Jessica Merritt is a local mama of 3 and this past May her and her husband, JD, combined their two favorite things, board games and beer, and opened up Battlehops Brewing! They have always enjoyed going to breweries, and would bring their own board games and their kids along with them, so the inspiration behind a gaming and kid friendly brewery was born. They have a collection of 400+ board games, 10 taps (plus, non-beer options), and custom game tables. They strive to be a place your kids will love, too, they have snacks and popcorn for the kids, kid level games, and amazing root beer.
We sat down with Jessica to talk all about Battlehops, her favorite thing about owning this business, how she balances it all, and her big plans for the future. Battlehops is a gem here in Katy, and Mamas, you have got to go check them out. They have tons of special events, so make sure to follow them on social media to stay in the know!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I grew up in Houston. JD and I lived in Sugar Land when we got married, but we moved to Katy when we were ready to buy a home. We’ve lived in Katy for more than 10 years now!
You are a mama, too! How old are your kid(s)?
We have three kids: two in preschool and one in elementary.
What did you do before becoming a business owner?
I’ve been a writer for about 15 years, currently a personal finance editor covering credit cards and loans.
When did you open Battlehops Brewing and what was the inspiration for opening a brewery in Katy?
We opened Battlehops Brewing in May this year, but it’s been a long time coming. A place like this didn’t exist, so we made one! JD and I are both passionate about beer and board games, and they pair so well. We’ve brought our own board games to many breweries, but it would have been mindblowing to find a place to enjoy beer and games designed specifically for that experience. That’s how we hope people feel about Battlehops!
Tell us more about Battlehops Brewing! What can one expect when they visit Battlehops?
The first thing you might notice is the wall of games! We have a 400+ board game collection that’s always growing. There are 10 taps, most of which are our beer. There’s also cider, wine, house brewed sodas and cold brew coffee, because we know not everyone who visits is coming for beer! I’m really proud of our custom game tables (built by JD and my dad) with sunken playing surfaces and cupholders.
It’s a family-friendly environment. We drag our kids everywhere and we’ve learned that if the kids aren’t happy, the experience goes south pretty fast. So the brewery always has snacks, free popcorn, and plenty of games at the kid level. And kids love the root beer. It’s so fun to have a treat for them, too!
Do you offer special events?
We consider any game night a special event. But we do other events as well! There’s bingo night once a month, and usually at least one or two large events each month.
The Houston Ghostbusters have come out for photo ops and charity fundraising (they inspired our S’lime Soda, which is a house favorite!), there’s been a dinosaur day with a Jurassic Park Jeep, an Oktoberfest carnival benefiting Stuff the Sleigh, and more! Coming up, we have our Toys for Tots toy drive!
We also offer private events: birthday parties, school parties, teacher socials, baby showers, team-building events, and more! We have a few holiday get togethers coming up, too. It’s so fun entertaining at the brewery!
What is your favorite thing about owning Battlehops Brewing?
It’s amazing seeing people connecting and having analog fun, and knowing we helped make that happen. Something new for date night, finally getting that game night with friends put together because no one has to be the host. People who come in and love the beer, and really appreciate the depth of the game selection.
Families who get everyone to take a break from screen time and have a wild afternoon of family fun over Jenga and root beer. It cracks me up when moms tell me their kids are excited to come to the brewery because, well, it’s a brewery. But they really do love coming back because it’s all about play time. Also, the soda is full of sugar. It’s probably that!
Beyond the satisfaction of sharing Battlehops with the community, I enjoy influencing beer production because it often means JD makes something I absolutely love. The very first beer we released was an imperial stout he made just the way I wanted, and it’s now one of my all-time favorites to enjoy and share with others. We’ve since released a rum barrel aged version I love just as much as the original!
How do you balance being a business owner and mama?
There’s no balance! Life is just crazy right now and there is no way to do it all. I get a lot of help, and I’ve learned to just let go of a lot. I manage by getting up extremely early and tunneling into work before the world has a chance to demand my attention. It’s not easy, but it means I can focus on our family once the kids get out of school.
