In case you weren’t aware, there is a revolution growing in the Lone Star State. No, not secession from the union, but a fight for Texas Beer Independence!
It’s long over due as our state has been far behind most others. But change is happening and happening quick as Texas is exploding with new craft breweries launching almost monthly and new craft enthusiasts are graduating from pale, watery swill to a new wave of rich, artisan-crafted, deep-tinted brews full of flavor and creativity made by small, local craft breweries in numbers so large that bars, restaurants and even Big Beer Water (Budweiser, Miller & Coors) have taken notice.
The Texas beer market is huge and second only to the more populous California in total beer sold. But while our beer market continues to grow, beer sales in the birthplace of modern American Craft Beer (Anchor Brewing in San Francisco and Sierra Nevada in Chico) is in decline, more because of California’s economic issues than a loss of appetite for beer on the West Coast.
Despite Texas’ prolific beer consumption, the options have been limited over the years. With few breweries, limited imports and the political power of “the big guys” and their affiliated distributors, the beer options we have accepted in Texas has been much more limited than if we lived in most other states. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) beer laws have been well criticized over the years for making it challenging for new independent breweries to open in the state.
This has left those dominating the market, Big Beer Water, with an advantage by spending millions in campaign contributions to maintain their advantage. A victorious lawsuit by the new Austin brewery Jester King against TABC his a step in the right direction and a grassroots organization of craft beer consumers called Open The Taps are fighting for more changes.
But on a more positive topic, the explosion of new Texas craft breweries has begun and already making a major impact locally, statewide and nationally. Austin is quickly becoming one of the nation’s top beer cities with unprecedented growth. And not only are these new breweries opening and serving the Austin community, but making a name for themselves nationally as well. Austin Beer Works took home a 2011 Great American Beer Festival silver medal in the English-style summer ale category for their Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale just five months after opening. Another new Austin brewery, Hops & Grain Brewing, has continued the momentum landing a gold for its Alt-eration in the German-style brown ale/Dusseldorf-style altbier category at the World Beer Cup. A good example of the creativity new Texas breweries are bringing to the table is the Oatmeal Pale Ale (OPA) from San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling. It is described as “a central Texas take on the classic American Pale Ale” and is both as unique and delicious as they come. So promising with potential is the Houston Craft Beer market that prolific brewmaster and brewery consultant Eric Warner (who was hired to consult on the construction of Houston’s new Karbach Brewing) decided instead to join the company full-time leaving his post at Flying Dog Brewing and moved his family to Texas.
Listed below is a map of all Texas Breweries (red marker) and Brewpubs (blue marker).
Stay tuned as we will add to the map as the Texas Beer Revolution continues. Cheers!