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The Faces Behind Houston’s First Out of Town Brewery – Urban South HTX

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This new R&D location will “focus on pushing the boundaries of American beer,” offering 30 taps, cans to-go, and a fun, creative atmosphere that’ll include more than beer.

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As the Houston craft beer scene continues to explode, next to open is Urban South HTX. That makes 66 currently open for those that are counting. This second location of the New Orleans-based Urban South Brewery is debuting on February 29 in the Sawyer Heights neighborhood, and we are P-U-M-P-E-D.

This new R&D location will “focus on pushing the boundaries of American beer,” offering 30 taps, cans to-go, and a fun, creative atmosphere that’ll include more than beer. The facility is HUGE, and the anticipation is HIGH. Their neighbors are looking pretty swell too, but more on that later.

A lot is going on in that Urban South HTX building, but who’s putting it all together?

Turns out it’s three very familiar faces: Dave Ohmer and Marin and Justin Slanina.

This new venture is their biggest yet, but first, we wanted to know how they got to this point.

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Dave Ohmer

Dave was hooked on craft beer after his very first taste. When we asked him about his entry into the craft, with a smile, he said, “Whenever I got a taste of it… I said to myself, ‘this is awesome. I want to do this.’”

His professional career began in the Knoxville area, first working at Woodruff Brewing Company. After 9 years there, he transitioned to Saw Works Brewing Company to become head brewer for 2 years.

It was during that time at Saw Works where the roots of his move to Houston started to grow.

Whole Foods Market was planning to open the first-ever brewery in a grocery store and needed a leader and head brewer. How they got connected with Dave is likely a private matter, but when it was presented to him, he knew right away that it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“The budget alone of an operation like that would open so many doors for brewing,” Dave told us.

It was there at Whole Foods Market Brewing Company where he took experimentation to a new level. Single-batch beers, hop-packed IPAs like DL Double, and crazy adjuncts all contributed to his success, and all of these were well ahead of the haze craze. Many Houstonians were asking where all the hazy IPAs were, when they were in Dave’s kegs at Whole Foods Market Brewing off of Post Oak all along.

After 4 years there, and passing a bit of his wisdom on to current Ingenious’ head brewer James Carlyle, Dave left to become Director of Operations at B-52. In that role, he worked right alongside his long-time friends and current colleagues, Marin and Justin. As we are all familiar, the experimentation continued at a bigger scale with B-52’s production capacity.

Not even a year later, as General Manager and Brewer, he’s ready to open Urban South HTX.

Dave took the lead as Project Manager and has overseen every part of the beginning of the new brewery.

“This project and this brewery model were the right fit. Plus, the culture and team Urban South has built makes anybody want to be a part of it.”

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Marin and Justin Slanina

Even though there are 3 members of the team, it wouldn’t be fair to list Marin and Justin separately.

If you’ve ever met these two, and even had a chance to talk shop, you’ll immediately understand how inseparable they are. From finishing one another’s sentences to the litany of inside jokes, it’s a wonder they’re not known as Mustin, or Jarin. Or the Slaninas… We’re still working on this one, though.

Also stemming from Tennessee, they both shared time at Ghost River Brewing Company. The opportunity to launch B-52, only the 13th brewery in the Houston area at the time, was huge.

Their success provided the springboard to move to town in 2016. “Opportunity breeds more opportunity,” said Marin.

At B-52, Marin was General Manager, and Justin was Head Brewer. The duo took the company from a new brewery well outside the city limits to an icon in the local craft beer scene.

During their time in Conroe, and even more so when Dave worked alongside them, B-52 became one of the most experimental and hop-focused breweries in the city driving up Houston’s value on the trade and secondary markets.

Despite only a few short years with the brewery, their combined skills for hospitality and brewing shined in Houston.

Marin’s background in food/beverage, sports, and entertainment provides years of experience working all sorts of events. (She listed all of them for us, but it was so long that there’s NO way we could’ve included all of them.)

In her new role as Taproom & Marketing Manager, Marin will continue to do what she does best.

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Justin joins the Urban South team with over 7 years of brewing experience between his time at Ghost River and B-52. He’s a perfect fit with his yearn to learn mentality. He’s the type of guy that’s never been asked to do something he couldn’t figure out.

“I love experimenting and making a mess!” Justin yelled after a few beers.

Together, Marin & Justin form an incredible pair.

Justin got the itch for craft working for a UC Davis guy during the craft beer boom. He basically grew up in the industry doing the grunt work at a commercial level. “I did my fair share of turning valves and cleaning,” Justin said with a chuckle, “I earned my stripes.”

Marin jumped in headfirst after seeing what Justin could do with beer. His homebrewed blackberry Gose had her sold right away. She looked at him and the industry and said, “We could do this together.”

Her biggest goal has always been to help Justin “get to where he wants to be.”

True Teamwork

Experience, passion, and dedication form the basis of what Dave, Marin, and Justin do together.

Their familiarity with the local beer scene, combined with the backing of Louisiana’s second-largest brewery, can only mean big things for Houston.

Nearly every detail and aspect of the new location was left up to these three rockstars — design, color scheme, layout, equipment…all of it. Even the freaking floors… All of the brewers reading this know exactly what we’re talking about.

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That includes the beer too. Urban South HTX doesn’t feel like some secondary location of a booming NOLA brewery. It feels like the first brewery of its kind backed with the NOLA soul and Tennessee grit that all come together in this melting pot of history.

It’s like these guys were meant for one another, and we couldn’t be more excited for them.

February begins a new chapter for this crew. They’ve already proven themselves with their combined talents, and they’ve got our vote of confidence.

Time to enjoy their next ride, and it begins soon. Get your tickets to their VIP Pre-Opening event before they’re all gone. $40 gets you a four-pack of cans, and a flight.


Beers to you, Houston.

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Beer Chronicle Team
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