Jester King Brewery captured top honors in the inaugural Texas Craft Brewery Rankings. The Austin brewery leads an impressive list of Texas beer-makers ranked based on the input of consumers and brewing industry professionals from across the State.
Austin boasts 1st and 2nd place in Texas brewery ranking
Jester King was not only ranked top overall brewery but also voted #1 for producing the best beer in Texas. The Hill Country brewery leads an Austin-area 1-2 at the top of the ranking, appearing just ahead of Pinthouse Pizza. Whilst well known to Austin craft beer drinkers, Pinthouse has seen a huge increase in consumer interest across the rest of the State for their special release series, while their Electric Jellyfish was heavily mentioned by consumers as a favorite beer in the Texas Craft Beer Survey.
The Texas Craft Brewery Rankings were developed to showcase independent craft breweries for what they excel at. They are made up of 4 key categories; overall reputation among consumers, reputation for producing the best beer, the excitement that the market has about them for the next 12 months and their contribution to the growth of the Texas craft brewing industry.
Jester King Brewery ranked #1 overall, with many consumers highlighting the brewery even if they didn’t list them as one of their favorite for beer. Jeffrey Stuffings, owner of Jester King Brewery, was happy to hear that the brewery was recognized by the Texas craft beer community. “We’ve strived to contribute something unique and meaningful to our local scene, as well as greater beer world, so it’s wonderful to be recognized for it.”
Not Just About Beer
The fact that the ranking was not based simply on beer reflects the behavior of Texas beer consumers. Only half of the 900+ respondents to the Texas Craft Beer Survey listed the same brewery for “Best Overall” and “Best Beer” – suggesting the taproom experience plays a big part in what consumers think about a brewery.
This trend has been recognized by Brent Daniel, owner of B-52 Brewing Co. “Our philosophy is that craft beer is meant to be an experience,” Daniel says. “High-quality ingredients and processes are the foundation, but there’s so much more. You see that when you visit our brewery. We put a ton of effort into all of the elements that create a great craft beer experience. That includes everything from the chairs you sit in, to the music we play, the people you’re with, and much more.” This approach has helped the brewery develop a State-wide following and ensure that visitors to their taproom travel from far and wide. When asked what was in store for 2020 Daniel states “More experimentation, more pushing the limits, more innovation.” The brewery has developed a passionate following and consumers will be keen to get their hands on what comes next.
Clear differences in opinions of consumers vs craft brewing industry professionals
One of the most interesting things that the rankings highlight is the differences in opinion of consumers and brewers. When asked to choose the breweries they believe are making the best beer and those that they are excited about for the next 12 months, many brewers favored long-established breweries known for their high-quality and consistent recipes – however, consumers at times trended more towards breweries producing newer styles.
This difference reflects a changing Texas consumer marketplace – but one in which Brad Farbstein, President of Real Ale, thinks that consumer trust is a key to continued growth. “I think our four basic core principles : Quality, Consistency, Innovation, & Value, transcend gimmicks and trends in the market,” says Farbstein. “I believe consumers are tired of spending their hard-earned dollars on beer that tastes different from batch to batch. I believe our core customers will always be willing to try new breweries and beers, but they always come back to a brand that they can trust.” Farbstein was mentioned by his fellow Texas brewers as someone playing a key role in the growth of the overall Texas craft industry.
Our team published the results of the “COVID-19 craft beer drinkers” survey. You can download the report here.
The report gives some encouraging signs and helpful insights for craft breweries who are persevering with beer-to-go sales while taprooms and venues are closed.
1. Craft beer drinkers are drinking more
The overwhelming response from our survey was that craft beer drinkers are still drinking craft beer. Despite the concern that macro beer would be an easy substitute at the grocery store, a significant number of respondents said that they were both drinking more beer overall and more craft beer overall.
2. Breweries need to focus on their established consumer base
The survey data suggests that consumers are sticking to what they know during the lockdown and are not trying beer from as many new breweries as they usually would.
Loyalty to a craft brewery was the #1 consideration for consumers choosing a brewery to buy beer-to-go. Craft breweries need to take advantage of this and engage with their closest consumers: regulars, mug club members and historical supporters. Breweries have seen success with a number of tactics: Facebook and WhatsApp groups, weekly virtual happy hours and social media giveaways are all great ways to keep your loyal consumers buying beer and sharing your message online.
3. Don’t forget loyal consumers who are a little further away
A surprising insight from the survey is how far craft beer drinkers are willing to travel to buy beer-to-go. One in four consumers said they would travel over 20 miles to buy from a craft brewery. To take advantage of this, craft breweries can increase the regularity of their new releases and offers – so that their consumers who are further away know when to plan their brewery visits in advance.
Also be clear on all of the buying options available – if consumers can get your beer mailed or delivered, then make sure those who are further afield get a clear link to buy. This may mean different email content for consumers within 30 miles and those further away.
