A Taste Among the Brood

By: Dwayne Wilder

Jeremy Roberts has a dream.
And like all dreams, it starts small; like in his garage, but he wants it to be big……….like Area Code BIG.
“In Germany, every town has its own brewery; they are proud of it,” explained Roberts. “I want this business to be something that this community is proud of. This is something that will be a community brewery.”
His “903 Brewers” is named after the telephone area code that encompasses the Texoma area. Roberts lives in Pottsboro, but is from Sherman and a Sherman High School graduate (Class of 1997). He dreams of moving the business out of his house and into a public place in Sherman.
“There is such big support for this area code; it’s really neat,” he said. “Craft beer is really taking off in Texas right now. This has inspired me to take it to the next level.”
According to Roberts, the plan is to have an operating brewery in Sherman by spring 2013. He is working with city officials and the Sherman Economic Development Corporation to find a location and complete the application for alcoholic brewery.
“It’s all based on old Prohibition laws; there are a lot of hurdles to overcome,” he explained. “There have been setbacks, but we are getting there.”
Roberts envisions a brewery operation with offices, storage and a tasting room in his local brewery. Once he decided in January to make the leap to ‘Brewer/Founder,’ Roberts has been studying the Texas market; and getting a feel for what is already out there.
“There are about 50 local breweries in Texas,” he noted. “There are a lot of beers out there, but this is what people want. They are getting tired of the national brands and want something new.”
Roberts has spent time at “Rahr & Sons” Brewery in Ft. Worth. He has known them for about eight years now. He noted that they inspired him to get into the home brewery business.
“I’ve been brewing for awhile; I’ve been hanging there,” Roberts smiled. “They have a lot of good craft beers.”
Roberts intends for his brewery to be as completely ‘local’ as possible. For instance, he will use only pecans grown in the 903 area code for his ‘Pecan Porter,’ a style of beer.
“It’s important to incorporate ‘903’ into our products,” he said.
Another item equally important is to create jobs in Grayson County, according to Roberts. There will only be minimal staff to begin with, but Roberts plans for a robust operation producing some 30,000 gallons of beer annually; and hopefully even more. “903 Brewers” will sell beers throughout Texas and beyond, he added.
“I want this to be something new and fun for Sherman; for this area,” he said. “I want Sherman and the surrounding community to be proud of our beer.”
As with all dreams, Roberts started with a belief that he holds strongly. He believes that he can ‘build a better beer.’
“It’s a cool thing; everyone likes a finished product. I like to taste what I’ve created and everyone else does, too,” he said. “It’s fun to create recipes, and it is fun to see the finished product, but it’s the best to share it with others.”
“I feel like we can make a better beer,” Roberts concluded.
Roberts believes his years of home-brewing will give him an edge in the making of a finely ‘crafted’ beer. He has been ‘fine tuning’ recipes with his five gallon home system over the years. He has been sharing the 55 bottles each batch makes with friends and getting strong response.
Each batch includes the grains, which are steeped at 150 degrees in water for about four hours. Roberts says the best beers are the ones where all the flavor is gotten out of the grains. Malt and hops – the bitter flavor – are added and the final step is the yeast, which produces the alcoholic content. Roberts then adds flavors to his liking or for the season. The ‘brew’ ferments, or cleanses itself, for about two weeks; and it is bottled.
“We will have four basic beers plus seasonal beers,” said Roberts of the brewery operation. “The fall beer – the Oktoberfest beer – the dark, warmer winter beer, a spring, or ‘bock’ beer, and a summer beer.”
Roberts plans for “903 Brewers” to ‘always’ be open for tastings; two days per week, there will be tours of the brewery and it will be available for parties/gatherings as well. He also noted that his operation will be ‘earth friendly’ where recycling – which he practices in the home operation – will be done as much as possible.
“We want this business to be something that builds community support,” he concluded.

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