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A switch to cider

Some craft brewing news of note.

The taps, they are a-changin’ at Town in City Brewery, where owner Justin Engle has decided to pause beer brewing and focus instead on creating hard cider.

The folks at Town in City began building their reputation in cider about a year ago, when they launched Houston Cider Co., in a shared space with the beer-brewing operation. But this month, Engle said he decided not to renew his brewer’s permit when it expires.

“We were given legal advice that if we were to renew our brewer’s permit prior to the TABC Sunset hearings, that we may be stuck for two years in old TABC rules,” Engle said of the current fight between brewers and legislators to modernize state laws for alcohol sales. “If the new rules are passed, it would still take us two years to get to the next rules. So we decided not to take that gamble, and so we’re not going to renew right now.”

But that doesn’t mean things at the brewery on Cavalcade near the Heights are going quiet.

On Dec. 18, Houston Cider Co. took a leap that Town in City never attempted: It began canning. Now, three of the cidery’s mainstays — Dry, Cherry and Rosé — are available at Whole Foods and a few other shops across the city.

Cider production began outpacing beer production at the Heights brewery back in August, Engle said.

Still, cider isn’t exactly a sure thing — especially not when compared with the ever-growing popularity of craft beer. According to Drizly, an eCommerce marketplace for alcoholic beverages, only 7.1 percent of sales in the beer market went to cider in October, the most recent month for which data are available. At that same time, 26.7 percent of sales were for craft beer.

But there’s another way to read that: Cider isn’t as crowded a space.

See here for some background on the ongoing legislative battle, which begins again in earnest as the Lege reconvenes. I note that one of the two incumbents that CraftPAC had been supporting as of that January publication date was defeated in November (Tony Dale of HD136). Sure hope they backed some other winners, or the slog will be harder than it needs to be. As for cider, the story notes that there are only eight such breweries in the state, with Houston Cider Company being the only one in our fair city (there is another one based in Dickinson that is the nearest neighbor). Here’s a Leader News story from January about their debut.

I blogged about Lerprechaun Cider Company, the first local cider company, back in 2011; they had a product relaunch in 2015 and according to a footnote at the end of this 2017 Houstonia story were never brewing here and had stopped distributing here. Their domain has expired, which I think tells you all you need to know. That Houstonia story was about Permann’s Cider Company, which as of last July was on track to have a taproom downtown. Not sure where that stands – they have a Facebook page that’s had five posts since February and a Twitter account that hasn’t tweeted since last August. I guess this is a longwinded way of saying that I wish the Houston Cider Company good luck, and that hopefully some day they’ll be able to brew beer again, too.

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6 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    The 2018 election was a wake up call for the Republicans so they are going to pretend that they have become a kinder more caring group of misfits.

  2. Manny Barrera says:

    Ooops don’t know why it showed up here, but it belongs in the previous article. So Sorry.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    When Trump campaigned and won on reducing burdensome and useless government regulation, this is a perfect example of what he was railing against. Texas, and many other states, have byzantine, bordering on the ridiculous, liquor laws.

    This story just demonstrates how colossally stupid our liquor laws are; a brewery will change what it does to try and game the regulation.

    Manny, this is on Republicans, because they’ve been running the show for decades. I’ll point out that Ann Richards and Mark White didn’t bother to do anything about it when they were running things, so it’s not an exclusively Republican cluster****.

    Can we all agree that the answer here is LESS regulation? Liquor laws need to address two goals only…..keeping booze out of the hands of underage people, and preventing people from being served to excess in bars and restaurants. That’s it. Every other regulation about how it’s sold, who transports it, all of it needs to be tossed out. Maybe we can get the guy who had the Confederate plaque removed on this. He seems to be qualified to just remove things.

  4. C.L. says:

    If only Trump was President of Texas, think how much better off we’d be.

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    When the next president wins, he will tax all Republicans extra. It will be known as the stupid tax.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Manny,

    Here’s what your people are doing, while the government is shut down:

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/30-dems-in-puerto-rico-with-109-lobbyists-for-weekend-despite-shutdown?_amp=true&__twitter_impression=true

    Party like rock stars, y’all!

    Meanwhile, Trump is in D.C., patiently waiting for Dems to protect the American people from the invasion at our southern border. The best part is, other than Maybe the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, most of the people going unpaid are solid Democrat.

    Maybe after Beach Week is over, they’ll go back to work.