WACO, Texas — There are more than 300 breweries in Texas— turning out nearly 1.2 million barrels of beer annually. While Austin has the most breweries in the state, Waco is staking a claim on the craft beer market.
No two craft breweries are the same—but they all have in common the turning of water, hops, malt, and yeast into beer. Here at bare arms brewing, they say “roll up your sleeves, work hard and perfect your craft."
Master brewer Kevin Yackley and his wife Jill King were intentional in choosing Waco a few years ago.
“We soon realized that Waco was growing, and craft beer and other breweries started popping up. And as we were trying to build our brewery, bear arms became available for sale, and we decided to buy rather than build,” Yackley said.
Yackley began brewing his own beer at home in the 1980s and loves the creativity.
“By changing different combinations, we can make different types of products, different types of flavor profiles, different colors, those kinds of things. The new wave of craft growth, I think, is to add other flavorings, a fifth ingredient, if you will," said Yackley. "Some are adding fruit juices, for example, those kinds of things to add a new flavor profile.”
Bare arms head brewer, Adam Crum, also got his start years ago making his own beer.
“I actually was in Germany for three years while I was in the army, and that's kind of where I got my love for beer that wasn't, you know, just that yellow water that had a little bit of flavor and carbonation in it," said Crum. "So I started learning about different flavors and different unique beer styles that came from different countries and different regions in those countries.”
They walked through the beer-making process which begins with heating water to the right temperature and then adding the grain they mill right there.
“We mill it and bring it into this top tank. It's called a grist case. This is where the water and the grain come together. This activates all kinds of natural processes that normally would happen in nature. And we just provide a means for that to happen in a controlled way," said Yackley. "And we're going to extract from that grain sugars. Sugars are going to be used later in the process, once that's completed. And that's where we are in the process right now. The next process will transfer that into the kettle and we'll boil and add the third ingredient, which is hops, other ingredients as well oftentimes, but generally hops and we’ll boil for about an hour.”
Then it’s cooled and moved to fermentation vessels where the fourth ingredient, yeast, is added.
“This is where the magic happens. This is where the sweet liquid that we call wort gets converted into the elixir we call beer," said Yackley.
"You know, we can make this same beer and put it in two different tanks. And depending on which yeast strain we use, it'll actually be a different, completely different flavor," said Crum.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of styles, and they're actually growing in terms of styles and iterations of styles, even as we speak. So, we try to create as many new different styles as we can and put them on tap so we can share those with our customers,” Yackley said.
“Every brewer’s making an IPA, every brewer’s making a lager. So, getting that one that's perfect and getting it into a competition. That's the tricky part. Every beer should be world-class,” said Crum.
World-class beer here at bear arms brewing. They're sharing their passion for just that. And they're happy to take you on a tour as well. They are open every day of the week starting at noon.