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Top 19 of 2019 – A Year of Houston Beer in Review

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2019 was officially the year that Houston became a beer city – we’re calling it. Here are some of Houston’s biggest beer highlights, some of our accomplishments covering it, and some of the articles you enjoyed the most in 2019.

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As a city, Houston has finally reached maturation when it comes to beer, and as folks that cover it, we’ve reached a few awesome milestones of our own.

A Year of Houston Beer in Review

We saw 6 new breweries open, 11 confirmed new breweries in planning, a few restaurants that tout brewing their own beer, and even more with beer menus that feature more than Shock Top and Blue Moon Under the Craft section.

We saw craft hard seltzer make it’s first Bayou City appearance, and we even have some growth in cider and questions being raised about Braggots.

In 2012, we had 6 independent breweries. Now, in 2019, we have 65, even more if you count the cideries and big non-independent breweries.

Our homebrewing scene has gone from bubbling to full simmer with half a dozen homebrewers canning, labeling, and giving out their beer to inquiring minds. Secret Beach and Misfit are two that have been generous to us with their uber-tiny batches.

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Saint Arnold, Great Heights, and SpindleTap proudly hoisted some hardware in Denver at GABF 2019, and several of our breweries are in high demand on the secondary market. While hometown hero No Label won the annual people-voted Most Valuable Brewery award, and Vallensons and 8th Wonder brought home some medals from the U.S. Beer Open.

As far as Houston beer in review is concerned, 2019 has been a terrific year, and all signs point to Houston as a true destination for great food and beer and even better people (but the last part is nothing new, AMIRIGHT?).

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It’s been a great year for us at Beer Chronicle, too

We celebrated Josh Olalde being on the team for a year in October, outlasting anybody else that have joined Chris and Tony. His photos are artfully crafted, just like the beer we write about, and we appreciate his cheerful, outgoing, positive nature. He began selling prints of his shots, and continues pushing the boundaries for what beer photos can be. He was also able to score photo gigs with Galveston Island Brewing, Southern Star, 8th Wonder, No Label with regularity, and most recently, he’s been in discussions for one of the biggest shoots of his beer career. Hopefully in 2020 we can tell you all about it. Cheers to Josh.

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We also added a new writer, Brent Topa. His matter-of-fact approach to writing has been an educational journey, stopping along the way to answer questions that many of our non-craft-drinking friends ask about. With all the trading and sharing Brent does, he brings a unique perspective to beer that’s broad, and we value that immensely. He was able to tick away at over 1,000 beers in 2019, adding to his log of 7,500+ beers. Cheers to Brent.

After doing a few one-off graphic design projects for SpindleTap, Hop Stop Humble, and Twisted-X, Tony was able to lock in an ongoing agreement with Ingenious to re-design their website and do their labels monthly. Of course, he booked Josh to shoot photos for the project. It’s been fun and rewarding, and he even got to collaborate with Ingenious and SpindleTap on a beer because of it. More of this will be coming in 2020.

Chris has turned back the clock in 2019 to revisit classic styles. After years of exploring beer, he knows more now, and he’s pleased with his ability to appreciate the nuance that he would’ve previously overlooked. We appreciate his inquisitive nature and constant barrage of new ideas. He’s also great at putting the breaks on Tony, and we’re super grateful for that too. He’s been emailing and making phone calls to industry folks for interviews and partnerships and helping with planning out and testing our new store site, which brings us from our individual accomplishments to our bigger, collective ones!

In 2019, Beer Chronicle reached a few bucket list goals

We were able to attend GABF for the first time. It was a blast, but even better was taking in the sights that Denver’s mountains had to offer. Simply breathtaking. Literally.

We opened up our online shop, so we could stop selling glassware via “Send the $ on PayPal and put your address in the note.” We’ll be doing shirts and art posters of Josh’s favorite shots seasonally as well as other unique products here and there. And of course, more glassware.

We’re gonna be on the radio soon thanks to our buddies at What’s on Tap Radio. More on that in 2020.

We were able to pull together three of our biggest giveaways ever, with each one topping the last. Wild West Brew Fest, Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival, and SpindleTap Christmas.

And between our site, social media, and email, we’re now up to nearly 200,000 monthly impressions. It’s time for us to begin pursuing more advertisers. Give us a holler if you want to be the first few on the list. Our rates will be extremely competitive at first, and clearly our audience is very well-targeted to beer drinkers in Houston, but we’d be happy to share more deets with anybody interested.

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On to what you read the most in 2019 – Houston beer in Review

Our list of breweries continues to be the highest-trafficked individual page of our site, but as far as weekly articles are concerned, here are the top 19 in 2019.

