Saint Arnold Root Beer
Saint Arnold Brewing Company, named after the patron saint of brewing, Saint Arnulf of Metz, is located in Houston, Texas, and is Texas' Oldest Craft Brewery. The company, which opened its doors in 1994, was founded by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, although Kevin has since left the company.
Brock Wagner has a long history with beer. In fact, it starts before he was born. His great-great-great grandfather came from Alsace in the mid-1800's and opened Wagner's Beer Hall in San Francisco (now the oldest existing bar in the city, renamed The Saloon.) Brock grew up in Cincinnati and Brussels, both big brewing towns, where he was exposed to many of the beer styles of the world. Then in college at Rice University, fate (and a friend) introduced him to home brewing. This love of beer and brewing was what eventually led him to the inevitable: opening a microbrewery.
Prior to starting the brewery, Brock spent six years in investment banking working on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions projects totaling more than $4 billion. Brock graduated from Rice University in 1987 with a BA in Economics.
The founders live in Houston, Texas, and opening a brewery there made sense because it was the largest city in the country that did not have a microbrewery at the time. Brock was a longtime homebrewer and had considered opening a brewery as far back as college--although that was quickly dismissed as a silly idea. Seven years after graduating, however, Brock revisited the idea and enlisted Kevin's help, and the brewery was off and running.
The company was originally located on the far northwest side of Houston. It operated out of that location for more than fifteen years. In 2008, St. Arnold announced that it planned to move from its current northwest Houston facility to a new facility in the Northside district, north of Downtown Houston. By 2009 the company had purchased a three story 104,000-square-foot (9,700 m2) square foot brick building, constructed in 1914, which most recently served as a food service facility for the Houston Independent School District. The prominent location of the new brewery on the highway was key to its selection. The redevelopment effort was expected to take a year to complete and cost a total of almost $6 million. Due to unforeseen events, such as the theft of copper pipes from the building, the move was delayed, and was not completed until 2010.