By Alex Bourquein
In Bryan College Station, the self-brew beer movement has small, yet promising, roots. B-CS Zoigl, a community brewery in Bryan, and Hullabaloo Brewing Company, a self-brew kit service, are making it possible for residents to take brewing beer into their own hands.
At the B-CS Zoigl in Downtown Bryan, you can enjoy everything from a frothy German beer to homemade kombutcha to English-style bitters. The catch is…to use the brewery’s equipment, a brewer must own at least one share out of the company’s 1,000 shares. This idea comes from the philosophy of the word “zoigl” itself.
Zoigl is the German word for “sign” and comes out of a culture that embraces the idea of community brewing. In the times of true zoigl in eastern Bavaria, neighbors would take turns brewing the beer with the help of other community members, and hang a sign outside their door. That residence would become the local pub for the weekend until the beer ran out and another neighbor took the helm.
“The brewery is an idea that has been a year in the making,” says Steve Guetersloh, director of B-CS Zoigl. “First Friday in January was our first big day, but we had to have equipment on the ground for a year and a lease on the property in order for the federal permits to get approved. It usually takes 90 days, but the [beer brewing] fad hit and my permit took 274 days to be processed.
“Our intention was to stay as true to the idea of Zoigl as we can, and because of the federal permits, we obviously can’t move around like in the old days,” continues Guetersloh. “We have community brewing, but it has to remain on-site.”
From start to finish, a fresh batch of beer takes two to three weeks to make, with the mashing and cooking taking five to six hours in one day and the fermenting taking a majority of the time.
Bryan’s only Biergarten is located in the wooden fenced area behind the Square One Downtown Bryan Event Center & Loft (which is open for patrons who want to escape the heat). Nestled among trees draped in string lights are picnic tables for beer enthusiasts and newcomers alike to sit down and enjoy a pint. Beer can be purchased on-site from a rotating selection of beers available at the brewery and customers do not have to be brewers to enjoy the beer that B-CS Zoigl offers.
“In the age of exotic beer recipes, I’m sticking with the traditional German beer style,” says Guetersloh. “And if you join the company, you can come brew the beer yourself.”
In the search for a great beer, some times you don’t have to go further than your own front door. Hullabaloo Brewing Company is an operation that offers home-brew kits letting beer drinkers make their own beer. The kits are $25 and can make up to 5 gallons of freshly brewed beer within a few hours.
The company started in 2014; it is not affiliated with the similarly named local diner. Hullabaloo Brewing Company owner Greg Deeter says the company names are coincidence, noting Hullaballo Brewing Company sells kits, not beer.
“The kits have been a real hit with fraternity houses in the area,” says Deeter. “We have gone in with our kits, taught them how to make their own beers for parties, and now they are saving money because they can make mass quantities of beer for a fraction of the cost.”
An important factor to the home kits is they do not sacrifice quality for quantity. With a home brew kit, you can have the freshest beer possible, whereas other commercial German beers (particularly Bavarian beers) can travel up to 7,000 miles over several weeks just to make it to the local grocery store.
Hullabaloo Brewing Company also offers what they call “faster than Amazon” same-day delivery within a 50-mile radius around Texas A&M University. Public brewing classes are planned at Fox & Hound, The Village Café, and Blackwater Draw. The kits are available for purchase at Paradise Liquors in College Station and the Blackwater Draw Restaurant.
“Beyond freshness, you can add versatility to the flavor and your own fruits,” says Deeter. “With our kits, you control the process.”