13 Jul Frost Town Brewing opening in downtown Houston
An idea that formed in 2012 finally crystallizes on historical ground in downtown Houston in 2022
What You Need to Know Before You Visit
Price: $6 – $7
Beer To Go: Yes – crowlers
Food: Designated spots for food trucks
Most Popular Beer: TBD but we’d guess the cream (ale) will rise towards the top
AC: Yep – frosty & frigid
Bathrooms: State of the art, like what you see in luxury movie theaters
Parking: On-site and ample! If you’re passing the brewery and it’s on your right hand side, the parking entrance is immediately after the building that leads to a lot behind the brewery.
Alternative beverage options: Coffee, soda, wine and cider
Pet Friendly: Yes
Hours: Tues – Thurs: 2pm – 10pm | Fri: 2pm – 11pm | Sat: 11am – 11pm | Sun: 11am – 9pm
The grand opening celebration of Frost Town Brewing is this Saturday, July 16th!
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been nagging John & Hannah about opening day (sorry!) over the past year.. The site was chosen in early 2019 and broke ground in October of last year. During that time, the team put in work promoting, participating in events around town, brewing collabs with Turkey Forrest, Urban South HTX and New Magnolia – all while building an amazing space in the heart of downtown.
Frost Town Brewing is located on North Jackson Street smack dab in the thick of all the downtown districts. The brewery is surrounded by a multitude of nearby destinations that are within walking/biking distance or a short ride share to: Buffalo Bayou, Minute Maid Park, Discovery Green, Wortham Theater and a bevy of first class restaurants.
Frost Town Brewing – Front Entrance
The co-founders came together in 2018 to form Frost Town Brewing, aka FTB:
John Sorensen is Frost Town’s CEO. John’s love for craft beer is a family connection he shares with his brother and father. Coming out of college with a business background, John pondered about his future career and reflected on his dad’s original plans in 2013 to develop a destination brewery near the family farm in the Brenham area. John always knew he wanted to be a part of the family brewing business. The original plans for the brewery never came to life but the vision had always remained. After relocating back to hometown Houston, joining up with an old brewmaster and meeting a creative innovator, a team was established to start Frost Town Brewing.
Kyle Tennyson is the Chief Brewing Officer. Kyle and John went to high school together in Houston. Kyle got his start making wine and mead in his college days (when he was officially 21 of course), upgraded to an official homebrew kit, trained at Siebel and has been refining his techniques with great precision ever since. Kyle takes great pride and care in brewing, ensuring each iteration improved and recipes would scale up knowing the future prospect of opening a brewery.
Hannah Schaible is the creative director for FTB and met John during their college years. Hannah embraced the opportunity to help mold the brewery: building a great communal atmosphere, integrating with and supporting the community and being responsible stewards through sustainability practices. Hannah ensures the FTB brand reflects the values and respect for the beer history that surrounds them.
An amazing, cozy outdoor space
Frost Town Brewing: the Experience
We had no thoughts of what to expect when heading out to the brewery – our focus was on getting there and navigating through our beloved traffic. Upon reaching the building, Chris B’s eyes widened with surprise at the scale of it. We parked in the rear parking lot and entered through the outdoor gated entrance. We were greeted by Hannah and took in the view of the outdoor space – a bright and cheery contemporary landscape set up with colorful hammocks, picnic tables and chairs in varying hues of cool-blue. Stylish shade sails provide heat relief and overhead cover.
Into the brewery – it’s a large open space sporting a modern industrial vibe with new-retro touches. The brewery has a great balance of complementary wood accents, brightness and splashes of greenery (from @plantheavenhtx) that make it a comfy spot you just want to plop down in and hang out.
John offers up a pour from the tap-wall and provides a couple of recommendations. We choose the Stein Gold Cream Ale and after the first sip, immediately regret not asking for the full pour – it’s extremely smooth, light-bodied, and super crushable. We proceed to get the grand tour of the brewing operation. The production area shares half of the 9000 sf interior. The brewhouse is a shiny new set up with a well thought out production workflow. The team has developed a rhythm for brewing days and knocks things out from start to finish in a typical 8 hour-ish shift.