My parents are always helping in some way, whether it’s my dad doing work at the brewery or my mom taking care of the kids. I’m thankful for our staff and volunteers who put my mind at ease knowing things are handled at the brewery. And of course, JD and I are a team. A lot of times I’m running the show, but I’m definitely not doing it alone.
Do you experience the dreaded mom-guilt? If so, how do you deal?
Is there a mom who hasn’t felt guilty at some point? Of course I’ve had guilt. We’ve missed school picture order deadlines, karate class, and Cub Scouts more than I would like to admit, and I am frequently running late. We’re not doing everything perfectly, but big picture? Our family is great, and I don’t have the capacity to stress over little things. We’re happy, healthy, we love each other, and somehow always find time for the really good stuff. Keeping that perspective really helps.
How has the Katy community impacted your business?
Katy is the perfect community for Battlehops. I’m so thankful we live in Katy and were able to start our business here. We’ve met people who have become instant friends, supporting us enthusiastically and offering their help, advice, or just letting me dump some anxiety out of my brain! The brewery is truly a community place for everyone to enjoy and feel at home. We love hosting events and supporting causes and other small businesses in Katy, and we hope the feeling is mutual!
Best advice for someone wanting to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship or wanting to open their own business?
This is all so much fun, and so rewarding, but there’s a lot of sacrifice. You’ll have doubts, struggles, frustrations. You will make mistakes. There’s always something you overlooked, or someone ready to point out shortcomings. And you’ll work so, so hard. But, it’s yours to work hard on, and the joys of success are even brighter when you’re doing it for yourself and a business you love.
Who inspires you most in business and who inspires you most in motherhood?
Business inspiration comes from everywhere! It’s really hard to pinpoint. I am constantly learning from others.
Fellow ladies in beer, particularly in the Pink Boots organization, inspire me to trust my knowledge and be confident in my abilities, even in the male-dominated industry of beer. Jennifer Royo, co-founder of No Label Brewing, has been an inspiration long before we decided to open a brewery. She’s so committed to serving others and makes everything look easy, but you know it’s not! Jennifer Prothow, owner and founder of ErmaRose Winery in Katy has incredible hustle and just keeps dreaming big and delivering.
In motherhood, there’s no question, it’s my mom. She worked as an elementary school teacher and cared so much for her students, who still come to see her! She always made time for special things growing up, and she is still doing everything she can to support me, usually before I even need to ask. That’s what I want for our kids, to feel my love and know I’ll do whatever I can to support their dreams as my mom has supported mine.
When things get hard, what’s one thing you tell yourself to keep going when running this business?
We certainly didn’t start this business thinking it would be easy. But we believe in what we’re doing, and love meeting other people who believe in us, too. It’s been so fulfilling to see what we’ve done in just the six months we’ve been open, and we plan to keep working hard to make our dreams a reality.
Future plans for your business?
There’s so much to do! We’re literally a mom and pop business and just getting started. While that means this place is truly ours, it also means we don’t move very fast. So there’s a ton still in the works and I never stop coming up with crazy ideas for JD to make happen.
Top priority is making more beer. We are constantly selling out of one beer or another, which is both great and frustrating because people want to come back for favorites, and keeping a balanced tap list can be a challenge. We’ve already grown so much in beer production, though. The brewery opened with 100% guest taps, but today every beer tap on the wall is ours. Soon, we will start packaging and selling kegs in a limited capacity, but for now it’s all about the taproom!
Any special deals or events our Katy Moms can look out for?
Today, we are donating a portion of our taproom sales to Taps for Texas Equusearch. This organization provides volunteer search and recovery for lost or missing persons and we’re honored we were invited to be a part of this fundraiser. Please stop by and support!
On December 4th, we’re hosting Mean Girls trivia and releasing our new strawberry sour beer. But we promise to be nice 🙂
To learn more about Battlehops Brewing, GO VISIT THEM! Plus, check out their website and give them a follow on social media:
Address: 6801 Hwy Blvd, Katy, TX 77494