4th tap brewing glass and tap wall
Photo Credit: Andrew Schwab

The Texas Craft Beer Scene – A Review of 2015

It is that time of year again where I take a look back at where Texas breweries have come over the last year. Needless to say, Texas has come a long way over the last couple of years. The following is a breakdown of where we are currently:

A couple of notes on the numbers below:

– I have taken out any macro approval (AB-InBev, Pabst, etc)
– These are only the approvals that came through this year. For example, Blue Owl opened their doors this year but were approved last year, so it does not show up on this list
– The numbers should be right as of 12/21 – it may change before the year’s end

Brewpubs:

TABC brewpub licenses in Texas: 116
Brewpub licenses approved in 2015: 33
Brewpub licenses approved in 2014: 25
Brewpub licenses approved in 2013: 11
Brewpub licenses approved in 2012: 4

Newcomers this year (note: not all have opened, but have TABC approval to do so):

4J Brewing Company – Houston
Aquabrew – San Marcos
Baa Baa Brewhouse – Brookshire
Bare Arms Brewing – Waco
Barley & Board – Denton
Barrow Brewing Company – Salado
BJ’s Brewhouse (#1 and #2) – Temple
Blackwater Draw (2nd Location) – Bryan
Braindead Brewing – Dallas
Brazos Valley Brewing – Brenham
BS Brewing (switched from a brewery permit) – Seguin
Cibolo Creek Brewing – Boerne
Division Brewing – Arlington
Donny’s Brewpub – La Vernia
Granger City Brewing – Granger
Huff Brewing Company – Bellville
Intrinsic Smokehouse and Brewery – Garland
Mad Pecker Brewing – San Antonio
Malai Kitchen (2nd Location) – Southlake
Noble Rey Brewing – Dallas
Ode Brewing – El Paso
Pinthouse Pizza (2nd Location) – Austin
Proof and Cooper – Dripping Springs
Rebel Toad Brewing – Corpus Christi
San Gabriel River Brewing – Liberty Hill
Sidecar Brewing – Wichita Falls
Soco Taphouse – San Angelo
South Austin Brewery (switched from a brewery license) – Austin
The Brewery – Port Aransas
The Faust Hotel & Brewing (2nd location) – New Braunfels
Whitestone Brewery – Cedar Park

While the increase is not as dramatic as from 2012-2014, the numbers are continuing to grow in this category. I am also seeing more smaller towns getting brewpubs opening. Places like Granger, Brenham, Salado, as well as bigger towns/cities that previously had no breweries like Wichita Falls, are starting to see brewpubs. There are also an increase in 2nd locations – places like Pinthouse Pizza and Blackwater Draw both gaining new locations. I expect this trend to continue over the next couple of years.

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Breweries:

TABC Brewery Licenses: 100
Brewery licenses approved in 2015: 32
Brewery licenses approved in 2014: 18
Brewery licenses approved in 2013: 17
Brewery licenses approved in 2012: 15

Newcomers this year (note: not all have opened, but have TABC approval to do so):

3 Nations Brewing – Farmer’s Branch
4th Tap Brewing Cooperative – Austin
A&L Brewing Company – San Marcos
Allen’s Landing Brewing – Houston
Armadillo Ale Works – Denton
Back Pew Brewing – Porter
Braman Brewery – Richmond
Dej Buh Stesti Brewing – Lovelady
Dorcol Distilling Company – San Antonio
Fetching Lab Brewery – Algoa
Friends & Allies Brewing – Austin
Guns & Oil – Austin
Holler Brewing – Houston
Infamous Brewing (to brew beer in Dallas as well) – Grapevine
Ironsight Brewing – Cedar Park
Ivanhoe Ale Works – Denison
Live Oak Brewing (their new location) – Austin
Lorelei Brewing Company – Corpus Christi
Long Wooden Spoon Brewing – Amarillo
O’Neil and Sons Brewing – Port Lavaca
Oak Highlands Brewery – Dallas
Pint & Flow Brewing – Kerrville
Rabble-Rouser Brewing Company – McAllen
Rentsch Brewing – Georgetown
Sigma Brewing Company – Houston
Spindle Tap Brewery – Houston
Tupps Brewery – McKinney
Under The Radar Brewing – Houston
Wild Acre Brewing – Fort Worth
Woodcreek Brewing – Rockwall
Zilker Brewing – Austin

This is actually a large jump in the number of breweries approved this year. Last year, I expected to see the breweries approved to start dropping due to the law changes for brewpubs, while the increase come from brewpubs. This shows that both sides are continuing to grow at about the same pace. There is still a lot of room for growth in this area.

4th Tap Brewing co

Brewery Closures:

I may not have this number exact, but these are the ones that I know about.

Bearded Eel – Ft. Worth
Cornel’s Brewing – Beaumont
Firewheel Brewing – Rowlett
Fort Bend – Missouri City
Kahl Brewing – Abilene
Port Aransas Brewing – Port Aransas
Wicked Beaver – Lubbock

I still see this as a healthy sign that so few have shut down. With having 64 approved this year, and only 7 shutting down, it is definitely still a growing market. I still do not believe we have nearly reached a saturation point in Texas. I also feel that a lot of the breweries that are opening are aiming for smaller, more local, clienteles. More will have minimal distribution and operate with a local bar feel.

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Beer Distribution:

Approved in 2015: 71
Approved in 2014: 86
Approved in 2013: 73

This section is harder to put in numbers. Simply put, this is the rough number of out of state breweries that are able to sell in Texas. Now, I say these are rough numbers due to a lot of the ones approved each year had been already approved in previous years. This number is also after I went through and took out all of the macro approvals (let’s say Pabst locations, macro breweries coming in from Vietnam, etc). So, saying 71 breweries approved this year does not mean that there were 71 new ones coming into the Texas markets, more of that they had something changed on their approval and had to be re-approved. Along with that, some of these approvals cover multiple breweries that brew at one location. Either way, based on all of the new breweries that have hit our shelves this year, I was expecting a much bigger jump from 2014. I will say that the quality of the breweries that were approved this year are some of the best that I can remember. We now will be having Cascade, AleSmith, and Cantillon available in Texas. I could not imagine that a couple of years ago.

What to Look for Next Year:

Many of these places will open early in 2016. It seems like more places received approvals this year still are in the opening phases. Along with that, we will see some bigger names expanding. With Live Oak’s facility opening early in 2016, it seems like that will become a must visit brewery for Austin. We are also seeing a lot more interest from out of state breweries in Texas. With the announced opening of Oskar Blues in Austin (slated for April) and the quieter announcement of Backcountry Brewing (out of Frisco, CO) opening in the old Firewheel location in Rowlett, it should be interesting to see how CO breweries do in Texas. BJ’s Brewhouse is another places that can fall into this category with them officially opening their production brewery in Temple. There are still a couple of other out of state breweries looking to still enter into Texas by opening breweries here as well.

I do not expect to see the approvals slow down. I have been keeping tabs on breweries working on opening. On that list, there are over 100+ breweries in some form trying to open that still do not even have approvals. A lot of them will not get to the point of opening, but there will be more that will take their place.

I hope everyone has a good end to 2015 and I look forward to what happens for Texas beer in 2016!

As always, click here for a complete listing of Texas Brewery & Brewpub Tours with Map.

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