Like any good dad, Justin Gyorfi has a tough time deciding which of his “children” he likes best.
Gyorfi is not choosing between Madelyn, his almost 10-year-old, or Claire, his barely 1-month-old. He is choosing among his “other” children, the 1,000 beers he and business partner Michael Broderick have created in the two years since they gave birth to Ingenious Brewery, the hyper-creative brewpub specializing in small-batch, constantly changing brews.
“They’re all our ‘children,’ so hard to pick a favorite,” he says of the 24 taps of fresh, inspiring takes on their favorite beer styles currently available. “We’ve had some that were more commercially successful than others, but those aren’t the ones we always enjoy best. We try to appease the market and watch the sales to help guide what we’re brewing next.”
What is brewing next can only be described as intriguing and ingenious. One day a couple weeks ago, Gyorfi and Broderick’s webpage taproom listed 18 different beers available in single cans, four-can packs or growler fills. The creatively titled list included “PB&J Wheat,” American pale wheat beer conditioned on peanut butter, blueberry and strawberry, and “Make Russian Great Again,” a strong Russian imperial stout made with chocolate malts, roasted barley, oats and coffee beans.
For those not quite as adventurous, the Ingenious taproom included the Chico Crujiente, a traditional Mexican lager, and the American Lager which is, well, a traditional American lager.
Gyorfi is a lifelong Houstonian who grew up in Clear Lake while Broderick is a downtown Philadelphia native. They met at Penn State University when Gyorfi was pursuing his residency in urologic surgery. That is correct. When he is not brewing up a storm, he is Dr. Gyorfi of Premier Urology in Kingwood, board certified in general urology. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas. His wife, Brittany, is a nurse practitioner in Kingwood and his younger sister, Kristy, is the Ingenious taproom manager.
“As I was preparing to graduate, Mike approached me and asked if I would be interested in going 50/50 to open a brewery,” Gyorfi said. “As a resident, you give up everything in the pursuit of education except to catch a beer or two with friends. That’s how I met Mike, who had a basement kegerator with 12 taps.”
Gyorfi was “mind blown” by the set-up and quality of Broderick’s beers and did not hesitate to say yes to the offer.
“Mike can brew, build and fix anything,” Gyorfi said. “It amazes me watching him do an unexpected maintenance task using an obscure and never-used skill he was taught 30 years ago.”
What was a sizable investment for Gyorfi was an equally significant gamble for Broderick who gave up everything – house, relationships, family, friends – to pack up and moved to Humble to start a new business.
“Starting out wasn’t easy,” Gyorfi said. “We had numerous delays, including becoming the victims of fraud just before we opened. With each delay, I was concerned interest would wane. I had to buy a small, bare-bones commercial brewing set out of my own pocket. It was a pretty bleak time.”
As a result of COVID-19, Gyorfi and Broderick had to close their taproom and distribution essentially dried up, so they focused instead on small-batch, exciting beers with frequent releases.
Residents of Lake Houston appreciate good efforts and great beer and Ingenious Brewing’s soft opening was met with a capacity crowd, and an appreciative crowd.
“A patron approached me a few years ago after trying an orange-chocolate stout we were featuring,” Gyorfi said. “She had tears in her eyes explaining to Mike and me how, every Christmas morning, she would get a chocolate-orange candy from her mother who is now deceased.”
“The gratitude she expressed was something much greater than either Mike or I ever expected to get from a beer,” he says.
Gyorfi compliments their craft beer crowd which, he said, “… always shows up in droves for charity events. This year, we collaborated with the Answer Brewpub, a craft brewery out of Richmond, V.A. and Sky High for Kids, which supports children undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening conditions. We generated more than $10,000 for pediatric cancer treatment.”
Gyorfi and Broderick are “… forever in pursuit of increasing the quality of our product,” they say. In two years, they have commercially released more than 600 beers and “… we learn something from each one.”
Despite COVID-19, the partners plan to offer numerous new product lines in their taproom, increasing regular distribution to markets throughout Texas, and increasing limited drops to national and perhaps international markets.
“We have opened the eyes of many who didn’t consider themselves beer fans,” said Gyorfi. “Mike and I are passionate about our beer, stand by them 100%, and, if anyone is every dissatisfied, we’ll refund them, no questions asked.”
Check out Gyorfi and Broderick’s ingenious number of creative craft beers and their virtual taproom on a very creative webpage, ingeniousbeer.com. Pick out a favorite, then pay a visit at the family-friendly taproom at 1986 S. Houston Ave. in Humble or pick up a curbside order. Their phone number is 832-412-2142.