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A dollhouse of beer: New homey craft beer brewpub looks to shake up the drinks scene

A dollhouse of beer: New homey craft beer brewpub looks to shake up the drinks scene

Darla, City Acre, October 2012
The Victorian-style house that is home to City Acre Brewpub (as well as founders Matt Schlabach and Meredith Borders) was built in the 1970s and contains handcrafted touches like stained glass windows. Photo by Darla Guillen
Darla, City Acre, October 2012
Chowing down on Santo-marinated sausage and sauerkraut sauteed in Lawnmower at CABtoberfest. Photo by Darla Guillen
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, estate, brewery
The beautiful estate will eventually house the the brewpub. Photo by Joanna Mok/Flickr
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, owners, Matt Schlabach, Meredith Borders
Owners Matt Schlabach and Meredith Borders enjoy the success of another Sneak Peek. Photo by Joanna Mok/Flickr
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, Daniel Glover
Daniel Glover pours a pint of the Bayouwulf India Black Ale. Photo by Joanna Mok/Flickr
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, guests, crowd, venue
Sneak Peek invitees line up for a taste of the Texan German fare. Photo by Joanna Mok/Flickr
Darla, City Acre, October 2012
Darla, City Acre, October 2012
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, estate, brewery
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, owners, Matt Schlabach, Meredith Borders
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, Daniel Glover
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, guests, crowd, venue
Darla, City Acre Brewing, October 2012, brewery

To say that City Acre Brewing Co. treats its guests like family is an understatement. Arriving at the dollhouse-like Victorian-style homestead, I sat on the grass and chatted with friends as though we were in our own backyards.

Off the beaten path and outside of the inner Loop, this forthcoming brewpub offers the convenience of being just 10 minutes north of downtown in a beautiful 1970s construction that took six years to build. The original owner’s craftsmanship is evidenced by the stained glass work throughout the house, which is also home to City Acre founders Matt Schlabach and Meredith Borders.

 The guests voted for their favorite autumnal beer by tossing golf tees into one of three labeled pint glasses. 

Schlabach and Borders invited several Houstonians over for CABtoberfest, a sneak peek of upcoming brews and food pairings. The guests voted for their favorite autumnal beer by tossing golf tees into one of three labeled pint glasses. This was a tough decision given that all of the cleverly named brews were distinct and delicious.

The offerings included a malty Märzen named Leaf Drop Oktoberfest, a smooth, hoppy dark pint called Bayouwulf India Black Ale and a darker Hefeweizen-Doppelbock hybrid that the couple has dubbed Vexation Weizenbock. Four rotating City Acre beers will share a tap wall with 15 to 20 other Houston-based brews once the place starts pouring in 2013.

City Acre will also serve a tasty, sustainable food menu to pair with the craft beers. The Texan-German pub fare is homemade and comforting with a gourmet twist that Schlabach calls “nice but not fancy.”

Menu Secrets

The last time I came for a pairings event, Borders and Schlabach served pulled pork tacos alongside Brussels sprouts slaw. This time around they offered a slightly-spicy sausage marinated in Saint Arnold's Santo and served in a corn husk (it’s not a tamale!) with sauerkraut sautéed in Saint Arnold’s Lawnmower. Other sides included caramelized onions and homemade, honey-infused mustard made with Karbach’s Sympathy for the Lager and malty German hard rolls, otherwise known as broetchen.

  “The Texas component of our concept allows us a lot of flexibility with the Cajun, Mexican and Slavic influences of the area.” 

A longtime homebrewer, Schlabach is using the leftover spent grain from the brewing process to harvest City Acre’s on-site garden, which will provide the bulk of the ingredients. Everything they serve will be grown in the garden, made in-house or sourced from a nearby manufacturer.

“We will utilize our resources wisely and stretch them out through pickling and preserving techniques,” Schlabach says. “The Texas component of our concept allows us a lot of flexibility with the Cajun, Mexican and Slavic influences of the area.”

This will come in handy for the harvest dinners that the couple plans to host throughout 2013. These special meals will feature local, seasonal ingredients gathered especially for that season with beer to pair with each course.

City Acre is hosting events and previews leading up to the official opening. Sign up on the mailing list to cast your vote and weigh in on the pub's first official menu.