Most folks know Chris Harrison as the longtime host of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette reality TV series, and from his time as host on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? But the Dallas native and fixture of prime time TV now has a new gig: brewery owner.
Harrison is one of several investors in a local brewpub called Steam Theory Brewing Co., which opened in the Trinity Groves neighborhood of West Dallas this summer. As Harrison tells it, he was visiting his hometown following his grandmother's passing several years ago and ran into Michael Weinstein, a local chef and friend who he's known "since we were in diapers." When Weinstein told Harrison about the opportunity, he jumped.
"I've always wanted to do something like this because I love food, I'm a big foodie," Harrison says by phone. "But I've always wanted to do it in my hometown back in Dallas and set some roots back in Texas. It was really all about timing and karma and family, and all of it just fit perfectly."
While he's considered a dating expert, Harrison admits he's not terribly knowledgeable about beer. He's not picky either. When asked about his go-to style when he reaches for a pint, Harrison, like many beer enthusiasts, said it depends on his environment and mood.
"One of the things I've learned as I've traveled around the world is there are so many different types for different walks of life," he says, recalling a trip to Ireland when he started off some nights in the pub with a cider on ice before settling in with an iconic Guinness stout. "That's what I love about beer."
What does Harrison drink to cope with the drama of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?
"It depends on the level of drama," he says with a laugh.
"Sometimes it's just an easy glass of wine. It can go all the way to a cold beer at the end of the day... Then there are some days where it's a brown liquor night. You need some whiskey or some Scotch to really drown out what just happened."
Between chef Weinstein and brewer Kirk Roberts, Steam Theory plans to give food and beer equal attention. The menu of grub offers appetizers, charcuterie, sandwiches and entrees to pair with beer and some, like the beer-brined and smoked half-chicken, that use it as an ingredient.
Steam Theory's name harkens back to Europe's industrial revolution when steam-powered equipment revolutionized the brewing process. Because of that, co-owners Chuck Homola and Jonathan Barrows expect to serve classic styles such as a London brown porter, English IPA and English-style bitter, alongside a variety of American-style India pale ales. Roberts cut his chops in California, so hopheads can count on finding a West Coast-style IPA on tap.
The brewpub is slowly ramping up its selection of house brewed beers, in hopes of having 12 available at its grand opening celebration on Aug. 25. Harrison plans to be there with friends, family and possibly some familiar faces from the Bachelor franchise. And there may even be a few brews that link his two worlds, he says.
"I told the other owners, 'Look, I don't want to ever beat anybody over the head that I'm a part of this, or that's about me or show or any of that at all, because my involvement is very personal'," he says. But if you're a fan of the reality dating series, "there will be some Easter eggs throughout the restaurant, for sure."