Craft beer in North Texas is thriving, which was why it was surprising to see the lack of representation of Dallas/Fort Worth area craft breweries in the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings top 5.
Impressively however, Dallas/Fort Worth boasts 3 out of the top 4 craft breweries that Texans are most excited about for 2020. This signifies something that a lot of North Texans already know about their craft beer market – that Dallas/Fort Worth breweries are producing some of the best beer in the state. At the top of this list is Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth. Martin House is the brewery that consumers and brewers unanimously agreed on – with both groups voting them #1 for what they are most excited about in the coming year.
North Texas consumers heavily influenced the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings by voting for the best craft breweries across the state, however their support at home ensured three Dallas/Fort Worth area breweries made the overall Texas top 10: Martin House (#6), Turning Point Beer (#8) in Bedford and Peticolas Brewing Co (#10) in Dallas.
When asked why he thinks consumers and craft brewers voted his as one of the best breweries in Texas, Michael Peticolas says it is about two things: “Our beer and our people.” Peticolas reflects on the journey that his brewery took to get to that point “During our first 5 years, it was absolutely all about the beer. Quality of beer was number 1. Beer. Beer. Beer. But in year 5, it dawned on me that it’s all about the people: our crew. And since then, it’s remained all about the people.” Peticolas’ approach to people and community has served them well in creating a loyal and engaged audience. “Our crew deserves all the credit for continually raising the bar and enhancing the experience our beer provides; we don’t want to be big, we want to be great!”
And all eyes will be on the North Texas beer scene in 2020. TUPPS Brewery in McKinney joined Turning Point and Marin House as 3 of the top 4 breweries in the state that Texans are most excited about for 2020. TUPPS President and founder Kevin Lewis is keen to take advantage of the excitement around their brand. “In 2019, it all seemed to come together.” explains Lewis. “We advanced our product offerings by adding several hazy beers that have gained traction with a broad base of customers. We have also strengthened our relationship with our distribution partners, we have added several major retailers to our portfolio, we advanced our operating excellence, which will allow us to continue to grow and we have been able maintained a small hometown feel to the brand.” That small-town feel seems to go over well with both Dallas/Fort Worth-area consumers as well as those in the rest of the state.
Three other North Texas breweries made the overall Top 25 of the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings, with Celestial Beerworks and Community Beer Company in Dallas joined by Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland. Celestial were voted as #6 in the state by Texas craft brewing industry professionals when asked who they were excited about in 2020.
Along with established North Texans breweries that are generating excitement for 2020, consumers are also excited to hear from newer and soon-to-open Dallas/Fort Worth breweries. Brutal Beerworks in North Richland Hills was voted one of the top 10 new breweries in Texas. Brutal Beerworks had their grand opening in June 2019 and their small-batch brews have caught the eye of the North Texas consumer and they are building a reputation further afield. Texas Craft Beer Survey respondents also mentioned upcoming or recently opened breweries Odd Muse Brewing Company, Second Rodeo Brewing Company and Toasty Bros.
Houston’s best craft breweries are quickly gaining a State-wide following. Saint Arnold Brewing Company has been brewing beer in Houston since 1994 and for many years was the only thing that consumers thought about when hearing about Houston’s craft beer scene. However, as the craft beer consumer market has grown, a number of craft breweries have established reputations for themselves as some of the best in the state.
B-52 Brewing, based in Conroe about 40 miles North of downtown Houston, is seen by many as the top destination brewery in Texas. B-52 owner Brent Daniel and his team have put a lot of work into ensuring that a day at the brewery is not only about drinking their beer. “When you visit you’ll see that 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.”
When it came to beer, consumers across Texas were particularly positive about B-52’s fruited sour series as well as a number of their traditional-styles beers. For those excited to hear about what is next for B-52, Daniel said about the next 12 months “We have a lot of great beers almost fully matured in the barrel, so you can expect to see some new things from our barrel program. And on top of that, we have some exciting collaborations in the works.”
