Beer is big business. In Amarillo alone, consumers spend more than half a million dollars a month on their beverage of choice. An overwhelming majority of that cash is going to the big three: Bud, Coors, and Miller.
But there’s something brewing a little closer to home that’s giving beer connoisseurs something different.
You could call it a beer boom.
People are getting crafty when it comes to tapping into cold beer. Tom Money is the head brewer at the Big Texan. He was the first to get brewing in June of 2011.
“We just saw a niche and filled it,” said Money. “That’s that’s what I feel like all these little breweries are doing is filling a niche for them and that’s what makes it work.”
Beef and beer help bring half-a-million people to the Big Texan every year. Most of the hype surrounds the 72-ounce challenge, but a 12 ounce poor is starting to get some attention too.
Money said people are finally starting to open up their minds, “A new generation that came along and says we want variety. We want flavor in our beer and we want to try new things all the time whether it’s unique foods or unique beer.”
Long Wooden Spoon might be small but their beer comes out of the tap the same way it does at the bigger breweries.
Jared started toying around with making his own beer in 1995 but didn’t get serious about it until three years ago.
Read loves the process and is passionate about the people who come to Long Wooden Spoon to grab a brew. “It brings in a lot of tourists,” said Read. “Half of our customers are tourists so it’s a big industry.”
An industry that’s moving into downtown Amarillo thanks to Six Car Pub and Brewery, which opened last year.
Grant James is the head brewer at Six Car, he calls what he does “artfully clean.”
Six Car is not a one trick pony. Customers pour in for more than just the goodness in the glass.
They have a creative kitchen which leads to collaboration.
Pondaseta is the newest brewer of the bunch. Trever Martin and Kaleb West moved back to Amarillo for a little homebrew.
“Amarillo takes a precautious approach to many things,” said West. “A lot of people have been nervous that it was a fad or a passing trend. All the data indicates it’s much more than that. And I think once we decide that we accept something, we embrace it.”
Amarillo has just begun to tap into the trend and the people indulging are as diverse as what’s being served. Martin says they see retired couples coming through town on vacation and people in their twenties.
When it comes to the craft beer craze, all of the local brewers agree. We are just beginning to tap into the potential. West says Amarillo is growing but we are still behind the curve, “We are seeing a lot of new flavors. There are four breweries here in town that are making beer. People are going to each and every brewery and getting something different. There’s room for growth and I think we will see a lot of it.”
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