First Houston, then Conroe, then Katy. Now Sugar Land is getting a craft brewery of its own -- Fort Bend Brewing -- and the momentum created by the rash of brewery openings in 2011 seems determined to continue into 2012.
Fort Bend Brewing plans to open early next year, starting small with a 30-barrel brewhouse under the watchful eye of head brewer Jeff King (formally of Kreuz Creek) and with the assistance of Jamie Fulton, a well-known brewmaster and winner of several World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival awards.
Late last year, Fulton unexpectedly closed his popular Fort Worth brewpub, Covey. It came mere weeks after Fulton took home six awards at the 2010 Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition: two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. His planned move to Washington, D.C. to open a brewpub called Farmers & Brewers apparently didn't pan out, but Texas is ready to welcome Fulton back with open arms.
Fulton and King are joined in the venture by Ty Coburn, Ray Self, and Barry Beard. Coburn, who will serve as general manager of the brewery, is optimistic that his team will bring something a little different to Houston's fast-growing craft beer scene.
"In our state and local area, there are some great breweries producing some fantastic crafts, and believe that our commitment to offering a wide variety of high-quality brews, we'll add to, and enhance what is out there today," said Coburn.
"While I can't claim to be an excellent long-time brewer like Jeff or Ray, I can claim success in business, but more importantly, a life-long brew drinker. We get to combine the things we love doing."
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Coburn expects the first kegs and bottles to be produced in late May of 2012, with no specific plans for distribution at this time other than "wherever great beers are sold." The new beers will join offerings from fellow craft breweries like Buffalo Bayou and City Acre, both of which are also hoping to push production into high gear in 2012.