Innovations in the board game and brewpub industries over the last few years have led to a surge of craft beer and board game lovers. JD Merritt and his wife, Jessica Merritt – co-owners …
Innovations in the board game and brewpub industries over the last few years have led to a surge of craft beer and board game lovers. JD Merritt and his wife, Jessica Merritt – co-owners of Battlehops Brewing at 6801 Highway Blvd. in Katy – have opened a business to take care of customers with a foot in both of those worlds. The brewpub and gaming space opened May 5 of 2019 and offers handcrafted beer brewed on-site and a board game library of more than 400 games.
“You know, it’s not really complicated,” said Jessica when asked why the couple had opened the business. “We love beer and we love board games. There wasn’t a place near Katy that had both.”
The couple had already been obsessive collectors and players of board games, JD said. They had thought about opening a brewery for a while as well and an opportunity to purchase brewing equipment came along that the couple couldn’t pass up. Opening Battlehops as a brewpub worked to their benefit, giving them more control over what they serve to their customers, he said.
“Right now everything we have up we’re brewing. We brew a variety of things,” JD said. “We’re a brew pub. We don’t have a distributor that tells us what to brew.”
Generally, the Merritts brew seasonal beverages and have a few standard beers that they try to offer year-around. A seasonal brew – the Chocolate IPA – is a favorite, JD said. Two beers named Steve – a pale ale named after Jessica’s father – and Xena – an Imperial stout and Battlehops’ first beer – are generally always on-tap, he said.
“Those two, we want to keep on consistently and when we do distribute, those are the two that we’ll start with,” JD said.
JD said brewing the beer can take up to three weeks. Initial fermentation takes about a week, then the beer must sit for about another week for settling before it brightens and is carbonated in the last week.
The pub also offers a hard cider from Austin East Ciders as well as sodas and other beverages for children and those adult customers who don’t necessarily want to partake of their alcoholic selections. Having a family of their own, JD and Jessica said they want to keep Battlehops family-friendly and are careful not to overserve customers.
“I think it helps that we’re very friendly to people who don’t drink,” Jessica said. “Some of our regulars don’t drink.”
Battlehops also offers a wine from ErmaRose Winery – a Katy vintner – and is looking to add wines from Cast Iron Winery – a Sealy-based vintner – in the near future, JD said.
Games are a huge part of the store, and the game library is time-consuming to maintain but important to the business, Jessica said. She said the couple had been to several nearby establishments that had games, but it was usually only a small selection and game pieces were often missing. The Merritts take painstaking measures not to let that happen with their game library and require games to be checked out and checked back in.
Keeping up with the game inventory is important, JD said.
“We take the time to make sure all the pieces get back where they go,” JD said. “It’s very much like a library.”
There is no charge to visit the pub to play games. The Merritts recommend that board gamers come early in the day to ensure they have a space to play at one of their customized gaming tables that come complete with a recessed gaming area and cup holders to prevent drinks from spilling onto game pieces.
Board game and beer lovers of all sorts are welcome, the Merritts said. Whether someone is interested in trying the IPA or tossing some dice, they’re welcome at the pub.
“You don’t have to feel like if you’re walking in the door, you’re drinking beer,” JD said.