In this week's latest installment of our '5 Questions With' feature we're getting to know Kevin Roark, Head Brewer of NXNW Restaurant & Brewery's Stonelake location:
1. What is the next great beer you are working on?
I’ve got a couple of beers on my radar; one is a raspberry sour that is just about ready to keg up, another is a hoppy session beer with some new hops that I’ve recently come across and am excited to try out. Neither have a name yet, but that’s usually the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to making a new brew. I’m also wanting to brew the Cactus Jack (the prickly pear saison that Michael and I brewed) fairly soon. Last year was an epic year for the prickly pears and I was able to harvest, process and freeze enough for another batch before this year’s harvest will be ready in the fall. I’m thinking this will be a great summer beer.
2. They grew up with lager in longnecks, so was craft beer a hard sell in Texas?
Originally, when I first started working in the craft beer industry in the late 90’s thru early 2000’s it was a hard sell.I was bartending in a brewpub in downtown Austin and can’t tell you how many times I had to explain to the guy who just ordered a Bud Light that we brew our own beers and don’t have any others. About half the time the response would be “Ok, I’ll just have a vodka soda”.In the past decade, Texas has seen so much growth in the craft beer industry, that our current customers get upset if we run out of a barrel-aged nitro beer or don’t have more than a couple of hoppy options on tap. I think the some of the older generations will still want their longnecks, but the younger generations have grown up in this central Texas craft beer renaissance and have been exposed to an amazing variety of local craft beers everywhere they go, from the grocery store to the local restaurants and bars. Craft beer is everywhere you look now days.
3. What beer styles do Texans prefer?
I’ve noticed a trend toward bold and sessionable beers locally. Texans love a well-balanced IPA, session pale ale, or a clean, hoppy lager. Those styles tend to be our best sellers. Barrel-aged beers and sours have a cult-like following here as well
4. What beers go best with Texas BBQ?
So many styles work well depending on what type of BBQ you’re having. I tend to gravitate towards the drier, hoppy and med-low ABVbeers with my BBQ. It can be such a heavy, flavorful meal that you almost need something to cleanse the palate and balance out the sweeter sauces. Vienna style lagers go well with the caramelization on many smoked meats like brisket or ribs, but I also like a sessionable hoppy pale or lighter IPA with smoked meat. A spicy Saison and BBQ chicken pair really well.I always love grilled sausage paired with a Marzen,but if I could just pick one beer to take out to the Salt Lick (local BBQ joint that is BYOB) it would probably be Real Ale’s Hans Pils, a nice hoppy, German-style pilsner. Can’t go wrong with that one… Great, now I’m craving BBQ!
5. Were there really rattlesnakes where you and Michael went to harvest prickly pears or did you just say that to rattle him?
I’ve never come across one, but that seemed like a perfect habitat for them. Texas is home to several species or rattlers and they typically like undisturbed, protected areas like rock piles or cactus patches. I’m just glad we were wearing boots, long pants and watching our step!
ABOUT THE BREWER
Kevin Roark, Head Brewer of NXNW Restaurant & Brewery
- Kevin was introduced to craft beer while working at The Bitter End Bistro & Brewery in downtown Austin during the mid 90's. It wasn't long before Kevin brewed his first batch of beer in his college apartment and was forever hooked on homebrewing. After years of bar-tending and management in local beer-savvy restaurants and bars, he landed a job as a bartender and assistant brewer at North by Northwest in 2007. Kevin is now their Head Brewer but can still be occasionally seen behind the bar at NXNW, tapping a cask on the last Monday of each month.
And if you haven't watched the full 'Beer Geeks' episode with NXNW Restaurant & Brewery - just click in below to watch online, anytime:
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.