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The Lone Star State

They say everything is bigger in Texas...and the beer is no different. Texan beer lovers take their beer seriously and are proud to be the only state with an official state beer called Lone Star Beer, aptly named after the state flag. Although there are a number of big name breweries in Texas, bigger isn't always better when it comes to beer! That's why we focus on finding the best, small craft breweries to feature in our monthly Craft Beer Club shipments.

The history of beer in Texas is a bit fuzzy...not because there was too much beer, but because there are limited records available prior to the Civil War. Undoubtedly the ones that existed were tiny, home brewers or small production breweries. The early beer industry steadily grew and fluctuated over time, becoming quite a competitive trade. The first official Texan brewery, William A. Menger’s Western Brewery, was established in 1855 in San Antonio but ended up closing its doors in 1878.

A few years later, a man named Adolphus Busch arrived in the state and bringing with him new technology which allowed him to build the first large-scale, mechanized brewery in Texas - Lone Star Brewery.

As Prohibition hit, all legal production from the state’s 13 registered breweries halted. Out of those, only 5 were considered craft breweries serving their local markets. Many companies switched to producing non-alcoholic beverages or closed shop. After Prohibition, small breweries continued to have a difficult time keeping up with the national chains that moved in, such as Miller and Anheuser-Busch who offered more beer at lower prices.

Fast-forwarding to today, the industry is still as competitive - if not more so. However, the number of craft breweries has increased dramatically with a new brewery or brewpub seeming to open every month crafting new and exciting brew styles. From the 1960s onward the beer business took off for big name brewers, and in the 1990s the focus shifted to local and craft brewing companies.

New techniques have made India Pale Ales (IPAs) more palatable and even the preferred craft style. Lagers too are rising in popularity, especially since they make up 95 percent of the beer available for purchase.

Prohibition along with a list of other challenges put Texas breweries through a series of tests, but one that has stood the test of time is Spoetzl, more commonly known as Shiner. Immigrants from Czech Republic and Germany that settled into Shiner, Texas desired to bring over with them the beer styles of their home countries. Clearly they succeeded being the oldest Texas craft brewery that has been operating for over 110 years and pumps out over six million cases of Shiner beer to 49 states each year! Making them even more impressive is the fact that historically, more breweries failed and didn’t make it than ones that succeeded and did make it. Even Spoetzl was moments away from closing in the late 80s.

One Texas brewery that deserves recognition is the most prolific and oldest microbrewery, Saint Arnold Brewing of Houston, which opened its doors in 1994.

While there are still existing post-Prohibition laws, organizations such as Texas Craft Brewers Guild and Open the Taps are fighting to overturn the rusty laws. Luckily, regardless of the outdated regulation, craft beer in Texas is not slowing down! Data from December 2016 shows there are 257 licensed craft breweries in Texas!

We’ve featured a variety of small Texan breweries in our Craft Beer of the month Club, with brew styles ranging from American Session Ales and Lagers to Kölschs and Scotch Ales. You can find the breweries on the map below, including some of the most recently featured craft beers from Texas! All of us here at the Craft Beer Club hope you enjoy our monthly selections.

Texas Breweries