By Terry Card
Behind every business, there is a story. Its parts may be the building, the location, or the entrepreneur who started the business. The story behind the Devil and the Deep Brewery is unusual in that this story is populated by all three.
First, there is the entrepreneur. Eric Walker was born 35 years ago in Tucson, Arizona. His father was a mechanic who restored classic cars. He attended high school in Oregon and upon graduation crossed the width of the country, ending in Maine. He was a patriot who wanted to contribute to keeping our country safe, joining first the Navy and then the Army. While in the Army he arrived to do battle in Iraq. Finally, he was transferred to Ft. Hood just outside Austin. In 2011, he moved to Galveston.
He had always been interested in brewing beer starting with home brewing, then learned the trade by volunteering at different breweries, which allowed him to get to know another mid 30 year old, Mark Del’Osso, the founder of Galveston Island Brewery.
Finally, by 2016 he decided that it was time for him to go ahead with his dream. He interested financial backers in his project, found a location for his brewpub in the Hendley building, and was excited to finally bring everything he had dreamed about to fruition. Suddenly, the rug was pulled out from under him when foundation problems with the building were discovered. Everything he had worked for disappeared overnight. He was devastated!
This young patriot and war veteran, his dream shattered, received a phone call a week later from a buddy of his, Jimmy McClure, the owner of Jimmy’s On the Pier. Jimmy said he had heard what had happened and offered to lease him a building he had just purchased.
Location? It had been the old Loading Dock Bar, a popular and well-known location.
Building? It was perfect because prior to being The Loading Dock, the building had been used for fabrication and had bay doors, ideal for his concept of not just a bar, but a brewpub, with a need for delivery access, and space for brewing equipment. It was even better than the Hendley building.
Sometimes good people do get rewarded. As Eric said, “It was unbelievable! It just came out of the blue! How do you explain it?”
However, he did not need to be prodded to take advantage of his good fortune. He applied to the City for a variance in May 2017, and by August 22nd took delivery of his Brite Tank, and by December 1st had created his first experimental batch. By December 7th, he and his partners, Chris David, Landers Weakly, and Daniel Torres had the gas lines and a new 4” water main installed. The bathroom had to be renovated and rebuilt, a new bar installed and general painting done, but by February 2nd, 2018, the Devil and the Deep Brewery was opened for business, completely self-financed with the help of their investors. Fortuitously, this was just in time for Mardi Gras!
Since the large breweries like Anheuser-Busch essentially control the domestic beer market, the only way to compete is to craft your own beer. This was behind the decision to open a brewpub. When he first started he turned to friends like Mark Del’Osso for advice on how best to proceed.
He decided that he wanted to brew beer that used a single hop recipe. This allowed him to create clean middle of the road beer with a style that balanced the bitterness of hops with the malt used in the beer process. The beer ranges from 4.4% alcohol to 8% which Eric brews in 5 barrel tanks, all named after his investors, or in one case, after the investor’s dog. The next five tanks will all be named after dogs. The pub is dog-friendly, as one would guess. Two of the more popular clean beers are the Blonde and the amber, both of which have a wonderfully balanced taste.
His customer mix has no social or demographic delineation. Right now, his clientele is about 70% local and 30% tourist, but he expects that to change over the summer through hotel advertising and creating liaisons with bar managers, in order to allow him to install a craft brew tap in their bar.
His future plans, besides getting his product into bars and restaurants, is to follow some of his compatriots in the craft beer industry by having canned beer distributed in stores. He also wants to create new specialty beers, such as traditional Belgian beer and sour beer, for which there is a viable niche market. The sour beer is not clean like the beer he now brews. To produce it, he would require a new brewhouse because the bacteria required to create the lactic acid for sour beer needs more time than in the clean beer process. The advantage of the sour beer is that entirely new flavors can be created.
The inside area is populated by picnic tables which allows plenty of space for hosting parties and wakes, which with the Irish turns out to be a party anyway, and for inviting young lecturers such as Dr. Anna Lepley, who talked about the health benefits of beer in her presentation last month. Plans are also underway to bring in vintage video games, a pool table, two foosball tables, followed by a foosball league.
Although food is not available, patrons can bring in food from anywhere, by food delivery or take-out. The pub staff is easy going and super friendly.
Art Director and partner, Daniel Torres, is busily preparing for the next ArtWalk June 2nd. Artists are invited to place their works in the pub. Unlike most arrangements where art is shown in a gallery, the artists get to keep all of the proceeds. The advantage to the Devil and the Deep Brewery is that the art community gets to know them and ArtWalk visitors become familiar with their establishment.
Located at 2425 Postoffice St. on the southeast corner of Postoffice and 25th Street, The Devil and the Deep Brewery is open Wednesday-Thursday 3-10pm, Friday 3pm-12 midnight, Saturday 12 noon-12 midnight, and Sunday 12 noon-10pm. For more information call (409)220-3313.