Long Wooden Spoon Brewery
Learn About the Ambition, Passion and Science Behind
Amarillo's Only Stand Alone Independent Brewery
Jared Read, owner of the Long Wooden Spoon Brewery, turned curiosity for home-brewing beer into a passion project when his wife, Kim, bought him an in-home brew kit in 2007. Jared started brewing beer and trying recipes out on all of his friends and family. Over the next few years, Jared focused on the process and consistency while creating a quality craft beer. In the fall of 2009, after receiving steam burns while stirring a pot of boiling wort with a wooden spoon, the comment was made, “man, I wish we had a long wooden spoon!” The name stuck. While traveling to Dallas in 2010 for business, Jared noticed the “brew scene” starting to take off. Seeing the trend in Dallas and the fact that Jared had gained a following of people begging for his beer, Jared decided to turn his passion into an official brewery.
Kim found their current location for the brewery at 4098 Business Park Drive in 2011 and encouraged Jared to take the leap. In the beginning, Long Wooden Spoon Brewery perplexed local agencies since they didn’t fall under the restaurant or bar category and they were the first beer manufacturing facility in Amarillo. As they were navigating through rules, guidelines and permits, they started out having events and giving their beer away for free. LWS started gaining alot of attention through word-of-mouth and social media.
The process of brewing beer appears fascinating and complex. There is actually alot of biology, chemistry and math involved. Jared explains that everything starts with clean equipment and clean water. If their equipment isn’t clean, it effects the taste of the finished product. According to Jared, they will brew 2 to 3 times a week and every other day in between, they clean. Then comes the actual process of brewing. Beer is made from four basic ingredients: grain, water, hops and yeast. The basic idea is to extract the sugars from grains so that the yeast can turn it into alcohol and CO2, creating beer.
The actual process is:
1. Malting: The brewing process starts with grains that are malted by starting the growth process until they sprout a little root. They are then roasted or heated to stop that growth process. The main goal of malting is to isolate the enzymes needed for brewing so that it’s ready for the next step.
2. Mashing: The grains then go through a process known as mashing, in which they are milled and steeped in hot water for an hour to hour and a half, sort of like making tea. This activates enzymes in the grains that cause it to break down and release its sugars. Once this is all done you drain the water from the mash which is now full of sugar from the grains. This sticky, sweet liquid is called wort (pronounced like dirt with a w). It’s basically unfermented beer.
3. Boiling: The wort is brought to a boil as quickly as possible to reach what is called a “hot break”. This causes the glutens to gel together and help clarify the beer. It is at this point that hops are added. Hops are the small, green cone-like fruit of a vine plant. They release an oil that provides bitterness to balance out all the sugar in the wort and provide it’s flavor profile. They also act as a natural preservative.
4. Fermentation: Once the hour long boil is over the wort is cooled, strained and filtered. It’s then put in a fermenting vessel and yeast is added to it. At this point the brewing is complete and the fermentation begins. Basically the yeast eats up all that sugar in the wort and spits out CO2 and alcohol as waste products. The beer is stored for 5-7 days and the temperature depends upon the type of beer your trying to create.
5. Bottling and Aging: You’ve now got alcoholic beer, however it is still flat and uncarbonated. The flat beer is bottled, at which time it is either artificially carbonated like a soda, or if it’s going to be ‘bottle conditioned’ it’s allowed to naturally carbonate via the CO2 the yeast produces.
From the time you start the brewing process to the time it’s on tap can take anywhere from 10-14 days. Jared compares brewing beer to cooking by saying, “It’s a lot like cooking. You think of these things you want to cook and how you can put your own twist on it. And in your head you’re thinking of how it’s going to taste and smell good. And then you actually do it and think ‘that’s was horrible’. Or you create something by accident and it turns out really great.” Jared is part of the Amarillo High Plains Drafters Home Brew Club that meets every 2nd Friday of every month for members to discuss recipes, taste samples and discuss any problems their having with their brews. Occasionally they will throw down a Gauntlet Challenge where everyone is given the exact same ingredients and Jared says, “They take it home, brew it, ferment it and bring it back in. When they bring it back you can see how different brew styles can make completely different beers. They start the same and end of different. “
In the process of getting all of their certifications, the law was passed the breweries could sell on the premises so in 2014, they expanded into the space next to them to create the taproom where they now have 12 or their 21 different beers on tap. The first and still most popular beer LWS brews is the Sixth Street Wheat an American Wheat beer. Other beers include Texas Witty Twister a Belgian Wit, German-style Amarillo Sunrise Kolsch, Caprock Cream Ale, Devil’s Claw Green Chile Cream Ale made with green chiles, Polk Street American Pale Ale, P3 Coffee Porter brewed with coffee and many more. They even brew special seasonal brew such as Coronado Pumpkin Stout made with fresh pumpkin grown in Floydata, Texas and Bourbon Barrel Vanilla for the holidays.
Future plans for the brewery include adding more of their 20-22 total beer recipes on tap in the tap room, expanding and upgrading brewing equipment and expanding their location. They would also like to reach out to more retail locations, bars and restaurants to boost their retail presence. Today they can be found at the Party Stop, Lone Star Liquors and J’s Bar and Grill. Another exciting expansion to be happening around September pertains to the state law that was just passed that will allow LWS to sell six packs, bomber bottles and growlers directly to the public.
Long Wooden Spoon Brewery has a very laid back, family atmosphere. They try to have food trucks every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and if they don’t have a truck, they’ll whip up something homemade for you. They are open Tuesday-Thursday 3:00pm-10:00pm, Friday and Saturday 3:00pm-11:00pm and closed Sunday and Monday. LWS also has several annual events such as St. Patty’s Day and Octoberfest and events that benefit the community such as Pints For Pups benefitting the SPCA at the end of July and the recent beginning of summer community event for Remembering Wyatt Dale. So watch their Facebook page for upcoming events and make plans to head out to Long Wooden Spoon Brewery at 4098 Business Park Drive to try a refreshing craft beer made right here in Amarillo!