19 Jul Copperhead Brewery Visitors Guide
Known for working like monks of their craft and their Belgian inspired beers
(Looking in on where all the magic happens at Copperhead Brewery)
What You Need to Know Before You Visit Copperhead Brewery
Price: $6 for a flight, pours range from $5-8
Growlers: Crowlers to-go for $8-12
Food: Bring your own food, small snacks available for purchase, a few quick options within walking distance, delivery
Most Popular Beer: Striker IPA
Kids/Pets: Kid friendly, pet friendly (as long as they aren’t being rowdy)
AC: Inside seating with AC as well as benches outdoors on covered patio
Bathrooms: Small but very clean
Parking: Limited parking at the front, through the gate between Speedy Inspections and the brewery, or parking along the street
Hours: Tues-Fri 4-7pm, Sat 12-8pm
(Copperhead Brewery days and hours of operation)
The Copperhead Brewery Intro
Owning a brewery and brewing great beer take a lot of hard work and even more time. Long nights in the brewhouse tweaking recipes, turning valves, hooking hoses, and fixing machines that you shouldn’t have to fix. All of this so you can get the best suds out to your taps for the people to consume.
We don’t often see this side to breweries and their brewers, but if you head to Copperhead Brewery in Conroe on any given day, you’ll likely find head brewer and part owner, Seth Earnest, out in that hot warehouse sweating up a storm while the other owners, his wife, Alicia, or his dad, Mark, are serving beers or working on the numbers.
The three of them want you to see and know the hard work they put in to make Copperhead Brewery successful without ever doing a brewery tour. That’s not something we always get to experience and it makes it unique.
(Mark Earnest, co-owner of Copperhead Brewery, slangin’ venom behind the bar)
The Copperhead Brewery Experience
As we all get back into the groove of doing these interviews, we made our way out to Conroe and trickled in one by one to Copperhead Brewery. We pulled up to the bar on the high wooden seats and looked at the beer board. Mark greeted us all with a hearty hello and asked, “What are you having?” He filled our glasses with that lovely nectar and went to let Seth know that we had arrived.
If this was any other day, we could have found ourselves sitting at one of the wooden booths or a high top table playing one of the many board games available to patrons. If we wanted to get really fancy, which isn’t hard to do after a few beers there, we might even try our hand on the official tournament-style foosball table or the billiards table as well.
A few of us were surprised not to see Winston, the brewery’s unofficial mascot, poking his head around the corner and barking at the group. He always seems to bark at Nick whenever he visits. We wonder what that says about him.
Depending on who has control of the jukebox, you’ll hear the sounds of classic rock or highly technical metal. It’s typically classic rock, but we’ll get to when you can expect metal later.
Seth walked in after a few minutes, pausing in the air conditioned room, before greeting us and asking us where we would like to sit down for the interview. “Anywhere that keeps us free from distractions,” Tony said. Between the brewhouse and the taproom, there are a few wooden picnic tables.
We set up shop at one of them and Seth appeared to be as cool as a cucumber with four of us pulling out our pens and papers. We were under the impression that Alicia would also be joining us for this interview as well, but she was off busting her ass at a tap takeover.
Everyone on the team has met Seth at least once, but Sam and Nick find themselves at the taproom more often than others. That helped translate into making this interview happen. When asked why he wanted to meet with us, Seth answered, “I’m friends with Sam, Amber (Sam’s wife. You may know the duo as “Samber”), and Nick so I figured it would be fun.” And fun it was!
(The bottling line is prepped and ready to roll for a new batch of Striker IPA)
Copperhead Brewery: The History
Copperhead Brewery was first opened 2 years ago, but with any brewery, the ideas and brews were conceived long ago. If you haven’t noticed, many breweries in Houston have a connection in some way to Saint Arnold, and Copperhead is no different.
“I was working at a job I didn’t really like,” Seth recalled. “My brother, who works at Saint Arnold, called me and asked if I wanted to come out to the brewery one day. I had already been homebrewing for a while and I got to see the brewhouse and everything so I asked him, ‘Do you know if the brewery is hiring?’ I was willing to drive the hour to and from work every day because I was pissed off at my last job,” he said as he smiled. Seth spent 3 years at Saint Arnold.
After leaving, he spent some time perfecting his homebrew. Mark shared half-jokingly, “When he first started homebrewing, a lot of his beers weren’t any good, but then he figured out a hop schedule that worked and he started impressing us all.” That’s when Seth decided it was time to open his own brewery. Thus, Copperhead Brewery was born.
