22 Apr Everything You Need to Know about Fass Brewing in Conroe
Everything You Need to Know about Fass Brewing in Conroe
Known for aiming to be the living room of Conroe, high quality German biers and American Pale Ales, being big time bookworms, and making their home in one of the oldest buildings in the city.
What You Need to Know Before Fass Brewing in Conroe
Price: ~ $5 to $8
Growlers, Crowlers: Yes – Crowler cans & glass growlers
Food: Yes – menu TBD
Most Popular Beer: TBD – expecting Corn Lager, Altbier and a Pale Ale.
Kids/Pets: Kids – yes, Pets – outdoor only
AC: You bet your cold, sweet butt there will be AC
Outdoor area: Yes – cafe-style seating on sidewalk
Live Music: Not here but plenty of venues nearby and around town; come by and enjoy a pint of two before or after the show.
Fass Brewing in Conroe – The Introduction
Tom Emmons, Dylan Emmons, and Aaron Edrington have pooled their time, talent, and dollars to create the most Cheers-esque brewery setting that Houston has ever seen, and we’re really excited for them to open up around August 2021.
Tom and Dylan are father and son, respectively, and Aaron is Tom’s nephew. These guys are keeping it in the family, and there’s nothing more local than that. They’re big on German beer, but they don’t shy away from the ebbs and flows of beer trends AKA we can expect some super precise pilsners alongside some hazies on their 16-tap-wall.
Aaron and Dylan will be brewing the beer, and they’ve both got polarizingly distinct palates. Aaron’s all over the map with styles, but he said, “low ABV and malty” are really his jam. Sessionable stuff has been his mainstay especially when making a 5 gallon homebrew batch because, well, that’s a lot of beer to drink!
Dylan, on the other hand, is unwaveringly drawn to lighter and crisp beers like Helles. Dylan explained his logic, “Helles. That’s what beer is. Nobody’s gonna drink a Helles and say this is the best beer I’ve ever had, but that last sip of the third liter, in the middle of the convo, you’re like yeah – this is it. This is the one.”
Both Aaron and Dylan are veteran homebrewers and have a breadth of experience between the two of them. Aaron was in the cellar at Karbach and brewed at Buffalo Bayou. Dylan also worked at Karbach as a packaging operator working up to the packaging super. Dylan brewed at Eureka Heights and at Whole foods brewing where he gained the small production space experience that will serve him well going into their new home. It seems like everybody that comes through the Whole Foods brewhouse is solid, so we’re doubly excited.
The Fass Brewing Interview Was Unlike Most Others
Usually, when we interview folks, it’s after hours in their taprooms. This gives us a chance to dive in, undistracted, and get a real glimpse of the faces behind the beer. Welp, Fass isn’t slated to open until the summer of 2021, but we didn’t let that stop us! Heck, we interviewed Fire Ant in their garage nearly 2 years before the grand opening of their Tomball location, and we interviewed Urban South HTX in their under-construction taproom before they even had a single beer (much less the lines to serve it), so Fass Brewing in Conroe is in good company.
Today, we’re out in old town Katy on a sunny and blustery Friday. We met with the Fass team at No Label and crammed ourselves into a picnic bench outside, and Chris B’s better half, Jenny, kicked things off.
She hit them with rapid-fire questions quicker than we could connect to the wifi, but we did our best!
Jenny jumps right in, “So why downtown Conroe?”
Tom elaborated with the enthusiasm of a proud dad, “Pre-Covid, we were close to securing a spot downtown – a historic building near the ballpark. But once Covid hit, we had to make a decision about size and capital expense.”
Damn that COVID! As we all shake our heads in unison listening intently to Tom…
“We knew from the beginning we wanted to be in a historic building – I love historic buildings and we really wanted to have something a little bit different than what’s out there now. So we looked at options out there and started hearing about downtown Conroe.
We looked at the growth of Conroe and it’s demographics and found that Montgomery County is one of the country’s top growing counties nationally and Conroe is in the top 25 growing fastest cities. So we were scouting around for locations and *Tom declares proudly* – we found a building”
It has a tremendous, interesting history. The Gentry building was the very first buildings to be reconstructed after the Conroe fire of 1911 where the post-fire ordinance required all brick construction. The Gentry building on Main & Simonton was once a bank, butcher shop, a clothing store – Elvis himself shopped there! The owner was good friends with President Lyndon Johnson”
Tom concluded “And so we just fell in love with it (the building). The building owner has been fantastic and the city management has been great helping us out when needed.”
We all gabbed a bit about what’s nearby. Fass will be in good company being neighbors with the Crighton theater and in close proximity to the annual Conroe catfish festival and the Saturday farmer’s market. A lot is happening in the area – a meadery and distillery opening up soon not too far away. Hmm, we’re sensing a (good) pattern here.
Anthony asked “Speaking of local breweries – have you made any relationships up there yet? Some breweries start talking about collabs right out the gate.”
Dylan explained, “We haven’t yet,” and Tom chimed in as well. “We want to get through our initial set of hurdles first. TABC, permits, etcetera. We want to get down the path a bit first.”
Anthony followed by asking the guys about the Houston beer community.
Tom, Aaron, and Dylan all had similar opinions, “Super helpful” was echoed almost harmoniously as all three of them beamed about how supportive fellow breweries have been. While they’ve navigated the buildout and opening of Fass Brewing in Conroe, they’ve had quite a few local brewers lend a hand or some knowledge.
The History of Fass Brewing is Pretty Short, But Their Location in Historic Downtown Conroe Adds Some Lovely Patina on Day 1
It’s sort of difficult to ask about the history of a brewery that’s not opened up yet, but God knows these guys aren’t new to beer! Nevertheless, we dug in to find out more about what got them started.
