21 Feb 4J Brewing Company Brewery Visitors Guide
4J Brewing Company
“He has done so much for so long with so little that he can do anything with little.” – 4J’s mindset when it comes starting their own small business
Everybody’s welcome to the 4J family
What You Need to Know Before You Visit 4J Brewing Company
Price: $5 gets you a year round 16oz pour. Specialty pours are $6-$7. $20 you can get 4 year round 16oz pours and get a pint glass to take home. ($4 beers until 7pm on Fridays)
Food: Feel free to bring your own snacks or order delivery. They’ll have food trucks on site every Saturday. Check their Facebook page for more information. No outside food if a food truck is on site.
Most Popular Beer: 4J Stout
Kids/Pets: Kids and Dogs are welcome!
AC: Not yet 🙁 mainly an outside brewery!
Bathrooms: Indoor bathrooms
Parking: Parking is available on the Blalock side of the complex, limited spots in front of the 4J office (under the green awnings) and street parking on Cedar Post. We do encourage responsible drinking so please lyft/taxi, bike or walk if you plan on drinking. For new lyft users, use code “4JBREWCO” for $5 off 3 rides.
Hours: Friday 3-10PM ($4 Beers until 7pm) Saturday 12pm-10pm
(IPA / Blonde / Pale Ale / Amber / Stout )
The 4J Brewing Company: Intro
4J Brewing Company is helping to bring craft beer to an area of Houston that was previously pretty far behind. It started with The Branch opening, then 4J Brewing Company, and now Cobble and Spoke has opened to give Spring Branch a legit bar/brewery hopping destination.
These folks truly pride themselves on brewing gateway beers that are approachable and easy drinking. Their beers are crisp, clean, and true to style without apology. They have a great patio and plenty of space for games like Cornhole and washers too, so if you pull up one day when we’re there, get ready to looooose.
4J isn’t trying to fit in and do what everyone else is doing. They’re making the beer they want to drink. In fact, they’re still using some of the same home brew recipes they’ve been using for years – minus the IPA. That’s a new recipe because they never home brewed an IPA. Weird, right? Whatever. It’s good.
4J Brewing Company: Family
They got the name 4J Brewing Company from the name of the family’s ranch. They named the ranch “4J” because the 4 daughters names all start with *drumroll….*
J! Crazy, right? That’s Jessica, Jackie, Joanna, and Jennifer for those keeping track at home. Jennifer explained that her dad, Larry, literally numbered the girls to help make his job as dad easier to identify them. He still refers to them by number. When catching up with friends and family, you might hear him say, “Oh #1 is doing this and that. #2 is still workin’ at so and so.” Hah! As a team full of (mostly) dads, we can’t help but think that’s amazing!
Jennifer said, “I knew almost immediately that 4J Brewing Company was the perfect name for our new brewery.” Chris asked what some of the other choices might have been and she drew a blank, couldn’t even name one. The family, specifically the 4 sisters, have a special bond.
Speaking of the 4 sisters, 4J Brewing Company is 100% female owned. Jennifer and her mom are the owners, but the whole family is apart of this brewery! Jennifer’s dad, who is quoted at the very top, is known as the Swiss Army knife of the brewery because he can do just about anything! From simple wood work with their flight paddles to building the whole brewhouse, Mr. Larry knows his way around a shop. He built their furniture using the pallets the brewhouse arrived in, and when he was done building everything, he busted out his plumbing and electrician chops to pipe it all up and then make it all work. Yup, Swiss Army knife sounds about right.
Jennifer’s sisters are also very much involved when they can help in the taproom. It’s the definition of a family operation.
(4J Brew House, notice the tanks are named after family dogs!)