4. Communication is key
Consumers want to receive regular, consistent, and clear updates from their favorite breweries to easily pick up beer-to-go. Breweries should prioritize regular updates to email lists and social media at a set time every day, every other day or every week. Any important changes should be pinned and highlighted at the top of each social channel. It is important to control the messaging that comes out of your establishment and having easy-to-find updates helps this.
Quality of information available through social media updates was the 2nd most important factor for consumers in choosing which brewery to buy beer-to-go from. Be clear on availability, upcoming releases and instructions on your to-go process.
5. Stick to popular styles
Many breweries have reported that they are seeing increases in sales of higher ABV beer, likely due to the fact that is easier to drink high ABV beer at home than in the taproom. At the same time, consumers are reporting that they are trying far fewer new beers and styles than usual.
The data suggests that during the lockdown breweries would better fare with a “more of the same” approach rather than branching out to new styles for the first-time.
6. Show how safe and easy it is to get beer-to-go
Over half of consumers listed how safe and sanitary a brewery to-go process is as a deciding factor in whether they bought beer to go. As a brewery, you can go out of your way to demonstrate to consumers ahead of time the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
It is worth creating a short video or virtual tour that walks consumers through your beer-to-go process. If consumers can see how easy it is to pick up your beer, they are more likely to come and give it a try.
7. Start to prepare for a normal in how consumers search and reserve craft beer
It will be a while until taprooms are buzzing again with people – and even once they are full again, there will always be consumers who are extra careful and not willing to be amongst crowds. Fewer consumers will also want to wait in line for limited release beer.
The lockdown is showing us that consumers are looking for more ways to search for and reserve beer online, and so as a brewery you can use this time to test online, advanced sales, and pre-order platforms and processes that can remain in place once your taproom is open again.
8. Gift cards are not selling as they should be
Consumers commented on wanting to buy brewery gift cards but reported that it was often difficult to find cards online, and once they were found cards available with the amount they wanted – work with your POS to see if you can offer a flexible price amount. Consumers mentioned Jester King Brewery as having a great gift-card setup on their website.
9. Organizing and innovating is helping breweries and their staff
In tough times, consumers are reporting numerous examples of breweries making the best of bad situations to both sell beer and support brewery staff. A number of local, state-wide and national campaigns have been formed to help formalize these movements including Community Beer’s #NationwideCheers campaign.
One innovation in brewing that opens huge possibilities is the rise in virtual brewery collaborations; opening the door for future collabs that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
10. Data suggests that consumers are ready to buy – lobby your politicians
If the “Effects of COVID-19 on US Craft Drinkers” report tells us one thing it is that craft beer drinkers want easier and more convenient access to craft beer. State laws differ substantially, and in many cases are restricting craft breweries ability to get beer into the hands of consumers who want to buy. This bureaucracy is putting our craft brewery businesses at risk – and so requires an organized collaborative effort to change laws and restrictions.
Every stakeholder of the craft brewing industry should be vocal about changes that need to be made in their State. You can find your representatives here
The Hopalytics team has collated tips to help maximize the impact of craft breweries beer to-go set-ups. We talked with breweries across the US to find best-case examples of recently set-up beer to-go stations at craft brewery taprooms.
Here are things that are important for craft breweries to focus on as they continue to sell beer to consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak:
1. Plan your to-go process so that consumers are safe
It is important to understand the physical journey someone is going to take when arriving at your brewery. Your setup needs to allow for safe and easy pick-up as well as the ability to form a line with maximum social distancing.
As the spread of the virus increases, consumers are less likely to want to leave their car to pick up to-go orders. If you are able to, it is important to have the ability to place product directly in the back of consumers cars and trucks.
Today, OLCC made it easier for bars & restaurants to get approved to sell beer, wine & cider to-go, & to be able to deliver alcohol to customers at the curb or at home. There are 5,500 bars & restaurants in OR that could benefit from this fast-track process. We’ll keep you posted pic.twitter.com/ubGufc1rRf
It goes without saying that transferring your high standards of cleanliness from taproom to beer to-go is crucial. All employees should be wearing protective gloves and changing them often.
From a consumer perspective, ensuring that they can purchase beer-to-go with no or very little person-to-person contact is important. It is also important to offer hand sanitizer for customers at point of sale and collection stations.
If you don’t have a car, we’ll ask you to stand outside and order from your phone. This is what’s best for everyone and the only way that we can ensure a contactless experience.
One of the best ways to keep consumers and employees safe is to reduce the time required for person-to-person interaction. Clear signage – not just for pick-up but for parking as well – can give consumers info that they would instead have needed to ask about.
Make it clear what you want consumers to do as soon as they enter your property. The first thing consumers should see is signage with instructions/rules on how to pick-up. They should also see a menu with exactly what to-go options are available, again to reduce the time they need to speak to anyone on-site.