The tour ends at our interview spot – a second level loft tucked into the corner of the brewery featuring an impressive wooden slab table suitable for a royal family.
We settle in with plenty of seats to spare and we ask about the table; John provides the story – “it was a pecan tree on our family farm. We had the wood cut down into slabs and commissioned it to be built – it’s the Brewer’s table.”
Frost Town Brewery: The History
The brewery’s name, Frost Town, isn’t just the cure we all want for our blistering Houston heat, there’s history here. Back in the 1830’s, the Frost family had established land within the oldest section of Bayou city. This subdivision became known as Frost Town – an immigrant community that flourished with periods of German and Mexican influence. This ode to history is reflected in the team and the brewery’s identity: classic artisanal products, building and supporting the community and honoring yesteryear legacies.
Brewer’s table beers
Chris Adams arrives and joins us at the Brewer’s table – introductions are made… no name tags required for the Chris’s. John offers refills and THIS time we ask for the full pours.
Chris A. recons the space “this is such a cool spot – very clean. What size is the brew house?”
“15 barrels” responds Kyle but the team chuckles about its current cleanliness state since they haven’t had too much customer traffic yet.
We go over the specs – 12 taps, the expansive outdoor bier garten, the interior space sharing 9000 square feet split between the brew house and customers. Food is available from vendors that have ready hookup spaces for two. There are also alternate beverage options to ensure there is something for everyone: coffee on draft, soda, sparkling water, cider and wine.
Hannah points to our current location and mentions “the loft up here is available for private events.” She continues nodding to the space further in the corner “we also built that area so that people can come in and work, send email and such.”
Hannah later beamed to us about how her mother had come in and set the co-working space up on a shoe-string budget. It’s a comfortable-homey space but still conducive for work, featuring a handful of upholstered older era chairs, tables and conversation piece furniture. All put together within budget and in record time. Hannah’s Mom with the pro-interior-decorator flex!
Chris B. asks “How did you find the location itself?”
John explains “we knew we wanted to find a place inside the loop” – ”not this inside the loop” interjects Hannah happily as we all nod our heads in agreement. John follows with “we were very fortunate to have found this location – it was a little bit of luck and right timing.” The building on the ground at the time was a machine engine shop with an owner that was ready to retire. Once the deal was closed and work started the local apartment dwellers popped in to express their happiness that FTB was moving in and many lobbied for a direct overhead walkway from the apartment building to the future brewery.
The intent was to renovate and repurpose what was standing but structural problems and issues meant plan B. The team gave us the rough timeline to ensure their collective memories were accurate, “demolition happened in January of 2019; ground breaking started in October 2020.”
“… And Covid happened in there,” Chris B. added, “did that cause a lot of delays for y’all?”
“A little bit” John expressed optimistically. “The silver lining for us was that we weren’t trying to operate a bar during that time. I mean it was pretty tough for folks like Local Group.”
Chris A. recalls, “Yeah, breweries going through that had to jump on the fly to stay afloat – they couldn’t do to-go beer and having to deal with other challenges.”
Hannah said they went to Holler all the time and remembered they were stuck at some point with the food requirement. We then reminisced a bit and shared our personal stories about pretzels, chips and goldfish crackers being food requirements.
“Scrabble” beer menu
We shift to talking about how Houston feels like a young city and generalize that people don’t really know too much about the history here. Nodding to the team, Chris B. says “you know I really appreciate the fact that y’all literally dug into the history”. The team had done their research and due diligence learning about the grounds that previously stood and the makeup of the surrounding area. Having this new found knowledge and understanding not only helped with the build of the concept but enabled interactions that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Kyle told us about how he was able to have a relatable conversation with his 96 year old grandmother when she “talked about the Magnolia Ballroom and how her father used to brew during prohibition.” Hannah had learned about the Houston Ice (and brewing) Company (that didn’t sell snow cones) and drew those (cold) elements and cues to reflect in FTB’s brand and appearance. Which led me to, “Tell us about the logo.”
