What’s Brewing in Keller

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in News | Comments Off on What’s Brewing in Keller

By Carolyn Cameron
North Texas Magazine

Shannon Carter of Shannon Brewing CompanyIT’S 8 A.M. AND SHANNON CARTER is already thinking about beer. In fact, some might say he’s quite obsessed, as he thinks about beer morning, noon and night. But, not about drinking it — making it.

As owner of Keller’s newly established Shannon Brewery, Mr. Carter analyzes the beer brewing process, pondering on the “old-world” fire-brewed process handed down from his great grandfather. Using all natural ingredients and the purest spring water he can find, Mr. Carter has created a wholesome, easy-drinking, award-winning beer that pleases everyone’s lips that have had the pleasure of tasting it. “Some people might say I’m a bit preoccupied with the process,” notes Mr. Carter. “Great beer takes time — it requires patience in brewing, fermenting and aging. Because of my passion for this art, our beers are allowed to age properly, ensuring a wholesome and a great tasting beer. I make sure of it.”

Twelve years ago, while living in Austin, Texas, Mr. Carter began trying his hand at home brewing beer, initiated by several free home brew kits offered through the sponsorship of his local soccer team. As Mr. Carter caught the beer-brewing bug, he found his popularity exponentially increasing with both his team and his opponents as he regularly brought a keg to share, raising a glass and enjoying some laughs immediately following each match. “Whether we won or lost, our team became immensely popular because everyone knew there was beer at the end of each match,’” laughs Mr. Carter as he recalls his experiences. “This ad-hoc hobby of mine evolved, and I became increasingly interested in methodically understanding and researching my home brew recipes. It was the beginning of my next career.”

For the past 20 years, Mr. Carter was the president and CEO of a branding agency in Austin, building marketing and branding strategies with well-known companies such as Whole Foods, USAA, New York Life and the Fiesta Bowl. On one memorable business flight home from Washington, D.C., Mr. Carter began to chat with a fellow businessperson, intensely explaining the technicalities and specifics of processing beer. As he paused slightly, the associate remarked, “Wow. It looks like you are quite passionate about this subject. Maybe you should make it your next career.” Mr. Carter continues, “And, in that moment, I realized he was right, and this was the catalyst for me to truly create a case for this business.”

After writing the business plan, identifying the key differentiating factors and crunching out the numbers, Mr. Carter and his wife started down their new beer-brewing career path, having won accolades for years from various friends and family members’ samplings, as well as participation in several home brewing beer competitions. “After selling my branding company, it afforded us the ability to launch the company, and many of my major investors are friends or friends of friends who have tasted my beer and love the concept. We really have strived to emphasize our unique differentiation. As far as I know, we are the only fire-brewed, mash-tun in the state of Texas.”

This fire-brewed process is not new in brewing beer; in fact, many beer brewers have moved away from this “old school” process as they find it more difficult to control. However, Shannon Brewery uses this process while “precisely controlling the enzyme activity in the beer while producing superior, malty flavors and delicately caramelizing the sugars,” as stated on their web site. The result — a truly wonderful and unique beer. “Some time ago, my dad gave me my great grandfather’s recipe, and I really didn’t think much of it. I tossed it in the back of a cabinet. But as I was developing my own processes to create the best tasting beer possible, it dawned on me that his recipe itself wasn’t the critical factor in the taste of the beer, but his processes were. So, I began recreating this direct, fire-brewed process in my own recipes, and I believe this is what makes us truly unique in a highly competitive industry. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”

In addition to the fire-brew practice, Mr. Carter researched the most natural water source he could find and discovered Samantha Springs, a natural source of pure drinking water, located right in the heart of Keller, Texas. Working with them, Shannon Brewery finalized an agreement to share 20 acres of land with the water producer, securing the rights to pump Samantha Springs water straight out of the ground and into its beer brewing tanks. “When we discovered Samantha Springs, we felt like the stars aligned for our business. It really was a sign for us. Currently, we have broken ground on the brewery itself, and it will feature spacious room for events and parties and parking as well as leave opportunity for expansion in the future. We will incorporate an indoor tasting room with a 2,500-square foot outdoor beer garden. We will also feature a “green area,” where a fresh supply of hops, the flavor agent of the beer, will be grown for use in seasonal brews throughout the year. We can’t wait to open for tours. We are extremely excited.”

Currently in construction and securing the required federal and associated liquor licenses, the brewery is expected to be completed by year’s end, and Mr. Carter hopes to be selling his beer by January 2014. The product line will include five core brands to be available year round at Shannon Brewery, including their signature Pale Ale, a traditional English Irish ale; an India Pale Ale, a lighter, less aggressive ale; an Irish Red Stout, based more on one of Carter’s grandfather’s recipes; the All American Blond, which is light in exterior and is very popular for those who are just entering the beer market; and the Chocolate Stout, a rich, satisfying stout meant for the cooler upcoming months. Seasonal beers in limited quantities will also be available.

While Shannon Brewery doesn’t yet have the authorization to sell beer, they have offered numerous tastings, and the feedback is sensational. Mr. Carter’s potential customers and patrons are very excited about Shannon Brewery’s opening. Mr. Carter notes, “If we opened today, I expect we would have 25 or more large-scale customers waiting in line. I am so tremendously excited and grateful.”

Josh Shepard, general manager of Keller Tavern, is one of those customers. “When we tasted Shannon’s beers, every single one was excellent, really hitting the pallet, each in a very different and unique but amazing way. We are very excited about the Shannon Brewery and their plans. And, we love to support local establishments and our community as a whole. No doubt — it will bring a boost to our area. Patrons will love it.”

“This is an amazing time for Shannon Brewing Company and a dream come true for me personally,” says Mr. Carter. “I’ve never doubted the validity in what I’m doing, and to see it all coming together — well, I feel fantastic. Everyone is so enthusiastic about the product, and I’m very excited about opening day. All the work, trials and tribulations — it makes it all so worthwhile. It’s very rewarding.”