After chatting at Rudyard's and sampling some food and beer (see the rest of our conversation here and here), chef Joe Apa and I took an impromptu road trip to Conroe's Southern Star Brewery. Immediately, we were in awe of this grass-roots operation. It's a total craft brewery. Tall fermenting tanks stood like giants waiting to piss their yeasty discharge, sacks of hops were lying around waiting to be ground for better brewing, and several processing tanks with cool nicknames like, Jezebel and Dr. Seuss, stood proud. Apa and I took the unscheduled tour while drinking some of Southern Star's experimental beers, like a smoke porter or a bock that tasted like root beer to me.
We finished our tour with Nappy the brewery tabby cat accompanying us. Apa was enthralled by the cat, which the tour guide said was there to keep the varmints out because of all the grain that attracted them.
My favorite part of the tour was watching the guy who cans all the beer brewed there canning two beers at a time on a little machine. Apa talked shop with the beer guys, and I bothered the tour guide for more beer. The brewers, wearing rubber boots and shorts, walked around penciling figures about yeast amounts down and talking about getting to the home-brewers' store before it closed while Apa and I asked questions. Turns out the "spent" grain gets sent to a local farmer for the cattle to eat. Imagine a piece of meat that has had nothing but beer grain to eat its whole life - can you say "barbecue"?
EOW: What are your inspirations?
JA: David Garrido and Monica Pope.
EOW: What is your favorite beer?
JA: Real Ale Full Moon Rye.
EOW: Rachael Ray, Paula Dean or Martha Stewart, you have to fight one, fuck one or marry one. Go!
JA: I would fight Martha -- tall woman, good reach -- fuck Rachael Ray, duh, and marry Paula Dean. You know those southern women would take care of you.
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