like to sit and have a couple pints after work and you can still be productive after,” said Motes, “So, we really wanted to bring that part of the community of getting together, and just kind of hanging out over a pint and talking.”
“The social aspect of beer is what makes it fun, and so keeping that in mind and making these lower alcohol, but still really flavorful, really interesting beers,” said Motes, “We try to keep in mind what the community around us really wants and what are they going to drink. It usually lines up with what we are because most of our staff live in this area.”
They reach out into the community to get involved as well by hosting events with other local organizations, creating a dynamic space of locals supporting locals. Just last week the Arboretum joined Eureka for a trivia night and part of the proceeds went to the Arboretum, and they also were able to set up and talk about what they were doing.
A favorite for Motes to partner up with is the roller derby.
“They’re all about this big community as well and it’s just this unique, fun thing for people to go watch,” said Motes, “So, they wanted to partner up and do some fundraisers [at Eureka], and we were a part of their art car in the art car parade.”
After being blown away by the response to their first food truck festival, Eureka will be hosting their second food truck festival in a few weeks. They’ve made sure that each truck has something to offer that’s under five dollars.
Town in City Brewing Company, 1125 W. Cavalcade St., also finds ways to be a central station in the neighborhood.
“For us, we’re a little special. We have five historic neighborhoods surrounding us, and so particularly for us we always try to be active in each of the neighborhood civic associations,” said Justin Engle of Town in City.
Breweries and pubs have been seen as central to the community in other parts of the US and world. They were the first ones to have information and posters of other things going in the neighborhood.
“In Houston it’s starting to come along that the breweries have become neighborhood information center, or neighborhood gathering centers,” said Engle.
This push towards breweries becoming a staple in community togetherness is propelled by more and more breweries opening. Just a few years ago it would be possible to count breweries inside the loop on one hand, now you need a few.
“Houston’s been more focused toward local, which you don’t typically see in big cities, and so it really makes Houston feel like a close-knit neighborhood, even though it takes an hour to drive across the city with no traffic,” said Engle.
When visitors from the suburbs venture into town to visit the brewery, locals will quickly take them under their wing and tell them all the cool local spots they must try. Town in City even keeps paper behind the bar because locals frequently draw a map of the neighborhood with all the must see or taste stops.
“Having that local knowledge, people willing to talk to strangers is kind of cool. And I think it really shows that breweries are becoming the neighborhood centers,” said Engle, “and it helps disseminate information out.”
Breweries are also family friendly, creating a space where anyone can feel comfortable. It also means their reach is wider, which adds to the flow of neighborhood information and community.