Best new breweries in Texas known for more than just beer

Texas Best New Breweries of 2019 List

Best New Breweries of 2019

The Texas Craft Beer Report’s list of best new breweries of 2019 introduces new beer-makers from across the State.

Each of the breweries on the Best New Breweries of 2019 list received votes from consumers and craft brewing industry professionals in 3 categories: “Reputation for Producing the Best Beer”, “Consumer Reputation and Taproom Experience” and “Excited for the next 12 months.”

The breweries on the list are diverse in their size, approach and beer styles, but have all been able to produce high-quality beer out of the gate. “We’ve worked hard to be a quality first brewery, servicing the taproom foremost.” Said Michael Duckworth, CEO of True Anomaly Brewing Company in Houston. “We’ve released over 35 unique beers in the approximate 8 months we’ve been open, the vast majority of which are relatively unknown styles in the Houston market.  Bringing quality beers in styles a bit more unfamiliar has garnered us some buzz, and we hope to continue pushing the limits this next year as we delve even further into our wild and sour program.”

True Anomaly Brewing Company were already being highlighted by consumers in Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth in the Texas Craft Beer Survey – something not easy to do in year one of operation.

New breweries able to establish themselves in competitive markets

Similarly to True Anomaly, Nomadic Beerworks in Austin are already gaining accolades for their beer in a highly competitive market. Dan Tryanski is a Co-Founder of Nomadic Beerworks “Our brew system was designed so that we could release a constantly rotating assortment of beers. This keeps our tap list dynamic and changing. With all of this variation, we get to be very creative. We often take risks on flavors and styles in order to produce beers that give people something to talk about.”

This approach might have been seen as risky, but Dan and his brother Bryce moved to Austin with extensive brewing experience and have been able to release award-winning beer in their first year – with their Peak Season IPA winning “best new beer” in the 2019 Austin Beer Guide “Best of 2019” awards.

In a competitive Austin market, 12 Fox Beer Co are another brewery making noise – as much for their tap-room experience as their high-quality beer. Located in Dripping Springs just outside of Austin, 12 Fox have been able to quickly establish themselves amongst both locals and consumers further afield. “We like to think that our biggest contribution to the beer industry for consumers would be that we created a destination brewery that is focused on family, Veterans, quality brews and community.” says owner Stacey Hogge “We want all of our Hill Country neighbors to feel like they have a location that is inviting and gives them a sense of community.” Head Brewer Aaron Luelling emphasizes the need for combining great beer with a welcoming atmosphere “I believe we give the consumer an experience outside of beer while they are here.”

In crowded Texas metro markets, many of the breweries who have made an impact just after opening have understood the importance of first impressions with craft beer drinkers. “If someone walks into a brewery for the first time and tries a beer that isn’t delicious, how can we expect that person to keep coming back?” asks Molly Reynolds, co-owner of Celestial Beerworks in Dallas. “We try to keep that in mind when we are brewing and never let a beer touch the lips of the public unless it is exactly the beer that we intended.” Celestial have already developed an excited local consumer base despite being only a few miles from established breweries such as Peticolas Brewing and Community Beer Company. Co-owner Matt Reynolds is looking forward to building on their success in 2020, “Our goal is to constantly improve the quality of our beers, as we are always trying to push ourselves to be better brewers. Expect to see more collaborations and many super fresh IPAs!”

Tall City Brewing Co first movers in Midland-Odessa

Unlike breweries opening in dense beer-drinking metro centers with plentiful consumers looking for a new beer experience, Tall City Brewing was one of the first breweries to open in Midland – something which brought opportunities and challenges “We are the only brewery in the area with a taproom and combine that with the booming area of Midland/Odessa it has created a great opportunity for us.” says Jeff Thomas, owner of Tall City Brewing. “This has allowed us to build a one-of-a-kind facility that locals have been itching for.”

Like 12 Fox Beer Co., Tall City has prioritized building relationships within the community. Thomas continues “We have strived to create a welcoming atmosphere that’s kid-friendly and community-oriented. Many young families and professionals reside here and it has quickly become a destination for them after work and on the weekends.”

Licensing delays common complaint from new brewery owners

Many of the breweries on the best new craft breweries list were happy to have simply opened in 2019 and know all too well the delays caused by licensing and approval issues.