Like B-52, SpindleTap Brewery had an extremely successful 2019 which was recognized by consumers and brewers with their standing in the top 10 ranked breweries in Texas. The brewery won a silver medal for their Honey Hole ESB at the Great American Beer Festival in October and introduced their barrel-aged program in the form of an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels in November at their 4th anniversary party.
Brody Chapman, CEO and co-founder of SpindleTap Brewery credits much of their recent success to their constant engagement with their consumers “We place all of our focus on producing the highest-quality beer possible, and on our customers. Without the passion, enthusiasm and excitement of our dedicated customers, we simply wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today.”
As well as being enjoyed by Houstonians, SpindleTap beer has become one of the hottest commodities in other cities across Texas and Chapman says they have plans to make 2020 even better. “We’ll continue to brew as much beer as possible to serve our customers throughout Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. We’ll add more coffee offerings; continue to expand on our barrel-aged release program; and further experiment with new beer styles.”
Innovation has been key to SpindleTap’s success in Houston; an approach also used by Ingenious Brewing in Humble. Ingenious has quickly become a “must-stop” spot on the Houston craft beer circuit by changing up their offering on a regular basis. “We were home brewers and beer nerds before we started Ingenious,” says Justin Gyorfi, Co-Owner and General Manager. “We had a good grasp on the exciting things that were happening in the craft beer world that were at the time unavailable to the Houston market. Because of this, we decided to forgo the expected “core” beers and instead focus on offering a large variety of small-batch constantly changing brews; many of which were non-traditional and adjunct.”
Brash Brewing were also named in the top 25 in Texas and while their unique tap room is not for everyone, the quality of their beer is on par with the best brewers in the state. Brash, like the other top breweries, have contributed heavily to what is now a thriving craft beer scene in Houston and based on a number of Houston-area breweries making the top 10 best new breweries in Texas, the growth of the scene does not seem to be slowing.
The three Houston-area breweries to make that best new breweries in Texas list were: Astral Brewing, Megaton Brewery, and True Anomaly Brewing Company. All three breweries opened in 2019, and Michael Duckworth, CEO and co-founder of True Anomaly is pleasantly surprised at how they have been received. “We certainly didn’t expect to be awarded any kind of accolades as a new brewery in 2019, and we’re very humbled to hear that we’re recognized as a brewery to watch out for in the coming years. We’ve worked hard to be a quality first brewery, servicing the taproom foremost. 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. We hope to continue pushing the limits this next year as we delve even further into our wild and sour program.”
Duckworth continues “We have a literal ton of liquid aging in various barrels that we can’t wait to start releasing. It’ll still be a little way out, but by mid next year we hope to have a more regular bottle release program for the number of wild and sour beers currently aging in our cellar room.” And Houston consumers will be excited to hear: “We’re also slated for a few upcoming collaborations.”
Along with the best new breweries of 2019, two soon-to-open breweries were also mentioned in the Texas Craft Beer Survey: Local Group and Urban South Brewery.
San Antonio, at times overshadowed as a Texas craft beer destination, gave a strong showing across the top 100 of the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings that suggests its growing number of craft breweries are ready to compete at the high standard set by the rest of the State.
Whilst not having any craft breweries appear in the overall top 10 of the rankings, the appearance of Weathered Souls at #13, Guadalupe Brewing at #16, 5 Stones Artisan Brewery at #20 and Islla Street at #22 gave the San Antonio-area a strong enough showing in the top 25 to suggest the city is well positioned as a craft beer destination.
From a consumer perspective, the rapid recent growth of the
craft beer scene has been exciting to watch. San Antonian resident and craft beer fan JD Duran (@txbeerdude) was initially skeptical of the resurgence “over the last few years, we’ve seen breweries shut down in the region and it started to feel as though we were on a slow downhill slide towards craft beer ambiguity.” He says “but what in fact has transpired has been a pleasant surprise with a huge upward trend in great craft beer locations that we are now extremely excited about!”
