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ITC News & Media

The Story of Texas Beer

Apr 02, 2018

UPDATE: The exhibit will be on display through May 2019.

(SAN ANTONIO) – San Antonio’s first brewery owner William Menger started making beer in 1855 next to the Alamo, where the hotel bearing his name now stands. Famous industrialist Howard Hughes once owned the biggest brewery in Houston. The Spoetzl Brewery started making Shiner beer in 1909. These are but a few of the dozens of stories about beer in Texas. The beloved beverage takes center stage in Brewing up Texas, opening Oct. 21 at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.

Guest-curated by longtime journalist and beer writer Travis E. Poling, the exhibit reaches back nearly two centuries to find the beverage’s arrival in Texas. It chronicles early brewers and breweries, the impact of prohibition and its repeal, economics and industry facts, the social implications of alcohol consumption, and other topics detailing this favorite drink’s place in Texas culture.

“Beer may not be the first thing you think of when you think of the Institute of Texan Cultures,” said Sarah Zenaida Gould, lead curatorial researcher at the institute. “But if you associate Texas with football, barbecue, ice houses, dance halls, and honkytonks you end up with beer.”

Texas beer has a long history, with popular breweries such as Pearl, Lone Star, and Spoetzl. Houston is home to one of beer giant Budweiser’s 12 breweries. More recently, craft brewers such as Saint Arnold, Alamo Beer Company, and Real Ale Brewing Company have emerged on the Texas scene.

Brewing up Texas studies several aspects of beer’s impact and the industry surrounding it: brewing processes; technology; and advertising ephemera such as signs, creative messaging and props.

On six video banks, today’s Texas brewers show off their breweries and tell their stories of how they got into the brewing business. Historic photos will show memorable Texas saloons, ice houses, bier gartens and more. Other sections cover prohibition, its repeal, and other social implications such as responsible drinking.

“Texas has such a rich history when it comes to beer and the intriguing people who made, marketed and sold it to thirsty Texans,” said Poling. “We now have at least 2,000 beers from more than 200 Texas breweries to choose from. This exhibit is part of our toast to the past and a drink to future of Texas beer.”

Brewing Up Texas will remain on display through Oct. 28, 2018, and the institute anticipates quarterly events, such as tastings, lectures and homebrew classes. Details will be posted at and through the institute’s social media channels.

“Like so many great Texas cultural traditions, we have immigrants to thank for beer,” said Gould. “Germans were instrumental in bringing beer culture to Texas and since we showcase the cultural contributions of diverse Texans, it is a perfect topic for an exhibit.”