While the national beer of Texas has never been up for debate, in the past decade an explosion of craft breweries has made a strong argument for ordering something other than a Lone Star. OG hopheads like Saint Arnold and Live Oak have given way to a strong crop of experimental newcomers, and the repealing of archaic beer laws in the last few years has paved the way for new breweries and crafty pubs spanning from Keller to Justin and everywhere in between. We've compiled 13 of the best craft breweries to have opened in the last three years. Raise your glass to these heroically hopped-up Texans.
San Antonio, TX
Some of the Pearl Brewery's old mojo must have crept into the tanks at Southerleigh, one of the nation's biggest brewpubs and a shot-in-the-arm to San Antonio's vibrant beer scene. Since opening in 2015 they've experimented with over 40 different beers, ranging from the traditionally balanced flagship Gold Export Lager to more experimental fruit-driven beers like a Cantaloupe Saison. Although at this point their beers are only available on-site, plans are in the works to bring their lager, along with the Darwinian IPA, Texas Uncommon, and Southerleigh Slang, to shelves in bottles soon.
Two years after Magnolia shed its dry county status in 2011, Lone Pint stepped into Downtown taking over a former auto shop as the headquarters for the production of beers that have now become hot commodities in the tap lines of the state's best beer bars. The Yellow Rose is the most popular, a SMaSH beer powered by whole cone Mosaic hops that earned honors as the highest ranking Texas IPA according to RateBeer.
After visiting over 100 breweries for inspiration, the folks from Zilker Brewing Co. opened shop in 2015 as the first brewpub in East Austin. Looking out onto busy Sixth St, it's the easiest to stumble into of any brewery on this list, and hard to forget thanks to the tropical fruit and pine aromatics of their flagship beer, the Marco IPA. Zilker is also sure to make a big retail splash thanks a striking striped design that earned it top packaging honors in 2015 from the Austin Beer Guide.
4th Tap is another project from a Black Star alum who teamed with a biochemistry whiz to launch a line-up of palate-catching beers starring the Long Walk Grapefruit IPA. Much like how Black Star broke the mold with a co-op model, 4th Tap takes that a step further into the production-brewery realm. Although it's not unusual to find a fruit-forward IPA these days, 4th Tap breaks new ground with a seldom seen Gruit, a cousin of beer (no hops or barley!) that uses all native-Texas ingredients including rosemary, lemon peel, and sorghum. It's a divisive beer, but there's no better way to stand out in Texas's crowded beer scene than by tapping uncharted territory.
Not every brewmaster needs to complete the Siebel Institute World Brewing Academy, but some proper schooling (along with nine years of home brewing) prepped founder Matt Morriss with the smarts to score serious accolades for beers like the Rapture Fusion Brown Ale (GABF 2015, Silver) and Mike Modano's 561 Kolsch (Beverage Tasting Institute Gold). The latter is named for an NHL record-holding goal scorer who held court in a small suburb of Justin called “Dallas.” Dive deeper down the... Rabbit Hole with their seasonals, ranging from a fiery red IPA to a toffee-like Roggenbier called the RYEteous Knight.
Ranked the 10th fastest growing craft brewery in the country in 2015, Grapevine is undoubtedly making moves. The expansion into a new space last June doubled their capacity to crank out award-winning brews like the GABF gold-winning Sir William's English Brown Ale. It was also crowned best beer in Dallas by D Magazine, but they aren't resting on their laurels -- be on the lookout for cans of their just-released Prickly Pear Wheat.
Little known fact: the Astrodome is the Eighth Wonder of the World. Or at least it was called that when it opened in 1965, a bit of trivia that this Houston brewery has co-opted into their name, which has been garnering respect from H-town beer nerds ever since opening in 2013. Locals were already endeared to the team thanks to their successful food truck Eatsie Boys (now parked at the brewery), but their rep has grown thanks to brews like the Rocket Fuel, a Vietnamese coffee porter that uses local Greenway Coffee and pays homage to the city's large Vietnamese community.
