A special “thank you” to James Simpson, Host of KPRC AM 950 Houston’s “What’s on Tap?” Radio Show for giving us a run down on the beer industry in Texas.
Please pardon any typos, below is a hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey Guys, welcome to Texas Business Radio. I’m your host Matt Register, here is always with Jay curry. We have a great show for you today. We’re going to jump right into it. Beer is a big business in Texas. And beer is going to be a lot of fun today. We’re going to talk to guys who know a lot about the beer industry. We’re going to talk to people who brew beer; big brewers, small brewers. We got it all in Texas and we’re going to cover it today. Jay what’s going on sir?
Jay Curry: I’m really looking forward to this one.You talk about you always want to enjoy your business. Well this is one you can really enjoy: the beer business.
Matt Register: Well and speaking of, I have my friend James Simpson here. And he just taught me a new rule is you don’t crack the beer until the mikes are live. So, while we’re… while we’re there.
James Simpson: Oh we’re going to do it.
Matt Register: And we’ll go ahead get it get started.
James Simpson: This is the beer that started it all for me.
Matt Register: Yes.
James Simpson: Southern Star Brewing Company, Bombshell Blonde. This is the beer that created this empire.
Matt Register: That’s awesome, you know, guys go and get your questions in. I need to get some questions for some of these guys. We have 24 hour call in line 844-814-8144 is the 24 hour call in line. Use Twitter #TBR or go to the Web site Texasbusinessradio.com. You can see this entire thing in beautiful high definition video. If you have ever wondered what Mr. James Simpson looks like after hearing him on the radio. You can see it right there, Texasbusinessradio.com. James Simpson host of What’s On Tap, Sundays on KPRC am 950, 3 to 5 p.m.
James Simpson: And nation wide via the I Heart Radio app.
Matt Register: And nation wide.
James Simpson: I had to throw that in there.
Matt Register: That’s exactly right. James, what’s up sir?
James Simpson: I appreciate you having me in and you have beer, I’m here.
Matt Register: That’s it’s. You had me a beer.
James Simpson: What did the negotiations? Ah Beer. That’s it.
Matt Register: Well, I tell you what, we have you in because you are the, the guru, in… that I know at least, of the beer industry. Tell me about the beer industry because this is a big business.
James Simpson: Oh, it is massive. It’s, it’s growing at a rapid pace. Where we have no idea what’s going to happen. Here in Texas, I mean we’re, we’re a little below the curve, you know, but like states like California or Oregon or Colorado. But Texas is slowly making their way into the craft beer world or the beer world as well.
Matt Register: Well so tell me a little bit about the market. You know we have, we have big breweries. We have…
James Simpson: Yes.
Matt Register: Small, you know, craft beer, micro-brew, small guys and then we go all the way down to you know thousands of guys in a garage that have their own home-brew set up. Right?
James Simpson: It all kind of starts when they’re in their garage. And then people start brewing like “Hey you know what? I wanna…I want to open my own brewery” and that’s where we are. I mean many people were just tired of drinking what was always told what they have to drink and then “hey, I’m going to create my own business”. And that’s where it created and now it’s where you know the Car Boxed, the St. Arnolds. You know, so forth.
Matt Register: We have more options than Bud or Bud Light.
James Simpson: That’s where we are now. People want options. People want variety and they’re not just going to say “hey, I’m going to be OK with the domestic light lagers”. They want the IPA’s, the stouts, the porters and that’s what these breweries are put out for them, variety.
Matt Register: So you attend all of the events and there’s events all over the state.
James Simpson: I try to make them all. Like I said in the beginning, I means it’s growing so fast, I can’t even keep up. And so I had to pick and choose of where I’m going to be and I try to get out in front of people and talk and learn about their business.
Matt Register: But these beer festivals are a great way to find out…
James Simpson: Oh yeah.
Matt Register: These small startup breweries and some them have some very good, you know, very good beer. Right?
James Simpson: Yeah. The best, the best way to get into trying different beer is that, yeah beer festivals. I mean there’s a beer festival every week and I think there’s one, I think there’s two of them going on probably today and two of them going on tomorrow.
Matt Register: Right.
James Simpson: But yeah, go out there and talk to the Breweries. Talk to the taste of beer. Write down what you like. That’s a key when you go out to these events. Write what you like and write which you don’t. Because when you go to the supermarket or the bar that is the Wild West. You walk into that your Specs. I mean you see how many beer brands there are, how many styles.
Jay Curry: It’s unreal.
James Simpson: Yeah, it’s intimidating. But if you go to a beer event and you write down what you like. you go “oh yeah, hey I like that bombshell blonde by Southern Star”. And then you buy it and you take it home and you enjoy it. It’s not a risk where he spent seven to eight dollars on something you didn’t like.
Matt Register: Sure. This is a tough business. I mean food and beverage is a very, very notoriously tough business.
James Simpson: Competitive.