When we asked why he chose this location, with Speedy Inspection and Metro PCS as neighbors, he told us that it was because of the proximity to downtown Conroe and “the rent was right.” Seth also grew up in Conroe so he wanted to bring craft beer out to his hometown.
He had to think of a name and he once again hearkened it back to his roots in Conroe. The copperhead snake can be found in abundance in the Montgomery County area, so Seth decided to give them their own brewery in namesake. “I think it’s cool and different, plus the copperhead is local. We try to fit the names of the beers into the snake theme as well.”
(An unnamed beer bubbling up in the brewhouse)
Even though Copperhead Brewery has only been open for 2 years, they’ve seen such tremendous growth in that time, but Seth would like that growth to reach a limit he set in his head. With dead seriousness, he said, “I don’t want the brewery to get bigger than 30,000 barrels per year. That’s the limit for me because I am so picky about the production and the packaging that I don’t want this to become a desk job. Once you reach that number, it can easily become one.” To contrast, their current capacity is 3,000 barrels. That stopping point is quite a ways away!
As hands on as he is with every part of the process, Seth had a hard time choosing his favorite part, but after a short pause, he grinned and said, “I don’t know… Quality control?” Everyone had a good laugh and agreed that it would probably be our favorite part too. In fact, when we asked him what his biggest pet peeve was when it comes to beer, he gave our biggest pet peeve too… “Running out of it.” After some poking and prodding, he gave us a more serious answer that seems to resonate with all brewers: dirty glassware or dirty tap lines.
That serious tone only had to come up once more: The Art vs Science question we love to ask brewers. Seth couldn’t pick just one and refused to do so. “You can’t. It’s both. If you don’t have a lab, you do magic to let everything that happens just happen.” Seth seems to have the science part under control and he’s not short on the art side either.
Brewing and craft beer are Seth’s passion and it shines through when you talk to him. He genuinely cares about the craft beer in Houston and views it as a community. “We all help each other out when it’s needed,” he posited. He’s not out here just because he wants a paycheck. Hannah asked, “Why keep doing this if you’re in the red and it takes so much work?” He light-heartedly, but sincerely responded, “It’s fun. It’s what I love doing. It’s rough having maybe 200 dollars left after you order all your supplies and pay all your bills, but when we do have money left over, we like to do things like buying limited glassware or something fun for the people that come into the bar.” A product of one of those purchases, their Belgian goblets are pretty sweet by the way.
He offers this advice to homebrewers looking to open a brewery: “Double the timeframe and triple the funding for whatever you think it’ll take.”
(A stroll between the tanks)
Speaking of Copperhead Brewery’s Beer
If we had to summarize Copperhead Brewery’s beers in one sentence, we’d use the words from Seth himself: “You don’t have to do a light beer to be successful.” You won’t find any pilsners, hefeweizens, or cream ales on the board here. They like to make “big, aggressive beers.”
It’s certainly true that a few pints of the libations at Copperhead Brewery could leave you on your ass, but Seth also prefers to brew styles that others aren’t doing; most notably, Belgian inspired beers. He believes that is what makes them special and unique from other breweries in the area. “There’s not a lot of people around here doing that because they are really hard to brew consistently from batch to batch.”
The practice in keeping consistency with those ales has translated well throughout the rest of his beers. In yet another edition of Crazy Brew Day Stories, Seth told us that it takes an Act of God to throw off his consistency. Alright, he didn’t say those exact words, but it’s pretty much true it seems!
One night at the brewery, lightning struck the brewhouse and fried a temperature controller for one of the tanks. An entire batch of Kangaroo Killer was spoiled and had to be dumped. Maybe it was retaliation via divine force of nature from a certain wine maker, but we’ll never know. It’s the only batch that has been dumped to date. “Other than that, everything’s been really smooth so far,” Seth said with a shrug of his shoulders.
When it comes to deciding what to brew next, Seth looks to what he enjoys. Before deciding to brew Feeding Frenzy, friends and patrons of the brewery were bringing in Treehouse and Trillium beers to share with him. He figured, “You know, why not try to brew this style.”
The Belgian inspired beers made even more sense after he shared that his favorite beer is Trappistes Rochefort 10, a world renowned Belgian quadrupel ale. Outside of that, it depends on where he is and what the day holds. “If I’m at the beach, a pilsner sounds really good to me. Maybe I like too many styles.”
(Copperhead Brewery’s brand new canning line is the centerpiece of the brewhouse)
As far as what goes into the tanks next, Seth has that under control as well. He keeps an Excel spreadsheet that shows timeframes 3-4 months out for what is and will be brewing. Seth has noted an increase in the demand for Striker and Medusa, as well as Black Venom. Recently, he had to move production of Copperhead White lower on the list just to meet demands for Striker and Medusa. Black Venom should make its return soon enough for you stout lovers!
