Fort Bend Brewing Company continues to grow
By Christina Martinez
With the craft beer phenomenon growing everyday, Bigger. Bolder. Texas Brewed. – is the spirited anthem Fort Bend Brewing Co. has embodied to take their stance in the beer marvel.
Fort Bend Brewery is the first craft brewery in Fort Bend County, located at 13370 South Gessner Road in Missouri City and started rolling out the kegs in 2012. The brewery is family owned by Sharon and Ty Coburn. Before opening in 2012, the Coburns always dreamed of having a business to run together.
“We wanted to build a business together,” Sharon Coburn said. “When we got married, we were like the Brady Bunch. We both had children before marrying and then came together as a big family. Now Fort Bend Brewing Co. is like our baby together. This brewery is something we built together and we want to keep building and improving.”
The brewery is open on Saturdays for tours from noon to 3 p.m. and now will be showing college football in the brewery. Fort Bend Brewing Co. isn’t Saint Arnold’s, but a family brewery that is working hard to make a name for their craft and having a lot of fun while doing it. For more information, visit their website at http://www.fortbendbrewing.com.
The brewery gives the meaning to family-owned with a small staff of six, including the married owners. “All of our beer is truly handcrafted in-house,” the Fort Bend Brewing Co. website reads, “Each bag of grain hoisted manually and every bottle and keg handled by our two brewers on staff. We believe having a small staff allows our beer to be truly authentic and a reflection of Fort Bend Brewing as a company with each member of our staff to have a hand in its creation.”
The Fort Bend Brewing Co. took a hard set-back when they initially opened. The previous brew master brewed a yeast-infected batch and put out some bad beer. Since then, the Coburns have hired a new brew master and proudly put his face to the company name – Carl Norberg.
Before joining Fort Bend Brewing in 2013, Norberg was home brewing for a number of years building his own electronic brew system and spent a short time brewing in a co-op brewpub. Norberg has always had a creative side, with previously taking the professional musician route and went to college for a degree in English. Norberg has also always had a technology niche and says once he started home brewing he couldn’t stop. “I started here over a year ago as the assistant brewer,” Norberg continues, “I came over as one of the first volunteers, before we originally opened up. I saw that there was a brewery opening up in my backyard and said “sure I’m going to volunteer.” I saw the posting for an assistant brewer and thought it was great and said “too bad I’m not qualified.”
Turns out Norberg was qualified for the job, and continues to make contributions for the future. The co-op brewpub Norberg had spent previous time at is where he met his new assistant brew master, Jonny Niess.
“Brewery Incubator is where I met Jonny,” Norberg said. “The Brewery Incubator is a space in down town Houston where you get to be your own entity and we would brew our own beer. I called it the semi-pros of brewing. When we needed another brewer, the timing was perfect and I brought it up to Jonny and he accepted.”
With new hands and new minds on deck, the wheels have been turning at the Fort Bend Brewery. Four initial beers were created before Norberg and Niess and although they enjoy the original beers, they believe change will bring new prosperity to the brewery. “The previous brew master had a lot of experience with English beers and English bases,” Norberg said. “I think we have benefitted from some changes in flavor profile that are appealing to the American craft beer crowd.
Twenty years ago, the English beers were popular, but now the American style is leading the front. We hit a shift somewhere, where we stopped importing a lot of beer and instead are exporting a lot of it. We are trying to follow that trend because that’s what we like to drink, as well.”
With Fort Bend Brewing Co. just minutes outside of Houston, and continuous growth in the craft beer business, could the Fort Bend Brewery become a tourist attraction like Saint Arnold is in Houston?
“I think when we first opened up there were seven breweries in Houston and now there are 13, Sharon Coburn said. “It has become a very competitive field. It’s not about being a tourist attraction or a becoming a big brewery. Saint Arnold is the godfather because he’s been in business for 20 years. They are huge because they have the time and experience.”
Business for the brewery has seen an increase, and Super Saturday tour numbers have increased. The Coburns have set a goal to expand in the near future and to find a venue that offers more entertainment options.
“We would like an area that has a separate tasting room that would allow us to be open several times a week,” Sharon Coburn said. “We are looking for properties to possibly work where we have a warehouse area and a tasting area. So it would be more of a destination place – a place where people can come and just hang out with us.”
The Fort Bend Brewery aspires to Saint Arnold and other large Houston breweries, but all hands on staff agree that their businesses aren’t comparable right now. For now, the Fort Bend staff is focusing on adding new lineups of beers and perfecting what they do well to bring local faces into the brewery and getting those locals to ask for their beer by name.
The brewery has a few events coming up where they will introduce two of their newest family members, Phad DJ IPA and Primer Pale Ale. The two beers have already been added to the Fort Bend lineup, but will be featured in October at the Big Brew Craft Beer Festival in Houston.
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