When I moved to Austin in 1997, the Texas craft beer scene was still in its very early days. For most people, Texas beer meant Shiner Bock or Pearl. Craft beer selections were pretty much limited to Live Oak, Celis (for a brief shining moment), St. Arnold, or a newcomer called Real Ale. There were also a handful of quality brewpubs: the sorely missed Waterloo and Bitter End (my first long-term job here) and the still going strong Draught House. Growlers to-go were still a distant dream, and if you wanted a really good selection then you were on your way to the Gingerman.
Fast forward to today. There are over 70 breweries in the state (with more firing up their brew kettles every day, it seems), with at least a dozen in Central Texas alone. In 2012, the Texas craft brew industry added $2.3 BILLION to the state’s economy. In addition to sheer volume, the types of beer being brewed has expanded greatly. Back then most brewers made a pale ale, an amber and a lighter blonde-type ale. Live Oak was (and still is) also well known for its authentic pilsner and hefeweizen. And while there are still great examples of these styles being produced, some of today’s brewers have become quite specialized. Some focus exclusively on Belgian-style beers such as dubbels, tripels, lambics, bieres de gardes and farmhouse ales. Twisted X Brewing in Dripping Springs concentrates on Mexican styles. Nearly all of the world’s beer styles are represented. You can literally tour the world of beer while just drinking local. And some brewers are creating their own styles of beer that don’t fit neatly into any established category. Now that’s what I call a great state of affairs here in the Great State of Texas!