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Best local-to-Texas beer

Planning a trip; what should I drink?

Last time I stuck pretty close to Shiner Bock and was very pleased. Should I expand my horizons?


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  1. The most popular beer in Texas is Budweiser. What does that tell you?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wurzel Gummidge

      Budweiser's popularity in TX is not an aberration from the rest of the country. There are decent craft brews to be had in TX just not the number that you would find in OR or CO. I would recommend St. Arnolds - a respected microbrew (if that is still an acceptable term in the beer world) sold throughout the state. They are based out of Houston.

    2. To list a few other good, well known Texas craft brews:

      St. Arnold's - Houston
      Live Oak - Austin
      Real Ale - Blanco
      Rahr - Fort Worth

      If you're travelling to a big city, and just want a one stop beer bar with large selection, I'd suggest a trip to the Gingerman or Flying Saucer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: air

        At least at the Gingerman in Dallas, they have St. Arnold's hand-pulled from a cask. Definitely my favorite Texas beer. Shiner Bock is a great default beer, and living in NYC I miss it sorely, but when I lived in California it was readily available, and I think their market penetration is ever increasing, so it hardly qualifies as a strictly local-to-Texas beer.

        Real Ale beers are also very good.

        1. re: air

          Rahr = ROAR! Awesome beer and FREE on Saturdays. Think I am lying? Check out their website...AWESOME time AWESOME brew!

        2. I'am Canadian, and we tend to have a perception that American beer is no good. However, in my last to trips to the US (Texas and Colorado,) I discovered Shiner Bock and Fat Tire, both with some help from Hounders.

          With respect to the later, I didn't read the post very carefully and ended up ordering "flat tire" for the first part of my trip. That beer was good enough that I didn't even mind sound like a complete tool.

          There seems to be some consensus on this St. Arnold's and I will definitely try it. Any others?

          13 Replies
          1. re: BarnNB

            Definitely try the St. Arnold's. The Texas Wheat is my favorite year round beer from them. Their seasonal specialties are good, Octoberfest is in the stores now, Christmas Ale will be out in a few weeks, the Spring Bock and Summer Pils are all good.


            Anybody know if the Live Oak, Real Ale and Rahr are available in Houston?

            I thought I read a year or so ago that Shiner Bock was going to be available in NYC.

            1. re: brucesw

              St. Arnold's is really good. Real Ale isn't bad. Rahr is not very good. Shiner is highly overrated. It's better than Bud and Coors Light but usually has too much carbonation.

              1. re: Shalley

                Shiner certainly isn't an artisan beer, so in comparisons to many microbrews it fails. To me, Shiner is simple and good tasting without anything offputting. To me it's more of a killer version of Bud or the like than a microbrew. It's a great foil for BBQ, Pizza, or anything that could happen in a backyard. That said, yes its quite overrated, but to me it tastes like Texas.

                1. re: Shalley

                  Shalley - what did you not like about Rahr?

                  I like Rahr Red, Ugly Pug, and Winter Warmer, though I will say that their Hefeweizen is mediocre at best, and the Blonde Lager and Stormcloud IPA are no good. I need to make a trip out to the brewery ASAP to check out their Oktoberfest!

                  1. re: air

                    I haven't tried all their beers. I just wasn't blown away by the two I've tried. I've had the Red and Lager and have had better versions of both. I'll have to try their Winter Warmer.

                2. re: brucesw

                  Oh man, you missed out on some top tier brewers like Great Divide, Flying Dog, and Avery while you were at Colorado. Keep those in mind if you're ever out there again, though they can be pretty easily found here in Texas as well.

                  Anyway, both G-Man and Saucer should have Live Oak and Real Ale beers on tap, and Spec's should have Real Ale's beers for sale in bottles. FYI, Live Oak does not bottle their beer, so that's one reason why St. Arnold's is a more familiar name. Rahr is pretty much only found in the DFW area.

                  I'd agree with the St. Arnold's beers already posted, and here are recommendations from the other brewers:
                  -Live Oak: Oaktoberfest, Big Bark Amber Lager, Pilz, and their Hefeweizen. Their hefeweizen is my favorite and surprisingly tastes much better than actual German hefeweizens. However it may not be on tap since summer is over, so there's also the Oaktoberfest.

