The New Revolver Brewing in North Texas

We all know spies come in from the cold. But apparently Texas beer guys do too.

That’s what I figured out yesterday in Granbury, a resolutely charming town in north Texas. And I did so by meeting the guys behind Revolver Brewing, a serious effort at introducing a profitable new craft beer to the Lone Star brewing scene. How serious? The Irving-born, A&M-educated brewmaster, Grant Wood, just wrapped up 16 years in Boston doing that job for Samuel Adams. And the manager (more like managing partner, really), Rhett Keisler, convinced his father to get behind the vision to move Rhett and his family home to Texas from a finance career in Toronto.

“We’d just had three hard winters there, shoveling snow,” Rhett offered as we recorded a segment for the Delicious Mischief radio show. “And my position was evolving in a way that would mean at least three more. Coming home to Texas sounds mighty good when you’re in a situation like that.”

We were chatting in a small, none-too-interesting office at Revolver, though only after Wood had given me a tour of the large new construction housing the brewing facilities. Just about everybody knows one or more “homebrewers” these days, and many of us have visited the first efforts of such people when they decide to go pro, but Revolver is not one of those. Plans call for a grand opening in October, starting off with brewery tours driving on-site sales plus distribution by the keg to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Considering Wood’s recent work, helping Sam Adams grow from a regional craft beer with strong New England roots to a phenomenon that appeals to all patriotic, beer-drinking Americans, the sky must feet like the limit at Revolver.

Thanks to his father’s 30 years with Marathon Oil, Rhett grew up in an odd assortment of locales, ranging from Ireland and Singapore to Midland and Houston. The latter city, he says, always felt like home, since that was where he went to junior high and high school. In keeping with his southern roots, he joined a financial firm in Florida – only to have them ship him off to Canada. After a trip through Germany with his brother, during which more than a few excellent brews were consumed, he started dreaming about applying his business expertise to a product he truly loved.

For his part, Wood majored in food science in College Station and graduated looking for a job. He ended up making picante sauce in San Antonio – an important task, to be sure, but not one that made him happy. He sent out his resume and ended up getting a call from that city’s Pearl Brewing Co., signing on as a lab technician, and later moved on to Lone Star. It was during these years that, as he puts it now, he discovered “how cool beer is.”

Making beer for two iconic Texas brands no doubt caught the eyes of the similarly iconic folks up in Boston. And that took Wood far from Texas, to yet another version of cold winters. When he spotted a notice about a startup in Granbury, the chance to do what he did back home was too good not to at least talk about.

“I learned a lot at Sam, and we made some really good beers,” Grant tells me. “But when I met Rhett, I could tell we have a lot of the same ideas about doing things right, about what a great beer should be and how it should be made. It’s supposed to taste like where it comes from, so in our case here in Texas, that means the Southwest.” He ponders a moment, then allows himself a smile. “Doing what I do, you have to be an artist and a scientist at the same time.”

The fact that Revolver is based in Granbury has a lot to do with Rhett’s father, Ron Keisler, who is active in the new business and now lives in nearby Pecan Plantation. The location for the 6,000-square-foot brewing complex  on 16.5 acres provides, according to Rhett, the perfect opportunity to live and work in the country – but also enjoy easy highway access to a large (craft beer-loving) metropolitan area. Whether Metroplex residents visit the brewery to buy Revolver or the brewery sends it closer to them, both the financial transaction and emotional relationship are waiting to happen.

Rhett and Grant are particularly enthused about Revolver’s water supply – it’s right there, 450 feet below the brewery in the Trinity Aquifer. Not only does this make it convenient, but it gives any beer made here a “local-foodie-artisanal” seal of approval, as do many other ingredients the partners intend to use. On top of that, the water is soft, pure and delicious. Think of all those beer commercials on TV showing steams of pure water dappling over rocks in the bright sunlight, and then just imagine that beneath your feet. That’s what the Trinity Aquifer brings to this beer.

A lot of words get tossed around in the brewing industry, as they do in wine, having to do with the amount of product that gets made. So yes, size does matter. And Rhett says he’s perfect happy to be considered a “micro-brewery” since projections call for Revolver to make only 1,500 barrels of beer its first year. Tasting three of those initial brews with the guys in that office tells me that Texas beer lovers have a lot to look forward to.

“Budweiser will probably spill more in a day than we’ll sell in a year,” Rhett laughs with considerable pride. Even here in size-obsessed Texas, I realize, bigger is definitely not better when it comes to our beer.

Photos: (top) Rhett Keisler and Grant Wood among the new Revolver tanks; (below) Hanging out the Revolver shingle just outside Granbury.

Comments

  1. Lezlie Gravens says:

    October?? Say it ain’t so! I had originally heard August! We can hardly wait!

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