Contributor Introduction: Bryan “CHoPS!” Soliz
My journey into beer started with my HATE for beer… my father’s beer (Bud Light). I remember being offered sips of this beverage at parties and many social gatherings of our expanded hispanic family, when I was younger, and never understanding how anyone could enjoy. When I finally became of age I figured beer just wasn’t for me and ventured into liquor and mixed drinks. Until I was introduced to Shiner Bock that my LOVE for beer began. It was not just the first flavor of beer I enjoyed but was to me the epitome of Texas Beer. I had seen it in movies, on television and even on draft walls out of state. With my new openness to this bubbly beverage, I began searching for more, and in my search I had heard of a local brewery out in Houston, close to Hempstead and Highway 290, called Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
This was my real life “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” moment. Pulling up to this warehouse district I didn’t expect much until I saw droves of people parking up and down the street to get to this hidden gem. Walking in I expected a Willy Wonka type to pop out and tell me about the “snozberries” and low and behold but a few minutes later my hopes were met with reality as Brock Wagner climbed atop his podium and began his introduction speech about the brewery. I have to admit at that moment I was hooked on the experience, and hadn’t even tried the beer yet. After waiting in a short line I grabbed my first Saint Arnold’s Lawnmower and it was like those cartoon moments in the Disney’s Ratatouille when fireworks go off in the rat’s head. I had to take it all in. Aside from the beer, the brewery, the over the top intro by the founder/owner, I was amazed by the friendliness of people there. Conversations started about how many times people had come to this brewery, visited other breweries and how many had attempted homebrew. Before my idea of a brewery was just an industrial nightmare, not this familiar, connected community of beer enthusiast. The idea of craft beer was lost on me until I stepped into this alt world that had been hidden in plain sight. My universe expanded that day, I saw the world in a different light and my appreciation for craft beer was born. Since then Saint Arnold Brewing Company has not only moved to a bigger location but actually helped push forth a movement to help other independent brewers come to fruition. Now just in the Houston area alone there are over 60 craft breweries/brewpubs that are sharing their artisan brews with crowds big and small. I have only had the chance to try but a few, however my goal is to try them all, one pint at a time.
Fellow beer enthusiasts, I am Bryan Soliz, a local chef known to many as CHoPS!. My love of craft beer goes beyond just enjoying a tasty beverage, I also use beer in a lot of my cooking, from braising, marinades, and even in baking. Being French culinary trained we used wine in most of our cooking procedures but I have adjusted my menu to utilize local beers. Working in the hospitality industry had given me an upper hand in knowledge of product. I have had server cicerone training to better sell beer. I enjoy being able to talk about something I am passionate about and that shown in my increased beverage sales and customer retention.
My goals for being a part of Houston Beer Guide is not only spread knowledge of what great brewing establishments are here in Houston but also about the people involved and their journeys. Please follow us and help our beer community thrive.