26 Sep What Was Your Gateway Beer
Brewstonians Ablaze Batch 1:
What was your gateway beer?
The first ever batch of Brewstonians Ablaze is focused on something that’s near and dear to our heart at Beer Chronicle: gateway beer. We asked some of Houston’s biggest beer nerds, “What was the beer that opened your eyes to the wonderful world of local, independent breweries and set you on your ticking journey to try every beer on earth?”
If you’re anything like us, not all your friends share your quest to try ’em all, but you haven’t always been a beer nerd. This is just a humbling look back to remind us all not to be beer snobs when we see a new booty that needs baby powder or a solid gateway beer recommendation.
James “In the Radio” Simpson
“In Europe I was waiting for a train on extremely hot day. I had an hour before my train departure so I decided grab a beer from a pub across the street from the train station. I asked the bartender for “A Beer.” He poured me something dark as midnight. When I took a sip I remember thinking how delicious it was. It blew my mind; I had never had a beer like it before. After that point I started my beer journey. To this day, I am unsure what that beer or style was. I just know it changed my life.”
Listen to James Simpson, Host of What’s on Tap Radio, and like his radio show on Facebook
Andrew “Pickles and Pints” Trumbo
“In 2002 I moved from Colorado to San Diego to go to school. I had just turned 21 and had never really had craft beer before. It was always Keystone or Natty Light. Everyone and their brother drank Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in California. Before casually over serving myself the first evening I partook in it, I remember thinking how bitter, hoppy and rich it seemed to me and I didn’t like it at all. Plus I prayed to the porcelain goddess that night due to the elevated ABV which my infantine system was not accustomed to. Now I know it as a really flavorful, floral Pale Ale that I compare all other Pale Ale’s against.”
Follow Andrew Trumbo, Founder of Pickle and Pints on Instagram @pickleandpints
Mario “Mad-Man” Berry
“I hadn’t drank at all in high school but had started working in restaurants where my curiosity for beer, wine, & spirits piqued. My dad would let me go to the liquor store to pick out one or two bottles to try on the weekends and the rest is a foggy bit of history. Arrogant Bastard & Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown were responsible for popping my craft cherry circa 2004. I still enjoy both beers, especially as a sort of time machine à la Ego biting into Remy’s ratatouille.”
Follow Mario Berry on Instagram @madmanmario
While many of our readers were imbibing on national and international beer before hunting for hops in Houston, the gateway beers of several were more local options.
Sylvia “The Beer Fed Mother” Benavidez
“Real Ale Fireman’s 4 Blonde Ale. When I started drinking craft (Circa 05-06?) there wasn’t a variety for beers in Houston like there is now. When I drank Fireman’s 4 around my friends, I was the ‘cool kid’ with a ‘cool new beer’ while others were still drinking Miller Lite. This beer was always on tap at beer joints I frequented like Nobi Public House and Witchcraft Tavern so it was an easy choice for me. I can’t remember the last time I tasted it but it’s still a great intro beer.”
Follow Sylvia Benavidez – Beer Fed Mother, Chapter Lead for Galveston GPO and Founder of 4TradeMobile on Facebook
Steven “My Nickname is My Name” Sebentrees
“I’ve had a lot of garbage beers before I could drink legally, but I never really indulged in beer as much as others. When I did, it was Shiner Bock. I felt it was better than other domestic beers. Shiner was always in the “import” section of the bar menus. I thought that was hilarious. It is still a solid beer, compared to Miller, Bud, etc. but the beer snob in me says grab Satyr’s Swill.”
Follow Sebentrees, Purveyor of Fermentables on Instagram @sebentrees
Haven’t we all, man? Turns out Steven wasn’t the only one that stepped into craft through Shiner country.
Cyprus “Texas Beer Patriot” Walter
“Sausage. Sauerkraut. Polka. Lederhosen. The annual Wurstfest in New Braunfels, TX. This is where I had my first full beer, a cold Shiner Bock. My drinking companion was a foreign exchange student from Bavaria, und alles war sehr gut. That moment is surely the reason I never went through a light beer phase. I was hooked on craft from the start. Beer is and has always been about culture and experience for me. Nowadays, Shiner Bock doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it once did—call it a change in the beer’s formula, my taste buds, or both. On the other hand, the recently reincarnated Celis Pale Bock still recalls its former glory. Either way, a crisp, malty lager will always remind me of food, friends, and good times. Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.”
Follow Cyprus Walter, Texas Beer Promoter on IG @texasbeerpatriot
Annie “Beer Girl HTX” Diep
“My first taste of craft beer was at a Coog’s tailgate drinking Shiner Bock with some friends. That same friend passed a St. Arnold Lawnmower to me and my world was turned upside down. It opened up a whole new world of craft beer to me. I was able to connect with people to share beers and have a great time. I don’t typically reach for Lawnmower nowadays. I found my true love in Art Car.”
Follow Annie on Instagram @beergirlhtx
The gateway beers of some folks were even straight outta H-town, and the breweries they started with aren’t much of a surprise.
Josh “Houston Beertographer” Olalde
“After getting hooked in by Karbach Rodeo Clown back in 2015-2016, I realized bitter was my shit. I sought out my coworkers for help on my quest to find delicious bitter beers. The first beer that one of my coworkers suggested was Dog Fish Head’s 90 minute IPA. Their 90 Minute IPA, to me, was the best IPA I’d had in my life! I thought I found my forever “go-to” beer. I was so naive. I hadn’t even visited a brewery at this time.”
Follow Josh Olalde, Houston Beertographer on Instagram @josh_olalde
Leo “Texas Beer Experience” Longoria
“My gateway beer was Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower. I got to try it during a field trip to the old brewery way back in 2000. If I remember correctly, Brock Wagner said you could only find it in a handful of bars in the city so that made it pretty special. I don’t drink it very often anymore but when I do I remember that very special day 18 years ago.”
Follow Leo Longoria on Instagram @texasbeerexperince
Liz “Crush City Culture” Paul
“Karbach’s Staycation was the first craft beer I loved. I wasn’t much of a beer drinker until a few years ago, and bars with a huge beer selection would stress me out. I was out one night and decided to try Staycation because I saw someone else order it. For months, it was the only beer I would drink… but at the time, it was only available during the summer, so eventually I had to branch out. I started with other Karbach beers and just kept going from there. I still love Staycation!”
Follow Liz Paul, Blogger on Instagram @crushcityculture
The coolest thing about this batch is how diverse the answers were. Tony’s gateway beer was No Label Don Jalapeno, RIP, and Chris’ was Hopadillo.
We got far more responses than we thought we would, so not everybody could be included this time, but check back next month to see which Brewstonians are setting Houston beer ablaze in batch 2.
Thanks for all of your contributions.
Beers to you, Houston! 🍻🤘