04 Nov Standing Out in the Best Way: Misfit Brewing
Standing Out in the Best Way: Misfit Brewing
We can’t cover every homebrewer in Houston. Hell, we can’t cover every bar that’s slingin’ good beer, much less all the homebrewers…
BUT everyyy now and then, one of these awesome folks catches our attention with their passion and generosity. Juan Sanchez not only has our attention, but he also has our full endorsement.
More on that later.
While I was in Denver for GABF, Juan was too. We tried hard to link up with one another, but it just wasn’t in the cards. There was a pretty substantial Houston representation at GABF, and many of us were able to link up for lunch at Falling Rock Taphouse, but Juan couldn’t make it. (Cheers to Leo from SpindleTap, O from Brew Bros HTX, Brewtiful Erika from Under the Radar, Mike George and the What’s on Tap Radio guys, James and Chad! Super special shout out to Jorge Vanegas of Spec’s for holding down the table for everybody – YOU THE REAL MVP)
Juan and I tried again while at GABF. No dice.
I was honestly a little bummed, but I still had a blast checking out Denver with my wife. To my surprise, Juan was just as bummed, if not more.
And he wanted to make up for it.
As some sort of apology, he sent me some stickers for my beer fridge and a few cans of his latest creations. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m kinda glad we weren’t able to link up.
Juan’s beer is as good, if not better, than commercial brewers in some cases. His hazy IPA, Bad Child with the Haze, was pretty dang good. It was a little overcarbed, and slightly boozy, but I can’t stress enough that I’ve paid good money for IPAs that were beneath his.
El Misfit Vienna Lager… Man. Hold. Up. First of all, a homebrewer passing out lagers is enough to get the attention of any beer nerd. El Misfit was so soft and crisp, so smooth, and so dry on the finish that I couldn’t believe it came from a garage.
I didn’t get to try Member’s Only, his Hibiscus Watermelon Gose, but Brent did, and he was kind enough to write some brief reviews on all three.
A hibiscus watermelon Gose. Not a common combination but certainly one that works. The color is there and it tastes exactly like watermelon candy (minus that gross sweetness).
I didn’t get any of that signature Gose saltiness but that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes this style turns into fruited seawater…
Members Only is very fruity, aromatic, and has a fairly thick body. I know that it still needs some better balance and tightening up, but this was a great beer regardless. I can see why it was so exclusive!
Bad Child with the Haze
3 variations on New Zealand hops and I got all of them, though a little more brightness wouldn’t have hurt. Rakau hops brought out notes of candy., Moutere delivered passion fruit and resin. Wai-ti closed the deal with its signature lemon/lime.
The body was more juicy than pillowy but interestingly enough, it still had a pillowy-type flavor on the finish. Not something I’ve seen often but I dig it! A very unique beer that really opened up as it warmed.
Vienna lagers are getting popular down in Houston and I love it! Despite their required long fermentation period and stringent temp control, the style is ideal for our city’s weather.
It’s one of those styles where you either bring it, or you don’t. Misfit brought it with solid maltiness and a hint of sweetness, both in line with the style. Hops are supposed to be light in Vienna lagers as well, which they were in El Misfit.
Nice dark amber color and a medium, dry body. Clean and crisp with a tight finish. In a blind taste test, nobody would say this was a homebrew. It’s that good.
After trying such great beer from Juan, I had to learn more about him and his story, so I asked him a few questions.
Juan, your cans say brewed and canned in “Houston, TX” on them. What part of Houston are you from? Are you a native Houstonian?
I was born in Conroe, TX and raised in the small town of Cut and Shoot, TX just 10 miles east of Conroe. I have always loved the city life and the diversity Houston has to offer.
I moved out to the Houston city limits around the age of 20 to further pursue and develop my professional career after college. Go Coogs!
Misfit Brewing… Between the name and the artwork, I can’t help but see the resemblance between the band The Misfits. What’s the inspiration for the name and the art?
I didn’t really listen to the Misfits band much growing up but always loved their vibe and logo. Growing up and even to this day, I’ve always been the only guy in my small group of friends thats into Heavy/Death metal, Horror movies and dark shit.
My older sister used to always make me watch horror movies with her when I was little so feel that my interests in my current style of branding began at a young age. To further go into the logo and name, I chose the name Misfit to resemble myself among my group of friends and to also show my love for the great horror movie characters fiction and those based on true stories, the Misfits to society.
I wanted to have an Iconic logo that would be identifiable without the name, The skull was a staple, Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the inspiration for the stitches and scar details on the skull and the Texas outline tattoo on the forehead was a must to represent our great state.
I’ve homebrewed a few batches, and as a graphic designer working on labels for breweries, you know I did my own labels! I think it’s becoming more and more common for creative folks to homebrew and put that extra level of care into their beer. Why do you think that is?
For me, it’s about providing the experience to whoever drinks our beer. When you think about great customer experiences, place like Chic Fil A come to mind. Most people will remember how they feel more than anything.
We can’t always be there when our friends or strangers crack open a can/bottle of our brew. So providing a great label/details takes it to the next level that they will remember you by is just as important as the beer inside. Also, I’ve noticed most brewers are creative by nature, so making a label helps us bring our beer to life and maximize our creative capacity.
I’m stunned to see you sent over a Vienna Lager. That seems like a veteran move. Most homebrewers aren’t touching lagers. I recently got a temp-controlled fridge so I could try my hand at a Mexican Lager one day. How long have you been homebrewing, and how long before you decided to dabble in bottom feeders?
I have been brewing consistently going on 4 years. I started off with 1 gallon batches in my sisters kitchen to my current 1/2 bbl system in my garage.
My recent release of El Misfit Vienna Lager was my first successful lager out of 2 other prior failed attempts. Brewing a lager can and WILL expose any flaws in your brewing process and overcoming that challenge kept me chasing this style.
What Houston brewery are you most inspired by, and what Houston homebrewer do you think is taking it really seriously at this point?
I feel I’m most inspired by the homebrew community in Houston.
I would have to say that B52 Brewing is a great example of pushing the envelope and taking things to the next level. I respect that type of creativity they have in Conroe, TX.
I have been fortunate enough to hang out on brew days with Jamey from secret beach and Erick from Wooden Bus to learn from their experiences and see how their “beer mind’ works. These guys are focused and driven and I am confident they will make it at the next level. Shout out to my good friend Rick Carruth at Thirsty Hermit Brewing as well, he’s another local homebrewer that pushes my ideas to the next level and I definitely admire his passion for the craft beer community.
What are your long term goals as it relates to Misfit Brewing?
Right now, my main prerogative is make good beer and meet as many people as possible to gain trust and recognition in this industry. Brewery planning is in the works and continuously evolving the more I learn from those I have met in the industry. If i were to open a spot, I feel Cypress/Jersey Village area would be where i set up shop.
Anything else you’d want us to tell Houston beer drinkers about you and Misfit Brewing?
That I am very grateful for the support the community has shown the homebrew scene. Not only to Misfit Brewing but to all the other homebrewers that are working hard to make their dreams a reality. You guys are the true definition of Houston.
I’ll tell you this much: we won’t miss the opportunity to link up next time.
Be on the lookout for a Beer Chronicle collab one day. Maybe. Soonish. And one with Craft Beer Cellar Cypress. Definitely. Sooner-ish. At the very least, keep your ears to the streets for a release, or follow him on IG to keep up with his latest batches. It’s worth it.
Beers to you, Houston.