Spring Fed Simplicity
Oct 03, 2014 02:34PM
● By Dia
What if I told you that right in the middle of Old Town Keller, spring water flows — water so natural that it’s purified and filtered by the earth itself? “Well, that’s nice,” you might say. But what if I told you a Southlake resident uses that spring to make really good fire-brewed craft beer —an All American Blonde, an Irish Red and a super-delish Chocolate Stout among them? And what if you and some friends could go hang out at an umbrella-shaded picnic table and sample the beer while some cool local music plays in the background?
“Really?” you might say. Really.
A sharp right turn off Keller’s Main Street leads down a nondescript drive between Harvest
Christian Center Church of God and the now-defunct Picker’s Point Antiques & Collectables. And there it is, just past the Samantha Springs building, Shannon Brewery. Where did this place come from?
About 20 years ago that Southlake resident, Shannon Carter, played adultleague soccer in Austin. As luck (or fate) would have it, the team was not sponsored by the usual local dry cleaner or insurance agent. “I played soccer for a team that was sponsored by a home brew company,” Shannon recalls. “They gave us a home brewing kit and none of us knew how to brew. The manager of the team said, ‘Anyone want to try?’ Me and one other guy said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give it go.’ And I was hooked right then. I’ve been brewing ever since.”
As it turned out, Shannon was unknowingly following in his great grandfather’s footsteps. He, too, was a brewer in Ireland according to Shannon’s dad, who offered Shannon a family heirloom once he realized the seriousness in his pursuit.
“There’s a carving set, and its got some notes in it of his for his brewing, ”Shannon’s dad told him. “I’d love the carving set, I think is what I said,” Shannon remembers, laughing. “And I got the carving set, and in it there was a recipe for his pale ale, but as you can imagine, it was quite basic — malted barley, water and hops. So I just filed it away and didn’t worry about it,” he says.
But as he began to get more serious about brewing, something about those notes stayed with him. “He had a process that was quite interesting: He fire brewed,” Shannon says. Once he thought about it, he had a revelation: “That’s the process I want to follow.” From there, he went on to recipe development. “We ended up being the only really fire-brewed beer in Texas, the only one in the U.S. that I can find,” Shannon says.
In the years that followed, Shannon went out and “guest brewed” with commercial brewers, so jumping to his current 30-barrel brewing system housed inside his 6,500-square-foot brewhouse wasn’t too much of a shock. Back in Austin, he owned a branding agency for decades, so owning a business wasn’t new to him either.
After selling that business, Shannon and his family moved to Southlake for the school district — which was not just important for his children, but his wife as well. An occupational therapist, she now works for Carroll ISD.
Another area benefit: While the Austin area is relatively crowded with breweries, the D/FW area is relatively “untapped,” says Shannon, with all puns intended. But the area still had its challenges, including finding a natural water resource. “Everything we do is based around this one word, and that’s wholesome,” Shannon says. (Even the brewery’s spent grains are donated to area ranchers and farmers.)
So he went about calling local cities to get a sense of their interest level, which in some cases didn’t even warrant a return phone call. Then he called Keller to see if they would get behind his idea. “The economic development director, DeAnna Reaves, said ‘We’ve been trying to recruit a brewery to come here for two years. Have you heard of Samantha Springs?’”
Turns out it was just what Shannon was looking for — a natural spring. (That’s important because water constitutes about 90 to 95 percent of beer, making it a key ingredient and flavor along with non-GMO whole grain and whole flower hops). “They’re a 220,000 gallon a day spring that’s been providing water to Texans for 150 years and before that to Native Americans for who knows how long,” Shannon says.