Goliad's Presidio La Bahia black Hefe took home the Drinkers' Choice award at the 2014 Battle of Texas Beers, an accolade that speaks to the complex roasted flavors of the beer, as well as the brewery's fighting spirit (their motto is “I would rather cut off my right arm than live under tyranny”). The beer is best enjoyed at their beer garden in Goliad, TX (between San Antonio and Corpus) where they rock seasonals like a Watermelon Gose, a light fruity complement to a 1/2lb brisket burger from the Bear's Grub food truck that's a fixture outside the brewery.
Taking the Most Scenic award, Oasis Brewing Company sits 470ft above Lake Travis. The view alone has kept the neighboring Tex Mex joint in business for over 30 years, and Oasis took that in mind when designing a line-up of low ABV brews sessionable from sundown to closing time. The core beers are an English-style Best Bitter, German Kellerbier, American Pale Ale, and a Session IPA, plus four always-rotating experimental taps like their Caribbean Breakfast Beer, a dunkelweizen brewed with plantains and coffee.
It's not unusual for brewers to pay homage to Germany or Belgium these days, but the focus on Bavaria has overshadowed one of the world's most renown beer-loving countries: Ireland. Shannon Brewing Co. uses a rare fire-brewing method to heat the mash, a technique passed down from the founder's Irish great grandfather. Water pumped directly from a nearby stream supplies a pure base for all-natural, never filtered brews like the Irish red, All American blonde, and a dry-hopped IPA. Be on the lookout for their summer seasonal Bohemian lager on-tap at discerning beer bars across Texas.
Much like how the IPA bombed its hoppy head into the mouth of consumers in the past decade, recently sours have Kool Aid Man-ed their way into the most discerning craft beer bars. Helmed by one of the brewers behind Black Star, Blue Owl has leaned into the movement with a lineup of beers that add tang to traditional styles, ranging from their highly drinkable Spirit Animal to Professor Black, a massive sour cherry stout. Bonus points for a taproom in Austin's booming Cesar Chavez district, and for a proprietary sour scale that is one more step towards bringing the sour trend mainstream.
Opened on January 19th, 2013, Community barely made our cut-off, but a list of new Texas breweries wouldn't be complete without it. It came in second on our power rank of Dallas breweries for a forward thinking approach to special releases ranging from two barrel-aged versions of their stout to an oak-spiraled version of their popular Mosaic IPA. Don't hesitate when you see one of their seasonals on-tap, but the year-round offerings are also heralded: the Public Ale ESB took back-to-back GABF gold.
Adelbert's bombers have earned tenured shelf space at the state's best bottle shops, so it should be no surprise that their offshoot Oddwood Ales makes this list. Started as a barrel-fermented side project, the experimental process captured the attention of brewer Taylor Ziebarth and led to an entirely new operation which will open its doors soon as the Oddwood Barrel House. Wild yeast and oak barrels drive the challenging woodsy flavors of their first two beers, a woodsy saison and a tart blonde ale called Taming the Savage Heart.
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1. Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery136 E Grayson St Ste 120, San Antonio
2. Lone Pint Brewery507 Commerce St, Magnolia
3. Zilker Brewing Co.1701 E 6th St, Austin
4. 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative10615 Metric Blvd, Austin
5. Rabbit Hole Brewing608 Topeka St, Justin
6. Grapevine Craft Brewery2405 Squire Pl #200, Farmers Branch
7. 8th Wonder Brewery2202 Dallas St, Houston
8. Goliad Brewing252 Metting Rd, Goliad
9. Oasis Texas Brewing Company6550 Comanche Trl, Austin
10. Shannon Brewing Company818 North Main St, Keller
11. Blue Owl Brewing2400 E Caesar Chavez #300 , Austin
12. Community Beer Company1530 Inspiration Dr, Dallas
Set in the historic Pearl Brewery building, Southerleigh is a massive brewpub in a bi-level, 7,900sqft space. The first floor restaurant serves traditional Southern fare like fried chicken, jalapeño cheddar grits, and strawberry shortcake on buttermilk biscuits. If you're eating at Southerleigh, you're definitely getting a beer. The rotating selection includes more than 20 taps of IPAs and lagers that are brewed at the upstairs microbrewery.
