We’ll drink to that

Two Houston-area craft breweries rank in state's Top 10

Two Houston-area craft breweries rank in state's Top 10

Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. ranks No. 2, with 56,763 barrels produced in 2016. Photo courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewing Co.

The Austin area dominates the state’s craft-brewing industry, with Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston serving as “secondary hubs,” a new report shows.

But two Houston-area craft breweries are among the top producers in the state. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. ranks No. 2, with 56,763 barrels produced in 2016 and Conroe-based Southern Star Brewing Co. is No. 8, with 12,800 barrels produced during the same year.

In 2016, craft breweries in Central Texas rolled out 187,000 barrels (about 26.3 million bottles) of beer, according to the report, published by CBRE, a provider of commercial real estate services. That was the most craft-beer production of any region in Texas.

“Long known for a city culture of ‘weirdness,’ coupled with a significant tech presence and highly educated labor force with disposable income attracting young talent with a taste for ale, Austin and the surrounding Hill Country is now home to 60 breweries, with dozens more in the planning process,” the CBRE report says.

Austin is home to five of the 10 biggest craft breweries in Texas, based on the number of barrels produced last year, according to CBRE.

CBRE calls Dallas-Fort Worth (nearly 120,000 barrels last year) and Houston (more than 110,000 barrels last year) “secondary hubs” for craft brewing. The report tallied 50 craft breweries in DFW and 40 in the Houston area.

Technically, the San Antonio region leads the state in beer production among Texas-based brewers, according to CBRE. However, the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner throws off the numbers, so CBRE didn’t include Spoetzl when identifying the state’s hot spots for craft brewing. Without Spoetzl’s massive output, the San Antonio region produced just 28,728 barrels of craft beer in 2016. The San Antonio area is home to 29 craft breweries, according to the report.

Leaving out Spoetzl, these are the 10 largest craft breweries in Texas, based on their beer production in 2016:

  • Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, 59,435 barrels produced in 2016
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, 56,763 barrels produced in 2016
  • Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, 33,100 barrels produced in 2016
  • Rahr and Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, 19,500 barrels produced in 2016
  • Austin Beerworks, Austin, 18,000 barrels produced in 2016
  • Independence Brewing Co., Austin, 15,500 barrels produced in 2016
  • Live Oak Brewing Co., Austin, 15,000 barrels produced in 2016
  • Southern Star Brewing Co., Conroe, 12,800 barrels produced in 2016
  • (512) Brewing Co., Austin, 11,000 barrels produced in 2016
  • Thirsty Planet Brewing Co., Austin, 11,000 barrels produced in 2016

Over a 12-year span, the number of craft breweries in Texas has soared by nearly 1,000 percent, the CBRE report says.

Back in 2005, just 20 craft breweries were producing beer in Texas; now, 218 craft breweries are operating in Texas, based on CBRE’s latest count. Those numbers mean the state’s craft-brewing business has expanded by an astonishing 990 percent in only 12 years. Under Texas law, a craft brewery is defined as producing less than 225,000 barrels of beer per year.

CBRE attributes much of the rise in craft brewing in Texas to microbreweries. In 2005, three microbreweries were producing beer in Texas, according to CBRE. Today, that number is 152. That’s a 12-year increase of nearly 5,000 percent.

A microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer in a year’s time, with at least three-fourths of it being sold off-site, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group for craft breweries.

The CBRE report also gives a nod to brewpubs. Now, 55 brewpubs are operating around the state, up 450 percent from 2005. A brewpub is a restaurant-brewery that sells at least one-fourth of its beer onsite. 

“Local is the new global — from its cottage roots before the 2008 recession to its emergence as a niche beer category during the economic recovery, the Texas craft brew industry represents the spirit of this perspective,” Robert Kamp, director of research and analysis at CBRE, says in a release.

Another sign of the growth of craft breweries in Texas is the amount of space they occupy. Across the state, CBRE says, these breweries occupy 4.8 million square feet — equivalent to about 26 Walmart Supercenters.

Beer barons have taken notice of Texas’ burgeoning craft breweries. In 2016, a division of MillerCoors bought Granbury’s Revolver Brewing, which was founded in 2012. Later in the year, a division of Anheuser-Busch purchased Houston’s Karbach Brewing Co., which was founded in 2011.

Among the states, Texas ranks eighth for the number of craft breweries, according to the Brewers Association. The association says the economic impact of craft brewing in Texas added up to nearly $4.55 billion in 2016.