Porter brewery creates sanctuary for beer drinkers

PORTER, Texas -- Bobby Harl started brewing his own beer while he was in college. However, it took several attempts to hone the recipes Greater Houston area residents recognize from Back Pew Brewing today.

Harl, an engineer by trade, got serious about brewing while working on his doctorate and Master of Business Administration at Vanderbilt University.

While living in Tennessee for college, he volunteered for Yazoo Brewing Company and worked with a startup brewery called Little Harpeth Brewing, where he was a quality control manager. With Little Harpeth, Harl learned to brew better and create a business plan.

"Every time me and my buddy homebrewed, we thought, 'Oh it'd be great to start a brewery,'" Harl said. "You're a few beers in, and it's a really great idea. Then maybe the batch goes bad and you think, 'Man this is a terrible idea.'"

Harl has figured out a formula that has led to rapid growth for his brewing company, which is situated on 14 acres at a former church in Porter.

Less than two years after Back Pew opened its doors, its brews can be found in more than 400 bars, restaurants and stores, including H-E-B and Kroger grocery stores and several liquor stores in the Lake Houston area.

The brewery is already canning two of its beer offerings with plans to add a third-a lighter beer called Evil Doer-this summer. The pale ale is slated for a short run until the cans run out around September, Harl said.

Back Pew is also expanding its capacity. Harl said the company has purchased four fermenters that will allow him to produce enough beer to supply large grocery stores.

"We're at capacity right now. I can't flip those tanks any faster, so we have four new big ones coming in in mid-July," Harl said. "It's doubling our capacity, and that should allow us to get more places better."

The brewery also hosts food trucks and live music to provide a fun environment each Saturday.

"There's nothing hard about hanging out and having a beer," Harl said. "If there is, you did it wrong-it shouldn't be a complex thing."

This story comes from our partners at Community Impact Newspaper.

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