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Texas Beer & The 2015 Challenge

We are Texas, and our Star shines bright.

As of December 31, 2011, Texas was home to 71 licensed small craft breweries (which, for the purposes of my analysis, include breweries less than 75,000 barrels of annual production, up from 47 just a year earlier. That number includes 34 brewpubs (up from 28 at year end 2010) and 37 production breweries (almost double from the 19 licensed production breweries at the end of 2010). in 2011, Texas small craft brewers produced 130 thousand barrels of beer, compared to 93 thousand just the previous year.

The growth of our industry has been amazing and has not gone unnoticed, yet I submit to you the following proclamation: we are underachieving.

31 Texas counties are home to a small craft brewery, but that’s out of 254. Not good enough.

That 130 thousand barrels produced by Texas small craft brewers? That represents a paltry 1.2% of the craft beer industry and a pathetic 0.06% market share in the overall US beer market. Not good enough.

Those 71 small breweries? We still rank 46th in breweries per capita in the US. Not. Good. Enough.

Since I only speak on behalf of myself and my brewery, I won’t call the following list a set of goals. Instead, let’s call them a challenge.

By 2015, I challenge Texas to the following:

  • Be home to 160 actively licensed small craft breweries.
  • Produce 250,000 barrels of beer from small craft breweries.
  • Have a small craft brewery in 40 Texas counties (this one is admittedly harder, since breweries tend to open in more populated areas, for obvious reasons).

These three challenges are achievable, but it will take the effort of numerous parties. To be successful, I’m challenging the following groups to do their part.

  • Texas Small Craft Brewers: your challenge is obvious.
  • Texas beer distributors: you are our ally in the growth of the industry, and our growth cannot happen without you. Commit to carrying and featuring Texas brands.
  • Texas beer retailers: you are the front line. Abandon the old school way of retailing beers and the intimidating walls of industrial light lager. Give brewers a fair and equitable display with no unfair preference to brands who kick you illegal incentives. Provide consumers easy, clear access to the brands they want.
  • Texas Legislators: you are challenged with the task of establishing fair, competitive industry reforms that allow Texas small craft brewers to grow their brands. That means allowing production breweries to establish tasting rooms and sell directly to consumers on premise and allowing brewpubs to sell into the wholesale tier. There is almost $1 billion in economic impact at stake for helping Texas meet the 2015 Challenge (based on my annual Economic Impact Study – latest version to be published in March/April).
  • Texas beer consumers: you have the best job in achieving the challenge. Continue drinking and supporting Texas small craft brewers.

Together, we can do this. Share the message of the 2015 Challenge with friends, colleagues, industry members, and anyone you know who cares about Texas Craft Beer.

Drink Beer, Save Texas.


6 responses

  1. Brigette Anderson

    As a Texas craft beer fan/ drinker, I think you’ve missed a part of your challenge that should be directed to all the beer drinkers themselves. In addition to continuing to support our wonderful craft brewers, all beer fans should challenge themeselves to do the following:

    Email and write your congresspeople. Pester them until they change the laws. Attend rallies for groups like Open the Taps. VOTE for candidates who support changes to the beer industry!!! MAKE YOURSELF HEARD so that the bigwigs in Austin will have no choice but to change our outdated laws.

    February 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

  2. Andrew

    Hey, Scott…

    Please add to your list:

    – At least one Texas craft brewer (besides Shiner) will have the capacity, branding and balls to begin selling their beer in at least three states besides Texas.

    Seriously, there are so many bad ass craft breweries in Texas but not many that can actually go out of state. And nobody really seems to be trying too hard to do so. Yes, St. Arnold is in LA, but that doesn’t count. My money’s on Real Ale. Just wish somebody would pull the trigger.

    Thanks for giving a shit to not give a shit. Love that people like you exist in the craft beer world.

    March 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    • Hey Andrew,

      I think the decision to go out of state is a tough one. Real Ale is producing a ton of beer and expanding as fast as they can – but they can sell 100% of it in Texas, so why should they leave the state? Personally, I like their decision to stay in state for now. I like supporting your local market first and foremost, and then moving beyond it only when that demand is fulfilled. We’ve seen a few brewers have the problem of expanding too far, and then have to pull back when they run into demand constraints. I think that is more damaging in the long run than the slower-growth approach.

      March 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

  3. HoustonBeerMan

    Brigitte is 100% correct. The only thing standing in the way of huge growth in Texas is the Texas legislature and the Texas Wholesale Beer Distributors who want to control 100% of beer sales, not just 96% which would be the case if craft brewers could sell directly to their fans. If I was planning on brewing beer commercially, I’d move to a state where I could brew, have a pub on site and have it distributed to retail spots everywhere. Why establish yourself in a state where you have to make it financially with one arm tied behind your back? C’mon Texas State legislators, say no to the TWBD’s powerful lobbyists with their checkbooks and perks. Do what is right for these small businesses and Texas consumers.

    March 14, 2012 at 7:58 am

  4. Hey Scott, I challenge you to open a second brewpub like you said you would.

    Easy to issue bold challenges, isn’t it? A little more difficult when reality comes into play.


    March 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

  5. We accept your challenge

    June 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm

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