“Obviously opening a brewery in 2019 was ripe with hurdles.” says Trenten Relles, General Manager of Central District Brewing in downtown Austin. “We had to deal with what felt like the longest government shut down in history and delays in our TTB Approval.” Central District had actual potholes in the road cause potential delays but have still seen great response from consumers “Our street being closed down for a year for redevelopment hasn’t helped! But I think it speaks to the styles of beers we produce and constant development within our taproom that we have had an impact.” Central District Brewing capped a great first year by winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in October.

Along with the focus on beer, establishing themselves in the community and their shared frustrations by licensing delays, each brewery has had one thing in common when we asked them about the highlights of opening a brewery in 2019 – “The most rewarding thing was opening weekend” says Grant Guidry, Co-Owner of Bear King Brewing in Marble Falls. “Seeing the place filled with people who were excited to be there, having a good time. People who weren’t just ourselves, or builders, but friends, neighbors, locals who had all been waiting, finally enjoying themselves.”

See the full Texas Craft Brewery Rankings

Read about the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings by Metro

Read about the Texas Craft Beer Survey respondents

Opinion Rankings

Opinion: Chris Barrett breaks down best Austin craft breweries

Chris Barrett
Chris Barrett

Chris Barrett (@atxbeerguy) gives his take on the newly-released Texas Craft Brewery Rankings and best craft breweries in Austin.

My take on the Texas Craft Beer Report

Where to start?

I’m really proud of Austin for being so well represented in the top 100 best craft brewery rankings. As a long-time resident in Austin, I can attest to the crazy amount of growth of craft beer in the area. In fact, when I first moved here in 2006 there were only around five craft breweries in the area, and so having 32 of the top 100 breweries in Texas is an incredible feat!

The Overall Brewery Rankings – no surprise Jester King #1

It’s no surprise that Jester King took the top spot. While I don’t really dig on their beer personally, it’d be a crime not to recognize the impact they have had on the craft beer scene. I am really stoked to see that both Pinthouse Pizza and Austin Beerworks made the top 10!  You have to love the IPA that Pinthouse puts out on a regular basis and it is crazy that it has taken this long for them to get State-wide recognition. Austin Beerworks consistently puts out great beers that are super drinkable, and the seasonal beers that you can get in their taproom are the best around.

Outside of Austin, I see Brash sitting in the top 20 and that pleases me. That place just oozes rock and roll. Their beer is adventurous and… well, Brash. On the disappointing side; I am definitely surprised that Tupps didn’t rank a little higher. Their DDH Series beers are pretty amazing and definitely deserve attention. Overall though the top 10 is a list of great breweries and I’ve noted a few places that I need to seek out! 

Flight of Beers

Some quick thoughts on the top 50 Texas Craft Brewery Rankings:

  • Zilker Brewing is ranked too low! Ranked 23rd doesn’t do them justice. Their IPA game is spectacular. 
  • It’s good to see Hops & Grain right there with the likes of Oddwood Ales, Zilker, and St. Elmo. I think they are an underrated brewery that does a lot for the beer community. They are also super into sustainability, which is pretty rad. 
  • I’m a little sad to see that Skull Mechanix Brewing didn’t crack the top 50. They are a highly underrated brewery that kills the lighter styles. Their Lager/Pilsner game is on point!
  • And where the hell is The Brewtorium on this list!? The only explanation is that people don’t know about them yet. If not for their beer, the ambiance is high on the list. Wake up, people!  

Texas Top 10 New Breweries

The New Breweries List – if you have been, you agree!

In the “Best New Breweries” list Austin comes through with strong representation as well. As far as ambiance 12 Fox Beer Co. really can’t be beat.  If you’re ever headed to Jester King, do yourself a favor and drive the extra 5 miles or so – it’s a pretty little spot with great beer.

For me, the best-tasting beer from a new craft brewery in Austin is definitely Nomadic Beerworks. The brothers that run the place are super cool and they are cranking out some tasty brews. They have picked up some awards already this Fall. They are on their way to being one of the best craft breweries in Austin and thoroughly deserve to be named one of the top 10 Best New Breweries in Texas.

Breaking down the ranking data

Reputation for Producing Best Beer – I’m 50/50 on this

The Beer Reputation section is really interesting. I love that it’s broken down between consumers and brewers. I was actually shocked to see it was not unanimous in favor of Jester King! It’s pretty great to see that brewers put Pinthouse in the top spot, I agree with that placement! On the flip side of that, I am really surprised to see Real Ale and Saint Arnold representing in the top five from both brewers and consumers. I love both of those places, but with everything trending towards new and daring beer styles it’s surprising to see some of the oldest craft brewers in the state representing so highly. It warms the heart! 

