The Mad Scientists of Yeast are Always Creating Something Tasty at Wild Barley Kitchen and Brewery
By Bruce X. Forey | Photography by David Teran
Fermentation happens. That natural process of food and drink is the unique foundation for a budding business in 78209. Wild Barley Kitchen and Brewery is the bright idea of co-owners Holland Lawrence and Marc Fogelsong. It’s a mix of sourdough culture and the culture of sourdough.
“Most everything is based on sourdough that we make in-house,” said Holland. We’ve made tortillas, English muffins, biscuits, cookies, pancakes, bagels, and more with our proprietary sourdough culture.”
That made-from-yeast sourdough business model has roots deep in Holland’s family.
“The culture itself I got from my aunt, and she got it from her like sister back in the 1980s,” he reflected. “So, the culture we’re currently using is 40-plus years old. It’s got a lot of family history behind it.”
Holland later applied his sourdough fermentation insight into home brewing. He met business partner, Marc, while attending Texas A&M University. They shared similar dreams of one day working in the food and beverage industry. After graduation, Marc entered the corporate restaurant business, while Holland went on to become the head brewmaster for San Antonio-based brewer Ranger Creek. Holland and Marc kept in touch and finally decided to combine their collective talents to start their own food and beer concept or brewpub.
“I’m an entrepreneur and always wanted to do it for myself. But knowing the scope of the project, I needed a trustworthy person like Marc to partner with me,” Holland said. “We kept talking about it until the time was right for us to move forward.”
They started their business out of a 30-foot custom trailer on Broadway close to the Pearl. When COVID hit, they paused the launch of their brewpub until the right time and opportunity came. That opening came when they learned the former Taco Garage restaurant building, just inside Broadway and Loop 410, was not going to reopen after COVID. They secured the location and moved operations.
Their food trailer came in handy as they operated out of it while remodeling Taco Garage into Wild Barley Kitchen and Brewery.
The kitchen operation came first, and Wild Barley developed a reputation for concocting a delicious array of breakfast items, sandwiches, and gourmet pizzas, all made from their distinctive sourdough formula.
In February 2023, Wild Barley launched their in-house brewery. This side of the business is an extension of Holland and Marc’s continual experimentation with yeast and fermentation.
Holland added, “Because of my sourdough background, I became better at the brewing side, knowing how to handle yeast, stress fermentation, and develop different flavors.”
On average, 12 beers are on tap at Wild Barley, but they don’t last long. They get rotated every few weeks for something more seasonal or when Holland is inspired by a new fermentation mix. For instance, he’s currently collaborating with Mark Vollmer of Theory Coffee on a new brew.
“My concept is to always have something changing and new. It’s the experimental aspect of it with different hops and more that I really enjoy.”
In addition to fresh and homemade, an important part of Wild Barley’s strategy is supporting local businesses. Holland says most of the ingredients, or items baked, cooked, or poured, are sourced from small, local operations.
“If we can support someone that is local and spend our money with them, that supports another local family and another local business,” Holland added. “There’s a camaraderie and feeling that we’re all in this together.”
Holland says this approach leads to word-of-mouth awareness that constantly draws in new customers.
Wild Barley is holding a party on February 10 to celebrate its one-year anniversary of brewing beer. As expected, a special food and beer item is in the works to mark the occasion.
“We have a unique beer release for the occasion. We’re also creating a smash burger to pair with it, along with other food specials,” Holland said. “We’re also planning on some live music and just have a party to celebrate.”
Wild Barley Kitchen and Brewery is located at 8403 Broadway and open Wednesday through Monday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed on Tuesday’s. Follow them on social media.