Over the past year, I’ve taken a lot of time to contemplate what I do on this blog and the North Texas beer scene. Since 2013, I’ve been apart of seeing it grow, covering the change and writing about various pieces of that change which has helped create some understanding of this beer thing which we all love. As an observer who is trying to make sense of things just as the rest of you, watching this evolution has truly been a fun ride.
This year, we’ve seen a lot of growth which has revolved around building upon foundations which breweries have set in their beginning year(s). From just getting through the first year, changing to make the brewery sustainable for the next ten-plus years, combing through what works and hasn’t, finding out what trend works for them and what should be treated just as a trend or stepping stone and so on, there has been a lot of activity inside the four walls of breweries in North Texas. It’s a great thing to see and consider these sort of changes that have happened this year. And these changes help us take the temperature on the North Texas scene and show us that North Texas breweries are truly growing and changing, each at their own pace. Beyond just adding to the statistic numbers, we can easily look at these changes and show positive growth.
So as the calendar brings us closer to closer to 2018, I see 2018 as another big building year locally. I, like many breweries I have visited this past year, see it as an opportunity to continue the work ahead of building and setting North Texas apart from other beer scenes, with local areas like Fort Worth, Denton, Dallas and the northern Dallas suburbs leading that charge and I’m looking forward to seeing the Mid-cities and Arlington areas grow this coming year.
Naturally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things I’d like to see from our local scene in 2018:
- Quality – In the end, I believe that a brewery that makes *good, quality and consistent* beer will survive, even with staffing changes or marketing immaturity, despite playing their part as well. Good beer doesn’t need as much marketing as you’d think: the proof is in the glass. I’m talking consistency here, making new and different takes on things and ultimately good, well-made beer. (** If you are making a wild fermented beer or throwing in some mixed-culture brews into your lineup, obviously the point is for those to be different nearly every time; regardless, the other two points on within my statement still apply.)
- Honesty – Marketing ploys are just that. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Remember, this is what the macro breweries sell these days, not beer. Independent breweries need to be more honest about their brand and sometimes that means spending some extra money on good branding or taking the time on hiring the right people for the job. Brewing is a business, too. And people really want to buy-in, especially when you open yourself up to being that local brewery that talks to them like humans via social media and at the taproom/brewery tour. Make sure your marketing and public interaction speaks to the goal of the beer you are brewing and the established (or if you are new, establishing) culture of your brewery top to bottom. Make that honesty and trueness exude from the beer, the staff, the events you put on, and the social media posts you schedule and post. You want quality fans as much as you want to produce a quality product.
- Frankness – This is a tough one. Local beer is great, I always try to go for one if I can. But if there isn’t a quality local beer on, you’ll find me grabbing brews from other breweries pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s hard. I would like to challenge fans and breweries alike to be educated on what is good beer and what isn’t, as well as seek out more education. We need to not act like every local brewery is just “trying to get by” and support them solely on their location in our metroplex area, though we should try if we can. If you’ve been around more than twelve months and still can’t make a consistent batch of beer or your sales rep can’t show up on time to events or you can’t keep consistent staff…it’s likely some sort of course correction is in order. We are maturing as a beer scene and we need breweries to mature. (We won’t touch on fans maturity for the sake of this post.) Moreover to this end, journalists, publications, myself included, need to not be mean, and need to not try to call out people who aren’t doing it right, but in the same vein, we also don’t need to act like everything is perfect with every brewery. We can build this beer scene up by promoting the wins and learning from the misses and we need to be honest with ourselves.
- Push Limits – I’ve seen more limit pushing from North Texas breweries this year in regards to beer and new ideas than in years past and we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep relevant, but let’s also make sure we make quality relevant, too.
- MORE PLACES TO DRINK – I’m yelling this because we need more quality bars and restaurants in North Texas. I promise, future bar owners and entrepreneurs, there are enough drinkers out there, no matter if some of the “belt” folks in DFW wish to admit it or not. We need those doors open. Especially just to keep up with the breweries…not to mention North Texas is growing population-wise faster than ever before!
- Brewery Taprooms – We need more brewery taprooms. I know, it’s not cheap and it’s not easy, but you never worry about tap handle space at your own brewery. It’s more money and more work, but I believe there are several breweries that should consider the amount of beer they are making or going to be making and perhaps consider being licensed in Texas as a brewpub. This has it’s limitations, and it cost money to switch licenses, but it does give the opportunity for to-go growlers/crowlers and beer to be sold direct from breweries, something production-licensed breweries in Texas can’t do.
I’m looking forward to 2018. We’ve got a bright future ahead of us. Let’s make some beer to prove it!
Stay tuned after New Years for a series about understanding and seeing growth in your local brew scene.