Matt Register: It’s incredibly competitive, I mean like you said. You go in to grocery stores, you see hundreds of brands and hundreds of brands vying for that same dollar. Right? So a guy that is a home-brew enthusiast, right? That has come up with a recipe that he thinks will resonate in the market. What is the difference between the guys who really make it and the ones who just kind of sputter along and don’t. Because they’re all not created equal and I have to imagine that not every good beer actually makes it out into the market.
James Simpson: It’s drive. Who really wants to put that next beer out there. So people go OK you know I, I feel like this beer could do it but I just don’t know. It’s somebody who’s like, you know what? Dammit, I’m going to do this. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to put this beer in front of the people. And tell… and let them tell me that this is the best beer. That’s what it is.
Matt Register: Yeah. Well you know because, you know, we… just… I mean just like in business. I mean a lot of, you know, that entrepreneur has to be, you know, entrepreneurs don’t have balance lives, right? They know where their talents lies. You know they live for that work and live for that product, live to push and push and push. And especially in a market like, like the food and beverage market, which is so competitive anyway, is, is not something that is, that is easy. Now we’re going to have, you know, here coming up in the next couple of segments, we’re going to have big brewers, we’re going to have small breweries. Tell me some of your favorites.
James Simpson: My favorites are the smaller ones. The Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company. Here is Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company.. they are innovators. They take a style and they just remix it. They put flowers in it. They’ll put ginger. Whatever it may be, just because, you know what, they want to put out artistic beers that nobody else is doing. And that’s going to be a brewery that’s going to stand out to most because, you know, some, you know, they’ll put out their wits. I mean there hepavisions, there IPA and report but Buffalo Bayou says you know what. No, we’re going to just be the scientists that we are and we’re just going to put out something that’s so radical.
Matt Register: Turn it all on its head, try something different.
James Simpson: Exactly. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Also a brewery out in Katy, No Label brewing company. You know they’ll take a a a a a beer and like, hey let’s add just 60 pounds of raw and unseeded jalapenos and then.
Jay Curry: See what happens.
James Simpson: Or see what happens. Yeah. Or so what. Yeah and in that they’re just launched. And then they’re like hey what if we did it with Hatch peppers. And then of course you have this Southern Star Brewing Company that just created it all. I mean they were that second out of St. Arnolds. They opened their doors in 2007 and they just put out the beers that just nailed that style. The Blond, there Barry Hatchett stouts, their Pine Belt and now they’re just doing all these creative beers like their conspiracy theory and new pale ales. These are beers that people just are thirsty for. And so these are the ones that I’m telling people to put their, you know their eye out. I mean these are Houston local area. I mean every beer that you buy goes right back into the community.
Matt Register: Sure.
James Simpson: And these are, you know, these are hard working men and women that brew all day, every day, seven days a week and put out a great product.
Matt Register: Well, Houston is a great beer market but… But San Antonio, Austin, Dallas as well. They’re all have a very robust market with this. I mean there’s not a small one out of the major metros in Texas.
James Simpson: Not anymore.
Jay Curry: That’s the fun part of it.
James Simpson: Yeah, it’s exciting.
Jay Curry: Every cities different. If you go traveling across Texas. You can have a totally different experience.
James Simpson: And that’s one of my favorite things to do. When you go to a different city like Dallas, San Antonio, Austin. Say, hey what do you have that’s local.
Matt Register: Sure.
James Simpson: Try what they’re doing right.
Matt Register: Well I’ve got a couple of friends that are beer enthusiast. And you know, I always love very niche radio shows that have a following and a mark. I mean when you have, you know, beer enthusiast those guys are enthusiasts. They’re spending money and effort and time and a lot of energy on it. And it’s really not… I mean the reason why I brought you on… and I enjoy beer. If you see me, you can tell I enjoy a beer or two every now and then. But I certainly don’t, you know, put the energy into it that some of the enthusiasts do. Right?
James Simpson: Well that’s the thing is like there was nothing nobody talking about beer. And it was you know you have different other shows, niche shows but there was nobody talking about this industry that’s just growing so fast. And honestly what makes my show so successful is the fact that the market is doing so well with beer. I’m just riding the coattails of these breweries.
Matt Register: Well, I think you picked the right time. James Simpson and thanks for letting me be on your show last week. I enjoyed it.
James Simpson: You know I appreciate you.
Matt Register: Well hey and thanks for coming on and sharing some of your knowledge of the beer industry. Guys we’re talking beer and every beer is a big business in Texas, a big business. You know we’re all about business but beer is a very, very big business. We’re going to be back and we’re going to bring you some big breweries. We’re going to bring you some small breweries and get to the bottom of… What does it take for these guys to get launched in this very, very ultra competitive industry. Guys, we’ll be right back. You don’t even have time to go anywhere. We’re going to be right back just in a couple of minutes. We’re going to pay a couple of bills. We’ll be right back.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.