My Craft Beer Journey – Joey Williams
I think the best place to start with my writing here on Houston Beer Guide is by introducing myself and give any possible reason you might need to read through all of the opinions and nonsense I will, undoubtedly, be slinging your way through this site.
First things first, I’m nothing new or unique in the world of beer, craft beer or the Houston beer scene. I was not in it before most. I have been in the right place at the right time, a lot. I have been the benefactor of some very kind and important people in the local beer scene. I have done my best with most of the opportunities that have come my way and for all of these reasons; I’m in a place to have what I hope to be a unique perspective on things worth reading.
I got my start in beer out in Katy at a glorified bowling alley (think Dave & Buster’s…but not epic). I wasn’t much of a drinker at the time, and when I did drink it was some gimmicky liquor beverage made known to me by friends or pop culture. I was introduced to beer through Guinness and a story I’ve told more times than I can count.
After the bar, I ended up as a stocker/cashier at the Mason Rd. Spec’s location in Katy. While at the cash register, I grabbed a beer book we were selling and read through it during down time. I started buying different beers based on the book and my curiosity. Originally, I loved malt, hated hops (IPAs) and was confused by Belgians. I have read and drank just about everything beer I could get my hands on since then.
I eventually moved into the beer department at that location, then to the beer department at the location in the Target shopping center on Grand Parkway and Westheimer. It was there that an email came down from the Spec’s Craft & High End Import Beer Buyer, Justin Cody, that they were looking for a beer guy at the Smith St. location. I replied, expecting to be put in the queue for upward mobility behind whoever got the job.
Unwisely on their parts, Spec’s chose me to take the position as department manager at the Smith St. location, having never had any experience in management or actual work. It was here that I was introduced to the depth and diversity of the Houston beer community and where I discovered my favorite part of it. The community itself is my favorite part. View it as pandering or a cop out, but I am sincere in my statement. I have been on the receiving end of so much good, love and enjoyment from the Houston beer community, that it has my, nearly, undying dedication.
In my time at Spec’s, both Flying Saucer locations (Downtown & Sugar Land), and my current return to Spec’s, I have been fortunate to watch things change, evolve and grow. Texas beer is snowballing into a monster in and of itself, a monster I’m excited to support. Consumer taste, knowledge, curiosity and openness are astounding. Sours & wild ales couldn’t be given away in my first tenure at Spec’s Smith St. Now, “where are your sours?” is at the top of FAQs. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve used to be the only line item. Now, we do our best to compile special releases and handle the best we can to reduce the stress of lining up weekly for special releases.
The growth of available liquids, the creation of events, the birth of local breweries and most importantly the appearance of new faces on a constant basis is my favorite thing about Houston Beer. I plan to state my opinions, however contrary to yours they might be. I hope that you will fight me, tooth and nail, on them. But more, I hope that after we slug it out in a way that only internet debates can allow, we go grab a beer and enjoy what we have here