  1. 4 LIES YOU’VE BEEN TOLD ABOUT SKUNKED BEER
    You’ve heard of it, even if it was by a different term. But what is a skunked beer? Skunked beer is what happens when your beer’s improperly stored. It gets an unappealing, musty flavor. It’s bro science 101: You can’t take a beer from iced down to warm and back without skunking it, or so we’ve been told.
  2. 2018-2019 MVB
    Houston’s favorite Houston brewery… in Houston! Voting is open!
  3. TOP 5 BEST IPAS IN HOUSTON (PHASE 1)
    The post that almost never happened: After a few weeks of gathering beer from all over town, and one long ass drive to Galveston Island, we did it. We had them all. We met up with a few other friends for a potluck meal just before Thanksgiving, and the Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston was born.
  4. 15 BEST CRAWFISH BEERS: PAIRING HOUSTON BEER WITH A CRAWFISH BOIL
    There are 2 good months left of 2017’s crawfish season, and if you know your way around the boil, you might wait ’til later in the season to get the bigger bugs. If your crawfish boil planning is under way, here are 15 of the best crawfish beers based on days and days of experimenting both in backyards and at restaurants.
  5. 2018-2019 MVB WINNER
    2018-2019 MVB Winner is announced.
  6. THE RUMOR MILL WINS THIS TIME: URBAN SOUTH IN HOUSTON AND A FAMILIAR FACE MASHING IN
    If you’re a part of the subculture of super beer nerds within the subculture of craft beer, then you may have heard some rumors about Urban South coming to Houston by way of a taproom in the Sawyer Yards neighborhood. You may also be super meta.
  7. TOP 5 BEST STOUTS IN HOUSTON
    It all began with Chris and I passing time in traffic one day just like the top 5 IPA post. He started with the usual, “Hey man, I had another cool idea for a post.” Many never see the light of day, hundreds maybe. He continued, “Since it’s starting to get cold again, let’s do a big blind tasting like we did last year, but this time let’s do stouts maybe?”
  8. HOUSTON STARTUP BARBER BURGLARIZED, BEER STOLEN – BEER NERDS AND BREWERIES RESPOND
    It was Friday the 13th, 2019 at 2:48am when Jay’s Barber Shop & Shave Parlor was burglarized. Only three months after he opened his Heights shop, and he got cleaned out. Jay reached out to us to help him refill his fridge. The rest is Houston doing what Houston does.
  9. MORE RUMORS GET PUT TO BED: EXPLODING BEERS, TAPROOM BANS, AND PLASTIC BUCKETS
    Let’s be clear here, exploding beer isn’t ok. Putting out a subpar product and knowing it’s subpar isn’t ok. But owning it and trying to make it right is a whole other story altogether.
  10. 10 BEST HAZY IPAS IN HOUSTON STORES
    Conclusion: You can find a handful of really good hazy IPAs on the shelves. None of them will be quite as good as what you’d get from the brewery, but it’s a good start for out-of-towners that are only here for a short spell.
  11. HOUSTON START-UP BREWERY SEEKS INVESTORS
    Want to own a brewery? Houston Start-up Brewery Seeks Investors, and you could be one of them if you didn’t spend so much dang money on beer!
  12. SHINER BREWERY VISITORS GUIDE (AKA SPOETZL)
    We had a good time at Shiner Brewery, but it wasn’t anything like we expected. Having been to breweries around town, our expectations may have been skewed a little bit (because Houston’s so awesome) but despite that, we had fun and learned some cool stuff.
  13. BEER ON A BUDGET: HOUSTON HAPPY HOURS AND BEER SPECIALS
    An exhaustive list of Houston Happy Hours and beer specials from $1 on select beer fire sales to $3 every beer happy hours paired with food happy hours and so on.
  14. MUSICAL BOX BREWING IS HOUSTON’S NEWEST BEER PROJECT
    Leading with FOMO and 10lbs of hops per barrel, Larry Koestler teams with SpindleTap for series of limited releases under the moniker Musical Box Brewing.
  15. SLIM THUG BEER AKA 8TH WONDER BOSS BEER
    According to Ryan Soroka, one of 8th Wonder’s Owners, that’s exactly what the Slim Thug beer was supposed to be, “Slim knew he wanted a light and refreshing beer but he wanted a little extra.
  16. YELLOW ROSE IPA, LONE PINT BREWERY
    Yellow Rose IPA is touted as one of the best beers in Houston, but that’s a pretty bold statement. While the dank, resinous IPAs are good, and so are the crisp floral ones, this Yellow Rose sits right in the middle, pulling from the best of each.
  17. SPINDLETAP BREWERY VISITORS GUIDE
    Chris and I have both had the pleasure of visiting SpindleTap before this evening and we enjoyed different experiences. Chris stopped in to grab some of their Derrickman Dubbel One Year Anniversary Ale and it was a lively atmosphere, but he was in and out pretty quickly. I experienced a welcoming, quiet atmosphere on a non-big-event Saturday afternoon; terrific beer and easy parking.
  18. 8TH WONDER BREWERY VISITORS GUIDE
    Brewer, Nathan mentioned that they choose what to brew based on, “What’s the city missing, plus seasonality.” We also mentioned that they’re not really well known for collabs for whatever reason, and when we mentioned that, Jose defended themselves like, “Hold up a minute!”
  19. HOUSTON BEER SURVEY
    Houston Beer Survey – This survey was developed by Beer Chronicle with the input of 70+ brewers, owners, servers, and other beer-industry folks. Check it out, or we’ll troll you.

The most interesting thing about this list is how much it reveals every year about the pulse of Houston beer. While we’re maturing as a beer city, it’s clear that many, many, maaany, people that stumble upon our site have a lot to learn about beer.

Since day one, we’ve always kept that in mind, and we want to help educate folks without being jerks about it or making them feel inferior. That doesn’t help anybody. We’re sticking to that in 2020.

With another year of Houston beer in review behind us, it’s safe to say that 2019 was one heck of a year for everyone involved. Cheers to 2020 being even better.

Beers to you, Houston.

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Anthony Gorrity
tony.d@beerchronicle.com

Anthony's a Houston native, a graphic designer, and a UH Coog that loves good beer almost as much as he does his city. He's an ex-oilfield guy that spends his days doing graphic design and marketing projects for one of Houston's fastest growing companies as well as some of the coolest breweries in town. Fueled by sessionable IPAs and gangster rap, he's ticked his way through H-Town, rocking the most unusual Nikes he can find. When he's not writing for us, he's with his family or rooting for the Rockets.

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