4J Brewing Company: Getting Started
When we talked with Jennifer she mentioned the moment the tanks first showed up to the brewery. “They showed up at night so despite being really excited, everyone came to the conclusion, ‘let’s just get them here. We’ll work on ’em tomorrow…'”
Laughing, she continued, “We ended up staring at them for 6 whole months!” 4J was still waiting on TABC and permits, so they were in no real rush. “Its like putting a car together,” Jennifer mentioned multiple times, “One piece at a time.” One piece at a time is how they built it, and they should all be proud – especially dad!
Her dad, Mr. Larry the Swiss Army knife, was a Busch drinker originally. He started Home Brewing to make a beer he liked, cheaper and stronger, while he was in the Navy. Fast forward to Jennifer while she was in college at Alabama, and she always looked forward to coming home to help her dad, “Make some and drink some! We drank more than we made.” Jennifer joked.
(PSSST! I asked how someone how grew up in Spring Branch ended up going to Bama, and she had a scholarship to play college basketball. So come get dunked on by Jennifer after we whoop you in washers.)
“Why Spring Branch?” We asked Jennifer, and she told us about how they grew up here. The family has been in this area for over 100 years… No joke.
They’ve been doing fundraisers and school supply drives for the community long before the brewery. Jennifer stressed the point heavily, “We have our platform to do good within our community, and we need to do our part.”
Man, if you cant support a brewery that puts the community on their back like that, hit the back button now. Bye. 4J represents exactly why we love craft beer: It’s all about creativity and ingenuity bringing folks together, and the end result is bigger than itself. It’s more than just beer. The beer’s only a vehicle. Places like 4J help communities grow and build together.
The infamous 4J Brewing Company Stout
4J Brewing Company: The Beer
4J Brewing Company took a different approach to naming their beer. Simple. They named the beers after the style. You can look forward to 4J IPA, Stout, Pecan Porter, Blonde, Pale Ale, Amber, and Root Beer in the tap room, but they plan to expand and send their kegs out to local accounts in the future.
Currently they brew on a ~2 bbl system. It’s not a fulll 2 bbl system. It’s actually a 1 1/2 bbl system, but who’s counting?
Jennifer is counting. She’s currently having to do double brew days which last anywhere from 12-14 hours. She starts at at 5am. Once she’s done with a hard day of brewing, almost all of the spent grain gets trucked back to the family farm.
As if 12-14 hour brew days every time aren’t good enough, one funny/crazy brew day story that Jennifer shared with us was about a stray cat.
Stay with us, here…
The cat found its way into the brewery one night, and when she showed up bright and early in the morning to start a long brew day, boom the cat scared her (almost) out of her brewing boots! “Not sure who was more scared, the cat or me!” Jennifer chuckled. Other than that they’ve had their fair share of learning moments going from home brew to commercial, but after a few burns and dumped batches, they have things dialed in at 4J now!
1J, 2J, gray J, Blue J. 3J, 4J, Me J, more J?
4J Brewing: Advice to home brewers
Jennifer was lucky enough to have a chance to learn the ropes with Galveston Island Brewing. She helped them out on a brew day before she officially began brewing on her own. We asked about the hardest transition from home brew to commercial brewing and she said that there is a huuuge learning curve. If you’re really thinking about making the jump and opening your own brewery Jennifer says you should “double whatever cost you think its going to be and also double the time you think it will take you to open up.” This sounds oddly familiar. Seth from Copperhead said it, and Andy from Walking Stick echoed it. Don’t be discouraged by these sentiments, though. Jennifer thinks you should try it!
Big things come in small packages, and this family puts that to phrase to work with this tiny tapwall of true-to-style bangers
4J Brewing: The Future
The ladies over at 4J are livin’ the country life: Takin’ it one day at a time, doing what they do best, and making the most of what they got – each other. Their short history as a brewery will have the 4J sisters supporting Spring Branch for years.
Be sure to check out their 1 year anniversary party March 23rd 12-10. And as always, thanks for reading and sharing all this stuff with your friends. The breweries seem to really appreciate it, and we’re just honored to play a small part of it.
Until next time, beers to you, Houston!