29 Jun BAKFISH Brewing Visitors Guide
Known for being Pearland’s first craft brewery and its pub-like atmosphere
(The BAKFISH Brewing taproom)
What You Need to Know Before You Visit BAKFISH Brewing
Price: ~$5 per pour, flight?
Growlers: Yep, ~$15+
Food: Food trucks on the regular
Kids/Pets: Kid friendly, pet friendly on patio
AC: Inside seating with AC as well as benches outdoors on covered patio
Bathrooms: Big and very clean
Parking: In small business park, plenty of parking out front or on the street
Hours: Mon-Thurs 3-9pm,
(BAKFISH Brewing hours of operation – open 7 days a week)
The BAKFISH Brewing Intro
Imagine that you pop into a local watering hole for a beer or two on your way home from work or a day of leisure. The bartender greets you with a hearty hello and a handshake as you belly up to the bar.
You’re given some options for libations along with some questions about what you prefer. Eventually, the perfect beer for you at that moment appears. A patron down the bar gives you an equally friendly greeting and strikes up conversation…
“Did you see that dinger that Springer hit last night?!” (Go Astros!)
“How many games do you think it’ll take before Watson starts over Savage?” (Go Texans!)
“What do you think of our current president?” (Wait, what? Sorry, too heavy)
Before you know it, you’ve made a new friend and you’re meeting up next week: Same time, same place.
That’s the kind of atmosphere the team at BAKFISH Brewing wants you to experience at their taproom. A feeling like you’re in an “old school pub” where you make friends over great beer and even better conversation.
The BAKFISH Brewing Experience
It’s been a while since we’ve done a brewery guide and the day we all rolled out to BAKFISH Brewing couldn’t have been any closer to perfect, especially considering it’s summertime in Houston. The sun was shining and the temperature was hanging around the lower 90s.
We all trekked over an hour down to Pearland in our respective vehicles to meet with Kris Szecsy – brewer, part-owner, jack of all trades for BAKFISH Brewing. Minus our newest author, Sam, who was unable to attend this time around, everyone on the team lives clear across Houston from the brewery, so any travel beyond downtown requires a sleeping bag and liquid meals. Just kidding!
BAKFISH Brewing is easy to find off Broadway Street in Pearland. It’s across the street from Pearwood Skate Center. We joked with Kris that they should look into a joint venture, but he said something about liabilities?
Parking is plenty around the building or along the street if it gets really busy.
Outside, large wooden picnic tables wait for patrons under the shade of a pavilion and more await when you step inside. You can challenge your buddies to a game of cornhole or washers on the patio or you can grab a board or card game if you’re in it for the long haul.
The full length windows let in the sunlight without impedance and provide perfect natural light. Fish and fisherman themes adorn the taproom inside. From the giant marlin coming out of the wall to the “Catch of the Day” beer board to the bar’s fish scale pattern, it all fits nicely to the name and concept.
We exchanged pleasantries with Kris and he asked what we would like to drink. Insert that kid in a candy shop feeling that never fades when we sit down for these. There were 9 different beers on tap so we gave the beer board a good look.
Each of us responded by choosing a style we preferred or found interesting to us, but Chris just simply countered, “All of them,” and we followed suite when Kris gave the affirmation. In hindsight, we’re probably lucky that they have 4oz glasses specifically for making flights! The glasses piled high!
Our relaxed afternoon at BAKFISH Brewing was underway as we cast our question nets out for answers as to the who, what, where, why, and how of this Pearland landmark.
(The Pearland pear statue is tough to miss when you’re looking for BAKFISH Brewing)
BAKFISH Brewing: The History
BAKFISH Brewing was started by Kris, a Wisconsin native and Houston area transplant, and Brian Allen, a Pearland native (he was unfortunately unable to attend). Kris came to Houston to attend Texas A&M-Galveston seeking a marine biology degree, but really, he wanted to live somewhere that doesn’t have a winter. He couldn’t have picked a better place.
When we asked Kris how they came to choose Pearland as the place to set up shop, he pointed to his partner’s roots, but also said he was skeptical at first. “Why?! What’s in Pearland,” Kris said he asked Brian, to which Brian smugly replied, “Nothing. That’s why.” Point made and taken.
So they opened the first craft brewery in Pearland. We asked, “But what’s up with that big pear?” The city of Pearland has started the idea of putting multi-colored pear statues at favorite local tourist spots. On top of being the first craft brewery in the city, they also received the first pear statue! Talk about bragging rights!
