Whole Foods’ first-ever in-store brewpub is now open for business and pouring pints. Whole Foods Market Brewing Co. opened on November 6 in the new Post Oak location in Houston, Texas, with a lineup of house brews, including the produce-aisle inspired Sweet Potato Weizenbock.
The five-barrel system, with the capacity to produce 400–500 barrels annually, is headed up by Dave Ohmer (pictured at top), who comes to Whole Foods via SawWorks Brewing in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he worked as brewmaster.
The beer list, says Ohmer, is never ending with no true flagships. The brews at launch included a 5.0 percent ABV pale ale, a 4.6 percent ABV Hefeweizen, a hoppy session ale clocking at 4.2 percent ABV, and the sweet potato-spiced weizenbock. Their latest release is Yoga Beard, an 8.6 percent ABV old ale aged on organic dates from the produce department.
With aisles and shelves of organic and natural ingredients, recipe inspiration is abundant for Whole Foods Brewing Co.
"We have all the finest all natural ingredients just right outside our brewery doors, so I love exploring the store and gaining inspiration from all the departments,” says Ohmer. “Plus having all these passionate team members to educate me on their favorite items and tell me about seasonal items to come really helps get beer ideas going.”
And the beer will also be making its way into the food, says Ohmer, including in-house sausages from the meat department made with their Hefeweizen, beer-braised lamb shanks from the prepared foods section, or house-smoked salmon made with beer in the brining liquid.
WFM Brew Pub03The on-site bar has twenty taps, about eight of which will be pouring in-house beers, and two beer engines for cask ales.
Houston has a steady craft-beer scene, including the oldest brewery in Texas, St. Arnold Brewing Company, as well as younger breweries, such as The Lone Pint and Buffalo Bayou, that have been making a name for themselves. But there is also room to grow, says Karma Clark, the Southwest Regional Specialty Coordinator for Whole Foods.
"Houston is on an aggressive growth trajectory in the craft brewing industry with a community that is ravenous for the local craft experience. The Post Oak/Galleria community is underserved in the craft beer industry momentum, and we’re thrilled to fill the demand.”
In-house breweries will possibly be incorporated into future locations and renovations, says Clark. In San Jose, California, Whole Foods recently announced the company’s second in-house brewery and first on-site microbrewery and taproom in California. Called Mission Creek Brewing Company, it is led by brewmaster Guy Cameron, formerly of Russian River Brewing Company, and is set to open on December 9.
Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine™ can be found in select Whole Foods Markets nationwide.