20 Jun 8th Wonder Brewery Visitors Guide
8th Wonder Brewery
Known for being Houston’s most Houston brewery, even though they’d never say that themselvesbos
(8th Wonder Brewery Rocket Fuel)
What You Need to Know Before You Visit 8th Wonder Brewery
Price: $15 gets you 3 beer tokens + 16oz 8th Wonder souvenir glass
$12 gets you 3 beer tokens + 12oz plastic cup -OR- Bring Your Own 8W glass
$5 gets you 1 beer token + 12oz plastic cup
Growlers: Can’t fill them on-site
Food: Eatsie Boys food truck fries, sandwiches, burgers with punny names. All good stuff. Heads up, those fries are defffinitely shareable. Other food trucks rotate for bigger events as well.
Most Popular Beer: Dome Faux’m all day
Kids/Pets: Dogs are allowed out back in WonderWorld (our outdoor beer garden and fun zone). Your four-legged friends must remain on a leash at all times.
Bathrooms: Small for the size of the venue, so sometimes there’s a line reminiscent of Minute Maid or NRG
Parking: Couple dozen parking spaces right out front, so get there
early first if you want VIP parking. Also, a bunch of parking around the side of the brewery on Dallas. It’s a high traffic brewery, and thieves are well-aware, so bring in your valuables and you won’t have any issues. But the same is true pretty much anywhere in Houston.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 11a-10p
(Taproom at 8th Wonder Brewery just before closing time *Semisonic starts playing*)
The 8th Wonder Brewery Intro
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it. We’d rather be honest than be popular. 8th Wonder is not the spot for the hazebois or you Moby Dicks out here chasing the whalezzzz, bro. (Yet?)
It is the spot, however, if you’re looking for a place to grab a few beers before/after (or even during) a game. Good beer, good food, grrreat atmosphere, and within walking distance from Minute Maid, BBVA Compass and Toyota Center – that’s my kinda spot.
Do they have the best beer in town according to the beer geeks? No… Unless we’re talking Cream Ales. Is it the best brewery to kick it for an afternoon with your friends that are still figuring out what they like? Easily top 3 in Houston.
(Covered seating outside, behind 8th Wonder Brewery – made from shipping containers.)
The 8th Wonder Brewery Experience
It was a frigid cold evening when we pulled up. We’d all been there dozens of times, so we knew exactly what to expect for parking. We just had to try and spot Jose in the crowd. (Mind you, this interview happened in February 2018, but we had to put the blog on hold for a few personal reasons. Now it’s hotter-n-hot out, we’re getting back to it, and we’re grateful 8th Wonder has AC!)
Jose met Chris, Hannah and Tony at one of those tiny pub tables. We exchanged pleasantries, talked about the weather, you know – the usual stuff. Then we grabbed a bench in the private seating area behind the tap wall and dug into the questions.
We drank a few beers, joked, reminisced over each of our Harvey stories and took a quick tour behind the scenes. All in all, it was a lot of fun.
If you’re coming on a game day, whether it’s to pre-game or to stay for the game, expect quite a bit of foot traffic at the brewery. It’s a pretty big spot, and ever-growing, so it doesn’t feel crammed. The lines for beer get a little bit long, but they’re much quicker than they appear, and the worthwhile wait for food from the Eatsie Boys truck is on par with the wait time for any food truck.
The taproom now has AC and heating, so on a cold night like this one, you won’t be freezing your butt off, risking a chipped tooth because your hands are shivering and pint glasses are the real deal. *Dink!*
(Wonderworld – 8th Wonder Brewery’s back yard.)
Jose’s an account rep, but he’s been along for the ride with 8th Wonder for quite a while. He started off volunteering back when 8th Wonder first opened. That grew into repping at tap nights then full time.
His love for craft beer grew along with his role at the brewery. His interest is more about the beer industry than in drinking and nerding out about beer itself. He loves Astroturf, and he told us how cool he felt ordering a Live Oak for the first time back when he was first dipping his toes into craft beer. He describes the beer industry in Houston as so new and mostly positive, “It’s a very honest, truthful group of supportive people.”
As the beer flowed, so did the questions. One of the coolest stories Jose shared with us was how Bun B, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall all got their own beers at 8th Wonder!
Brew GK started it all. Bun’s a foodie and loved Eatsie Boys. Him and Ryan Soroka (One of the owners) started chatting one day, and Ryan, never one to waste an opportunity said, “We should make you a beer. We’ll call it Brew GK.”
Ryan wasn’t able to make it to the original interview, but he explained in a follow-up, “Bun B originally asked if we made cider, and that evolved into BrewGK Apple Kolsch. It took us about 2 years to tweak the recipe and dial it in where we wanted it. There were a whole lot of variations; different base beers; different ways of incorporating apple. In the end, the result is a clean Kolsch style beer brewed with just the right amount of apple juice.”
