HOUSTON, Texas — A group of Houston-area women are showing that brewing beer isn’t just for the boys. Right now, only 2% of breweries in the U.S. are female-owned and that is where the Pink Boots Society steps in. It is a non-profit that helps women and non-binary people grow in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry.
The group includes women working in all aspects of the industry and women interested in getting into the industry. Pink Boots provides educational and networking opportunities for those women.
Georgina Solis, the head brewer at Walking Stick Brewing Company and member of the Houston chapter of the Pink Boots Society said, “Our whole goal is to elevate women’s careers through education.” Those educational opportunities include seminar programs, national meetings, and educational scholarships.
Pink Boots has more than 80 chapters all over the world including in every major city in the U.S.
“I think its vital to have this kind of organization to support women.” said Tiare Austin, the general manager of Walking Stick Brewing.
The Houston Chapter’s goal is to get to 100 members this year. The long term goal of the group is to host the Pink Boots Society’s biannual educational conference here in Houston to show people all over the country that the city has an amazing craft beer scene that has many women leading the way.
Walking Stick Brewing Co. boasts a pair of beer gardensPhoto by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Best Beer Garden: Walking Stick Brewing Co.
Artificial turf probably isn’t the first image conjured by the word “garden,” but Walking Stick Brewing Co.’s fake grass has become the site of real fun and genuinely warm vibes over five years of existence. Located in Garden Oaks, on a street lined with neighboring neighborhood drinkeries, the craft beer brewery actually boasts two beer gardens which sandwich a stylish tap room.
The beer gardens are spacious and family- and dog-friendly and have allowed the brewery, founded by local couple Angie and Andy Dunn, to host all sorts of special moments, everything from wedding showers to pop-up markets, dog rescue fundraisers to craft brew industry meet-ups. No matter the gathering, Walking Stick’s layout, inviting décor and welcoming staff make for a perfect afternoon or evening.
The other half of the “beer garden” equation is “beer” and Walking Stick is pouring some of Houston’s best local brews, particularly its Castle Pale Ale, a low ABV British-style pale, and not one, not two but three different saisons, including Sunlight Saison and Mountain Berry Saison, both inspired by Andy’s Coloradan roots, as well as Pink Boots Boss Lady Saison. Speaking of boss ladies, Walking Stick has quite a few women in charge, from its co-owner to its head brewer and its general manager. Their combined and considerable talents, the hospitable staff on the whole, the tasty beer, visiting food trucks and a growing list of faithful customers make the brewery with the fake grass a real Houston gem.
Inspired by a recent CBP thread, this session will discuss how to not only set guest expectations, but to go above and beyond. We will dive into staff training, customer interactions, and strategies you can implement to create the most memorable and profitable experience.
This conversation features:
Casey LeFever (4 Noses Brewing)
Erica Baca (Coal Mine Ave Brewing Company)
Jim Christian (Savannah River Brewing Company)
Nick Rainey (Triptych Brewing)
Tiare Austin (Walking Stick Brewing)
Join us in-person for CBP Connects | Half workshop, half networking
Milwaukee, WI | June 19-21, 2023
Grab your spot now at https://cbpconnects-milwaukee.eventbrite.com/
Don’t Stick to What You Know… Explore Walking Stick Brewing
| Jan 23, 2023
As I set foot onto the entrance I am greeted by a large mural painted on the side of that states “Don’t Stick To What You Know… Explore”, The words welcome you with a challenge and I was ready to explore Walking Stick Brewing.
This repurposed welder’s storage complex has been refitted and worked into a functioning beer hall straight out of the Colorado Rocky Mountains to great effect. You are granted an invitation to relax in a taproom that purposefully conjures up flashbacks to mountain beer lodge in heart of the Garden Oaks/ Oak Forest area (or GOOF to the locals). Elaborate decorations and lighting hanging from the ceiling with fresh cut flowers for each table.
Before I even get my first pour, I am greeted by Georgina Solis, Head Brewer of Walking Stick. I am treated to her history in brewing, and her passion for her craft. Georgina shows me the equipment and tanks that she uses daily to turn water and grains, yeast, and hops into the beer that Walking Stick has been serving the neighborhood and Houston at large since December of 2018.
