Old Habits Die Hard: 6 Texas Beers to Try

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

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Photo by Dave77459
Texans are a stubborn bunch. Proud and headstrong, we hold our beliefs as closely as just about anyone. Sometimes we do it out of tradition, and other times simply out of habit.

What other excuse do we have for still executing the mentally handicapped and eating at Saltgrass Steak House? Old habits die hard, and ordering a beer is no exception, so here are some Texas craft brew replacements for your old mainstay beer choices:

If you like: Shiner Bock
Try: Saint Arnold Santo

Turning Shiner Bock drinkers on to this Houston favorite is a very small leap even by baby-step standards. Santo is what Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner calls a "Black Kölsch," and it, much like Shiner Bock, has roots in classic German brewing. Regulars of Bock will find familiar caramel notes and a very similar crisp finish. With its distinctive label art by Houston artist Carlos Hernandez, Santo is a beer any Texan can be proud of.

If you like: Blue Moon
Try: Live Oak Hefeweizen

Think of Live Oak as Shiner on steroids. Like Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, these guys brew traditional, old-world German styles and recipes, but the comparison ends there. Live Oak quality is unparalleled. Live Oak Hef is a creamy, straw-colored beer with lingering clove and banana flavors more pronounced and distinctive than those found in Blue Moon. The clean, refreshing finish is hard to argue with on a hot Texas afternoon.

If you like: Guinness Draught
Try: 512 Brewing Pecan Porter

Guinness drinkers are a tough nut to crack. Not only are pours of Guinness wildly inconsistent stateside, most casual beer drinkers consider the dark nitrogen-infused beer "heavy." In reality, however, Guinness is lighter in calories than most craft beers of any category. 512 Brewing from Austin does a great job of imparting rich pecan and chocolate malt flavor to their porter while maintaining drinkability most should find approachable.

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Photo by Air_JordanPJ
If you like: Miller Genuine Draft
Try: Real Ale Fireman's #4

Dragging the staunch adjunct beer drinker into the world of craft beer is no easy task, and MGD drinkers may be the toughest sell; the beer has an odd and long-standing cult-like following in pockets around Texas. Picking a gateway beer for macro pilsner drinkers is also exceptionally tough because there is no analog in the craft beer world. So then, you must not only pick a light, approachable beer, but one that will leave an impression. Real Ale's flagship beer is more than up to the task. This golden blond ale is equal parts refreshing and filling, with creamy malt flavor and just a slight, sharp hop bite at the end. Named after local Texas bicycle company Firemans, this central Texas beer has an understandably devoted following of its own.

If you like: Strongbow
Try: Leprechaun Dry Cider

I'm quick to admit my experience with Strongbow is limited. I know it's cheap, sweet cider that packs a wallop in its tallboy packaging. Just like Leprechaun's painted champagne bottles improve upon Strongbow's garish yellow tallboy cans, there isn't much Strongbow does that Houston-owned Leprechaun and their Dry Cider don't trump. Made with champagne yeast strains, the flavors found here are far more refined than in the import cider.

If you like: Newcastle
Try: Real Ale Brewhouse Brown

Real Ale makes its second appearance on our list and for good reason -- a very approachable lineup of beers across a bevy of styles. Newcastle's popularity is baffling considering Brown Ales are neither a popular style in America nor is it an exceptional example of the style. Real Ale, however, makes a superb beer in their Brewhouse Brown. Malty caramel and a sharp bite of nuttiness make this satisfying alone or with a good chicken-fried steak.

If you like: Miller Lite
Try: Water skimmed from Buffalo Bayou

Hey, it might kill you, but death seems like a viable option over swill beer.

Believe it or not, we've done the easy work here. There are dozens of great beers and breweries we left off this list. Converting a Texan macro beer drinker is no easy task, but it's a labor of love.



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22 comments
Nick Myers
Nick Myers

Very cool! I've had many of these brews at Kung Fu Saloon in Austin and Houston. Also, Brew Exchange in Austin. Thanks for this list! Nick @Tabbedout:twitter 

Robert
Robert

thanks looking forward to trying it soon!

