The boom in Texas craft brews

From: Ann B.
Sent on: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 8:19 AM
The boom in Texas craft brews Evans Caglage/Staff Photographer Eddie Eakins of Veritas pairs Texas chili with Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager.     


Special Contributor

Published: 11 October[masked]:57 PM

There was a time when Texas beer conjured images of light, mass-produced longnecks, sipped on a pickup tailgate.

These days, Texas is enjoying a craft beer boom.

Across the state, small, independent producers are crafting brews that draw applause from beer geeks. Restaurants have added beer dinners to their event schedules.

As artisan beers from across the nation — and the world — flood local stores, the number of small Texas breweries is growing, too. Texas has 21 craft beer producers. That’s not many compared with states such as California and Colorado, but the story behind the numbers reflects a craft-beer culture that’s mushrooming like the head on a freshly poured IPA.

Of the state’s 21 craft breweries, eight started up this year — one of them just last week — and only six existed before 2005. Three more Texas breweries are slated to open this year, two of them in Dallas: Deep Ellum Brewing Company, which plans to start brewing this week, and Peticolas Brewing Company.

According to, seven more craft breweries are under construction in Texas, with more in the pipeline, including Lakewood Brewing Company in Dallas.

Local restaurants and bars — including Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, The Libertine, Urban Crust, The Flying Saucer, Veritas, The Meddlesome Moth and The Common Table — have featured Texas craft brews at beer-pairing dinners. The latter three venues boast cicerones — beer sommeliers with a special certification — who work with the chefs to create the ideal food-and-wine matches.

St. Arnold Brewing Company of Houston, Jester King Craft Brewery of Austin, Real Ale Brewing Company of Blanco, Rahr and Sons Brewing Company of Fort Worth and 512 Brewing Company of Austin have all showcased their lines at Dallas dinners.

We asked Dallas’ three certified cicerones to recommend some bottled Texas craft-beer-and-entrée pairings. Turn to page 10E to learn how these beer pros bring Texas beer and food together, and to get suggestions for other Texas beers to try, including some microbrews on tap for takeout.

Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.


The pairings: Three ways to serve Texas craft brews

Jeff Fryman, The Common Table

“There has always been an underlying [craft beer] culture here, but now it’s becoming more prevalent, especially in the last two years. When I tasted 512 Brewing Company’s Oak-Aged Double Pecan Porter, a winter seasonal, I really did think ‘Oh my gosh, we can do it — if Texas can do this!’ Once people experience that there are Texas beers that are new and fun, it will grow exponentially.”

Texas beer pairing: St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower (a German-style kolsch) with Chicken and Jalapeño Dumplings With Cilantro Cream Sauce

“The Lawnmower is like a baby pils with subtle fruit flavor and aroma; but it has enough dryness and twang to match nicely with this dish”


•  3 (10-ounce) skin on, bone-in chicken breasts

• Salt and pepper to taste

•  2 tablespoons olive oil

•  2 cups heavy whipping cream

• 1 cup cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish

• 1 (16–ounce) can homestyle refrigerated biscuits

• 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, deveined and minced

• 2 cups chicken stock or broth

Preheat oven to 425 F. Season all sides of chicken with salt and pepper. In an oven-safe skillet set on the stovetop over medium-high heat, heat oil until just smoking. Place chicken skin side down and cook until skin is brown and beginning to crisp (about 3 minutes). Turn chicken and place skillet in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is just done (springy to touch, and the juices run clear; if your chicken breasts are bigger, it might take longer).

Meanwhile, bring cream to a gentle boil in a saucepan and reduce by one-fourth, stirring frequently. Place reduced cream in a blender and add cilantro leaves. Cover lid of blender with a dishtowel and hold it down tight (or, if your blender lid has a removable stopper for venting, blend with the stopper out, so that there is a hole in the lid through which steam can escape). Begin blending by pulsing for 10 to 15 seconds. After pressure subsides, blend for 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.

Form 1 can of biscuit dough into a ball. Roll out dough to approximately 14x8-inch rectangle about a quarter-inch thick. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and spread jalapeños evenly throughout, pushing them lightly into the dough. Roll from the short side into a fat cigar shape. Slice into 1-inch sections.

Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Place dough in pan and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken stock is almost reduced completely. Add cilantro cream sauce. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid and cook until desired thickness of sauce is reached.

Pour dumplings and sauce into a large bowl. Place chicken on top of dumplings and sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.

Makes 3 servings.

PER SERVING: Calories 1,373 (58% fat), Fat 88 g (42 g sat), Cholesterol 363 mg, Sodium 2,045 mg, Fiber3 g, Carbohydrates 79 g, Protein 66 g

SOURCE: Adapted from Chef Mike Smith, The Common Table


Matt Quenette, The Meddlesome Moth

“The Texas craft-beer scene has been thriving for the last few years, much like Colorado ten years ago or the West Coast fifteen years ago.”

Although Quenette recalls the Texas brewpub trend that began — and faded — 15 years ago, he thinks the new crop of independent breweries will succeed, thanks to greater consumer demand.

“Now, I think beer consumers in general are more savvy about picking products that have quality ingredients that are local. Five years ago, you wouldn’t have seen beers like St. Arnold’s at a supermarket. But now they’re at Tom Thumb and Kroger.”

Texas beer pairing: Lost Gold IPA with Chicken Tikka Masala

“This IPA is an unbelievably balanced brew; the caramel and subtle, biscuity-malt backbone provide the backdrop, while the American hops do that dance across your nose and tongue with floral and citrus bursts that enhance the spices in this dish. This IPA is not a megaton hops-bomb come to lay waste to your tongue and mind.”



• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 1 large onion, sliced

• 3 Roma tomatoes, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1/2 cup tikka masala spice blend (preferably Kurry King brand sold in Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmers Market, and online at, or to taste

• 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

• 3/4 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

• Jasmine rice, for serving

• Plain yogurt for serving, to taste

Heat a medium-size pot with oil until hot. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic and tikka masala spice blend. Stir to incorporate and lightly toast the spice. Add the coconut milk and chicken and bring to a boil. Immediately lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is done. Taste for flavor and add salt if necessary.

Serve on top of jasmine rice with a dollop of yogurt to help cool the spice. Makes 4 servings.

Vegetarian variation: Use mushrooms and zucchini in place of the chicken.

PER SERVING: Calories 460 (52% fat), Fat 26 g (19 g sat), Cholesterol 105 mg, Sodium 720 mg, Fiber 2 g,Carbohydrates 13 g, Protein 42 g

SOURCE: Chef Chad Kelly, The Meddlesome Moth


Eddie Eakin, Veritas Wine Room

Some of Eakin’s favorite Texas beers are from microbreweries that sell kegs in Dallas, but who aren’t bottling yet. He says that in addition to sampling these microbrews in restaurants and pubs, you can often buy them on tap to take home in growlers (re-usable jugs and bottles) at stores such as Whole Foods Market and The Bottle Shop on Lower Greenville.

In August, “the Bottle Shop had four taps of Texas beers,” Eakin says. “The cool thing about buying the draft or unpackaged local beer is you’re getting that really fresh product. It’s coming right out of the keg, after driving only a short distance.”

Texas beer pairing: Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager with Texas chili

“Ugly Pug is a medium- to full-bodied, malt-forward lager that will tame the heat of the chili and refresh the palate while accentuating the smoky, stewed flavors.”


• 1/4 cup vegetable oil

•  3 pounds chuck roast, boneless sirloin or tri-tip, cut into 1-inch cubes

• 1 large white onion, chopped

• 2 large jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

• 1 large Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped

•  5 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled, and diced

•  6 tablespoons of ancho chile powder

• 1 tablespoon ground cumin

• 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano

•  2 teaspoons salt

•  1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

•  2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

•  1 (12-ounce) bottle of Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager

•  2 ounces tequila

• 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

•  3 to 4 cups of beef stock (see Note)

• Sour cream to taste, for serving (optional)

• Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

• Shredded cheese for serving (optional)

• Lime wedges for serving (optional)


In a large, heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the meat and sear until no longer pink (this is easier if you do it in batches). Transfer the meat to a bowl (so that you capture the juices). If there is a lot of rendered fat and liquid, drain off about half of it. If you are using a lean cut, you might not have any fat to drain, and might even need to add a little oil.

Lower heat to medium-high. Add the onions, chopped green peppers, garlic and chile powder and cook, stirring constantly, until onions are wilted and start to color (4 to 5 minutes). Add the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and stir until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Add the tomatoes and beef along with any accumulated juices and stir for 1 minute. Add the beer and tequila and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the chipotle chiles and enough of the beef stock to cover. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the meat is tender (2 to 3 hours). Stir occasionally and add remaining stock if necessary. (For a thicker chili, see Note below.) Serve topped with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream and-or a wedge of lime, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: The beef stock gives this chili a rather thin, brothy sauce. If a thicker sauce is desired, combine 2 to 3 tablespoons of masa harina with enough water to make a runny paste; stir the paste into the chili (quickly, to avoid lumps) and cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.

PER SERVING: Calories 590 (37% fat), Fat 25 g (6 g sat), Cholesterol 165 mg, Sodium 2,200 mg, Fiber 3 g,Carbohydrates 17 g, Protein 62 g

SOURCE: Adapted from Eddie Eakin




• Full Moon Pale Rye Ale by Real Ale Brewing Company (12-ounce bottles, six-packs; 5.6 percent alcohol/volume)

This is a full-flavored, American amber ale made with malted rye and barley and a good dose of Willamette and Cascade hops.

• Black Metal Imperial Stout by Jester King Brewing Company (22-ounce single bottles; 10.4 percent alcohol/volume)

This hefty stout has a cult following. Made with harvested rain water, Hill Country well water and six malts, this strong, malty brew delivers roasted coffee, chocolate and burnt toffee flavors balanced with bitter hops.

• Buried Hatchet Stout by Southern Star Brewing Company (four-packs of 12-ounce cans; 8.25 percent alcohol/volume)

This is a lighter-bodied stout, well suited for Texas’ warm fall days. The brewery says the brown malt used for this beer is a throwback to pre-Industrial Revolution malt styles. It’s a good introductory stout, delivering the expected malty, roasty, bittersweet flavors without being too heavy.


And look for these microbreweries’ products on tap:

• Live Oak Brewing Company: This Austin brewery is beloved for its old world, Czech and German-style brews. Live Oak’s hefeweizen ranks among the best in the country ( gives it a top rating); it’s frequently available on tap for growler takeout at Whole Foods Market and The Bottle Shop. The Live Oak Pils is also worth seeking out.

•  (512) Brewing Company: This Austin brewery prides itself in using as many local, domestic and organic ingredients as possible. In addition to seven seasonal beers, 512 makes some fine year-round brews (a wit beer, a pale ale, an IPA and a pecan porter) that show up periodically on local taps, including those at Whole Foods Market and The Bottle Shop.


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