Managing partners Ryan Soroka, Alex Vassilakidis and brewer Aaron Corsi bring a well-rounded educational background to the brewhouse. Corsi is working towards his Ph.D. in Molecular and Environmental Plant Science, master brewer certification and is a professor of brewing and distilling at the University of Houston, and the other principals hold graduate degrees in finance and hospitality.
These guys are smart, but more importantly, they have extensive homebrewing experience.
“We’re a bunch of kids from Houston, and we like making stuff with our hands and sharing it with people."
With the help of their first hire, Robert Piwonka (another UH grad), they brewed three batches of their inaugural beers this past weekend in their EaDo brewery, meaning that they’ll be infiltrating your pints within mere weeks. The chefs, brewers and innovators offered previews at Houston Beer Week events and at a much-lauded Down House beer dinner.
If those samples are any indication, Houston’s newest local brews are going to be as palate pleasing as all of the group’s other offerings.
Legal Woes and Catch 22s
Soroka tells CultureMap their initial concept was to open a brewpub. The problem is that TABC laws prevent any brewery from selling its beer on-site and any brewpub from selling its beer off-premise. The boys’ solution was to open a restaurant separate from the brewery, but limited funds made them pursue food truck success before going the restaurant route.
These guys are smart, but more importantly, they have experience.
Proponents of market-friendly beer laws in Texas, the Eatsie Boys and 8th Wonder are sponsors and supporters of local craft beer advocacy group Open the Taps, a grassroots organization that works to make Texas’ beer laws more amenable to small businesses. Instead of letting the state’s market-restricting laws hold them back, the boys are turning this would-be impediment into an opportunity.
Even though they can't sell their beer at the restaurant, they encourage patrons to bring their own favorite brews. With Culinary Institute of America grad and fellow Eatsie Boy Matt Marcus heading the restaurant, the group will introduce a beer pairing experience for its customers any day of the week.
“We’re going to have special one-off brews, small batches that are going to be targeted, with [Marcus] and the cafe in mind,” Vassilakidis says. “You bring your full growler, and we have menu items, an entire meal, designed around the beer.”
About the Beer
Traditional-style hybrids are just the foundation for an extensive upcoming lineup of brews the Eatsie Boys are excited to bring to the local market. (Think super-creative, like the Vietnamese coffee porter they poured at Beer Week.) These are the three inaugural selections.
Alternate Universe: An altbier, which is a malty, amber hybrid that Soroka says “looks a lot darker than it actually is,” so it’s not as heavy as the color suggests. “It has an extended conditioning period that mellows out and adds character to the beer.”
Hopston: Their contribution to Houston hop heads, this is somewhere between a pale ale and an IPA (India Pale Ale) with three to four different hop strains.
Intellectuale: Soroka says it’s “light and refreshing but full of flavor, suitable for the hot Houston summers.” Between a blonde, a wit and a Belgian golden, this one will be the sessionable go-to, so you can enjoy a few pints without being weighed down.
“We have three flagship beers we’re introducing, but we have 50-plus recipes that have been tested, proven, finalized and standardized,” Soroka says. “What we introduce is going to be dependent upon our in-house tastings at brewery tours.
"We’re going to let the market tell us what they want to see next.”
They don’t stress “craft” or trendy catch words, they’re just proud to be servicing the local community with handcrafted beer.
The Eatsie Boys expect to begin tours at the brewery as early as March with their food truck parked there every weekend, offering pairings of brewery-exclusive lineup additions before they hit retailers’ tap walls.
For the time being the guys are self-distributing, so if you’re at your favorite bar and it doesn’t serve any 8th Wonder brews, ask for it. They’re launching with a core of 30 accounts, but that will likely multiply quickly.
“There are a lot of people personally reaching out to us, asking us when the beer is ready and telling us that they have a tap saved for us,” Soroka says.
Even with retailers saving taps for them and with a built-in following ready to drink what they’re brewing, the boys are still modest guys who take pride in what they serve. Vassilakidis says that they don’t stress “craft” or trendy catch words, they’re just proud to be servicing the local community with handcrafted beer.
Soroka adds, “We’re a bunch of kids from Houston, and we like making stuff with our hands and sharing it with people . . . we’re really excited to be a part of the local growing beer scene and we’re just going to make what we love and hope that you love it, too.”