Just like that it was done. The H-Town Hip Hop series was born.
Then Slim Thug was at Max’s Wine Dive one night, and Robert (one of the sales guys) just happened to sit right next to him.
Slim overheard Robert talking to the bartender about working for 8th Wonder and was like, “Hey! Where’s my beer at!? Bun got one. It’s my turn.” Slim knew he wanted a light and refreshing beer, but he wanted a little extra something. After a few test batches in just a matter of a few months, Boss Beer Pineapple Wheat was born. It’s light and refreshing too with just a little extra. Nailed it.
Then Paul Wall got news of Slim’s beer, and he literally pulled up to the brewery like “WHERE’S MIIINE AT!?” They called it Sippin’ sidewayz, but No Label had a similar idea with Sittin’ Sidehaze, and they actually got label approval one day before 8th Wonder.
Ryan shared a bit more of the background, “I would say I was bummed that No Label had come up with that name before we did, but no hard feelings. They beat us to the punch, so we made a last minute audible and went with the name Paul Wall originally preferred, “People’s Champ.” We know and like Brian, Jennifer and the rest of the No Label team, and we wish them nothing but success.”
(Studiously taking notes at 8th Wonder Brewery.)
He went on to tell us about the 8th Wonder Distillery, how it came about, and the plans for it. We’ll save all that for another post though.
We asked Jose what his biggest pet peeve is about beer, and most folks talk about cleanliness, but most folks we’re interviewing are brewers. Jose’s not a brewer, so his thinking is different. “I h8 it when I see our old taphandles!” We all laughed about seeing folks selling 8th Wonder taphandles and limited edition pint glasses on Ebay for hundreds of dollars, and suggested he cash in on all those old taphandles.
8th Wonder Brewery: The History
Speaking of old taphandles, 8th Wonder Brewery has been around for a little over 5 years at the time of this post, so they’ve got a little history of their own.
The name directly pays homage to the Astrodome, affectionately known as the 8th wonder of the world.
(Brewer Nathan schools us on what it’s like to be hassled for your sweatshirt.)
With the direct tie-in to the dome, they kicked off 8th Wonder Brewery with a parodied logo of the 1975-1993 Houston Astros. That was until the MLB hit them with a cease and desist. If you see somebody rocking a shirt/hoodie with the logo above, you know they’ve been along for the ride since day 1. Jose and Nathan both told us stories of folks literally asking to buy them off their backs. “Nope. Can’t do it. Never,” Jose smirked as he told us how he replies.
Back when they were getting started, they chose that location in EADO because it was centrally located to stadiums in an up and coming area, so rent was cheap and there was room for expansion. Expansion there has been bigly yuge in their 5 years. After starting off with only the end corner of the building they call home, year by year, they chipped away at one vacant neighbor after another, and now they own the entire building that stretches along Hutchins between Polk and Dallas.
Throughout all that growth, they’ve respected and admired the OGs at Saint Arnold, much like everyone else making beer in Space City. They also paid homage to Karbach for their fast growth. “While selling to AB is never good, you have to admire how hard they had to work to get to that point,”
Jose defended himself as we teased him about a potential sellout. He kept on, “Can’t hate on Karbach because they did really well. 8th Wonder should challenge ourselves to do even better.”
(Pilot brewing system, where 8th Wonder Brewery dreams come true and experimental beers appear about once a month.)
Some of the questions we ask on each of these interviews are pretty straight forward, but there are a few that always yield a fun story. “Every brewery has a crazy brew day story – what’s yours,” is at the top of that funny list.
Jose literally looked over his shoulder as if he were about to do something illegal. He leaned in and spoke a little more quiet, only to continue with his head on a swivel… “No names. We accidentally dry hopped Rocket Fuel one time. Bahahahaha”
Apparently the hops were meant for Hopston, and somebody goofed. The outcome was a peculiar take on a hoppy Vietnamese Coffee Porter, but it actually turned out alright, so it had a short stint in the taproom. It’s still requested to date.
(The coffee maker to end all coffee makers – 8th Wonder Brewery Rocket Fuel gets its coffee by the bucket.)
Rocket Fuel is one of the first beers that 8th Wonder Brewery put in cans and on shelves, and it’s one of their most popular beers, second only to Dome Faux’m, their throwback Cream Ale (which is now available in 16oz cans).
If you’ve ever poured a can of Rocket Fuel or downed a Dome Faux’m, you may have noticed some weird math problem along the top of the can. They read “(8×45)º LIDS,” and this has puzzled me since I drank my first 8th Wonder can years ago.
8×45=360. Ok, 360 lids… But these ain’t 360 lids, so what gives? Is this some sort of mysterious Easter egg or inside joke? We had to ask.