We know the big question on your mind about BAKFISH Brewing is this: What the hell is a “bakfish?!” Apparently, it was so important for Nick to know that he skipped a bulk of our questions to find out. “We wanted to have something that was different while also having something from the two of us. The ‘BAK’ stands for ‘Brian and Kris.’ I got to choose the ‘FISH’ part from my marine biology background and because Brian’s initial was first. We thought about telling people it’s a fish that’s only native to Pearland,” chuckled Kris.
(Empty glasses from a “productive” afternoon for the team)
As much of a warm-hearted joker as he is, Kris is also a deeply competitive guy. In previous interviews, we’ve talked with other owners/brewers about whether they check Untappd, an app where enthusiasts can log, rate, and write notes about beers when they drink them, to see how people are receiving their beers. “Oh, no. I don’t look at that stuff because it would probably just make me mad. I’m too competitive for that,” Kris shared with sincerity.
Naturally, that led us into the question of, “What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to craft beer?” His initial response was one of echoed sentiments from other brewers: Cleanliness. You gotta have clean glassware and tap lines, people!
That’s just one small part of the experience though, and Kris said as much. “It’s crucial that the people serving the beer know how to present the beer; how to pour it, how to talk about the style and flavors, and how to ask questions to make a good recommendation for each person. It takes away from the experience when a server can’t do that.”
WE COULDN’T AGREE MORE!
Kris takes great pride in making sure the team at BAKFISH Brewing knows what they’re doing, or at least has a good idea about it. He has been home brewing for years and is passionate in sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in the craft of craft beer. If you ask him politely, he’ll even show you around the brewing facility on an informal tour of sorts.
(Kris kept the beers lined up in front of us. Doesn’t that natural light make them look so beautiful?)
Speaking of BAKFISH Brewing’s Beer
Currently, you can only get 3 beers from BAKFISH Brewing at your local store: All Y’All Golden Ale, I Tell You Wit, and Defying Gravity Imperial IPA. As we mentioned earlier, we had the pleasure of trying all 9 of the beers they have on tap at the brewery.
They ranged from light and crisp to dark and roasty to tart and fruity. “Our beers are designed to be drank when it’s hot,” said Kris, to which Tony, with a smile spreading across his face, quipped, “You mean all 12 months?”
Kris said he doesn’t have a specific method to decide what to brew next, but he did say that they are not in the habit of jumping onto trends, i.e. the “haze craze.” “I’ll brew a style depending on what I feel like drinking at the time or a style we haven’t tried yet. I’ll scratch an idea on a napkin, put it through our 20 gallon home brew system, test it out in the taproom, and make a decision from there about scaling up.”
Personally, Kris shared that he doesn’t like goses or smoked beers, but he might be open to the idea of brewing those styles eventually.
He went on to say that his favorite part of the brewing process is the science behind it all. He enjoys the details of dialing in and scaling up, as well as how all these ingredients come together to form this nectar of the gods.
As much as he loves the science, he was immediately torn when we asked him whether brewing was more of an art or a science. We always press to choose one or the other and it never fails that we get a response that’s a little of both. “Aww man, it’s a science for sure, but you must have both. Art will get the beer from your head to the taproom, but science is everything in between” Kris posited with a serious tone.
We know scaling up takes a lot of work and we know that every brewery has a crazy brew day story. Kris recalled an unfortunate happening for one of the new hires. While Kris and his brew team were brewing up a batch, they had a huge hop explosion from one of the hoses during transition between tanks.
He didn’t say who got the honors, but a new team member showed up for their first day of work and was given their first task: clean up that mess. Kris grinned and said, “It smelled great for a day, but was a pain in the butt to clean up!”
As usual, we weren’t there to review beer, but we did drink a handful of them, so here they are:
- All Y’All Golden Ale – 6.5% ABV, 15 IBU –
- I Tell You Wit – 5.1% ABV, 14 IBU
- Mooring Line Amber – 5% ABV, N/A IBU
- Defying Gravity DIPA– 8.5% ABV, 98 IBU
- Circle Hook IPA – 6.5% ABV, 65 IBU
- Deep Runner Schwarzbier – 4.8% ABV, N/A IBU
- Goat Roper Porter – 6% ABV, 35 IBU
- Anniversary Ale Belgian Dark Strong – 11% ABV, N/A IBU
- Texas Razzle Snake Raspberry Golden Ale – 6.5% ABV, N/A IBU
Every brewery has a flagship beer, but according to Kris, they don’t have just one when we asked which beer held that distinction in his mind. He told us, “That depends on where you live and buy your beer. We found that Defying Gravity sells best inside the loop and All Y’All sells best outside the loop, so it’s one of those two. Just depends on geographic location.” That was interesting for all of us, as we hadn’t heard of anything like that from previous brewers.
