A suds dud

San Antonio falls flat when it comes to craft brewing, report shows

San Antonio falls flat when it comes to craft brewing, report shows

Shiner Bock beer
Despite being the home to Spoetzl, San Antonio comes in fourth in craft beer production. Shiner Beers/Facebook

When it comes to craft brewing, we’re sad to say that San Antonio is close to the bottom of the barrel — at least according to a new report.

Technically, the San Antonio region leads the state in beer production by Texas-based brewers, according to the report, issued by commercial real estate company CBRE. However, the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner throws off the San Antonio region’s numbers, so CBRE didn’t factor in Spoetzl when identifying the state’s hot spots for craft brewing. Last year, the San Antonio region produced 632,928 barrels of beer, the report says. Spoetzl accounted for more than 600,000 of those barrels.

Not counting Spoetzl, San Antonio ranks fourth for craft-beer production in Texas, behind Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston. The Alamo City does show up ahead of West Texas, Gulf Coast/South Texas, and East Texas.

The Austin area dominates the state’s craft-brewing industry, with Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston serving as “secondary hubs.” CBRE doesn’t cite the Alamo City as a craft-brewing hub, but it does note that Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio “have experienced the bulk of growth” in the state’s craft-brewing industry.

In 2016, craft breweries in Central Texas rolled out 187,000 barrels (about 26.3 million bottles) of beer, according to the report. That was the most craft-beer production of any region in Texas (if you subtract Spoetzl).

“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.

The report tallied 50 craft breweries in DFW (120,000 barrels) and 40 in the Houston area (more than 110,000 barrels). By comparison, the San Antonio area is home to 29 craft breweries.

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

  • 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 the past dozen years, 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, according to the report. 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 of 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. Currently, 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 all of the states, Texas ranks eighth for the number of craft breweries, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group for craft brewers. The association says the economic impact of craft brewing in Texas added up to nearly $4.55 billion in 2016.