“I knew it was coming!” Jose laughed almost with embarrassment. What ha-happened was…. “We were supposed to actually have 360 lids on all our canned beers, and Ryan likes to put 8’s on everything possible, so we added that 8×45 Lids to all the can art. The problem was we were put on a giant waitlist for those lids, and we just couldn’t wait that long. We purchased a ton of cans that said that, so we just rode it out with that 8×45 on there. The other problem is we bought sooooo many cans that we couldn’t have the 8×45 removed until recently when we got new cans.”
Bummer. But it’s all good. I’m sure it’s been a talking point for others, scratching their heads as to the meaning. You’ll begin to see those cans phased out soon.
(Yeah, 8×45=360 for you mathematicians, but why does it say 360 lids?)
Speaking of 8th Wonder Brewery’s Beer
Currently, you can find 8th Wonder beer in cans everywhere good beer’s sold. Dome Faux’m, Rocket Fuel, Weisstheimer, and Hopston are the four you’ll most likely see in cans, but H8erade, IP8, and Brewston cans are all making their way around town as well as rotations of BrewGK, People’s Champ and Boss Beer. You can find even more of their beers on tap around town, and even mooore of them if you just hit the brewery up.
You can also find them on tap in the Club Level at NRG, Toyota Center, and BBVA Compass Stadium. Torchy’s in Minute Maid Park also has some 8th Wonder, and cans are now available in Minute Maid, Toyota Center, and NRG Stadium.
8th Wonder Brewery beers could best be described as straight-forward, Houston-inspired, and balanced. They don’t have a big-beer approach with 10% ABV DIPAs nor a super-limited-barrel-aged-spontaneous-fermentation-aged-on-local-raspberries, etc. approach. No FOMO marketing either. Instead they just brew a bunch of good beers that are welcoming enough for someone that’s not a beer nerd, and a few fantastic ones for those that want a little more. They also keep some experimental beers in rotation. Here in the last year or two, they average about one per month on tap at the brewery.
(Their staple – Dome Faux’m Cream Ale, homage and nostalgia our Dad’s can probably relate to better than we can.)
8th Wonder Brewery is working on a barrel program too. Baller Status, their bourbon barrel stout is pretty pretty dang good, and I’ve heard good things about the tequila barrel H8erade in the past.
- Baller Status (Bourbon Barrel aged Dream Shake Stout)
- Side Hustle (Tequila Barrel aged Haterade Gose);
- Chardonn8 (IP8 Double IPA aged in Chardonnay Barrels);
- Premium Chardonnay (Premium Goods Honey Dubbel aged in Chardonnay barrels);
- Premium Port (Premium Goods Honey Dubbel aged in Port barrels);
- Viet-Irish Coffee (Imperial Vietnamese Coffee Porter aged in Jameson Barrels)
When we asked about what current trends they see, Jose said, “NEIPAs, raddlers, barrel aged stuff seems to be the most common. I hate those juice bombs, though. I don’t think we’re never going to make one.” When we asked Nathan, he was pretty quiet, but he did mention a reluctance to brew a juice bomb before the subject went in another direction. Procrastinator IPA looked like it was gonna be the one when we saw pics on IG, but it’s not. Ryan also told us, “never say never” in a followup before this post went live.
- Cloud 8 Hazy IPA in July
- Brewt IPA in July (Brut IPAs are very clear, very dry, and effervescent – basically anti-NEIPA/Hazy IPA)
- Saison Du Vin in August (Saison re-fermented on pinot grigio grape juice)
(8th Wonder Brewery tap wall complete with sparkling water, coffee, root beer and 2 Kombuchas for the DD.)
Nathan mentioned that they choose what to brew based on, “What’s the city missing, plus seasonality.” We also mentioned that they’re not really well known for collabs for whatever reason, and when we mentioned that, Jose defended themselves like, “Hold up a minute! We’re working on the Daisy Chain collab, and we’re the only brewery to get it twice!”
Ryan clapped back even more!
“Dome Faux’m is literally the first Houston collaboration beer. We designed that recipe with our pals at Moon Tower Inn nearly 4 years ago. Let us clarify, it is not a collaboration in the TABC sense of the word. It is purely creative in nature. Rocket Fuel is a collaboration (again, creative in nature) with Greenway Coffee Company, a local, premium coffee roaster. Premium Goods (while now only a limited, seasonal release in the taproom) is a creative collaboration with Premium Goods, a local clothing shop. We creatively collaborated with Shmaltz Brewing Company (New York) and Renegade Brewing (Colorado) for a specialty beer available last year at GABF and in our taproom. It was called Dirty Coast Murky Brown IPA (a tongue and cheek play on a NEIPA). Plus the Jameson program. And then throw in our H-town Hip Hop Series with Bun, Slim, and Paul, we like to think we’re real big on collabs. But again, TABC, IF YOU ARE READING THIS – WE ARE NOT COLLABORATING IN THE WAY TABC INTERPRETS IT, WE ARE COLLABORATING PURELY IN CREATIVITY. We have a few ‘creative projects’ with some other local breweries that have been in the works, but due to expansion and continued growth, they have been put on the back burner. But we’ll get to them; we look forward to these kinds of things.”
