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Raise A Glass: Houston Craft Beer Scene Quadrupled Since 2013


Beer is brewing over in Houston. Since 2013, the number of craft breweries here has more than quadrupled, rising 333%, according to NAI Partners' Houston Craft Beer Market Insight Report.

That demand is on both sides of the deal. Brewpubs perform as good anchors to mixed-use environments. The communal nature of the establishments promotes the experience that more people seek versus buying things, NAI Partners Vice President Alex Taghi said. The bar concept is also attractive to landlords and owners because it pushes traffic to nearby retail. 

"They want to encourage these type of retail experiences into their developments," he said. 

Houstonians can pick between 52 locations, according to Houston Beer Guide's Brewery Map, totaling more than 506K SF of industrial and retail space. That is 41 more breweries than five years ago, and Taghi notes there have been some closures during the boom. 

Successful brewpubs create a community within their walls and in the neighborhood, NAI Partners Vice President Larry Koestler said. Owners embrace this environment by opting to be dog- and family-friendly, extending daytime hours, offering board games and other activities and hosting trivia nights and events.

Even with the rising interest in craft beer, it was the legislative changes that occurred about five years ago that backed the flood of new breweries. A law passed then allowed producers with a brewpub license to sell their beer to-go, directly from the brewer to consumer, without paying a middleman. It also allowed for distribution to restaurants and grocery stores and increased the amount of beer breweries can produce annually. The changes allow for additional revenue streams, the report notes.   

In the past, it has been more affordable for local owners to repurpose old industrial buildings in less desirable areas. A significant portion of Houston's breweries are in the Washington Heights and Eado corridors. Potential owners are attracted to the industrial foundation of the submarkets. Breweries need a mix of industrial (to house the brewing equipment) and retail (to accommodate a taproom, bar area, outdoor patios and other gathering spaces).

In the future, owners may create designated retail spaces to sell prepackaged products on-site and capture more funds, Koestler said. 

As the overall bar scene in Houston matures, Taghi expects more out-of-state developers to want to invest in putting breweries in higher-rent areas. 

A New Orleans-based brewery is redeveloping 8,500 SF in the Sawyer Yards expansion with a 4K SF outdoor beer garden, and a local company is opening a cidery. Both are slated to open next spring. Wicked Boxer Brewing, the first Cypress-area brewery, opened in December. 

“Over time, every little region of Greater Houston will have its own brewery as long as people keep supporting it,” Bryce Baker, co-owner of 11 Below Brewing near Willowbrook Mall, told Community Impact. “There’s plenty of room for that, and in Cypress, there’s definitely a consumer base. As long as the liquid’s good, then people will come to check it out."