Steam Theory Brewing Company poured its last beer from its West Dallas facility on June 19, 2022. The restaurant and bar—formerly BA And the Bachelorette Host Chris Harrison has invested in – permanently closed. But it’s not the end of the 4-year-old Dallas company.
For about a year, Steam Theory has operated what co-owner Chuck Humola calls a “virtual brewery” with North Carolina’s Befana Company. From a facility on the East Coast, Bevana brews four Steam Theory beers and mails them to customers in dozens of states, including Texas.
During the pandemic, the Steam Theory restaurant and taproom remained open, but struggled due to low traffic.
“We were very dependent on people coming in through the door,” Humola says.
The company received two rounds of PPP funds and some Restaurant Revitalization Fund money. That wasn’t enough, so Homola says he started looking at other ways to save Steam Theory.
“I’m a very stubborn person,” he says. “I love this company and didn’t want to see it go.”
Humula believes that a virtual brewery can maintain its business and reduce rental costs. (Though he’ll miss the Tap Room, which was especially beloved for its French fries.) His ambition for Steam Theory’s virtual brewery charts a new corporate path for the craft brewing industry, which has endured two tough years. Recent North Texas brewery closings include BrainDead in Deep Ellum, Legal Draft in Arlington, Armadillo Ale Works in Denton, and Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery in Farmers Branch.
Homola describes the dilemma as difficult to create.
His company is one of the only companies based in Dallas-Fort Worth that is based on a virtual brewery model. Restaurants have taken similar steps, selling their food across the country in ghost kitchens.
Steam Theory participates in taste tests to check the quality of its products that are made about 1,000 miles away. From North Carolina, Bevana currently brews and sells: Vamonos Hermanos, a Mexican beer; Caboose juice, hazy IPA; Leaps Against Humanity, West Coast Investment Promotion Agency; and Threat Level Midnight, stout with coffee notes, chocolate, and caramel.
Bevana has partnered with nine beverage companies, and Steam Theory is the only one from North Texas.
Homola says he chose to look forward, despite missing out on the sitting room.
“We’ll be in beer festivals and beer competitions. We’ll do all the things we’ve always done. Not just in bricks and mortar,” he says.
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We thought you’d want to know.
Harrison, one of the most popular reality dating show hosts on television, was a silent partner on Steam Theory. Humola says he’s a friend of a friend, and he’s a Dallas native.
Harrison said Dallas Morning News In 2018, he thought it would be great to invest in a Dallas brewery and “bring some roots back to Texas.”
And is it really in the beer industry? Well, now he is: “We’ve already turned him into a beer drinker,” says Humula.
Harrison seems to enjoy one of Steam Theory’s most popular beers, Singularity. It’s so named because it’s a simple, blonde beer, the site says. But exclusivity was definitely also named after Harrison, the former dating show host.