It’s a Monday evening when I duck my head into D&Q, The Beer Station. My neighbor told me they’d gotten in the Strawberry Abita. This basically ushers in Spring for us and I wanted to get some before they were all sold out. When I walk in Brandon, the owner of D&Q shouts “Hey girl!” from behind the register.
“I heard you have the strawberry Abita”
“Oh yes” and he comes out to show me where it is. I get the last sixer.
Brandon has owned D&Q for 14 years. “I started the business in 2003. Before that I worked as an airline mechanic but after 9/11 the airline industry just nosedived and I got laid off. I used all of my money and 401K and bought a convenience store. Then in 2003 we moved it out here and it was a convenience store with just a little bit of craft beer. We added more and more craft beer until the last five years it’s just completely a craft beer store. We recently added high end wine and stuff like that.”
I had always noticed that their wine selection was really unique. They don’t sell Yellowtail or Rex Goliath or any of those $5-$10 bottles of booze. “Yeah. We only carry the unique wines. People can get that other stuff at the grocery store, so we try to carry things they can’t get there.”
I’ve been coming to D&Q since we moved back to Houston in 2011, but it wasn’t until I moved right behind it that I really started to notice how unique and vast the selection was. The area where D&Q is located (Richmond, just two streets east of Montrose) has changed drastically over the past five years. New restaurants, bars, and businesses are popping up everywhere. I asked Brandon how he’s seen the craft beer scene in Houston grow.
“Oh it’s been crazy. Especially over the past five years. Texas has changed some laws and that’s helped. It’s still more expensive than other states to get a license to distribute the beer but they’ve made it a little easier. When I first started (the convenience store) the only brewery was St. Arnold, then Southern Star in Conroe. Then Karbach came. Then it started growing steadily and in the past three years it just completely blew up.”
A big supporter of the local beer scene, Brandon says he’ll give anyone a chance. If the beer sells and people like it, he’ll continue to stock the shelves. But with the influx of breweries comes some challenges. For example, the BBH (Karbach’s Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter series, which has traditionally been very hard to acquire) and other limited selection beers don’t move as quickly as they used to.
“They used to only release a little bit, they used to be very picky about who they would give it to. So when I got any, I would sell out within two hours, now they make more, so they distribute to more people and my supply sits on the shelves for longer. I miss the rarity of the way it used to be.”
Brandon also shared his thoughts on cans versus bottles. “I love when they can the beers rather than bottle. Cans are lighter, they protect the beer better. They are great for the Texas market because you can store more in the cooler and you can take them to the pool or on the river. Also, I can store more here in the store. And people like them because the city recycle service will pick up cans but not bottles, so people who are trying to recycle like them for that.”
I asked Brandon how he feels about the Karbach sale. “I think everyone gets into business to make money, and as long as their beer is still good, that’s all I care about at the end of the day. You can’t blame them for selling, we all just want to make money.”
While Brandon and I are chatting, a wine vendor comes in to give a sampling, an artist from the tattoo shop comes in to get cigarettes, multiple groups of 2-3 people mill about the store trying to decide what they want to drink. He helps a man find a new beer to try. That’s one thing I’ve noticed coming here often. This man knows beer and he’s always able to find a customer a beer they’ll like or something new to try.
“I really think that being able to do that came with learning the different types of beers over time. I’ve been doing this for so long and if you really know your inventory, it’s easy to help people find what they might want to drink.”
Houston is an ever evolving city. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Montrose neighborhood. In the 14 years since Brandon moved his store here the area has seen property values skyrocket as people start moving back into the city from the suburbs, gentrifying areas that were once empty. Monstrous townhomes and apartment towers have been popping up on blocks for years. The impact on D&Q hasn’t been great, though. “It’s hurt us because we have to compete with the grocery stores that come with those people. So before you would have to come to my store or Specs for craft beer. Now they carry it at HEB, and Central Market, and Whole Foods. You just can’t compete with those stores.”
Before I leave, I want to know a little more about Brandon’s beer preferences. Favorite kind of beer? “I honestly do like everything. And I’ll drink one style of beer for a long time and then switch to something else. Now I’m really liking the North East style IPAs, but the breweries don’t distribute them down here so I have to trade with my friends on the east coast.” Favorite Houston area brewery? “I don’t get to go out and try the breweries very often because I’m always here but my favorite is Lone Pint. I like the Yellow Rose IPA.”
Check out D&Q, The Beer Station at 806 Richmond Avenue. He’s open Monday-Saturday from 11am – 11pm. You can follow D&Q on Twitter too @TheBeerStation for updates on what’s in stock. I also hate to tell people my little secret, but he’s still got some Good Golly Miss Molly in stock if you haven’t picked any up yet.
This guy needs to get a life… After one of the late games finished up on Saturday night, a young SI for Kids reporter asked one of the coaches about a players mom. An off topic question, sure, but I think the question and resulting answer probably took a minute and half, maybe less. But that didn’t stop some beat writers from getting bent out of shape.
Are beat writers the most self loathing group of people on the planet? Let’s face it, in 2017 when every highlight, box score, and mundane interview is available to us at the drop of a hat, no one cares about the things they write. Young people are gravitating towards sports blogs which are becoming more and more popular because the people who write for them are fans first and like to have fun. Earlier in the evening, the kid actually asked Frank Martin a question that didn’t get a canned response when he asked “what is more important when coaching defense? Technique or attitude?” So his second question wasn’t as serious as you would’ve liked. Come on now. Some of these sports journalists need to remember why they wanted to get into the profession in the first place, for fun. Quit taking yourselves so seriously.
Is James Harden MVP? USA Today doesn’t think so. It’s hard to argue with anything from the article because… the author never actually makes a point about Westbrook being MVP outside of the 36 triple doubles. My opinion is that Harden and Westbrook are almost too close to compare stats wise. And they’re obviously carrying their teams. It’s too close to call, so I’d give it to the guy whose team has the better record.
The Las Vegas Raiders? So the Raiders moving to Las Vegas after the 2018 season. Not much to say here, Oakland didn’t want to use public funds for a new stadium so it’s hard to blame the Raiders for wanting to go; they were playing football games on a baseball diamond people. Hopefully moving to Vegas will give Mark Davis the chance to update his style a little bit. He looks like me when I tried to cut my own bangs, but his stylist hasn’t been available to fix them for 20 years.
In case you missed it… shameless self promotion. I wrote this little diddy about trying to raise a future sports fan. Not to be forgotten on this site, our fearless leader the Falcon weighs in on O’Brien’s extension. Fred, I honestly think that your hatred for O’Brien is keeping you alive. If the Texans fire him you may have nothing left to live for and die. He also does a very fun tale of the tape Houston v Chicago.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Reach 4 the stars and if u can’t grab them at least u r on top of the world – Pitbull”
– Frank Martin
HOTTIE OF THE DAY