How’s it going? Just a little note to let you know what’s in store for your very near future. I realize things are all pretty quiet on the craft beer front back there only just five years ago. Get ready for an exciting ride coming up.
Remember what a craft brewing desert North Texas was back in 2010? Only two microbreweries were turning out beers at that time, Rahr & Sons Brewing and Franconia Brewing, and neither of these in the immediate Dallas area. Well, now we have around 35 independent brewing operations — a mix of production brewers, brewpubs and cideries — in the Metroplex, and many more still on the way. We’re barely into April of 2015 and have already seen five openings this year alone.
More than just the numbers, this explosive climb in the industry has also been a vast improvement in quality and maturity of craft brewing. Multiple awards have been brought home by local brewers from GABF, World Beer Cup and other competitions, and brewers are well into barrel-aging programs, sour/wild yeast brewing and lots of experimental products. Last year saw our first brewery collaboration between Dallas and Fort Worth brewers (a Belgian dubbel from Rahr & Sons and Lakewood Brewing), and Peticolas Brewing recently collaborated with none other than California’s Green Flash Brewing for a great IPA. Martin House Brewing even teamed up with the Toadies for a couple beers.
Yes, that’s right: Green Flash has come to Texas now, as have dozens of other prominent national brands such as Ballast Point, Odell, Southern Tier, Founders, Smuttynose, Jolly Pumpkin, and soon New Holland — almost too many names to list. Where Texas once was lagging the rest of the nation, several distributors like Andrews and Ben E. Keith have stepped up their craft beer operations and now our selection is on par with any other state, and even better than some. Canning lines have become much more affordable, so now almost every brewer has (or plans to have) some sort of can packaging in addition to their bottles.
But the biggest change ahead of you will be watching the rise of a genuine craft beer culture in North Texas. Not only have dedicated, quality beer bars and gastropubs like The Common Table, Meddlesome Moth and LUCK garnered national attention, we are also now attracting national franchises such as Gordon Biersch, World of Beer, Yard House and Old Chicago. We have enough eager consumers to support multiple dedicated beer festivals each year like this weekend’s Big Texas Beer Fest (now one of the best in Texas), next month’s Untapped (indie music and beer) and week-long regional promotions like the upcoming North Texas Beer Week. And once almost unknown and largely ignored, growlers are now everywhere — from brewpubs to dedicated fill stations to the Whole Foods’ in-house beer bars at every location.
Craft beer has become a legitimate and respected business in 2015, with the money and politics to go with it. You will see fireworks in Austin each legislative session as brewers and consumers fight to roll back some of the restrictive historical laws and regulations. Some significant advances will be made that loosen the leash on brewers, like Dallas ending precinct-level local option laws, but we still face some big struggles ahead even this summer.
Oh well, appreciate the relative quiet of 2010 while you have it. Hard to believe it’s only been five short years.