On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Brock Wagner joins CultureMap food editor to discuss the current state Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the business he founded in 1994. Back then, as he says, Wagner brewed the beer and led the marketing. Now, he plots strategy for the state's oldest craft brewery.
Wagner's last in-depth interview with CultureMap occurred four years ago. Since then, the brewery has expanded its campus into what Wagner calls "Saint Arnoldville," with a massive restaurant and beer garden. Does he think other breweries will be able to follow in Saint Arnold's footsteps and grow to 10,000 or more barrels per year?
"I think the taprooms are here to stay, and I think you'll continue to see more of them," Wagner says. "I don't expect to see many breweries get into wide distribution." Later, he adds, "I think there is room for more good breweries to open. If the quality of your beer is not up to snuff, I don't think the public will be super-forgiving . . .
"I think we are close to peak brewery. How it evolves and what it look like, I'm not sure. In the next few years, I think you'll see the numbers of closings pick up. I still think you'll see a high number of openings, but I just think you'll see it level off because more breweries are disappearing."
Wagner hits on a range of other topics, including some of Saint Arnold's recent releases (including the chocolate milk stout pictured above), the reasons some of its beers have been retired, and what the company's growth might look like in the future.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Felice Sloan of Swanky Maven discuss the news of their week. Their topics include: the closure of Dallas-based souffle restaurant Rise n°2; Canadian restaurant Joey's plans to replace Yauatcha in the Galleria; and the recent opening of H-E-B's Meyerland Market.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Sandler and Sloan discuss their recent meals at the new Dak & Bop in Lazybrook/Timbergrove. They also recap some of their favorite bites from this year's Truffle Masters culinary event.