With a Little Help from our Friends
By Carlos Cooper
By: Carlos Cooper Photos by: Rachel Benavides
There’s one thing most people can agree
on: sharing a beer can turn even the strangest of strangers into friends. Entire
social groups have developed around this popular libation. People meet to share
their favorite brews or connect with people across the country to share their
regional offerings. However, it’s only the beer connoisseurs that make
microbrewing special but the microbreweries themselves. They’re diverse,
eclectic, and they support one another in hopes that not just one, but all
microbreweries are successful.
What would the world look like if businesses cooperated with each other in attempt to grow their industry and help one another succeed, rather than drive each other out? Instead of fighting against each other and staking out territory only for themselves, microbreweries in the Coastal Bend have formed a community, which allows several breweries to thrive in the area. Each one adding a unique contribution to the city.
In today’s American craft beer landscape, microbreweries operate in a spirit of community and solidarity that is often unheard of in any other industry. They embody a spirit that capitalism has attempted to squash out of existence. This cooperative spirit has caused the craft beer craze to explode across the country and around the world. The same inter-business camaraderie can be witnessed in the microbreweries serving our Corpus Christi community.
Lazy Beach Brewing Co., located on Saratoga, provides an easily accessible spot for sharing a locally produced craft beer with friends. Rebel Toad Brewing Co. brings attitude to their brewing methods, while serving the greater downtown area with bold, in-your-face ales. With its large outdoor seating area, Flour Bluff’s Lorelei Brewing Co. provides a laid-back vibe while staying current with the latest brewing trends. Psi Brewing, located inside Garrett’s BBQ on Ayers, and brings the Haze for Daze, a unique approach of the Hazy (New England) IPA to the Coastal Bend. To round out the list, B&J’s Pizza and Railroad Brewing Co. are our local brewpubs. The rest of the microbrews can be found all over town and at local watering holes, and chains like TGI Fridays. While each brewery has its own vibe, niche, and energy, there is one thing that threads them all together: a love for beer and a community that supports one other.
All of the local microbreweries share a similar beginning. Typically, the brewmaster began home brewing and eventually decided to branch out. Cory Mathews, founder and brewer at Lazy Beach Brewing Co. said “It started as a hobby and we said, ‘Why not start a brewery?’ We started in a few bars around town and now we’re in about 50 different bars and restaurants.”
But Lazy Beach isn’t the only brewery experiencing success. Since opening, Lorelei, Rebel Toad, and Psi Brewing have all achieved great things. Lorelei expanded into canning and distributs to San Antonio. Rebel Toad increased their capacity, and Psi sells out of new brews almost instantly.
However, with all this growth and expansion, even the most knowledgeable and experienced of brewers need some help. Where there’s a problem there’s a solution. In a bold move that breaks with the norm of everything the local Corpus Christi entrepreneur community, the band of brewers created a Brewers Meet-Up. The group gets together monthly to discuss the latest beer trends and to share tips and tricks with one another.
“This is what everybody across the country does because, why do this alone? We should do this together, talk to each other about what works for everyone and grow as a community. We all jumped on it and have been doing the meet-ups for over a year now,” says Varian Criser, co-founder of Lorelei Brewing.
But it’s not purely altruistic; there are clear-cut benefits to more breweries popping up and supporting one another. In regards to other cities that have experienced a craft beer boom, Varian says, “Every city has seen that the more breweries that arrive, the better they all do. Most people don’t want to just sit at one brewery for the entire night, they want to go to several breweries.”
Corpus Christi is well on its way to being a thriving place for this kind of culture, with it’s 7th brewery, Nueces Brewing Co., opening up in 2019.
“We really want to focus on lagers and make beer that you can drink and #GoPlayOutside,” says Cale Moore, co-founder of Nueces Brewing Co. The focus behind this newest craft beer purveyor is to seamlessly fit into the community they’re a part of. Being right by the Bayfront, their brewing philosophy is centered on spending days outdoors and by the water. In regards to the sense of community in the craft beer scene, Cale says “Varian and everyone else doing what we aspire to do in Corpus have been very supportive and have helped us out along the way.”
A look at local microbrewery scene wouldn’t be complete without a special acknowledgment of B&J’s Pizza. Since the beginning, they have had a very dedicated following and a customer-base which is crazy for craft brews. Some customers have even logged thousands of unique beers, earning themselves a special spot on the wall at the original B&J’s location on SPID. B&J’s has been promoting the culture and knowledge of craft beer for years.
It looks like that spirit will continue to boom in South Texas over the next decade, as long as microbreweries continue to support each other in hopes that they will all succeed. “That’s the good thing about craft beer. Everyone has their own style, and there’s room for everyone to succeed,” says Hector Cavasos, co-founder and brewmaster of Rebel Toad Brewing Co.