More than anything, Lone Pint Brewery loves hops. So much so, they only use whole, raw cone hops without filtration, and you can taste the difference in every single brew. This Magnolia brewery is perfect for IPA fans, and the Yellow Rose IPA -- made from a malty base combined with blueberry, pineapple, and grapefruit -- is one of the greatest beers brewed in the Lone Star state.
Zilker Brewing Company, just a few blocks from Austin's 6th Street district, is a refreshingly laid-back alternative to the usual nightlife bar scene. The craft brewery focuses on American Belgo style brewing that's light, malty, and fruity. Zilker's selection includes a golden-hued pale ale, a crisp and light honey blonde ale, and seasonal brews. It doesn't have a kitchen but a varying roster of food trailers will take your order from the taproom, and you can bring your own food, too.
Just north of Austin in Dripping Springs, 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative is all about experimentation. It brews its beer in tune with the Texas seasons and weather, so the draft selection changes regularly but it does have several mainstays like the Sun Eater, a gruit ale with lemon peel and rosemary. The taproom doesn't have a kitchen but food trucks are often parked outside.
Born out of a Kickstarter campaign, Rabbit Hole Brewing is a small-town brewery that's reinventing classic styles. The signature beer, Rapture Fusion Brown Ale, is a toasty, malty ale with Pacific Coast hops that lend a bittery, citrus flavor. Justin is a far drive north of Fort Worth, but the cheap pints and large outdoor patio make the trip worth it.
North of Dallas Fort Worth, Grapevine is a Texas-proud craft brewery with crisp and diverse beers. The taproom and beer garden serves exclusive drafts and seasonal brews, just be sure to taste the Monarch pilsner, a tried-and-true mainstay.
This brewery in East Downtown is jokingly named for the nearby Astrodome’s bygone status as the "8th Wonder of the World." Blocks from Houston's professional baseball, basketball and soccer stadiums, 8th Wonder's taproom appropriately serves as sports bar with its domed-stadium motif and multiple TVs. Watch a game while you sip on any of five year-round brews like the Dome Faux'm cream ale or Hopston IPA.
Much like all those born-and-bred in Texas, Goliad Brewing Company prides itself on its fighting spirit, which shows in its trio of year-round beers. The Golden Ale, Redfish IPA, and Black Hefeweizen pack hard punches of flavors like caramel, apricot, banana, and bubblegum, and they all embody some aspect of Texan life and culture. Its beer garden, which sits on a 50 acre property, resembles a park.
At Oasis, session beers are king. All four of the brewery's flagship brews are light in flavor and alcohol percentage, which means they're easy to drink. Metamodern (an IPA), Slow Ride (an American pale ale), Luchesa Lager (a pilsner) and London Homesick Ale (you guessed it, an English-style ale) are all what Oasis' founders call "gateway beers," aka the perfect introduction to the art of drinking beer. The tasting room has a full food menu (Frito pie, anyone?) and a stunning view of Lake Travis.
This brewery in Keller makes all-natural beer with a short and sweet list of ingredients like pure spring water, malted barley and whole flower hops. Using the old-school fire brewing technique, Shannon doles out full-bodied core beers and rotating seasonals. Take your pint or flight out to the patio after a guided tour, where there's likely to be at least one food truck and live music, too.
This brewery's game is sour-mashing, the process of biologically acidifying beer to give it a tart flavor. As such, every beer on Blue Owl's roster is sour-mashed, and the brews are categorized by their tartness and your familiarity to sours -- there's Little Boss wheat for beginners, Spirit Animal IPA for intermediates, and Professor Black stout for advanced drinkers. The tasting room includes a selection of limited release brews.
From a couple of vets of FW's defunct Covey, Community is the Design District's first brewery, making life as a Greendale Human Being more tolerable with their Brown Ale (dark "roast" with coffee flavors), Regalement (winter ale with cinnamon & nutmeg), and a malty IPA they're calling Public.