Saint Arnold: A Cathedral Built for Beer
The power and elegance of adaptive reuse in urban settings comes in a variety of forms. Today, we take a look a rapidly growing craft brewery that has won numerous national and international awards, including Mid-Size Brewery of The Year 2017: Houston's Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Born around 580 in an area presently known as the country of Austrasia, Saint Arnulf or Arnold of Metz was a Frankish bishop and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont. Identified as a patron of brewers, the Legend of the Beer Mug states that in July 642 when parishioners of Metz had little to drink on inhospitable terrain, one of the parishioners prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” As a result a small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot immediately multiplied, to the point that the parishioners’ thirst was quenched and they had enough to last through the next evening.
With this in mind, Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company is named after this patron saint of brewing. Shipping its first keg of beer on June 9, 1994, Texas’ oldest craft brewery was founded by two graduates of Rice University, Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol. At the time, Houston was the largest city in the country without a microbrewery.
“Our current location has served us well and has helped us accomplish a lot by making great beer, but we have run out of space. Since our first day, our mission has been to brew the best beer in Texas and create an institution that makes Houston proud. That will be the focus of the redevelopment of our new brewery.”
- Brock Wagner, founder and brewer of Saint Arnold Brewing Company in 2009
By 2008, the company had outgrown its original location at a warehouse on the far northwest side of Houston. In need of space and a desire to attract tens of thousands of visitors each year, the company acquired a century old brick warehouse just north of downtown for major expansion and transformation. Originally constructed as a dry goods warehouse in 1914, the warehouse was converted into a frozen foods warehouse for Zero Foods (now Cisco) in 1960 and was eventually used for years by the Houston Independent School District.