I am legitimately shocked to see Austin Beer Garden and Brewing ranked #3 from brewers in Beer Reputation. It’s not that I dislike their beer at all, I just don’t see how they beat out places like ABW, Zilker, Celestial, B52, Brash, or TUPPS. But hey, brewers are professionals and I’m just a guy with an average palate that loves his beer! 

best Austin breweries

Excited for the next 12 months – some surprises here

If I’ve learned anything at all in this report it’s that I need to seek out Martin House Brewing beers! The fact that they unanimously took the top spot for new beers in the next year is pretty telling. I will definitely be looking out for their stuff… can I get it here in Austin!?  And if so, where?! The biggest surprise in the “Excited about the next 12 months” area is definitely Live Oak Brewing! There is definitely a “trend vs tradition” argument brewing here – how can consumers rank them 62nd but brewers ranked them 8th!? It makes me wonder what Live Oak has up their sleeves in 2020. I’ll be watching, that’s for sure. 

Contribution to Texas craft beer – they got this one right

It’s great to see Austin Beerworks tied with Saint Arnold for the top spot here. ABW did so much to change the beer laws here in Texas. It was awesome to have such a big supporter of “Beer to Go” here in the Capital City. If there’s one thing that I know about ABW, it’s that they truly care about the beer scene in Texas. They are one of my favorite breweries for reasons other than just their beer. 

Breaking down the rest of the report

Best craft breweries in Austin by atmosphere – depends on what you mean by atmosphere!

  • This “Breweries by Atmosphere” list is perfect for Austin. All of the places listed absolutely ooze with ambiance. If I could add a few to this list I’d definitely add 12 Fox and Oddwood. Oddwood is super clean and they have Mario Kart on N64. How can you beat that!?
  • Seeing Brash listed as one of the breweries with the best atmosphere in Houston is amazing! It makes me laugh a little though, because that place is super rock and roll. If you like clean streamlined spaces Brash will be a shock to your system. It’s all in the name… The whole experience is pretty Brash! Heavy Metal music and gnarly beers all day. Rock on Brash! 
  • Real Ale out of Blanco is a great visit. Nestled out in the middle of nowhere it makes for a perfect day trip out of Austin and has everything that you need on site.

Kid friendly – it’s important to some of us!

  • I have kids so this category is pretty crucial for my beer-drinking habit. The fact that 12 Fox isn’t on this list is a travesty. They have a full-on hand-built playscape out there!  Plus there’s plenty of open space for the kiddos to run around without worry. It’s not too far from Treaty Oak and Suds Monkey who both did make the list and so that’s a great day out for you and the kiddos!
  • Austin Beerworks is also suspiciously missing from the list. They are notoriously known for being kid friendly. Hell, they even put in a small play area for the little ones recently!

Live music – lots of places in town to rock on

  • It’s great to see Skull Mechanix representing with the Live Music! Their setup is similar to Oskar Blues, but 100% local (no offense OB).  It’s really a perfect setup for watching music. Definitely go there to catch a heavy metal show. 
  • I’ve been to a couple of shows at ABGB and can vouch for it being a great spot for music as well. I believe they even do old-school Texas two-step once a week! 

So to wrap it up…

I love the craft beer scene and I am happy we have some of the best craft breweries here in Austin, but it’s also fantastic to learn more about the beer scene around the rest of the state. I really could go on and on about the beer in Texas and how it has absolutely boomed in the last 10 years or so, but I now need to get out there and visit more of these great breweries that I’ve been able to read about.

When I came here from Minnesota (Surly represent!) in 2006, Texas was sadly lacking in craft beer (shout out to the OG Austin brewers: Real Ale, Indy, Live Oak, 512, etc), and so the fact that craft breweries have taken off and grown so quickly here is incredible. It appears to be sustainable at this point as well, which is really great to see. I am curious to see how much more it can grow before it gets too competitive.

If the rankings have made me think about one thing, it’s that I’d really love to see more Texas breweries collaborate with out of town partners.  Come on guys and gals… let’s get ABW and Celestial together, or have Zilker and B52 mixing it up! 

You can follow Chris on Instagram and Facebook at @atxbeerguy

Read about the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings by Metro

Read about the Texas Craft Beer Survey respondents