                  -Real Ale: Definitely recommend the Fireman #4. If you liked Fat Tire, you'll also like this beer. I've only had their Fireman #4 and Rio Blanco, but at least their distribution is improving very quickly.

                  -Spoetzl: You've had Shiner Bock, so try out Shiner 98. And as overrated as the Bock is, it's my go-to beer whenever the only other alternative is from the Big 3. It's nice to have it available pretty much everywhere in Texas.

                  If I were to pick one, without a doubt I would choose Live Oak as my favorite Texas brewer.

                  Last, more reviews by brewer. Just click on the brewery name and then the beer:
                  And I just noticed that I haven't tried anything from Independence, so I'll make that a priority next time I hit up pint night at the Saucer!

                  Hope all this helps!

                  1. re: air

                    I had my first Real Ale (Full Moon) at a Flying Saucer last night, I thought it was quite good. Rahr is pretty drinkable, I haven't found a St. Arnold's that I really like yet, but I think I've only tried two styles.

                    Shiner has become like a comfort beer to me. I like knowing I can walk into almost any restaurant in Texas, and get Shiner Bock on tap. Not the greatest beer around, but I'm always happy to drink it.

                    But I will admit Colorado has become the mecca for great American beers. When I travel to see a close friend of mine in Denver, I don't tell him I'm really there for the beer...

                    1. re: healthyscratch

                      "Comfort beer" - well put. As mentioned, it's a beer that benefits greatly from a draft.

                    2. re: air

                      second Fireman's #4. A good all day beer. Shiner's fine and better than Bud light but nothing to get excited over. Real Ale beers can be found in Dallas if you look. It's hard to call any one beer the "best" though.

                  2. re: BarnNB

                    I don't mean to sound combative, but your perception that "American Beer is no good" is ridiculous. I am a beer lover, and having homebrewed for years, I think I know more about beer than even most beer afficionados.

                    In point of fact, America, on the whole, produces the best beers in the world. Do we produce the world's best Oatmeal Stout? Maybe not, but we produce some damn fine ones. Do we produce the world's best Trappist Style Ales? Certainly not, but there are several that are damn good. Do we produce the finest Pilsners in the world? No, but several are only a notch below the best of the Czech Republic.

                    The point is that America produces a wider range of styles than any other country in the world and our imitations are nearly as good as the originals. And we have some fabulous home grown specialties. Anchor Steam, Old No 38 Stout, West Coast Pale Ales, and the inventive creations of our microbrewers rank among the great beers in the world.

                    Does England produce any world class Trappist Ales? Does Belgium produce any Pale Ales of note? Does Italy produce any Porters? No, no, and no.

                    The funny thing is the two beers you mentioned, Shiner and Fat Tire, range from barely potable (Shiner) to moderately interesting (Fat Tire).

                    Bringing my diatribe back to Texas, we produce a few decent beers, and Shiner isn't one of them. If you want good Texas Beer, start with Real Ale out of Blanco, Texas. They've got some yummy creations. St. Arnold's is OK as well, but as a resident of Houston for 3 years, I found that repeated drinking sessions revealed it as good, but not great.

                    There are dozens of websites to check for beer, but my favorite is probably www.beeradvocate.com.

                    1. re: Epicurious Esquire

                      The fact that my perception was "ridiculous" was kinda the point of my posting. I will attempt to be more explicit in the future.

                      I think that my former, ridiculous perception was based on product like Bud, Coors and Miller, which do seem to enjoy a certain share of the american marlet and which I personally don't consider to be bery good.

                      Also, if Shiner Bock is to be considered "barely potable", then one must also consider 99% of the beer consummed in American, by volume, to be complete and utter shite.

                      1. re: BarnNB

                        >>Also, if Shiner Bock is to be considered "barely potable", then one must also consider 99% of the beer consummed in American, by volume, to be complete and utter shite.

                        I won't disagree with that. Sadly, there's even worse stuff out there like Steel Reserve, Keystone, and Milwaukee's Best (aka the beast). I definitely make it a point to get friends to try craft beers, especially when they're only familiar with the big 3 and dislike beer as a result of the horrible quality.

