Friends who brew together, stay together. Southern Star Brewing Company, founded in Conroe, Texas, this year by longtime home-brew pals and golfing buddies Brian Hutchins and Dave Fougeron, is meeting its founders expectations. “Actually a little bit better,” says Hutchins. Even the micro-brewery’s logo was designed by another old Fougeron friend and college home-brewer.

Hutchins was motivated into a career change by multiple sclerosis, which forced him out of his previous job, and Fougeron wanted to “build a company before I got too old to do it ... I think it’s every home-brewer’s dream to do it for themselves.” Fougeron, late of St. Arnold’s, says the price of hops quintupled since they first drew up a business plan, and that’s forced them to tweak their recipes a little, and upped the price of a four pack of Pine Belt Ale.

Hutchins’ assessment of the delicious Pine Belt (available at Whole Foods) is “piney and citrusy, `with` a nice malt background,” which Fougeron attributes to “delicious American hops from the Pacific Northwest.” Up next, in keg only for now, are a “Logger,” a rauch smoked brew, a stout, and then a maibach. Check their website,, for updates and availability.

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