It is easy to film a 30-second virtual tour from a consumer perspective which becomes great social media content and acts as a clear example of how to buy beer safely.
4. Offer Additional on-site tipping options
Consumers are keen to support your tipped staff – and so ensure that your point of sale and to-go sales process allows for this.
Some breweries have set-up a tip bucket at their property exit that consumers can drop cash into (without touching it). Others have added a donation card as an online ordering option that goes towards tipped staff.
5. Offer online ordering, over the phone, text confirmations etc
It is important to encourage pre-ordering, even if a consumer orders from their car 2 minutes before they reach the taproom. Pre-ordering drastically reduces the amount of person-to-person interaction required to complete a to-go transaction.
Alongside online ordering, consider offering phone and text options as well. To maximize sales you need to offer a number of communication mediums to include every consumer behavior. Consider putting a text/call phone number on the first sign that consumers see in case they have not yet ordered-ahead.
Over the next few weeks/months communication is going to be key in helping small businesses engage with consumers. Check to see whether your point-of-sale system collects (and validates!) email addresses and/or phone numbers.
As you process transactions, ask for email addresses and phone numbers (have a way for your employees to collect) – even if they are already collected at your point of sale. You want to have your consumers’ most up to date and primary email address that is checked most often – whereas point of sale systems often have an older saved email address attached to them.
7. Encourage social media follows
As with ensuring you have your consumers’ most up to date email address, it is important to drive your consumers to follow your social accounts so that you can maximize information flow over the next few weeks.
One tip to maximize social engagement is to encourage consumers to document their to-go experience to share online, and make sure they know to tag your brewery in their posts. If you are actively re-sharing anyone who posts about their experience, this will encourage others to produce content as well.
There are craft breweries still open in the Twin Cities selling beer to-go! 👏🙌🍻 Check this helpful list!!https://t.co/FHOMSRRmtG
Another key thing to focus on as you offer beer to-go is your communication plan. You should plan daily social media posts; and get into a routine and be consistent about style and information that each one details.
Online behaviors have changed overnight with social distancing, and consumers are seeing and engaging with a lot more social posts. You should also prioritize being able to answer questions online and engage with consumers as their share content on your brewery
To save time, you can use free social media tools such as Hootsuite to create one post that can be shared across social platforms. At a minimum, this is an easy way to share to Instagram,. Facebook and Twitter and you can schedule posts ahead of time.
You should also use your existing email lists and newly collected email addresses to send regular email communication about any changes in your hours, to-go process or offerings.
9. Tap-into local, regional and nationwide campaigns
There are many organized online campaigns that are helping to co-ordinate and drive local craft breweries beer to-go sales.
Some of these campaigns are time-sensitive and can help to drive to-go sales in the run up to their execution. For example the #NationwideCheers campaign organized by Community Beer Company runs each Friday at 5pm and can help to drive Thursday and Friday sales.
In an effort to keep the momentum going we are turning the #NationwideCheers into a weekly “happy hour” event to continually support our local craft beer industry.
Other online local campaigns include virtual happy hours and toasts. It is also very easy to coordinate virtual “Cheers” amongst the people who have purchased your beer to-go, and this encourages them to return. Consider systems like Zoom to host online gatherings and update your regular consumers.
10. Get on every 3rd party to-go list
There are a number of local, regional and national lists of breweries selling beer-to-go forming online – and it is important that your brewery be listed on each relevant list.
Also look at your local community websites and social media pages for lists forming of all small businesses offering to-go options in your town/city.
As you can see with the Hopalytics list above, many breweries offer online gift cards. Gift cards are an option for consumers to support you without coming to the taproom to pick up beer. There is a growing online campaign for small business supporters to buy gift cards as a safe way of supporting their local brewery as well as having something to look forward to once the virus restrictions are over.
Ensure that you add Gift Cards to online ordering menus and to your online store.
12. Manage your can/crowler supply-chain
Over the next few weeks your suppliers will be under increased pressure with both increased demand from breweries and interruptions in their own supply-chains. Make sure you are in constant contact with your suppliers to identify supply-chain issues ahead of time.
When it comes to to-go cans and crowlers, you should worry less about can aesthetic and more about can quantity and availability. Consumers buying to-go beer are more concerned with safety and cleanliness than can artwork!
13. Lean on your partners
Once you have your to-go process finalized and are ready to communicate, use your distribution, restaurant or retail partners to help promote your to-go set-up. If your wholesales partners are in a position to sell your beer to-go then make sure you are promoting them as well – every stakeholder has a vested interest in seeing your to-go campaign succeed.
Every consumer who visits your beer-to-go set-up is a potential return-visitor: they are identifying themselves as someone who wants to support your brewery and is willing to drive to pick-up to-go beer. It is important that you work to ensure that these consumers return week after week. You should collect their contact information to be able to communicate about your next beer release. If you are able to, consider throwing in a $5 gift card for orders over $50.