Inked_Alice
Inked_Alice

This list is perfect; I'm planning my wedding and have been banging my head against the wall, trying to figure out how to please both mainstream beer drinkers and devout beer lovers, all while keeping it as local as possible. 

SirRon
SirRon

Good stuff here.

Megan
Megan

"I'll be the first to admit that when I have no viable options - and there are still plenty of places who only stock the Big 3 - I will go to Bud Light as a default." Hee.  You can tell how long I've been out with friends by the beer I'm drinking.  I start out with the good stuff and move on to Bud Light.  Or, if I'm feeling nostalgic, Miller High Life, which is what I drank at college parties.

Robert
Robert

I've been alternating between bombshell blonde and fireman's 4 this summer and they are both great.  Where can i find Live Oak hefe, i definitely want to try it?

Marcia Paul
Marcia Paul

 your taste buds are maladjusted, lay off the cigarettes and bourbon for a while. Karbach should definitely be on this list...MayorMoney.blogspot.com

Trey
Trey

Agreed. I don't like the authors tweeter feed, and I see the same negative gibberish will ooze out in his new HP articles. Being the boyfriend of food writer does have perks I guess, because I don't understand this one at all. His distaste for most people are a turn off....

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

 I'll be the first to admit that when I have no viable options - and there are still plenty of places who only stock the Big 3 - I will go to Bud Light as a default. But I don't feel the intent of this article, nor the comments, is to profess beer prowess and superiority of knowledge. It appears to me that the heart of the matter was that there are options outside the norm and some of them are pretty good if you give them a chance. And while you were experimenting why not support local? But what do I know being a predictable arrogant beer nerd hipster? TA

FrankHerbert
FrankHerbert

sound like nice beers. shiner will always be my beer though. always. nothing finer than an ice cold shiner!

Steve Moore
Steve Moore

Sympathy has 45 IBUs. I'd have a hard time finding a lager with more bitterness.

Doak
Doak

 Excellent list, but folks should be warned that Buried Hatchet packs a heck of a lot more punch than Guinness does--roughly twice as much.  As drinkable as it is, one needs to be more than a little careful with it.

Jack_Around
Jack_Around

Thanks, yeah, there are definitely other viable alternatives, but I was trying to spread the wealth a bit among the various Houston-area breweries. SA's Winter Stout could also stand in for Guinness, or SS's Bombshell Blonde for MGD, etc.

Lucrece Borrego
Lucrece Borrego

These suggestions are actually spot on for a craft beer newb. Josh is reaching out to people who *don't* normally drink craft, so the comments here clearly from craft drinkers are null. Honestly, anything from Karbach is so far beyond the introductory palette. Those listed are gateway beers that are easier to understand. Getting into more complex beers right away is like trying to put a Kia driver behind the wheel of an M3 - way more than can be handled/appreciated. And that's not even getting into price point and how they need to be analogous to appeal to people. 

Chuck
Chuck

Man I'm guessing you're new at this, so have your shit together and don't be so defensive with your replys to comments...and Lucrece, you only stand by your people when they're right. Sometimes you gotta learn on the job. Good try, now do better next time.

mike
mike

Sympathy for the Lager is "so far beyond the introductory palette?"  Child, please.

mike
mike

And, you know, I think I might like St. Arnie's brown ale more than Newcastle.  Awesome list though!

Melissa
Melissa

I could drink Live Oak Hefe all day everyday. That stuff is spectacular and it doesn't need an orange to make it taste better. 

Matthew
Matthew

crap is crap. lots of people enjoy mcdonald's cheeseburgers. saying they suck isn't being arrogant when they do, in fact, suck.

Chuck
Chuck

I prefer the micro, but I'm not opposed to drinking the macro stuff if there's nothing else or if I need to cut back on spending. For me, there's no question that micro tastes better. I'm sure some people do prefer Spam or Spaghetti O's, but once you've had prosciutto or bolognese, there's just no denying.

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