Yesterday I attended a St. Arnold’s Brewery weekly tour at their single brewery here in Houston. Having recently turned 21, I had never before attended a brewery tour, but from descriptions I had heard from friends, I expected there to be some sort of planned, linear tour. I also expected a turnout of ~50 people. You can perhaps imagine my surprise when we showed up for the tour (almost late, due to unexpected traffic conditions) and found an enormous line out the door. Once our ID’s were checked and our admission money collected, they stamped “BEER ME” on our hands and gave us a half-pint St. Arnold’s Glass and four St. Arnold’s poker chips which were exchangeable for fill-ups of the beverage of your choosing. Being St. Arnold’s Brewery tour newbs, we soon discovered that most people (presumably regulars or at least better informed) brought their own full sized, St. Arnold’s labeled glasses in order to maximize the amount of beer they received for their $5 admission.
Once we were inside, we wondered where we should line up for the tour, until we realized this was the tour. The entire brewery was one moderately sized warehouse, with ~20 metal vats of varying sizes and a small area partitioned off as office space. There were ~10 full sized picnic tables, but this not nearly enough to seat the ~500 people (rough, unscientific estimate) that were present at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon at this relatively obscure brewery. The informative part of the tour was apparently this one guy, standing on a raised platform with an underpowered microphone rambling about the history of American beer. It was like a politician giving a stump speech that nobody cared about. Eventually, he either finished his speech or gave up.
After they had jammed as many people into the brewery as they possibly could, the taps were opened and long but swiftly moving lines formed. I managed to try all five beers they had on tap. In this order, they were: Lawnmower, Texas wheat, Amber, Brown, and IPA. They were all excellent, by far the freshest beer I had ever tasted. I can’t stress this enough: They were absolutely freaking delicious.
In between standing in line for beers, the crowd just hung around and chatted. Some played games they had brought, while others made it into a picnic lunch and ate all kinds of food. The crowd was generally young, but not exclusively so. It was, however, almost entirely white, and generally yuppie. The atmosphere was extremely chill… certainly not some sort of warehouse rave, despite the surroundings. It was really just a bunch of people hanging out, drinking great beer. As I mentioned before, it was clear that most people had ‘taken the tour’ quite a few times in the past.
It was a great time, and I’m planning on ‘taking the tour’ again myself before I leave Houston. Check out the ~2 min video below for a walk through of the whole brewery.