In terms of content, it is also important to tell the story of your brewery and the people behind it. At a time when consumers are keen to support small businesses, it will help to have the story behind your brewery readily available online.
15. Use all of the information available to you
Additional resources for craft breweries beer-to-go set-up:
The virtual, from-home event will take place at 5pm on Friday March 20th, and is designed to encourage consumers to use curbside to-go stores at craft breweries over the country who have had to close taprooms due to COVID-19.
Our team have put together advice for anyone facing the likelihood or reality of a COVID-19 craft brewery taproom closure and production supply chain interruption. This article has been compiled with input of numerous small business owners and business coaches.
In this article:
– Marketing tips for craft breweries facing taproom closures
– Important advice for brewery owners
Marketing tips for craft breweries facing taproom closures
1. Communicate with your consumers
Maintain a constant and consistent message with your consumers. Keep them fully informed about the availability of your beer and the status of your taproom. Have a clear and straightforward process to update your website and social media platforms and make sure all information is consistent – your brewery can expect higher use of your website for critical information than they have seen before.
Also ensure that you have a clear plan for both updating and engaging/replying to consumers on social media.
2. Understand your current e-commerce options
Fully explore and understand your website’s e-commerce set-up and your point of sale system’s ability to sell online/over the phone. If you do not have a system set-up, research how quickly you could have something online. Services like Square and Toast have built-in systems to sell online with minimal effort.
3. Offer gift cards for later use in taproom
Ensure that you have gift cards/certificates online and put them front & center on your website. There is a growing online initiative to help small businesses through this period through buying gift cards to use once the COVID-19 situation is under control.
If you are offering gift cards, sell directly to consumer or utilize your Point of Sale system. Ensure that you receive the funds immediately, rather than a gift card service where funds are held in escrow.
Think about starting a mug club/membership program that you can sell upfront/online. A typical $100 12-month membership might include some of the following: $1 off a beer, exclusive membership nights, early access to new beer releases, merchandise.
If you already have a membership set-up, ensure you are pushing the information to your consumers. New members will drive revenue now and drive more visits once your taproom re-opens.
5. Sell over the phone/via email
If you cannot offer online gift card sales, consider selling over the phone/email and delivering by mail or holding at the taproom until you open again. Consumers understand that they can help by purchasing now and collecting in a few weeks.
Offer curbside to-go beer pickup. If you plan to be on premises over the next couple of weeks even if the brewery is closed, then offer a pick-up service for patrons who are social-distancing.
6. Research your options for delivery
Consider options for doorstep pick-up and delivery of any of the physical products or beer that consumers have purchased online/email/over the phone. Consumers are currently still willing to pick up at the door.
Based on your State’s laws you may be able to deliver some of the merchandize and/or liquid purchased by consumers whilst you are dealing with a COVID-19 brewery taproom closure.
7. Once again – communicate with your consumers
Once you decide which offerings you plan to promote and how consumers can buy/support you, utilize your mailing list and social media followings. Ensure that you are clearly communicating your online offerings.
It is also important to ensure that you are telling your brewery’s story online – make sure your “About Us” section is up to date and tells the human story behind your business. Also, make the most of the good-will of craft-beer related media and supporters who want to help you generate revenue even if you are closed.
In the background – important advice for brewery owners
As a business owner there are a number of things you can do to prepare and mitigate the negative impact on your brewery:
1. Maintain constant communication with key stakeholders in your business
This includes your landlord, your CPA and your lawyer. Review any “Force Majeure” clauses in your lease contract. Fully understand the options for emergency SBA small business loans and funding programs if required.
2. Prioritize the welfare of your employees
Understand that your employees (especially tipped employees) are likely to face financial issues before you or your business. If you have the ability to, then support them in any way that you can.
3. Maintain business procedures
Ensure that there isn’t one single employee with key information such as passwords that you may not be able to access if they become sick/quarantined. Collect everything in a single document that you could pass to someone if you are required to be quarantined.
4. Assess supply chain concerns
Research each stage of your supply chain, and understand the things that are key to your business that could be affected for months to come. There is a good Harvard Business Review article that covers this in depth: Prepare Your Supply Chain for Coronavirus.
5. Stay informed
Use all available resources to your advantage, including your state brewer’s guild and the Brewers Association. Talk to other brewery owners and share best case practices. A lot of folks, including the Hopalytics team, will help you out free of charge.
With local, State and Federal positions on bars & restaurants changing daily, it is imperative that the craft brewing industry come together to ensure that we are properly represented. Request that your representatives lobby for small business support packages, financial assistance and temporary waivers to sell all products to-go and directly to the public if your State does not currently allow.
You can find your local and national elected representatives contact details on this website.
With the growing restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak there is a real fear for the impact on small-business owners reliant on in-person sales. Many small independent craft breweries fall into this category as taprooms are forced to close.