Georgina encourages me to try her favorite beer while I am in the tap room, the Pikes Peak Pilsner, the first recipe she created for Walking Stick when she moved over from Eureka Heights. The Pike’s Peak is a 5.2% Czech style pilsner that is lightly malted and refreshing with a hint of sweetness to it. I am a firm believer that there are few finer things that a well-made lager or pilsner, and Pikes Peak more than qualifies.
I settle more into my stool at the tap room bar top and sitting next to me at the bar top is the General Manager of Walking Stick, Tiare Austin. Tiare has been with the brewery since day one, starting off as an original beer tender. Over the last four plus years she has taken up the mission of helping build Walking Stick into a growing and thriving brewery. I was sipping on my Pike’s Peak Pilsner while Tiare shared stories of the support from the local neighborhood during Covid, where patrons would purchase beer to go en masse, which kept employees working and helped the brewery stay open.
Tiare excused herself to continue working, so I order Walking Stick’s Fourth Anniversary Strong Ale, the 14er. The 14er was brewed with peach and Tahitian vanilla to form a subtle beer that goes down very smooth, with a 10% ABV punch that settles well.
Next on my adventure was the Belford Pico de Gallo Berliner Weisse, a spicy mixture of roasted pepper, cilantro, and lime. Spicy food is great, but in my beer? The answer is absolutely yes. The spiciness was not overpowering, blended well with the lime to present a combination that exploded with flavor.
Walking Stick is family and dog friendly with lots of outdoor space both in front and out back of the tap room. If you are hungry there is Twiggy’s, the onsite kitchen offering bites from 11am-3pm daily, as well as rotating food trucks during the week. Special Events during the week include a Running Club, themed trivia nights, and Sunday Yoga amongst other things. Every Wednesday nights are Refresh Night, where patrons are allowed to take home the flowers at each tabletop (vases not included) in preparation for a new batch. For those hikers in your life, Walking Stick also offers membership into the Summit Club, available to those that have summited some of the 58 different 14,000-foot mountain peaks in the state of Colorado.
I remember visiting Walking Stick Brewing when they initially opened. Their indoor tap room wasn’t built out yet. They served beer out of a model train adjacent to their beer garden. Visiting in peak summer would’ve been brutal. Though recently, I paid them a visit after the long hiatus, and I can now say that Walking Stick Brewing has one of the better taprooms / beer gardens in the Houston area.
Walking Stick Brewing – Inside Bar
The tap room reminds me of a mountain house, probably intentional based on the owners’ affinity for climbing mountains, specifically Colorado 14ers (more on that in a bit). The walls are scattered with skis, maps, and other outdoor-related decorations. It could be hot outside, but the taproom is cool and cozy. The taproom is flanked by two beer gardens, both equipped with picnic tables and umbrellas. This gives patrons ample options and space for their beer-drinking experience.
Blanca Witbier IPA
Now onto the main attraction — the beer.
Walking Stick brews many IPAs, but they also offer a couple ESBs, which isn’t something that many Houston breweries are making. They also have a Porter and Stout but really seem to focus on the lighter style of beers — beers that would be refreshing to drink after climbing a mountain or two. On my visit, I had the Blanca Witbier IPA, which as you can tell from the name, is a wit / IPA hybrid, and it drank as you might expect it to drink — very hop forward with a strong banana and clove aroma and taste.
Massive Brown Porter
I did take two crowlers home with me. One neat thing that Walking Stick does that I have never seen is they have crowler labels for each of their beers rather than a sticker or sharpie saying what the beer is. The San Luis Simpaticoe IPA is on the more bitter side. It’s earthy, but still very smooth and creamy. The Massive Brown Porter has a very light mouthfeel. It’s sweet, with strong caramel and chocolate notes. Overall, the beers were good. I would happily drink any of them again.
San Luis Simpaticoe IPA
Finally, Walking Stick offers a membership into the Summit Club. A lot of breweries do this. They offer an annual membership where members get half of beer, or invites to special releases or events. However, Walking Sticks membership fee is based on how many Colorado 14ers, the 58 Colorado mountains that are over 14,000 feet, you have climbed. So if you have just climbed one 14ers, you pay $350 annually, but you get your own mug and half off beer. But if you’ve climbed 50+ peaks, your membership is only $5 a year.
Grab your walking stick (heh), head to Colorado and climb some mountains. The beer and the taproom atmosphere are definitely worth the price of admission.