That dependence on context seemed to transfer when we asked him to name his personal favorite of the BAKFISH offerings. “Do you guys ever get a straight answer to this,” Kris asked with a smile, to which we all replied, “Hell yeah, we do!”
He told us that it could change with his mood, the time of day, what food was in front of him, or the weather outside. We finally did get a straight answer about an hour later… “Ok, I tend to drink Circle Hook more than anything else,” he said with a hearty “you got me” tone. He also shared that his team tends to favorite whatever is the newest brew on tap.
We’ll be reviewing some of their taproom only offerings in the future since Kris was kind enough to send us on our way with growler fills of our choice, and they’ll be linked once they’re posted.
(We definitely caught our limit for the day at BAKFISH Brewing. Thankfully, that didn’t include a “sea sick” feeling too)
We’re always interested in how brewers come up with names for their beers and there is always a story behind them or they’re named to fit the theme. Defying Gravity doesn’t quite fit the theme, so we asked about how the name came to be.
Kris explained that people speculate as to its origin by saying, “Houstonians believe it is tied to the space program here and beer nerds believe it has to do with the gravity of the beer while brewing, but that’s not where I got the name.” Musical theatre fans, you’re going to love this.
“I was driving to the brewery one morning and had my wife’s iPod on shuffle. My wife is a musical fan and the song ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked came on. I thought to myself, ‘Hmm, that’s a great name for a beer.’ So we gave it to our imperial IPA.”
Another fun story came about while we were drinking Razzle Snake. The team was brewing a batch of All Y’All, but they made a mistake… They used the wrong malt and the beer came out too dark. Putting on his thinking cap, Kris decided, “Let’s just throw a bunch of fruit in it.” So they did just that and tossed a ton of raspberries (not literally a ton) into the mix and voila! Art and science save the day!
As is deserved, Kris stated that they’re inspired by Saint Arnold and all they’ve done to pave the way for craft beer in Houston, but they are also impressed by 8th Wonder and the way they have incorporated the city’s culture into everything they do.
When we met, we found out that they are entirely self-distributed and they’re working with 20bbl and 30bbl systems to produce as much as they can. Kris told us that we can find their beer in cans at Total Wines all over town, but they’re limited to HEBs and Specs south of I-10 currently. Kegs of their beers can be found at watering holes south of I-10 as well.
That stinks for people like us up here on the north side (unless you live close to a Total Wine), but fear not, they are hoping to expand as they continue to grow as a brewery.
The Future for BAKFISH Brewing
These guys are taking everything in stride, but going headstrong at any and all challenges. When we asked Kris to share his biggest goal for BAKFISH Brewing, he said with a look of determination, “What’s next! We want to continue to get our name out there and naturally see what comes next for us. Right now, we’re at a fork in the road and we’re weighing out our options as to what direction we head in the future. Until then, we’re just going to keep putting new and fun beers on the board.”
To go back to Kris’s competitiveness, he’s entered a few of the BAKFISH beers into the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in the past and his saison made it past the 1st round, but unfortunately did not go on to medal. He plans to continue to enter beers into GABF so perhaps they’ll get to hang one of those nifty medals in the taproom in the future!
(BAKFISH Brewing has some good lookin’ merchandise for you to sport if you so please)
Due to unfortunate brewpub license laws, one of those forks doesn’t lead to collaborations with other breweries, but that didn’t stop Kris from saying that they’ve talked with other breweries about it. The main problem with it is that they are not allowed to put the names of both breweries on the beer. They may or may not be looking for ways around those issues. So if you happen to be a law geek, maybe do us all a favor and help them (and all the other craft breweries with brewpub licenses)?
Speaking of geeks, BAKFISH Brewing is currently working on hosting Geeks Who Drink trivia on Wednesdays starting in July to add on to the weekly events they already host. On Tuesdays, they host a 5k running club that starts and ends at the brewery and leads to some cool rewards. If you’re looking for a more down tempo workout, you can get your matsyasana on for yoga at the brewery on Fridays.
In addition to all of their beers, they also serve Duo brand hard ciders and wines so if you have a friend or significant other that just can’t seem to get a taste for one of their beers (they better go 0 for 9), they have some options too. We trust that the crew behind the bar knows well enough to help you find the right path.
In conclusion, BAKFISH Brewing has a little bit of something for everyone and by the time you leave, you’ll feel like you belong to a pub family. Not like the kind of family you are with your in-laws, but a real family!
Tell us honestly: Did you think a bakfish was a real fish? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and sharing all the stuff we write. We really don’t deserve it.
Beers to you, Houston!