Houston’s thriving craft beer scene shows no signs of slowing down. With breweries opening constantly, it can be hard for the newcomers to stand out and earn a place on tap walls and in beer drinkers’ affections.
Located in a 20,000-square foot warehouse in the Heights previously occupied by Jake’s Fine Foods, newly opened Eureka Heights is already drawing packed houses to its Saturday tap room sessions. Despite the challenges of a crowded marketplace, its owners hope their combination of experience, easy-drinking beers, and a slightly quirky sense of humor will help the brewery make a good first impression.
Even at a first glance, the newly opened Eureka Heights stands out from other breweries in town. Three married couples own the business, and all six people are instrumental in charting the course, deciding on beers to brew, and contributing to its growth. Rob Eichenlaub, Joel Swift, and Casey Motes all started as homebrewers who dreamed of making the leap to full-time brewing, and their wives Shelley, Heather, and Lori shared their goals.
“When you have four engineers, one attorney, and I’m miscellaneous, we all started calling each other out. For serious, let’s do this,” Heather Swift tells CultureMap. “Within a month, we were signing a LLC and filing paperwork. Within two months, we found a location. Next thing you know we found the right equipment. It just fell in our lap, and all of a sudden we’re on this track that we didn’t think we’d be on for three years.”
That equipment, a 35-barrel, two vessel system with three fermentation tanks and a bright tank, allows Eureka Heights the capacity to launch with five year-round brews: Buckle Bunny, a cream ale brewed with corn; Mostly Harmless, a citra pale kolsch; Space Train, an India Pale Ale; Wicket Awesome, an ESB; and Moo Caliente, a Mexican milk stout. With no more than six-percent ABV, all of the beers have a low alcohol that makes them easier to drink.
“One of the things we’re focusing on — and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to make experimental, fun, big beautiful beers — sessionable,” Swift says. “We’re focusing on sitting back and having quite a few of these without falling on your ass.”
Casey Motes spent four years working at Saint Arnold Brewing Company and is best known for developing the recipe that became Art Car IPA. That professional experience should ensure Eureka Heights’s beers are consistent from batch to batch, which Motes defines as no more than two or three IBUs difference in any individual beer.
“It’s our responsibility for the industry and our business to get the highest quality stuff out the gate,” Motes says. “If we’re not happy, it goes down the drain. That gets tough when you start looking at budgets and times and the checking out, but that was something we decided early on.”
In addition to making easy-drinking beers that taste good, Eureka Heights also hopes its branding sets it apart. The beer names contain inside jokes or references — fans of science fiction author Douglas Adams will likely get a chuckle from Mostly Harmless’s dolphin with a towel — that show a quirky sense of humor. The brewery’s website even offers a link to an OkCupid profile.
If all goes according to plan, Eureka Heights could begin canning in year two, but for now the focus is on draft sales and building awareness. Eureka Heights can already be found in 35 bars in restaurants: mostly in and around the Heights but as far away Rockwell Tavern in Cypress and The Flying Saucer in Sugar Land.
The Saturday tap sessions are already providing popular with neighbors who can walk or bike to the brewery and a spacious parking lots makes it accessible for visitors from farther away, too. Since it’s classified as a “brewpub” by TABC, visitors can take beer from the brewery home in a 32-ounce crowler.