There is a growing online movement by craft beer drinkers to support our independent craft breweries through this time by purchasing online gift cards that can be used once the crisis is over.
We have compiled a State-by-State list of breweries and craft-beer companies who are offering gift card purchase directly online. A purchase will help the brewery with short-term cash flow and give you – the consumer – something great to look forward to once the crisis is over.
If you are a brewery and have online gift-card purchase link, where your receive the revenue directly and instantly – please reach out to be added to this list: [email protected]
The above information was sourced by the Hopalytics team through internet searches by State – if you would like for your brewery or craft-beer business to be added, please get in touch: [email protected]
With the growing advice to self-isolate to control the COVID-19 virus outbreak, there is a real fear that Texas independent craft breweries and brewpub taproom sales will suffer. Our brewers rely on taproom sales to generate year-round revenue and a drop in visitors for a few weeks can affect business operations.
One way that craft beer drinkers can continue to support their local breweries at this time is to purchase online merchandise and gift cards for future use in the taproom. Buying gift cards online for future use that are sold directly from the brewery ensures that revenue continues to flow to businesses at this difficult time.
Texas Craft Beer Gift Cards
The Hopalytics team compiled a list of some of the Texas independent craft breweries and brewpubs who offer gift-card sales online:
Best New Texas Brewery: Roughhouse Brewing in San Marcos
Roughhouse Brewing in San Marcos recently celebrated its 1-year anniversary, and was deservedly listed as one of the top new breweries in Texas in the Texas Craft Beer Report.
The Roughhouse Brewing Team
“Roughhouse is very much a family business” says owner Alex Pasternak. It was founded by Alex and her husband Davy as a project to create a Texas-centric and family-centric space. Situated on Davy’s parents’ land a few miles from San Marcos, the brewery celebrates the couples’ love of craft beer and the local community. The couple are joined by Davy’s brother Andy and have quickly established a space that consumers love to visit.
“The name Roughhouse represents the familial and playful memories of growing up in Texas, coupled with an image in the logo that more literally depicts the rustic and welcoming qualities of our brewery and beer.”
Roughhouse named one of the best new breweries in Texas
San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson presented the “Best New Brewery” award to Roughhouse Brewing’s owners. “This award means a lot to our small team” explains Pasternak. “with only three full-time owner/employees (and the help of five part-time staff members), we cover a lot of ground each week. We do it because we believe in our product and in the general objective of providing good, honest customer service and relationships to our patrons and our industry peers”.
Roughhouse Brewing’s success is the latest in a growing San Marcos beer scene that includes Roughhouse’s neighbors Middleton Brewing, AquaBrew (identified in the Texas Craft Beer Report as a great place to eat) and top ranked brewery Hops & Grain who have expanded from their Austin location.
Roughhouse launch cave-aged beer program
Despite only selling beer in San Marcos for a little over 12 months, Roughhouse are already heavily innovating within the Texas craft beer community utilizing their unique property.
Pasternak explains “In February 2020 we started a cave-aged beer program at Roughhouse! Using a natural, underground cave on the property, we excavated for nearly a year to prepare the space to house what will start as a small cellar with eight barrels. To kickoff the new series of funkier, wild beer, we collaborated with Jester King Brewery to create a spontaneously fermented ale using Texas ingredients and aged hops. It will be at least a year before we taste the results of this first beer, but we’re excited to see what the future holds!”
Roughhouse is also working to ensure the food they serve on site at their brewery is as ingrained in their Texas roots as their beer.
“We are transitioning our on-site kitchen to fully promote and source from local or Texas farms, with a lineup of scratch-made sandwiches, soups, salads and snacks.”
“We’re excited to marry our vision for our beer (and wine) program, which is heavily focused on local providers, to the food side of operations! We are overdue to showcase Texas food makers, and we’re excited to bring that to our community.”
Arriving in Midland on a Friday afternoon, we were met with a beautiful and massive venue, along with a very crowded parking lot. As the parking lot suggested, and despite Tall City only having been open a few months, it was a full house and not a seat to be found as we walked in the door.
I ordered a flight of four beers:
Bird Lady American Pale Ale
Hop Up Camper American IPA
Iron Orchard Stout.
Every beer was delicious, but my personal favorite was the Haboob Hefeweizen. I found this beer to be very easy drinking, it had a great flavor with notes of bananas and cloves.
Tall City’s large taproom offers both indoor and outdoor covered seating areas. We opted to hang outside under the patio heaters since it was a little chilly. It was really a great vibe; with live music, food trucks and very family-friendly.
The folks behind Tall City
I was fortunate to meet four of the five owners of Tall City Brewing Company: Jeff Thomas, Erich Schmidt, Nicholas Schmidt and Jarrod Sparks. I was truly impressed that they were either slinging beer behind the bar or bussing tables during their peak busy periods.
Once things settled down a bit, I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Jeff and Jarrod.
