GALVESTON — Mark Dell’Osso didn’t need much of a reason beyond a passion for beer to open his new brewery on Stewart Road.
“Even if the industry was in the dumps, I’d probably still be here,” Dell’Osso said.
That being said, the craft beer industry is anything but in the dumps.
If early indications are anything to go by, Dell’Osso’s Galveston Island Brewing picked the right time to open — the state is still in the midst of a growing brewing business boom.
Just six weeks after opening, he’s already had to expand his brewing capacity and hire more staff.
“It’s because the consumer in the state of Texas that we’re on this craft beer boom,” Dell’Osso said. “Everybody is getting into enjoying premium craft beer, and they’re starting to realize that we no longer have to get beer from outside to Texas to get a good quality craft beer.”
Dell’Osso said he believes a day will come when every town will have its own local brewery.
That’s appropriate, because next weekend, Galveston will be at the center of the brewing world.
More than 70 breweries from Texas and beyond will descend on Moody Gardens for the fifth annual Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival. The event is small when compared to the country’s largest beer festivals — Denver’s Great American Beer Fest that features more than 450 breweries and draws nearly 50,000 people — but organizers said the event is growing in proportion to the Texas craft beer industry.
According to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, Texas brewers produced 833,191 barrels of beer in 2013, a 17 percent increase from the year before. Smaller brewers, those that produce fewer than 225,000 barrels a year, grew by 44 percent.
Some of the brewers that will be at the festival, and featured as “Brew Brains” during some special events, said Texas is in the middle of its second craft brewing bubble.
“It’s really strong right now,” said Dave Fougeron, the founder of Southern Star Brewing Co.
There was another bubble in the 1990s, Fougeron said, but it lasted only a few years.
Fougeron started Southern Star Brewing Co. in 2007 in Conroe. Backed by the popularity of its Bombshell Blonde, an American blonde ale, the brewery has become of the more successful Houston-area breweries. Its beers are now distributed in eight states.
“When I started this brewery, we were only the second in the Houston area,” Fougeron said. “Now I can’t even tell you how many there are.”
The brewing bubble has grown to encompass things outside of beers, too.
Three years ago, Jake Schiffer founded the Leprechaun Cider Co. after sensing a potential opening for different kinds of alcoholic beverages — ones that pay greater attention to their ingredients and to the open-mindedness of the people who drink them.
“We’re a generation of people who now will not just pick up a bottle and buy it off the front label, but buy it off the back label,” Schiffer said.
Though his ciders are distributed in Texas, his apples come from a private orchard in Oregon.
It’s possible that the brewing bubble will burst, Schiffer and others said; but until then, Texas is going to enjoy the ride.
“It’s now taken on a wave that’s much bigger than the wave before. The wave before nobody was really ready for,” Schiffer said.