Professional brewers all start somewhere, and that’s usually in a garage. Or in a back yard. Or in someone’s kitchen.
Some notable Texas homebrewers have turned their weekend experiment into a business, but most will never move beyond the hobby phase.
And for those folks, some breweries offer potential glory via homebrewing competitions. On Sunday, Fort Worth’s Martin House will host their Inaugural Riverside Shootout Homebrew Competition, where the winning team will have their beer scaled up to a full-size production batch and distributed around the area. (But don’t show up to the brewery Sunday, the event is for registered participants only.)
Conroe’s Southern Star Brewing has been hosting a Pro-Am competition since they first opened in 2008 and the 2011 winner — a double IPA — yielded one of the best beers they’ve produced. So, it made sense when they decided to introduce it as a regular offering and decided to rename it Valkyrie.
Southern Star is perhaps Texas most underrated brewery, so it should come as no surprise that despite producing one of the state’s hoppiest treasures, this beer has largely overlooked. Packaged in a nicely illustrated, if somewhat understated brown can, Valkyrie doesn’t exactly shout at you from the shelf. As if subtly heckling all the other Texas craft breweries that have joined the aluminum revolution, the can boasts “First To Can Craft In Texas.”
At 9.2% ABV, Valkyrie ($10 four pack, 12 ounce cans) is brewed with a serious balancing malt backbone that helps cut some of the bitterness coming from the copious amounts of West Coast hops. It’s fruity up front with a latent bitterness that sticks with you. Make no mistake, this is a big-boy double IPA.
While there are plenty of new kids on the block, Southern Star deserves its due as a veteran of the Texas craft beer scene. And Valkyrie collecting dust is practically a crime.
Dance down to Waco: Not exactly known for a robust craft beer scene, Waco does have an oasis of excellent beer in the Dancing Bear Pub. Located close to the Baylor campus, the quiet bar boasts an excellent craft beer selection behind its unassuming facade, and this Saturday it will host one of the state’s more underrated events. The Texas Craft Beer Festival is entering its fifth year and will feature 18 breweries with some guaranteed hard-to-find gems. Tickets are $38 preorder and $45 at the gate ($5 for designated driver ticket), but this event is kept small on purpose, so get your tickets in advance if you go.