11 Below and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild
On our recent visit to 11 Below, we sat down with Jeff Handojo, co-owner and co-founder of 11 Below, and Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. We enjoyed delicious 11 Below beers and talked about the history of 11 Below, the history of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the Texas Brewery Passport app, and the Texas Craft Brewers Festival.
11 Below is located in Northwest Houston at 6820 Bourgeois Rd. Their taproom is open during the following hours:
Thursday: 5 – 9 pm
Friday: 3 – 9 pm
Sat: 12 – 5 pm
Sun: 12 – 5 pm
They have a fabulous food truck every day they are open. And their beers are fantastic! Leo loves a good pilsner, so he enjoyed the popular Lil’ Snack, a light and clean German pilsner that will now be available year-round! I savored each sip of one of their hazys, Citra Time, which was bursting with citrus and was super juicy and delicious. Taco Tuesday is another one of their beers that we are excited about. It is a blond ale with lime puree and sea salt. So crushable! Taco Tuesday was born in the middle of the pandemic when the guys at 11 Below were looking at their inventory and Cinco de Mayo coming up. They had about 10 – 15 barrels of their 7 Iron blond ale, and they thought, let’s add a lot of lime puree and some sea salt, and Taco Tuesday was born. They sold out in 2.5 hours, drive-through only. Now you can find Taco Tuesday and 11 Below’s other fabulous beers at H-E-B.
A Little History
You may be wondering, where the heck did they get the name 11 Below? What does it mean? Well, the three founders, Jeff Handojo, Bryce Baker, and Brandon Marks, were in the oil and gas industry. All three of them would spend weekends homebrewing. While enjoying the fruits of their labor one day, they shot around the idea of opening a brewery. And their idea began to take shape. At first they were called Pump Jack Brewing, “An ode to the oil field,” Handojo says. When they had to find a new name due to a cease and desist from a winery in California, one of them suggested the name 11 Down. A barrel of crude oil is 42 gallons. A barrel of beer is only 31 gallons, a difference of 11. They brainstormed different variations of the name – 11 Down, 11 Less, 11 Fewer, 11 Under – before settling on 11 Below, maintaining their homage to their background in the oil and gas industry. In March 2015, they sold their first keg to Mo’s Irish Pub at Vintage Park.
The awesome staff at 11 Below has created a cool, welcoming atmosphere. Go check them out!
Texas Brewery Passport
While at 11 Below, you can get your Texas Brewery Passport stamped. The Texas Brewery Passport is a map and trail app developed by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. It was launched in the summer of 2020. It shows you nearby breweries and allows you to collect stamps for each new brewery you visit. Once you reach certain milestones, you can earn some cool swag. You can also find events happening at breweries and check in to the breweries you visit. There are currently a little over 200 Texas breweries in the app. The highest reward level, Mustang, is 200 brewery stamps. Two people have hit this milestone! You can download the app in the Apple app store and the Google Play Store. It’s free, and you can earn some sweet swag!
Texas Craft Brewers Guild
The Texas Craft Brewers Guild advocates for, promotes, and educates people about Texas craft beer. It was a pleasure to sit down with Charles Vallhonrat and discuss this wonderful organization. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild became a trade association in 2009. Charles became the executive director in 2012. There were 40 breweries on the member list at that time. They now have three staff members, an 11 member board of directors, and a little over 300 operating breweries! Charles notes that he has seen exciting rural, small city growth.
In 2011, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild started the Texas Craft Brewers Festival in Austin. It’s one of Leo’s favorite festivals. It is so well organized and is a great way to connect with other Texas craft beer enthusiasts. Last year, due to COVID, the festival was virtual. Well, good news! This year the festival will be in person! It will be on October 23rd in Austin, and tickets will go on sale in early July.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to 11 Below and learning more about the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. If you haven’t listened to our Texas Beer Experience podcast yet, you can do so on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google, Anchor, and other places you get your podcasts. For more of us sharing our love of Texas craft beer, follow us, Texas Beer Experience, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.