Brewing up a dream in Conroe

CONROE, TX Brian Hutchins is head of sanitation services, tank maintenance and product quality, in this case, unpacking hops needed for the brewing process. But when you are one person in a company with three employees, multi-tasking is not an option, it's mandatory.

"We were able to build this warehouse and even in doing all the work ourselves, we saved tens of thousands of dollars by doing it ourselves and not hiring anyone," Hutchins explained. "It was fun."

Hutchins and partner Dave Fogeron really like beer -- so much, they decided to open their own brewery. Brewing, filling and packing 30 kegs at a time keeps them, for now, on a small scale. Not bad for business that's only been selling beer for about three months.

Co-owners of Southern Star Brewery, Fogeron and Hutchins took a whimsical approach to naming their company.

"It sounds catchy, doesn't it? We thought of it on a golf course and said, 'Well, it sounds southern.' The rest came to me in a dream," Fogeron recalled.

So far, the partners say they've seen a lot of money go into the project, but none coming back out just yet. Fogeron and Hutchins spent about a half million dollars from investors as well as money from their own pockets to get Southern Star Brewery started. Hutchins has a construction background and Fogeron worked at a bigger local brewery.

Pine Belt Pale Ale is so named for the Piney Woods. It's canned at the brewery, and available at some area pubs and liquor stores.

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