It all started two years ago when Houston Chronicle journalist Ronnie Crocker wrote Houston Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Bayou City, published by The History Press. This newest generation of Texas microbreweries had just started and, miscellaneous websites aside, the story had never been officially researched and recorded.
Follow that the next year with Austin Beer: Capital City History on Tap (also History Press), written by a collective of women beer bloggers calling themselves Bitch Beer. After these two Lone Star beer scenes weighed in, one had to ask: Could the Dallas/Fort Worth edition be far behind?
Fellow Plano Craft Beer Examiner Brian Brown and myself asked ourselves this very question and decided that if we didn’t step up, someone else inevitably would. Thus we pooled our individual research and plans into a writing collaboration and out came North Texas Beer: A Full-Bodied History of Brewing in Dallas, Fort Worth and Beyond (History Press, officially released this week).
The original concept was developed as “Dallas Beer” but as research progressed, the broader North Texas area proved to be a very different environment for the brewing business than Houston or Austin. Whereas those two metros dominate their history and landscape, the cities in the DFW have proven more egalitarian. Dallas has always been the dominant force for commerce and technology but breweries have sprouted in Fort Worth and the intermingled suburbs as easily as weeds in a garden.
From the first French, Swiss and German settlers along the Trinity River, somewhere a brewery has operated in North Texas since early statehood. Like other industries, brewing has been affected and influenced by the railroads, state regulation, Prohibition, establishment of national brands, competition from national brands, interstate highways, licensing, dot-com fortunes and simple grass-roots opposition and popularity. Brewing operations have ebbed and flowed across the landscape of North Texas counties for more than a century. Adolphus Busch once eyed brewing in Dallas, a major Miller brewing plant continues to operate in Fort Worth, and the first modern microbrewery in Texas did not open either in Austin nor Houston.
As far as we know, this is the first comprehensive history of brewing in North Texas and the first single-volume documentation for the local brewing industry of any kind. The stories of many individual brewers exist only as scraps of old newspaper reviews and local business pages, and gaps still exist even after our research. We are indebted to a number of local career journalists and beer-enthusiast bloggers for preserving these pieces of history, and we hope this book can speak as a single voice for the ongoing topical history of this area.
North Texas is currently enjoying a meteoritic rise in local microbrewing as the latest chapter in the history begins. (The local brew scene is moving so fast that some minor information was already outdated by the time this book was printed.) As with both the Houston and Austin books this history remains still evolving and unfinished, and we look forward to adding many corrections and updates in the future.
Availability: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, History Press, most commercial book stores. Watch for author signing events as we approach North Texas Beer Week at the end of this month.