Origins and the Civil War
As you can imagine, New Braunfels’ German heritage includes a long history of breweries and beer. New Braunfels is often credited with the first commercial brewery in the state of Texas — the original New Braunfels Brewing Company. Julius Rennert
, a local cobbler, built the brewery on the banks of the Comal River in 1847. More and more breweries popped up in the area, but the outbreak of the Civil War lead to confiscation of brewery equipment that could be used for the production of saltpeter (a key ingredient of gunpowder). Also, lager ingredients and hops were hard to come by due to the Union Naval blockades halting resources and trade to the Central Texas area.
Steep Competition and Prohibition
After the Civil War, advancements in railroad refrigeration and transportation technology led to the larger German breweries up north (such as Anheuser-Busch) dominating the beer markets. Even Julius Rennert stopped selling beer and halted his production operations altogether. In 1883, Adolphus Busch built the Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio, TX. The large mechanized brewery was the first of its kind in Texas and proved to be too much competition for most local breweries. As if the stiff competition of macro-beers wasn’t enough for the local breweries, prohibition began to gain traction in local law. Despite Texas voting down statewide prohibition amendments three times (1887, 1908, 1911), nationwide prohibition was enacted in 1919 with the ratification of the 18th amendment. Six years later, the first brewery in New Braunfels and Texas — New Braunfels Brewing Co. — was raided and forced to close by federal agents.
The Texas Craft Beer Revival
After Prohibition, it took a great amount of time for things to turn around on the local level. Large breweries were able to recover after the repeal of the 18th amendment, while most local brewers and breweries moved on to other sources of income and shut their doors for good. In the 1990s, small batch, locally produced craft beer began to get attention for breaking the mold of the major beer producers. More and more new brewery operations began popping up, many of which call Texas home. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild
now has over 100 brewery members, and locally produced Texas beer is finding itself all over the United States and in some cases, Europe. New Braunfels is home to three exceptional craft breweries: The reborn New Braunfels Brewing Company
, the Faust Hotel & Brewing Company
, and the Guadalupe Brewing Company
. Beer and history seem to seep out of everywhere you look here in New Braunfels, and the addition of the craft beer scene only adds to our long and ever-growing story. Prost!