A 10-minute drive from the university leads Bryan-College Station residents to North Dowling Road, down the winding street of Post Oak Trees and the occasional prickly pear, and past the tractors and horse stables. At the end of its beaten path is the New Republic Brewing Company.
Established in 2010, Aggieland’s oldest microbrewery presents its regulars and the curious with self-distributed craft beer brewed directly at the site of consumption. With 14 ales, blondes, porters and IPAs on tap daily, NRB aims to concoct an all-inclusive atmosphere through an appreciation of beverages and good conversation.
Step into the NRB backyard any weekday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., or any weekend starting at noon, and one will find hardwood picnic tables preoccupied by birthday gatherings, Jenga competitions, a waft of fresh food and the hymns of throaty musicians caressing sedated patrons. NRB prides itself on its family and pet-friendly environment, an aspect general manager Leigh-Anne McGarel said was part of the reason she came to work at NRB.
“I enjoyed the company, as in the people who you share a beer with after work, but then I fell in love with the actual company,” McGarel said. “In craft beer, the question isn’t about mixing business and pleasure. Our business is our pleasure.”
McGarel said providing the Bryan-College Station community with a comfortable setting where adults can moderately unwind while the kiddos get to play is the goal, while still appealing to the university crowd, like neighboring apartments The Cottages and The Barracks.
“You move to College Station and your friends introduce you to Northgate, and you may not even look further,” McGarel said. “However, if you want to skip the hassles of long lines and parking, and enjoy a quality craft beer priced for a college budget, this is it.”
Upon entering the venue, patrons are greeted by the sight of fermenters, bright tanks and steel kettles used to brew the same refreshments on the menu. This department is managed by NRB’s head brewer Travis Walker, who described the brewing process as “90 percent cleaning, nine percent waiting and one percent doing things.”
“An actual brew day is an eight to 12 hour day, if it goes well,” Walker said. “The process starts with a mash tun, where you put your grain and water and basically make a grain tea out of it, extract the sugars. Then from there it goes into the kettle, boil it and add your hops, everything else, cool it, and then it goes into the fermenters.”
From there, NRB’s craft beer goes into the glass — or rather the can — for sales and office manager Shannon Seelye. In the sales department, Seelye is the overseer of NRB’s distribution into grocery, convenience, liquor stores and bars across the Bryan-College Station area, and some Spec’s outlets as far as Houston.
According to Seelye, pitching the brews across Texas is mostly dependent on settings and demographics, but between the two is an appreciation for a good story, in particular, how each brew earned its name. Seelye said her favorite of the bunch is NRB’s “Dammit Jim!” Amber Ale — a story of misunderstanding, Star Trek appreciation and the “hook, line and sinker for coming to this company.”
“At first we called it ‘Bellows,’ but ‘Bellows’ is also a bottom shelf bourbon from Jim Beam,” Seelye said. “We put out our ‘Bellows,’ which is a Texas craft amber, vastly different than a bourbon, then Jim Beam sent us a cease and desist order saying, ‘Hey, stop using our name.’ Then we wrote on our social media, ‘Hey, the beer’s not changing, the name just has to change,’ and somebody wrote back to us saying, ‘Dammit Jim! I’m a craft beer not a bourbon.’ Thus the ‘Dammit Jim!’ was born.”
Currently, NRB is working overtime for one of its biggest events of the year: the establishment’s eighth anniversary on April 27. To ring in the celebration, NRB will host three live bands, various food trucks and will serve 30 unique brews.
In the meantime, customers like Steve Nam can enjoy a pint alongside friends and family, as his daughter flings a frisbee into the spring breeze.
“Not a lot of places cater to families,” Nam said. “You always have to be mindful of knocking over this and that, but there’s an open play area here and tons of other kids, so it kind of fits in with what we like to do on Sundays — try some tasty beers and eat some different food fare.”