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.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company, who has been brewing beer in Houston since 1994 were listed in 3rd position, one ahead of another brewery with significant history in Texas – Real Ale Brewing Company of Blanco. Rounding out the top 5 breweries in Texas is Conroe-based B-52 Brewing Co.
Ranking methodology designed for craft breweries
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.
Read about the Texas Craft Brewery Rankings by metro
Read about the Texas Craft Beer Survey respondents
Read about the Best New Texas Breweries of 2019