                        Fortunately, there are many craft brewers in the U.S. who produce excellent products, so things aren't all bad. However, you also have to spend some time doing some digging for information about them, as the vast majority of the population will know nothing about the brewers being mentioned in this thread. Places like Flying Saucer and Gingerman are also nice since they've got an educated staff who know the menus and tap lines well, so they're able to convince customers try new things. Also, they don't carry any big 3 beers, and they take pride in that.

                        1. re: BarnNB

                          You are right. The vast majority of American beers are complete and utter shite.

                          Try the Anchor Beers, Stone Brewery products, Full Sail, North Coast, Anderson Valley, etc. Those, and many more, are truly among the finest beers on the planet.

                          Beer Lovers Unite!

                    2. If you make it out to the Big Bend area, stop at the Edelweiss Brewery inside the Holland Hotel, in Alpine. An expatriate Bavarian lovingly brews several interesting beers there, and sampling them at the bar while chatting with friendly locals (and the friendly brewmaster) makes for a very pleasant evening.


                      1. If you are in the Fort Worth area you should check out The Flying Saucer (http://www.beerknurd.com/). It's the only place I've really gone to since I moved here from California... but they have tons of beers and some locals. I think I even got a Texas brew sampler...

                        1. Go for Rio Blanco Pale Ale - a lot like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale but with european "noble" hops instead of cascade - more subtle flavor and #1 on my list for that type of beer.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: orbitron

                            My awesome local spirits shop (Wildwood Wine and Spirits in Bee Cave) allows customers to create their own 6-pack. As a result of this, I was able to try Full Moon Real Ale, Rio Blanco and the St Arnolds Texas Wheat.

                            I liked them all, hard to pick a favorite.

                            1. re: nypb

                              >>Anybody know if the Live Oak, Real Ale and Rahr are available in Houston?

                              Yes to all three. Not hard to find.

                              Shiner sells more than one beer.

                              I like Rahr's beers. Mostly Ugly Pug, even though it is no Shiner 97.

                              1. re: TexasJeep

                                Also for clarification: all 3 are easily found on tap, but as far as buying in a store, Live Oak doesn't bottle their beer.

                          2. Rahr in Ft. Worth also does free tastings and tours on Saturdays.

                            1. I used to get Pearl sometimes when I lived in Houston in the early 80s. Is it still made? If not, what happened to it? Is Lone Star still around?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: misohungrychewlow

                                Pearl and Lone Star are both still around. The Pearl Brewery became Pabst Brewing and then later Miller Brewing does all of the brewing.

                                1. re: misohungrychewlow

                                  No they haven't made any Pearl since Carter was president. But they haven't sold out either...

                                2. Just finished a six-pack of Independence Pale Ale this past week, I enjoyed it quite a bit. My first experience with this Austin brewery, definitely not my last.

                                  I also went through a sixer of Rahr's Winter Warmer during the recent college football bowl season; good, not great.

                                  I think this year I'm going to try to keep the home fridge stocked with Texas-only beers. How's that for a resolution?

                                  1. I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned Ziegenbach. It has been my favorite for years. Several of the Wing Stop's in Dallas have it ice cold on tap. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: dexter13

                                      Even though Ziegenbock is easily found in most parts of Texas, it wouldn't count as a local brew since it was made by Anheuser-Busch purely to compete with Shiner Bock. Obviously, A-B doesn't fit the definition of a local/micro brewery like the ones mentioned in this thread.

                                        1. re: luniz

                                          I know it is brewed by AB which makes it popular to bash but I think Ziegenbock is much better than Shiner. Of course I will take just about anything brewed by St. Arnold over Ziege or Shiner.

                                        2. re: dexter13

                                          PowerPlay for Ziegenbach is JERSEYVILLE Sports bar in Plano behind the the WillowBend Mall (oops - "the Shoppes at WillowBend" - how affected are THEY?) on Park @ Tollway. Fridays (YES - Fridays!) they have US$1.00 Zig PINTS and they are COLD and SMOOVE! No, i do not work there