Over on Karbach Street, the Houston brewery has more brewing than just beer. The Karbach Brewing team has added an Oak Forest resident to the team as executive chef, given permanent residency to bacon and cheese on their classic burger, and have taken a few awards home on stand-by beers.
With the recent closing of Foreign Correspondents – a regional Thai restaurant in the Heights – left Oak Forest resident and chef P.J. Stoops looking for his next move. Joining just over a month with the brewery, Karbach Brewing said they were excited to bring on Stoops as executive chef, further improving their brand.
“It was an opportunity to grab somebody, who we really admire his style of cooking, and the quality of the final product that he brings to the table,” brand manager David Graham said. “He’s an awesome guy, super nice guy. We’re not looking to radically change what we’re doing here at the [restaurant], but always, and keep, getting better. We had that desire with our beers, we always want to get better, and want to keep that same kind of thinking behind our food, too.”
Before stopping at Foreign Correspondents and Karbach Brewing, Stoops could be found spreading his knowledge as a fishmonger for many years. Before that, he worked in Thailand for a little over three years; France for a couple of years; Austin restaurants for several years. Stoops said that’s going back twenty years.
From all of his stints, Stoops said there are three things he can confidently claim to say he knows – Thai food, French food and Fish. All things he plans to infuse into the Karbach menu, all “to an eye of simplicity.”
For what’s been the best start to the job, Stoops, a novice beer drinker, credits trying just about everything that’s on tap at the brewery and expanding his knowledge on the brew process, and how to pair these different flavors with what’s he’s curated in the kitchen. As for his favorite beer, Stoops was a bit shy with his response.
“I almost hate to say it, but I’m a sucker for anything that’s lemon flavored and soda-y, but I love The Raddler. I’ve never been a big heavy beer drinker, and it’s refreshing. So I admit it.”
The circle of life is something that can be seen over at Karbach Brewing, Graham said. Listed on the menu is Wagyu beef from R-C Ranch in Angleton, just 38 miles south of Houston. The Karbach spent grain, the leftover grain from the brew process, is what the R-C Ranch wagyu cattle feed on, and that beef eventually comes back to the brewery for menu features like the classic burger and the steak. The spent grain can also be found on the dessert menu and even within the pizza dough for their pizza pies.
Karbach’s classic burger has a new addition that’s given bacon and cheese a permanent residency. The burger will relatively remain the same, but the only change will be their mindset – all classic burgers will come with bacon and cheese, unless requested otherwise. For the cooking of the burger, nothing over a medium level is suggested so the juice can retain in the burger.
When it comes to picking a beer to pair with this classic, Graham has a few suggestions.
“The beer pairing for this burger depends on the person,” Graham said. “I think with the strong flavors of the beef, cheese and the bacon, the best pairing is our Hopadillo IPA. But there’s two theories to a pairing: you can balance intensity or contrast and go lighter, maybe with a Love Street, or a Staycation for a happy medium.”
On any given Wednesday, you can pop over to the brewery to find something on the grill, and blues acts playing live as a part of Karbach’s Love Street Blues series.
“The Love Street Blues series is 6 – 9 p.m. every Wednesday,” Graham said. “It is absolutely free to attend, no cover, and we work in partnership with the Houston Blues Society. They bring us the acts, and it’s a different musician every week. We have Annika Chambers coming up later this month, she’s awesome if you’ve never seen her live.”
As to what’s on the grill Wednesday nights, the menu rotates every week and what Stoops has on hand. Regardless, Stoops said it is a wonderful thing for people to be outside listening to great music, drinking great beer and he’s guaranteeing a sweet smell of savory barbecue or something tastey on the grill.
And while the brewery already purchases gulf fish, the brewery said they are excited to bring in someone that is well seasoned in that department.
As for what’s new with Karbach brews, summer refreshers are what’s at the forefront.
“In the tanks right now is our KR&D series – it’s a rotating draft-only series right now – for the middle of summer we have a Gose – a nice light, wheat beer,” Graham said. “What makes a Gose interesting, if you’ve never tried one, it has a tartness to it and a saltiness – there’s actually some sea salt that actually goes into the brewing of that beer. Makes it a really nice summer refresher.”
Something that has already rolled out is The Raddler, a golden ale blended with a lemon-ginger soda that Karbach is making in-house. A beer Graham said is great for the beer garden when it is sweltering hot. Additionally, you can find the Big and Bright IPA around town, which Karbach is tag lining as “an IPA brewed with grapefruit” – noting the grapefruit as a subtle addition and not an explanation point.
Along with summer additions, the brewery just recently took home some hardware in the North American Beer Awards: Gold for Love Street; Silver for Rodeo Clown; Bronze for Weisse Versa and the KR&D English Barleywine.
The Houston brewery has a few new additions just in time for Father’s Day, rolling out a special pre-fixed menu for Dad, or even those just looking to drink a Karbach brew and try Stoop’s flavoring on the Karbach menu.