It just seems natural that the grandson of a 1920s famous moonshine mogul would have a knack for brewing up something in his bathtub, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t any self-respecting moonshiner hope that at least one of his offspring would have inherited his ability to concoct a craft brew beer that could stand up beside any of Pappy’s “shine” and be recognized?
Pappy Slokum was a popular “moonshiner,” a trade that he had learned from his dad and grandfather in the backwoods of Callahan County. Known for his talent and skill in “shining,” he was very often the target of raids by local authorities attempting to cease the production of moonshine in their county. However, his skills were not limited to producing quality moonshine, he also had a keen sense as to when a raid was to occur, providing him the time he needed to escape and never be caught. On one such occasion, when Pappy had once again outsmarted local law enforcement and was nowhere to be found, they set fire to his still–thinking they had now put a stop to his production. After this, he turned his skills towards brewing small batches of artisan craft beer. Little did he know that years later, his grandson, along with a couple of friends, would have created several unique brews and be on the verge of opening Abilene’s first brewery/distillery–Pappy Slokum Brewery. Pappy must be proud!
The popularity of artisan craft beer is and has been on the rise. By definition craft beer is a well-made, interesting beer. It is a beer that is different, unique–it has flavor. Layers of multiple flavors give craft beers complexity and variety. They are typically made locally and in small batches. Traditional ingredients, such as barley, hops, water and yeast create quality artisan beers that appeal to consumers that appreciate quality over quantity–drink better not more.
In 2011, friends and fellow Abilene Police Officers, Jeff Bell, Brian Cokonougher and Richey Waggoner, realized that they shared a dream and this trifecta of craft brewers have come together to resurrect the Pappy Slokum Brewing Company. Visiting with the trio in their soon to be taproom, they explained how their hobby and their dream of being able distribute their brew is now turning into reality. The Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is slated to open early 2014 at 409 S. Treadaway. This location will house their production and also feature a taproom, where patrons can enjoy a glass of their favorite brew or fill their growler. What is a growler you ask? It is a glass or ceramic jug that allows you take your favorite brew home with you. In the late 1800s, fresh beer was carried home in a small, galvanized pail. The term growler came about because when the beer sloshed around it created a rumbling sound as the CO2 escaped through the lid. Bell says they also plan to can their beers as well–a can allows the beer to be transported easily and safely and the product can be kept cooler. Combined, the trio has over 37 years experience in brewing beer and have earned 50 plus awards including Best of Show and BrewMaster awards. “Beer Brewing is something I became interested in,” says Bell, “after returning from the Navy. I bought a Mr. Beer at the commissary for my dad.” It was then that Bell’s skill, knowledge and craftsmanship as a master brewer began; Cokonougher has been with Bell since that very moment and they’ve been brewing all the way. In 2007, Bell and Cokonougher started the Abilene Homebrewers Association, a group devoted to sharing their passion for craft brewing. Richey Waggoner joined the two in their brewing endeavor, bringing to the group even more experience. Each member of the group not only brings talent as a brewer, but also brings a set of business skills necessary to start up and run a successful business. Brian oversees the bookkeeping and accounting, Jeff works on sales and distribution and Richey tends to the marketing of the Pappy Slokum Brewing Company. But when it comes to brewing and their future building, they are all hands on. We need all the help we can get, they all agreed, to get this building up and going. And, after they are open they plan to have volunteer crews assist in the bottling and maintaining of the brewery. “We plan to make this a fun experience,” says Waggoner, “people are curious about the process and are anxious to help us out. We want to educate people about beer, we’re not about going out and consuming so much that you act silly. We are about producing high quality beer with multiple layers of taste that can be paired with various foods, a practice that has been long associated with wine.”
Pappy Slokum Brewing Company will offer these three beers year-round: McPappy’s 80 Schilling is medium bodied, dark ale that remains very drinkable. Scottish Pale Malt, English Peat Smoked Malt and five other malts combine to make this beer very complex, but approachable. McPappy’s goes well with hearty foods, great company and a warm fire. Local Yella is brewed in the Cream Ale Style, Local Yella is Pilsner, Vienna and a touch of corn for sweetness combined with German Hallertau Hops and a clean American Ale Yeast. This one is a perfect on a hot, Texas day! Crimson red in color, Grave Digger Imperial has layer upon layer of flavors. Copious amounts of American 2-Row, Crystal Malt and a touch of Roasted Barley give this beer the malt backbone it needs. Citrus, grassy and piney notes from these American grown hops are present from the first sip to the last. Seasonal beers created especially for the holidays, the dog days of summer and more will also be available on a limited basis.
During my tour of the future Pappy Slokum Brewing Company, as the trio explained the brewing processes, how they got started and offered samples of their craft beers, it was easy for me to see that the gentleman behind Pappy Slokum have done their homework. They know their beer and they know it’s good! I feel quite sure that Pappy would be proud of his grandson and the future of the Pappy Slokum Brewery.