“The logo was developed in house” as Hannah nudged John in the shoulder. “We wanted to convey ice-housey… frost and that’s represented by the (frost) flake you see.” And “if you lay the flake over a map of Houston, you’ll see they line up over Houston’s six wards… with the colored flake landing over the 2nd ward and the brewery location. It’s little details we tried to put into everything.”
Frost Town Brewing: H-Town and Getting Started
Chris A asks “breweries in town that inspire you or want to emulate?”
“Good question” Hannah responds. “There are a lot of Houston breweries that do classic styles like we’ll also focus on. I think Equal Parts does the best Pilsner in town. When people reach for a pilsner, they think of Loggerbier. Goal-wise, we would want to achieve that kind of accomplishment.”
John adds that “we are drawn to New Magnolia – we both have a big appreciation for beer history. We were honored to brew the Kentucky Common with them – it was pretty special.”
Kyle explained, “and we intentionally chose the Kentucky Common for that historical style.”
John concludes, “a lot of breweries that make up the tapestry of what Houston beer culture is. It’s not defined by a single person or brewery – we’re just glad to be part of that identity and look forward to finding our niche within it.”
Following up, we ask “(beer) style wise what does that look like for FTB?”
Hannah explains “it’s traditional but with bold flavors.” Jokingly, Chris A asks “What, no hot dog water seltzers?” We all laugh but it’s a def no.
Kyle adds “we’re not trying to chase any trends but I’ll brew something that I think is good beer.”
We get into chatting about crispy boys coming back and how it’s possible to get a lot of flavor into classic style beer. We drift into lager territory and ask questions about the upcoming pre-prohibition pilsner that will be available soon (aptly named ‘Southern Style’).
Kyle schools me on the style specifics and technical details of the style with Hannah noting that every ingredient used are all old school pre-prohibition ingredients. It’s all about historical accuracy, proper classic techniques and approaches that really shine a light on Kyle’s brewing technical acumen and experience.
“Any crazy brew day stories you can tell us about?” as Chris A. after sipping a freshly poured Verano pale ale.
Kyle perks up, “we’re just getting set up and there’s a pump just leaking everywhere. It was a day of having to learn and fix everything.” Hannah and John jump in, groaning a bit, over all the other things that went wrong that same day: “issue with a clogged drain making clean up a nightmare” and the “mill taking like 6 hours to crush grain.” John said “Kyle ended up becoming an expert in fixing pumps and I learned about control wiring”
“At least all of our targets were met with the quality we were looking for” Kyle said proudly. “That particular brew was the cream ale you just had.”
We thought in that moment, see – hard work does pay off but refrained from saying that to the team at that moment 😉 Seriously guys, the cream ale is fantastic!
Stein Gold Cream Ale
The Future for the Brewery
Chris B. asks “Short term goals?” Hannah shouts “Get open!” – Kyle and John agree in unison.
John adds, “We finally get to see all of our hard work pay off. Get to see customers in the brewery, enjoying the beer”
We talk briefly about long term plans which include some limited local distribution with kegs in taprooms and Kyle’s awesome lagers he’s ready to pull out of his back pocket BUT current focus and energy is on opening.
We conclude “What do you want people to know about Frost Town?”
Hannah emphasizes that “we’ve created a welcoming space for everyone. The whole point of Frost Town is to create that community feel – a comfortable space where anyone can come in and enjoy something regardless of your preference or restrictions.”
John says “We want to encourage people to come and enjoy downtown… “.
“… and enjoy the other destinations near us. Flying Saucer, the escape room down the street, the bike trails.” Hannah completing John’s sentence.
We encourage everyone to get out to chill and relax out at FTB. Doors are open now in a limited soft-opening capacity. Come out and enjoy downtown, the adjacent sights and some well-crafted beer.
In our eyes, come opening day, Frost Town Brewing officially becomes a Houston destination and perhaps, a part of future history.
Beers to you, Houston!