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When we opened our first store, just over nine years ago, we very much defined ourselves by the Brewer's Association definition of a craft brewer. At the time this seemed appropriate, though it's worth noting that the BA is a trade organization, intent on defining a brewer, not a craft beer retail bottle shop or tap room. As we grew and watched the very small industry around us grow, we realized that it was time we figured out who the heck we were.
Much of 2014 was spent hammering out our mission (and trinity): amazing beer, hospitality, and education! The first four years of our business, we didn't buy or sell beer that was brewed by those breweries that controlled the majority of the beer brewed in the world, breweries like AB-InBev, MillerCoors, and Gambrinus. Later that same year we made a decision to stop dividing ourselves from others, by what beer we bought and sold. We actually wanted to stop keeping score and let what was at our core be the shining star in our stores: really amazing beer!
So craft beer, to us, is incredible beer. It's that simple!
And no, you will not find macro-brewed beer, wine, cider, sake and liquor at Craft Beer Cellar, but don't be suprised if we carry or support a damned good beer that doesn't exactly have craft or artisanal ownership.
We are a craft beer bottle shop, whose primary focus has always been the best beer that we can get our hands on. We spend our lives in search of beers made in breweries just down the street or on the other side of the world, that are well-crafted and good examples of either their style or what we think excellent beer should be, keeping in mind that "style" is not everything. We are not snobs, we are beer geeks! We are students of our trade and take great pride in learning everything we can about beer; how it's made, what the ingredients are, what we should drink it from, and what food a beer pairs well or can be made with. We like to tinker with draft systems, tap faucets and kegs, and have been known to brew some pretty ridiculous beer, ourselves. We are your local good beer bottle shop and in many states, tap room, for on-premise draft service or sip-n-shop; craft beer isn’t just a section of the store for us! Many of our stores offer limited food service, as well as an extensive selection of books, glassware, homebrew supplies and other related merchandise.
As our industry has grown and changed so quickly in the past few years, around beer laws, distribution, brewing, and brewery tap rooms, with own-and-off premise sales, we've had to tweak our product sets, too. Some Craft Beer Cellar locations have stewarded larger wine sections and helped us understand and explore how this will become a more important aspect of what Craft Beer Cellar does. So far, we've enjoyed learning so much about grapes and tiny producers, blenders and vineyards across the globe. We've experimented with Biodynamic Wines and look forward to pulling together a company-wide wine philosophy and porfolio that we all can be proud of.
All beer geeks in all of our stores are Apprentice Beercierge or Cicerone® Certified Beer Servers. Store Owners are Certified Cicerone® and Certified Beercierge, by Craft Beer Cellar standard; many go on to obtain higher certifications. Rest assured that we have studied & researched every single beer in our stores, before we made a decision to put it on the shelf.
Our customers are the reason we exist and you should expect to be treated like you are important to us! We carry boxes to cars, make great eye contact, genuinely care how your day is going, and are not afraid to own our mistakes, if we screw something up. In addition to amazing beer and education, it is our goal to ensure you always have an unbelievable experience at any Craft Beer Cellar!
And yes, call us a Franchise if you like, because that’s what we are. But we are also a crew of independently owned Craft Beer Cellar stores. We are committed to driving the growth and awareness of craft beer (and other products) through hospitality, education and the exceptional products we choose to carry.
Craft Beer Cellar Houston is located in the old Southern Pacific Railroad building in downtown Houston. The building was built in 1914 and much of the outer wall of the store is in its original condition (we find a piece of history every so often; not too long ago we pulled a 1911 newspaper out of the wall). We've done our best to retain the older look of the store, while fixing it up.
People often recognize our space as the previous home of the Kitchen Incubator aka League of Extraordinary Brewers and one of the more interesting eviction stories you will hear (we won't get into details on that one, but we're sure Google can assist). We are the largest store in the Craft Beer Cellar franchise, we serve food, have 60 taps and a retail store that larger than many CBC locations. We hope you'll join us sometime to pick out some great Texas (or elsewhere) beers!
I grew up in Houston, out by 1960 and 290. I lived here until I was 12 when I moved to St. Louis. I went to college at Mizzou and then spent five years overseas in China before returning to Missouri to help open Craft Beer Cellar Columbia. Over the years I've been a server, cook, writer, business owner, poker blogger and consultant/teacher; but none of them have been as rewarding as being a Beervangelist.
While living in China, I was first introduced to craft beer when I grew tired of drinking Tsingtao beer out of plastic grocery bags from the local corner store. After beginning to learn a little bit about craft beer I was approached by some friends to start a Craft Beer Cellar in Missouri and I jumped at the chance.
After two great years, I decided I wanted to return to Houston and start my own store in the heart of downtown. Most days you'll find me tooling around the store, with the help of my wife Mary, working on making our store the best it can be!