Former student inspired to open microbrewery in Lubbock

[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjuction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]

by NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief

Everyone enjoys a refreshing drink. But many will agree that it tastes better when you make it yourself.

Robert Box never dreamed about owning his own brewing business. He was born in Lubbock, but attended Sundown High School. He came to South Plains College for two years, graduating in 2008.

Box was the sports editor for the Plainsman Press, but took the class as a hobby. He graduated with an associate’s degree in general studies and ended up receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in biology at Texas Tech University in 2011.

“After I graduated, I started working at Bayer Crop Science,” says Box. “I worked at the greenhouse for six months, for cotton breeding, and then I got a job in North Carolina.”

During the past three years, Box and his wife, Jessica, have lived in North Carolina, where Box worked in a research lab for Bayer. While working in North Carolina, Box received his Master of Science Degree from the University of Nebraska.

“When we moved to North Carolina, it was an awesome experience, because I think everyone should live somewhere they never lived before,” explains Box. “The culture is totally different out there, and not saying that it’s worse or better. But, you have to get used to the people. It’s neat to get all these new experiences, try new food, meet new people that don’t agree with you the way you see things.”

According to Box, he and his wife weren’t aware of where they were going to move to. He says that he and his wife looked up the place online, drove, and they didn’t see the place until they pulled up to it.

“While we were out in North Carolina, there was a big push for everything being local,” says Box. “All the restaurants are momma and papa owned. We lived around Raleigh. There was this one burger joint we used to go to, and they had North Carolina beef, cheese, and even beer. So, me and Jess would go out and meet people, and eventually we would go and taste the different types of North Carolina beer.”

Box says they had a really hard time finding any beer domestics. So, they got into the habit of going to different breweries.

“We went to one for my buddy’s birthday party,” says Box, “and I was sitting there thinking that this could work in Lubbock, because we don’t really have that here. It almost feels that Lubbock is behind on this craft beer that’s going on.”

Photo courtesy of Robert Box.

Box and his wife have been talking about opening their own craft microbrewery. Since June 2015, they have been working on the business plan and expect to be done in April.

“For 10 months, we’ve been working on the business plan, and it’s about 120 pages,” explains Box. “So, we’ll be picking it up this week from the Small Business Development Center. We have a location. But, we haven’t signed the lease yet.”

Box says they have the equipment list and staff ready, and many places have already discussed with Box about the possibility of carrying the local beer. Box has several names for his beer already.

Box fell into agriculture when he was attending Texas Tech. He says that it’s a big change from agriculture research to business.

“I’m not going to be the one brewing the beer,” says Box. “We hired a professional that’s been formerly trained on equipment and beer making. It’s a big swing. It’s something that I really enjoy. It’s like a food person. They always want to try something new and have different experiences. For beer, there are so many microbreweries out there that are producing these regional beers.”

Box says he is interested in brewing his own craft beer. But, he and his wife have concerns.

“We’re scared to death about this,” says Box. “But, we’re having fun with it. It has that weird balance. Just get through this one problem that comes up at the time and chip away at it. We’re a lot closer than I thought we were going to be, to tell you the truth.”

Box says that the business is more of a beer factory and not a bar, although, someone can come in and try the different types of craft beer.

“It’s not a bar,” explains Box. “But anyone is welcome to come in and taste the beer from the taper, because it will be fresh as it will ever be becomes it’s coming from the taper. The business should be ready late fall of 2016.”

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