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to consumers outside of San Antonio was the strong showing in the overall ranking of Islla Street Brewing. Not quite having been in business a full year, the young brewery to the North East of the city has quickly gained a huge following and taken advantage of both a passionate and growing San Antonio craft beer crowd and collaborative San Antonio craft brewer community.
Islla Street is owned by brothers Joshua and JD Pena. “What we love the most about the San Antonio beer community is the camaraderie. We are a pretty small and young beer market compared to a lot of others and in that, we have learned to lean on each other. Everyone in the market does something a little different and for being as small as we are, I feel like we provide a very broad spectrum with something for everyone.”
Islla Street have joined a community of innovative craft brewers in the San Antonio community, many of who performed well in the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings. Weathered Souls, who ranked particularly high from consumers across the Texas Craft Beer Survey, have built a strong reputation for their stout program which often has consumers lining the block to score on release day.
Guadalupe Brewing (#16 in the overall rankings) were highlighted by consumers from multiple metro areas. That said the ‘Guad Squad’ are just as focused on their local community as they are on consumers who pass by. “We are adding avenues for our VIPs for beer dinners and bottles releases” they told us when asked about plans for 2020 “we will also add more barrel aged projects and encourage the creative juices of our brewing team.”
5 Stones Artisan Brewery ranked #20 in Texas and were joined in the Top 50 by other San Antonio-area breweries Kunstler Brewing (#34), Cactus Land Brewing Company (#39) and Freetail Brewing Company (#41). JD Duran, who has been to breweries across Texas agrees with the representation and said of Cactus Land “Their sour beers are fantastic, and their stouts are some of the best I have tried.”
Other San Antonio-area breweries that made the top 100 rankings included Alamo Beer Co and Roadmap Brewing in San Antonio, BS Brewing in Seguin, Cibolo Creek in Boerne, Faust Brewing and New Braunfels Brewing, both in New Braunfels. Additionally, recently opened Back Unturned Brewing was cited as a brewery that consumers and brewers are both excited about for 2020.
The Craft Brewers Conference will be held in San Antonio in April and will be a great opportunity for the growing craft beer scene to showcase itself after a strong showing in the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings.
Austin-area breweries hold a heavy presence in the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings top – with Jester King ranked as number 1 in Texas. Along with Jester King, Pinthouse Pizza and Austin Beerworks both made appearances in the top 10 and others such as Live Oak Brewing Co, The ABGB, Lazarus Brewing and Hops & Grain featuring heavily throughout the Texas Craft Beer Report.
Austin consumers voted for breweries who focus on traditional styles more so than their counterparts in the rest of the State. And in a competitive Austin market, there is much support for breweries such as Live Oak who pride themselves on brewing traditional beer at a world-class standard. “We have an international reputation for making high-quality classic beer styles,” says Chip McElroy, President of Live Oak. “Our beers are very drinkable because we do not cut corners.” He continues “Even Bavarian brewmasters have acknowledged that we could sell our HefeWeizen in Bavaria and
satisfy the persnickety Bavarian Hefeweizen consumers!”
Along with its top performers, the Austin-area has the most breweries in the top 50 of the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings with 15, and also the most in the top 100 with 32. However, it is the presence of newer breweries and those on the horizon that are proving there cannot be too much of a good thing.
Central District Brewing, Nomadic Beerworks, and 12 Fox Beer Co were named in the 10 best new breweries of 2019, and 4 out of 10 breweries opening in 2020 that Texans are most excited for will also be in Austin. In fact, within the booming Austin beer community, it is easy to see a brewery such as a Lazarus Brewing Co as a veteran of the beer scene despite them having not yet celebrated 3 years in East Austin. Like other thriving Austin breweries, it is their relationship with the community that has driven their success. “I believe that deep down, the craft beer movement isn’t just about beer.” says Christian Cryder, owner of Lazarus “it’s about folks taking a leap of faith and going on adventures together – old friends, new friends, sharing life in amazing places. And Austin has proven to be an amazing place for that!”
For more on the Austin results, read Chris Barrett’s (@atxbeerguy) take on how Austin breweries faired in the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings
Read about Texas Best New Breweries for 2019