I wanted to know how the idea of Tall City Brewing was conceived. Jeff remembers a visit to Jester King in Austin with his sister back in 2016. After having 2 beers, the idea of opening a brewery back in Midland popped into his head. He then texted his two buddies Erich and Nicholas Schmidt about the idea. Their response: “We’re in!”.
The name Tall City pays homage to the city of Midland as it is known as the “tall city” of west Texas. In October 2016 the LLC for Tall City Brewing was acquired, a site was identified on West Golf Course Road and ground broke in late 2018. Tall City’s grand opening was November 15th, 2019.
When I asked about some of the goals for Tall City Brewing, Jarrod was clear that their goal for the next year is to become the top regional brewery in West Texas. With distribution in the works, the team will to continue to brew traditional beers while staying true to the craft. As Jeff stated, “we want our beer to taste like beer!”
Jarrod was gracious enough to give me a tour of the brewhouse, which is an amazing facility with state-of-the-art brewing equipment and most importantly – room to expand. The 5 hour drive from San Antonio was well worth it. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for the folks of Tall City Brewing Company in Midland and beyond. From what I can see, it’s gonna be pretty bright!
JD Duran is a craft beer drinker who lives in San Antonio. He is passionate about both the San Antonio and wider Texas craft beer communities. You can find him on Instagram: TXBeerDude or at your local craft brewery!
One of the surprise outcomes from the Texas Craft Beer Survey was the list of upcoming and new Texas craft breweries that consumers and brewers are excited about opening in 2020.
New Texas Breweries for 2020
The list of new Texas craft breweries for 2020 is based only on write-ins in the “most excited for next 12 months” category. There was very little analysis required to compile this list – overall, 27 upcoming Texas craft breweries or new brewery concepts were mentioned in the survey but each of the breweries listed below received at least 10 write-ins from consumers or 5 from brewers.
This list is different to the Best New Breweries of 2019 list – which was based on substantial consumer and brewer input on breweries that had opened in the past 12 months – and took into account overall consumer reputation and experience category, reputation for producing best beer and the most excited for next 12 months category.
We reached out to 6 independent craft brewing projects from the list of upcoming (or very recently opened) breweries that Texas consumers and brewers are excited about for 2020:
Local Group Brewing—a 7,500 square foot brewpub—will soon serve as the newest watering hole in Hardy Yards in the Near Northside, which is a stones’ throw from Downtown Houston and Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
Head brewer James “Huggy Bear” Wolfe will work up to filling the brewpub’s twenty-plus taps, eight of which will be connected directly to ten-barrel serving tanks for optimal beer freshness, and others which will serve non-beer options like Texas wine and cold brew coffee.
With a fully equipped, on-site kitchen helmed by Executive Chef Jeff Samoska, as much importance will be placed on the culinary operations as the brewing. Visitors can expect lots of ingredients sourced from the Lone Star state.
Background: The Local Group Brewing name came from a Cosmos episode in which Neil deGrasse Tyson explained earth’s cosmic address, including the local group of galaxies. Team Local Group loves the dichotomy of investing in and brewing beer for a small area in the grand scheme of the massive universe. Since inception, the brand has enlisted the help of Texas partners including Method Architecture, GSD Construction, Field of Study Design, FMW | FabLab and more to bring the brewpub to life.
As long-time coworkers, Todd Donewar and Michael Steeves shared an interest in all things beer. They enjoyed hanging out together, trying new brews at home and at the local pubs. Eventually, the two started home-brewing, and in 2016, they brewed up a plan: They would start their own brewpub. They envisioned a place where friends, family, and pets alike could hang out, drink great beer, and eat good food.
While Todd and Michael’s homebrews were very drinkable, they decided to up their game and put out a call for a head brewer with experience, talent, and creativity. James “Huggy Bear” Wolfe was working as a brewer for Southern Star and had similar visions of a new, local brewpub. Huggy heard the call, and then there were three.
With a number of years of production and brewing experience garnered at Breakside Brewery in Oregon, industry pros Will Jaquiss and Nao Ohdera will lead the production team at Meanwhile Brewing due to open in Spring 2020 in South East Austin.
The duo plan to use their recipe design and production expertise to develop a wide variety of beer. While they’ll be primarily focused on their draught offering, which will be available in their taproom and in a few select locations around town, they will complement their efforts with monthly specialty can releases.
The team ambitiously hope to brew a total of 50 different beers in their first year and while the focus will primarily be on sessionable, hoppy ales, Meanwhile will offer a wide selection of beer; ranging from the new and experimental to the trusted and traditional.
Background: Located in SE Austin, Meanwhile Brewing Company will be a 15 bbl brewery and taproom. The founder is Will Jaquiss, former senior research & development brewer at Breakside Brewery. The 3.7 acres grounds will be a hub for gathering, playing, and creating community.