Alright, double-touché, guys. They’re collabor8rs for sure. My bad.
(Jose: “…and that’s why we call them cans.” Chris, Hannah: “Innnnnteresting…”)
Their collaborations have come more in the way of businesses, philanthropy, or events.
Aside from being one of Houston’s coolest atmospheres to get a beer, they house a ton of events with local rappers, musicians, artists and the list goes on and on. They’re more community driven, and their collaborative approach to community-driven events shows it.
(Jose doing his best “Most Interesting Man Alive” pose for the ‘Gram.)
8th Wonder Brewery and 20,000,000,000,000 (20 Trillion) Gallons of Water
We’re almost nearing a year since Harvey came, but every time I talk about it with anybody, it feels like it was yesterday. Every time I see that old footage, it gets me all emotional. It’s crazy.
20 trillion gallons of rain in a few days. That’s such a large number, it’s kind of hard to imagine. One way to think of it is, it’s more than a million gallons for every person that lives in Houston. Or if you took every NFL and every NCAA Divison 1 football stadium and filled them all up with rain 100 times, that’d be about how much water fell on Houston and the Southeast Texas area.
So many folks stepped up to help out their community. Holler, Eureka Heights, Bakfish, Town in City and several others answered the call to provide drinking water once the store shelves were emptied, and SpindleTap led the charge on distributing relief supplies post-storm. Texas Beer Refinery even turned into a makeshift shelter for a few days. There are too many to mention here, and it’s not really the point of this blog.
But 8th Wonder… They have to get the MVB as it relates to Harvey. Speaking of which, it’s time to start voting for this year’s MVB, but I digress.
Everybody was affected in some way or another, and we all shared our war stories. Jose told us, “Help was needed. I was actually flooded in. Somebody that used to work here called and asked to use the deuce to rescue his parents, so Robert and Alex busted it out. As they began the excursion, other people started asking to be rescued. They just couldn’t say no, so they kept going back for more and more people. On day 5 of the high-water rescues, the engine blew on the way to Kingwood on 59, so it’s now inoperable but we plan to fix it.”
8th Wonder used it’s other delivery vehicles to transport supplies and goods from George R Brown and Dynamo Stadium (2 of the major relief/donation centers in the city) to smaller satellite relief centers throughout Houston for days after the flood waters went down. Many 8th Wonder staff volunteered their time assisting at relief centers around town and assisting police officers unload donations and supplies at the Houston Police Officers Union. And lastly, 8th Wonder Brewery donated a portion of taproom sales for the entire month of September to the Mayor’s relief fund (ghcf.org); Kids Meals Houston, and local animal shelters. They also canned and donated a few hundred cases of drinking water and gave away their cardboard trays used to stack pallets of cans. The trays were used as disposable litter boxes for displaced cats at shelters.
Enough can’t be said about Houston and how everybody came together in the wake of such an astronomical storm, but 8th Wonder deserves a real pat on the back for the work that their team put in.
The Future for 8th Wonder Brewery
To begin with, they’re going to repair the engine on that military truck, but hopefully they never need it again.
They’re also going bigger. They’re already in San Antonio, but they’re working on Dallas and Austin next. Love it mayne.
They’re always going to be working on new beers in the taproom and a ton of events, so there’s that.
(Where you from? Where your grandma stay? JK, these were all voluntary.)
This Wednesday, June 27, they’ll be hosting a tap takeover at Growler USA in Katy, and they’re hosting World Cup watch parties at King’s Court. Owner Ryan Soroka likes to think, “Houston is big, bold and full of diversity. We make beers like Houston.”
Other upcoming events include:
- SLAB Holiday Car Show – Sunday June 24th
- 713 DAY – DonkeeBoy & Friends Art Show – Friday July 13th
- Achtoberfest – Saturday October 6th
- The 3rd Annual Gr8 Taco Challenge – November TBD
That Gr8 Taco Challenge is life, y’all. Str8 up. Go ahead and block out the whole month of November for that one, just in case.
So what’s your favorite 8th Wonder Beer? Let us know in the comments below! And as always, thanks for reading and sharing all this stuff with your friends. The breweries really appreciate it, and we’re just honored to be a part of it.
Until next time, beers to you, Houston!