While Feeding Frenzy is in high demand as well, it’s a tough beer to keep on continuous production because of the insane amount of hops it requires to brew. Something to the tune of 2.5 times as much hops goes into Feeding Frenzy as Striker.
It goes without saying that Striker and Medusa are Copperhead Brewery’s flagship beers, but they’re also Seth’s personal favorites. “I drink Striker the most, but Medusa would be my favorite if I could drink more of it. King of Terrors and Black Venom too, but with the high ABV, I can’t drink those like I can Striker.” Alicia’s personal favorite is a beer called Athena, a Belgian golden strong ale clocking in at 8.6% ABV. She says she dislikes really hoppy beers. Athena is soon to make its debut in the taproom in the next few weeks and get the packaging treatment as well.
As usual, we weren’t there to review beer, but we have had a few of them and tried a few more, so here they are:
- Striker IPA – 7% ABV, 72 IBU
- Black Venom Stout – 10% ABV, 50 IBU
- Kangaroo Killer Pale Ale – 5% ABV, 40 IBU
- Feeding Frenzy Double IPA – 8% ABV, 99 IBU
- Medusa Belgian Quad – 10.5% ABV, 25 IBU
- Cherry Medusa Quad – 11/2% ABV, 25 IBU
- Copperhead White – 4.9% ABV, 10 IBU
- King of Terrors – 15% ABV, 100 IBU
(The man himself, Seth, pouring the good stuff for us to try)
We asked Seth if any breweries inspire him and he gave the utmost respect to Brock at Saint Arnold. “If he hadn’t done what he’s done, we wouldn’t be here,” Seth said with complete sincerity. He also threw a shout out to his former Saint Arnold co-worker, Vince of Brash Brewing, in saying that he is “one of, if not the, best brewers in the city.” It’s pretty wild to see the Saint Arnold “family tree,” if you will, that is Houston craft beer.
As far as where you can find Copperhead Brewery’s beers: They’re all over the greater Houston area at Spec’s, HEB, Whole Foods, and “the good gas stations.” You can also find them in San Antonio and Austin, but they sell out fast out there! Seth makes it a point to take care of his home base first and foremost so Houston sees a majority of the volume of Copperhead’s beers. Cheers to that!
The Future for Copperhead Brewery
While success has come steadily, Seth says that they just want to keep doing what they’ve been doing all this time… Making beer that people like to drink. They recently expanded their production with added fermentation tanks, but their current space is getting to be limited. Seth shared, “I didn’t think we would max this building for 4-5 years, but we’ve already done it in 2 years. At some point, we are going to have to move our location or figure out a solution with our neighbors here.”
They have a few new ideas for beers in the future, especially IPAs, but the only limit is finding the quantity of hops that they need in order to get them from idea to reality. “It’s hard to get the really good hops that make nice IPAs,” according to Seth. One of those that was recently announced is Citraddicted, a double dry hopped IPA using ONLY Citra hops. We will definitely be giving that a try when it makes its appearance!
(Those pretty pours of King of Terrors)
In addition to new beer ideas, Copperhead Brewery is also putting Medusa and Black Venom into Jack Daniels barrels. Those will likely be special release at a later date. He mentioned something about “coconut creme pie” Black Venom? Hope you have a sweet tooth!
When we brought up possible collaborations, Seth stated that he is open to the idea. He even tried reaching out to Parish Brewing Company in Broussard, Louisiana, but never got a response back. As far as local collaborations, he’s open to figuring something out, but it has to be right. There’s also some talk about Snakes on a Plane with B52, but that is mostly from the peanut gallery, AKA Sam. Hopefully one day something will come to fruition!
Outside of the Athena release coming soon, Copperhead Brewery doesn’t have any other notable events in the near future. They do have Night of Terrors every January when they release King of Terrors, a mammoth 15% ABV stout with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, and coffee.
Seth also takes control of the playlist that night so if you like metal, it’s even better! A few members of the team have had KoT before, and Nick attended the 2017 Night of Terrors, but Seth was kind enough to open up a few bottles to share at the conclusion of the interview. We swear we heard a hushed, “Man, hold up” out of Tony’s mouth followed by a single tear, but nobody can be sure.
In conclusion, Copperhead Brewery seems to have nowhere to go except up. The hard work that the three owners do is on display in every facet both literally and figuratively. If you see the lights on after hours, that’s because they’re probably up there toiling away to get you the best beer they can.
Have you found your preferred poison from this snake lair of a brewery? 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!