Plans for the property include a playground; bocce court; outdoor soccer snooker/pool court, other misc. outdoor games; a small recreational/soccer field, a mini “hammock forest”, and a small stage. The event room, soccer field, and entire brewery will be open to rent upon request and enough advanced notice.
Whereas Dallas/Fort Worth boasts a number of established craft breweries that consumers are excited about for next year, ODD Muse, which opened in December, also made the list of best new Texas craft breweries for 2020.
The name ‘ODD Muse’ has multiple meanings for owner Bobby Diaz. It’s a direct representation of his own personal inspiration; his daughter’s Olivia and Daniella Diaz (ODD). It’s also a nod to the idea that inspiration can come from pretty strange places and can be unconventional, abnormal and unexpected – and ODD Muse encourage everyone to recognize and embrace it.
Diaz assures beer fans that they can expect a variety of well done beers to please all pallets. “We currently have a blonde, heffe, hazy pale ale, hazy IPA, hazy double IPA, and a Russian Imperial Stout on tap with several more in the works. Our taproom is a family friendly environment to experience new beers with friends. As far as future beers go, we love to brew hazies and stouts, but also like refreshing lagers. Expect plenty of those. We have barrels on the way, so barrel aged beers are definitely coming as well. You can pretty much expect a continuation of beers across the spectrum from us. We brew what we like and we think everyone else will like it too.”
Background: ODD Muse was founded by Husband and wife, Bobby and Nickie Diaz and longtime friend Charles Roffino. Bobby is an alumni of the American Brewer’s Guild and has 13 years of brewing experience. Charles brings a strong background in bar/restaurant sales, along with client relations and knowledge of the Dallas/Fort Worth hospitality market.
Urban South – HTX is opening its doors in Sawyer Yards with the intent of producing “boundary-pushing craft beers in a whimsical & bright taproom atmosphere.” Taproom and Marketing Manager Marin Slanina explains “With can releases and 30 draft taps, there is much room for all kinds of creativity and flavors. Events and yard parties will occur often with great beverages and offerings for all.”
Houstonites are already excited for what Urban South will bring to the city and this helped identify them as one of the best new Texas craft breweries for 2020. Urban South will neighbor a number of established craft breweries including Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co, and Holler Brewing Co. who were both ranked in the Hopalytics Top 100 Texas Craft Brewery Rankings.
The background: Urban South opened its doors in New Orleans almost 4 years ago and is paving the way in distribution sales for craft beer in Louisiana. The brewery has become one of the largest independent craft brewers in Louisiana and consumers have responded well to their innovative styles as well as driving huge sales of thier Holy Roller New England IPA.
With their success and growth, Urban South founders Jacob Landry & Kyle Huling decided that opening a second location, dedicated to the taproom experience and experimental brews, would be the next step in their story – and Texans are lucky the brewery chose Houston as their second home.
Hopsquad opened recently in North Austin and have received a significant amount of interest in their first week, which could have been expected based on them being named one of the best new Texas Craft Breweries for 2020. The brewery serves a mirad of beers, not limited to any region, style or trend and will have five core beers available year-round including a Hazy Pale Ale, Roggenbier, Saison, IPA and Pilsner. The Hopsquad team will also offer a range of seasonal brews including a Dark Cascadian Ale, Watermelon Mint Summer Ale and a Copper Ale.
Hopsquad’s motto is “anything goes” – and so the team also plan on brewing an array of eclectic and interesting one-off beers that will be available in their taproom with crowlers to take home.
Visitors to Hopsquad will take advantage of their partnership with Tsuke Honten – a hybrid of Japanese street fare and reservation-only Omakase (course menu) experience. The to-go menu can be ordered while enjoying beer inside or outside of the brewery, and will consist of classic street dishes like takoyaki and chicken wings. Tsuke Honten will be open whenever Hopsquad is open.
Background: As owners, cousins Alex and Cesar Limon set out to express themselves through their brewing: ” ‘Anything goes’ will always be our calling” explains Alex “and we will never be afraid to experiment or to try new ingredients and techniques to keep our customers eager to see what we’ll come up with next. We won’t limit ourselves to a certain style, coast, or country.”
Hopsquad was created out of care and passion for beer and as a way for the cousins to express their distinct voice through malts, hops and yeast.
“We wanted every beer we had produced for Hopsquad to be its own character and have its own personality just like its distinct taste.” Limon continues “Initially we thought about naming every character a superhero, but these weren’t the people we admired. We respected physicians, scholars, artists & craftsman – specialist & experts in their respective trades. So the squad was born: a small group of beers dedicated to the sole effort of making every beer drinking experience a pleasurable one.
Opening: late 2020 but beer available now across D/FW
Toasty Bros. are currently operating as an alternating proprietorship at Hop And Sting Brewery in Grapevine, TX. Owners Brian Tiensvold (Toast) and wife Leah have been almost exclusively selling their beer in Denton.
