Kristen Schapson had been a regular visitor to 5301 Nolda St., where Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. began crafting beer in 2011 and served it to the public three days per week.
The Heights resident enjoyed an elevated experience for her birthday Monday night, and not just because she was sipping suds on a rooftop with her husband and three friends.
One of Houston’s most popular craft breweries built a three-story, 28,000 square feet “Brewtopia” at 2101 Summer St. in Sawyer Yards, where Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. reopened Nov. 1. The signature feature is a rooftop bar and patio on the third floor, where there is a view of Downtown Houston that resembles the brewery’s longtime logo.
“This is awesome,” Schapson said. “We go to Karbach and Saint Arnold and those places. This feels like they’re coming into the game, like they’re here to show up and be part of that brewery scene.”
Damien Franco, a Shepherd Forest resident and the marketing manager for Buffalo Bayou Brewing, said the move was multiple years in the making and will allow the company to meet demand by brewing four to five times as much beer as it did before. The brewery has nine beers that it makes year-round – including the Crush City IPA, 1836 red ale, Wake ‘N Bake coffee blonde ale and Great White Buffalo witbier – along with nearly 40 seasonal offerings.
Buffalo Bayou’s massive storage tanks are visible to visitors as part of what Franco calls an “immersive experience.” Customers are greeted by a bar and row of taps upon entering on the first level, which will include indoor seating as well as a dog patio by the end of this month.
On the second story is another bar with taps as well as a restaurant led by Chef Arash Kharat, whose offerings include pizzas made with dough that ferments for three days. Buffalo Bayou was limited to having food trucks at its original location.
Franco said the brewery also has enlisted Houston artist Voltaire to paint a custom mural for the building.
“We consider ourselves Houston’s most creative brewery,” Franco said. “Attaching ourselves at the hip to the Sawyer Yards area with all these artists was sort of a no-brainer.”
New Magnolia coming soon
While one area craft brewer is expanding, another is about to get off the ground.
New Magnolia Brewing Co. plans to open to the public Nov. 22 at 1616 Bevis St. in Shady Acres. The brewpub started as a joint venture between Shayn Robinson and his father-in-law, John Ferguson, and two months ago they enlisted another beer maker with an impressive pedigree.
Sean Spiller, a Houston-area native who previously worked for Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. and 8th Wonder Brewery, most recently was the senior brewer at Jester King in Austin. Jester King has a reputation as one of the best breweries in Texas.
“When Sean came back to Houston and accepted the offer here, it made a pretty big splash locally,” Robinson said. “We needed somebody who had great industry experience, and we needed to kind of energize the whole process.”
New Magnolia plans to offer 10-12 beers from the start, including an ESB, hazy IPA, hefeweizen, kolsch, pale ale, pilsner, porter, stout and a Grodziskie, which is an oak-smoked wheat beer. Through Dec. 31, it will be open from 4-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from noon-10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Spiller said the brewery wants to provide a communal atmosphere, similar to what he experienced in Austin. Robinson said it will be kid-friendly and pet-friendly with spacious seating inside and on both the front and back patios.
“Being able to provide something for the neighborhood here is really what we’re after,” Spiller said. “We’re interested in making small quantities and high-quality beer for our immediate area.”