Texas, an exceptional state within an exceptional nation. Big cars, huge helpings and a pile ‘em high consumer mentality fits a stereotype. But it is changing; there is a fast-growing foodie movement challenging the norm and showing that Texans are increasingly choosy about what they consume.
Beer, as a metaphor for societal change, may seem a bit of stretch but with deep roots in the UK and Germany, Texas is well-placed to be an innovator in that most prosaic of British institutions: the pub and the pint.
On a short tour (okay a crawl) around some of the micro-producers and their vendors of Dallas, I have been impressed by the commitment to provenance and great ingredients as well as the producer and consumer passion for the product that reminds me of the UK beer revolution of the 80s.
This gravitation toward craft beers will only continue to flourish now that Texas has passed a law allowing microbreweries to sell their products to distributors and retailers, and Dallas brew could find its way to the UK. According to the Brewer’s Association, the volume of craft beer exports from the US increased in 2012 by 72 percent; the UK was one of the top three export markets.
Texas is the fastest growing developed economy in the world, larger than that of South Korea, and growing 11.5% since the crisis of 2008. It’s an increasingly sophisticated market; Whole Foods, HEB and others super markets are catering to a very international taste. Opportunities abound, and not just in oil and gas and the UK, are well-placed to take advantage.
Beer—invented by the Egyptians, perfected by the Germans and institutionalised by the Brits—is a window into the shifting patterns of consumption of the intelligent American consumer. In Texas, these consumers are sophisticated and choosy and they like Britain.
Rather like having ladybugs in your garden, microbreweries are a sign of health: they show that people care about what they consume and they value quality over quantity. Mass market beers still rule the roost, but it’s great to see a profusion of challengers emerging. Hats (Stetsons of course) off to Dead Cowboy and Deep Ellum brewing companies and the hundreds like them.