After opening just a few days before Hurricane Harvey, Great Heights Brewing Company has become a neighborhood favorite after a year in business.
Co-founders Patrick Christian and Sean Bednarz are just two big beer nerds. After staying friends since fifth grade, they started working on the idea of opening a brewery in 2015. They opened in August 2017.
“We went on a camping trip, road trip together in Colorado in like the summer of 2015 and stopped at a bunch of breweries. We just started talking, like what if, is this something we could do, is it something we would want to do. When we got back we decided to devote some time and energy into research,” Christian said.
Bednarz had been homebrewing for quite some time and considered the idea of opening a brewery years before.
So, some of the leg work of research was already done.
Having grown up in the Oak Forest, Garden Oaks area, they knew they wanted to open in the area. They found the perfect place on Wakefield, smack in the middle of the neighborhood.
And when Hurricane Harvey hit, they were able to open the doors and provide a space that had internet and television for those who were without. Being able to be a center for activity during the days after Harvey endeared the brewery to the neighborhood. Christian and Bednarz were able to introduce their selves to the locals under unfortunate circumstances, but it showed that they were willing to be a good neighbor.
“We were open during that time because people were coming by knocking on our door because there was nothing to do. There was nowhere to go outside of the neighborhood,” Bednarz said, “We opened every day that we could, and people were coming over and happy to have a place to sit down and have a beer. I think everyone was going stir crazy at that point.”
While a couple of years ago there were breweries around Houston, the neighborhood centered brewery is becoming popular. This was the inspiration behind Great Heights Brewing. They wanted a brewery in the middle of a neighborhood that would be designed to specifically serve the area.
One of Great Heights Brewing’s most popular beers according to the locals is Fruiter Pellets.
“There’s a style called the New England IPA that’s popular in other parts of the country,” Bednarz said, “When we opened, we opened with a beer called Fruity Pellets, that was a New England IPA…Fruity Pellets grew into Fruiter Pellets, which is just a bigger, hoppier, more flavorful, and aromatic version of Fruity Pellets.”
For this beer there’s a larger dry hop schedule and higher alcohol content. The beer itself is very smooth, easy drinking for an IPA. It has a lot of fruit and citrus character, and unlike traditional IPAs, it doesn’t have the bitterness. That’s what makes it a beer for beer nerds and beer novices.
“It’s an approachable style. It’s an IPA by name,” Christian said, “but a lot of people who think they don’t like IPA, we’ll have them try it and they love it.”
Denali is another popular beer they have on tap. It’s more the flagship, traditional IPA. It’s dry, bitter and everything the Fruiter Pellets isn’t.
“The last couple of months we put some darker beers in aging barrels,” Bedbarz said, “so down the road when they’ve aged a little bit, we’ll release some barrel-aged stuff.”
By using the barrels to age the beer it adds a woody, earthy, and bourbon character to the beer. It also adds a little to the alcohol volume.
Next month on November 17, Great Heights Brewing is throwing their first anniversary party. They’ll have live music, new beer launches, and free entry. For now, check out their eleven beers on tap at 938 Wakefield Dr.