By Kate Skinner
A small yard and wide wrap-around porch greet patrons. A couple is seated, drinking cold beverages as a dog lay beside them. Music is playing in the background, but not necessarily the pop sensations found on the radio. The atmosphere feels familiar.
Inside, Blackwater Draw Brewing Company is equally as welcoming. Friends gather around their favorite beers, the bartender offers suggestions on tap, and tanks line the back wall, each with their own name. Owner Chris Steele sits at one of the raised tables. His business partner Chris Weingart stands on the catwalk as he monitors a coffee porter currently brewing.
Steele is the owner of another local pub, O’Bannon’s Taphouse, where he and Weingart worked together previously. Steele explains O’Bannon’s has helped influence the growing demand for craft beers locally.
“One day, Chris [Weingart] just threw it out there that he wanted to open a pub with me. A few days later I asked him if he was serious. Two years later, here we are,” says Steele. Together they have created a small brewery with the feel of a restaurant, Blackwater Draw.
As Steele describes his friendship with Weingart he says, “We built this place drinking beer and listening to Hank Williams III. We see ourselves as rebels, we like to push buttons; if you really get to know us, if you see us in action, it fits us. We like that we are different at Blackwater Draw. We are the ‘outlaws.’”
What makes Blackwater Draw different from other restaurants and bars? Steele says it’s the atmosphere. “The tanks were added to the front for that feel, right in front where you can see them. A lot of places keep them in the back. Chains that call themselves brewpubs often don’t really brew. Here, you walk in and you see it, you smell it, you hear it. Everything.” Located just behind Northgate in an old remodeled house, Blackwater Draw is a fairly new addition to College Station. As a brewpub, customers can enjoy the tastes of craft beers and a locally sourced menu, all prepared in-house.
But, why craft beers specifically? Steele says, “Because beer tastes good!”
“Craft beers allow such a wide variety. America is driving ingenuity in the beer industry. We are developing new beers the world has never seen – barrel beers, wild beers, new fermenting processes – American craft beer is bringing a new style and twist to the old brews. That’s what makes this so exciting,” says Steele.
While there are house favorites consistently on the menu, Blackwater Draw uses a SABCO pilot system to test new recipes and give customers the opportunity to try some of these ‘new beers’. Steele says when these beers are tapped, they are often gone within the day. Previous “One Offs” include double milk stout, brown ale brewed with habanero, jalapenos, and tabasco peppers, a Ginger Witbier with grapefruit and blood oranges, and the BWD Hefeweizen. With each new brew comes the different (and sometimes very bold) flavors that make the Blackwater Draw experience so unique.
However, Blackwater Draw is not only for the craft beer enthusiasts. The menu also includes brunch, dinner, kids, and late night selections. “We stay as local as we can and we try to keep it seasonal, based on the local market. The menu items are cooked on an open wood pit for a smoky flavor. We serve burgers, brats, grilled chicken, soups and salads,” says Steele. For those who are interested in expanding their palette, Blackwater Draw serves its own College Station Kolsch. “Everyone likes this. It’s a lighter bodied brewed ale, and easy to drink. We call this a session beer – you can sit around with friends and drink more than one,” says Steele.
Blackwater Draw is open every day, 11a.m. to 2a.m. and is located at 303 Boyett in College Station. For more information, visit www.blackwaterbrew.com or call (979) 703- 6170.