Building Community
Jamie Fulton ’03 crafts his way to the top of the beer world
Thursday, April 22, 2021
collage of community beer company logo, jamie holding beer in a brewery with his wife, and jamie wearing a safety vest

Jamie Fulton ’03 always knows what’s brewing. It’s his business, after all. A couple of years ago, he was visiting San Antonio on business when he decided to pop in at Bombay Bicycle Club to indulge in some nostalgia. The first thing he noticed was someone drinking a Mosaic IPA. Jamie knew that beer well—after all, he was the one who created it. In fact, “I started crafting that recipe when I was at Trinity,” he relates. Jamie had come back full circle to what had begun as an enthusiastic sideline, and was now enjoyed by craft beer lovers throughout Texas.

Jamie graduated Trinity with a degree in art history and had a job lined up at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth when he made a momentous decision. He wanted to pursue a career in craft beer, something that he had been developing an interest in since a sojourn backpacking in Europe. He worried about how his parents would react to this change of focus after they had invested so much into his education. But Jamie was surprised by the enthusiastic support he got. He recounts his father saying, “Thank God, Jamie. You don’t belong in a museum.” 

Of course, the turn from art to craft didn’t come out of nowhere. Jamie credits his parents (both are doctors) with exposing him to all kinds of culinary experiences growing up through their cooking, and during his travels in Europe he did a four-week course at Le Cordon Bleu in London. When he got back home, he purchased a homebrewing kit, and the adventure began. It wasn’t about just making beer to drink, but, as he says, “I was all about the process and the art of it.” Jamie soon put his love of the process to good work, moving from trying out home brews to an apprenticeship with Joey Villareal at Blue Star Brewing Company in San Antonio.  

After spending several months studying an online course from UC Davis, then attending the World Brewing Academy in Munich, Jamie was finally ready to try out his ambitions with a business of his own, so he founded The Covey Restaurant and Brewery in 2006 in Fort Worth. His most exciting memory of 2006, however, was marrying Kelly McGrew ’02; the couple were friends throughout their shared time at Trinity, and now raise three sons: Jack, Fritz, and Will James.

Before long, Jamie’s work at The Covey received notice in the broader craft brew industry. He was pleasantly surprised when his Vienna Lager won the coveted Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup in 2008. Soon after, his brews were picking up medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009 and 2010 and another recognition from the World Beer Cup in 2010. Jamie Fulton had made his mark as a brewmaster.  

But the strains of trying to raise a family and run a brewpub were tough, so in 2010 he decided to make another change and close down The Covey. Immediately after, he began a job with Newlands Systems, a brewing equipment manufacturer based out of Canada. Jamie was now travelling around the country using his expertise to get new craft breweries installed and brewing their first exciting batches of beer. 

Soon enough though, the creative urges came back and he teamed up with Kevin Carr to found Community Beer Co. in Dallas, Texas, in 2012. Jamie was happy to work as a brewmaster without the added pressure of running a restaurant that came with a brewpub. Now he could concentrate on the art of brewing and the awards followed: gold medals again at both the World Beer Cup and The Great American Beer Festival in 2014, and even more recognition since then. And along the way that recipe that he’d been working on as a Trinity student became Mosaic IPA, which brings us back to that moment in 2019 when he ran into someone drinking the beer that he had crafted. Here was an opportunity to interact with consumers that he doesn’t normally get when he’s in the brewery. In the brewpub days, he had a much more direct interaction with the people. “For better or for worse, you knew what people thought,” Fulton says. Since Community sold its first pint of beer in 2013 it’s grown to become the “third largest independent craft brewery in Texas,” according to Fulton, and that kind of success speaks for itself.  

And Community’s name isn’t just a word, but a mission statement of trying to bring people together with a quality product and a desire to make “Beer for the Greater Good,” which includes charitable work and community service projects that make this business more than just another brewery.  

Meanwhile, Fulton’s education hasn’t been completely forgotten in the shuffle. He credits his advisor Dr. Charles Talbot with supporting his work early on and also encouraging the passion that would become his career. In addition, he notes that his education in “creative thinking helps me to this day.” That creativity includes (but is certainly not limited to) the generation of names for Community’s brews. “It can be hard work trying to find a name that’s unique and easy to recognize,” he says. But it’s clearly hard work that Jamie Fulton enjoys. And as Community expands into a large new facility in Dallas, it’s clear that Jamie Fulton is not the only person who is enjoying the results of his hard work.  

William Razavi '95 is a writer, director, and college professor whose award-winning work has been produced across the country. Follow his work at williamrazavi.wordpress.com.

You might be interested in