Dylan volunteered to take this one. Fass (pronounced ‘fahs’, ‘foss’ – pretend like you’re a Bostonian) is German for keg, barrel, storage container, cask, draft. Dylan went to brewing school in Chicago at the Siebel Institute and in Munich at the Doemens Academy.
On top of that, Dylan said that beer will be served from six 5bbl jacketed serving tanks in the taproom which ties into the name as well… served ‘vom fass’ or ‘from the barrel’.
Jenny piped in – so who is going to do what?
Everyone glanced over at Tom.
Tom with a smirk, “Hey, you don’t want me brewing I promise you!”
Chris asked a few more questions to learn more about their history and how it applies to their plans, “So operations – front of the house for you Tom?”
“Yeah – administrative stuff.. Maybe I can do some cleaning and wash some glasses”
We shift into talking about the craft beer scene here and Anthony gave props for the newly minted Fass logo, “When I saw it – it’s really rad; great work. It looks different than anything else in Houston visually. What are some things y’all are gonna be doing that’s different?”
Tom seemed to like the tough question, but Dylan jumped in first, “From a product perspective, we don’t want to say we are going to do it better. We are going to be focused on process – extremely technical sound practices with no shortcuts. So for example, our Pilsner will be brewed just like the North Germans do it; the Hefe will be brewed like a Bavarian Hefe exactly. We get that there are limitations within some styles but knowing those and having the knowledge will help us figure out where we want to be.
Tom followed up, “A lot of people are making great product in the area – we don’t think our product per se will differentiate us. Our environment, however (at the brewery) will be dramatically different. We want to honor and respect the history of the building. We want you to come in and feel like it could have been there since 1911 – like it was since the beginning …with of course a few modern amenities. We really want the building to speak for itself – it’s beautiful”
Speaking of Beer, Fass Brewing in Conroe Will Have Two Main Focuses
Dylan had explained that Fass will have two beer tracts – central European lagers and ales & American IPAs… Pale, West, East. He mentioned a recent test batch of a West Coast Hazy he brewed recently that was akin to a Cellarmaker style IPA.
Uh, ISO, please!
Unfortunately, he didn’t have any samples to bring so we’re requesting a beer raincheck on what sounds to us like a Dylan (hoppy) – Aaron (malty) IPA special.
Aaron added excitedly, “Even though we’re leaning on traditional beers doesn’t mean we won’t be creative. There will be plenty of small-batch stuff we’ll do as well”
Anthony asked, “Have you drawn any inspiration from local breweries?”
Dylan and Aaron collectively “Most of our inspiration comes from books – we are absolute beer nerds and have 100s of brewing books between us. If we can get 2 or 3 things out of a 400-page book, it’s totally worth it.”
Dylan then recalled “I recently had the Kvass from New Magnolia – extremely good and they just killed it. So.. we’ll probably brew a Kvass.”
Continuing with the local inspiration questions, Jenny asked, “Soo, Houston breweries – what’s your go-to brewery?”
We all nodded for a minute in complete agreement.
Dylan added, “For sure New Magnolia – I fuckin’ love their beer… I’m a huge fan and all their beers are great. Plus they’ve been super helpful with us.”
Naturally, we ask what are your national favorites?
Aaron is an Upland fan having grown up in Indiana. Tom likes ABGB and Modern Times. Dylan is also an ABGB fan along with Jester King & Live Oak.
Chris shifted gears to some of the less pleasant stuff, “Any pet peeves when it comes to beer?”
Dylan, a bit puzzled at the question as if to suggest there are none, “As far as being a brewer? I’d say everyone is a little too nice. I want constructive criticism. I want people to tell me what’s wrong with my beer. I think everyone’s beer would be better if people were more critical.”
Aaron chimed in with a similar tune, “I had that conversation with someone last night – when you come in, I want you to tell me because we’re here trying to make the best product.”
Tom noted here that, “If we have to pour something down the drain, we will.”
We were pretty impressed with the guys here wanting open and honest feedback. That’s one of the qualities that we love seeing.
Then it was time for one of our favorite interview questions. Is brewing an art or a science?
With no hesitation, sounding almost like Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, Aaron & Dylan both proclaim science. These two were in lockstep on so much of their answers.
Dylan does caveat it a little by saying that it is artistic but, “you gotta have the science down before you can be artistic.” This sounds almost exactly like what Kris at BAKFISH said so eloquently years ago. These guys are in good company.
Anthony asks Tom the same… Tom says he’s not the brewer but, “Having heard the guys talk about water quality 8 hours a day for 2 weeks… it’s definitely about science.”
Fass Brewing: Now and Later
The target opening for Fass Brewing in Conroe is August of this year. Plans for distribution are limited to “maybe” a few kegs here and there that are destined for cool downtown hangouts like Flying Saucer, Hughie’s, etc. – craft beer-focused joints. The Fass guys said they’ll be happy if they sell all the beer over the bar.
They’re ready to dole out good beer but more emphatically they want to provide a great overall experience for their customers. A place where you can come have a good conversation and experience a bit of nostalgia in their cozy “living room of Conroe.” They want you to walk away and feel that it was a great experience and value for the time you spent with them.
After a brief sidebar about ribbon cutting, big ass scissors, and where to get ‘em, we wrapped it up
Tom ended with, “I understand that it may be a bit of a drive to Conroe for many, but we are asking everyone please come check us out and give us a shot”
We are certainly already standing in line to get a taste of some great Pilsners, Helles’ and hoppy Ales to come while hanging out in a saloon of history.
Beers to you, Houston!