With a new craft brewery planned for West Oltorf Street, new and existing craft breweries expanding and multiple craft beer bars opening in Central Austin, industry aficionados say Central Austin and the surrounding area are in the midst of a craft beer renaissance worthy of a toast.
Meanwhile, brewers and economists say further growth is expected if the Texas Legislature passes a set of bills that would loosen restrictions on craft breweries and brewpubs. The bills passed the Senate in March and are awaiting House approval.
“The growth of the craft beer industry, even under the current law, has given people an awareness about craft beer that they didn’t have two years ago,” said Davis Tucker, North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery founder. “I think this legislation would create an even bigger explosion.”
The Texas craft beer industry contributed more than $608 million to the state’s economy in 2011, according to a study commissioned by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. A craft brewery is defined by the American Brewers Association as a small, independent brewer that produces less than 6 million barrels of beer per year. A brewpub is a restaurant that also brews its own beer.
In March, Pinthouse Pizza doubled the size of its brewing system, Hops & Grain started canning its third type of beer and Infamous Brewing Co., which was founded by an investment banker and graphic designer, celebrated its launch party. In 2012, Austin Beerworks expanded its brewery system; Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.—which was founded by former Uncle Billy’s brewers Amos Lowe and Brian Peters—announced its plans to open in June; and the Whip In began brewing its own beer. more