Toast explains how their current set-up is helping them establish the Toasty Bros. brand “We are becoming known as a local neighborhood Mom and Pop brewing operation; wife and husband, Denton residents supplying quality craft beer for our community to enjoy. I brew and distribute the beer while Leah runs marketing, sales, and manages our legal paperwork.”
The partnership with Hop and Sting allows the couple time to search for the perfect place to open in Denton while still growing the Toasty Bros. brand and create a following of people who enjoy the beer, including their Random Number Generator DIPA. They are currently looking for a location to open in Denton and are hoping to find a physical space by the end of 2020.
Dallas/Fort Worth beer drinkers can expect something a little different than your typical brew pub…or bakery, or art studio – as the plan is for the location to be a hybrid of those three things.
Background: Toast and Leah started homebrewing 9 years ago, which quickly turned into passion that they looked to combine with their dream of opening a small art studio and coffee house.
Leah is an expert baker and so the couple have ideas of a combined bakery-brewpub-art studio, which they feel is a perfect fit for the college-town and growing Denton craft beer scene. The space will offer a selection of art supplies and canvas that can be purchased as well as some “free to share” community art supplies. The vision is for a creative space where people can hang out, make things, and get inspired.
Toasty Bros. have a detailed map on their website showing consumers where they can find their beer, as well as their up-to-date brew and event schedule. There are also links to Toast’s art sites – he is a local artist and every piece of art sold goes towards funding the Toasty Bros. project.
Many folks have asked us for more information on the consumer respondents to the Texas Craft Beer Survey – and although a lot of this data (and a whole lot more) can be found in the full Texas Craft Beer Report, we are happy to go into more detail:
The Texas Craft Beer Survey
The Texas Craft Beer Survey collected input from 926 craft beer consumers across Texas in September, October and November 2019. We promoted the survey through social media and paid advertising and we specifically targeting craft beer consumers across the length and breadth of Texas.
The survey consisted of 30 questions and was designed to be interesting and thought-provoking to craft beer consumers. It was purposely designed so that it could not be completed quickly in under a few minutes; and in order to complete it required respondents to stop and think about their answers. The average response time was just under 16 minutes; which we felt showed that consumers spent time considering their answers.
The survey was designed to only ask input on the things that individual consumers valued. For example, we only asked people who value live music at a brewery about which breweries they thought were best for live music. We only asked people who liked stouts and porters about the breweries producing the best stouts and porters.
Our survey targeted consumers with a wider knowledge of the Texas craft beer market. It was specifically designed to not be appealing to the general public to try and discourage any survey bias or manipulation. We were not looking to facilitate a popularity contest and we didn’t necessarily want to encourage fair-weather craft consumers – there are already enough places where you can hear from them!
Survey Completion Rate
The nature of the survey meant that a large percentage of consumers had initial interest, then started the survey but did not actually complete it. This was not necessarily a bad thing. Over 3,000 people started the survey – although this included some duplicates (for example folks who returned later once they realized it wasn’t a 2-minute completion) it mostly included consumers who dropped off and didn’t complete the survey at all.
As with any advanced survey, there were a number of reasons for consumers not completing the survey – some of which we were pleased with and some of which were disappointing. In terms of the reasons we had hoped for, we did see significantly greater drop off from consumers who felt they didn’t have enough knowledge to answer the survey. Some consumers even wrote this in the survey itself or in subsequent correspondence. These consumers felt they had been to too few breweries to be able to give qualified input or simply did not have enough experience to reference. This was positive for overall response, however in some cases it also disappointingly affected where respondents came from (and may have alienated some potential quality responders).
Where we were disappointed with the drop off of consumers is those who felt as though they had been to too few breweries not out of choice, but because of the lack of breweries in their geographical area. This meant that we failed to capture consumers in many rural or small metro areas. 92% of consumers who completed the survey resided in one of the four extended metro areas of Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. There were cities in Texas where less than 20 people completed the survey despite more than 200 starting it. Ahead of our 2020 survey we will reach out to some of those folks to understand why they started but didn’t complete the survey at a higher rate than consumers in other parts of Texas and we will make changes accordingly.
By the numbers
We were really pleased with the number of expert consumers who completed the survey and this showed in the responses.
The average consumer respondent reported visiting 29 Texas breweries, and mentioned on average 14 different Texas craft breweries in the text fields responses across the survey. 22% of consumers voted for breweries in at least 2 other major metro areas other than their own – for example someone living in Houston mentioning breweries in both San Antonio and Dallas.
Only 55% of consumers listed their overall best brewery as
the same one they listed as producing the best beer. Only 20% of consumers said
that they base brewery visits solely on beer, with taproom atmosphere being the
most important other factor in visiting a new craft brewery.
265 breweries received at least 1 consumer mention, and in total we collected over 52,000 data points that fed into the full 40-page Texas Craft Beer Report. For our first publication we were pleased with the response from the Texas craft beer-drinking public.