Texas is a large state with a thriving business community that continues to innovate. The state has met many challenges over the past few years and has fared far better than other states, in large part due to the business- friendly laws and diverse people who are always looking for ways to create new things and improve on existing processes. This is true across many industries, but it is particularly true in the business known as craft beer. Texas’ craft brewing businesses have enjoyed a good deal of growth as of late and one company that has its sights set high is Rahr & Sons Brewing, a business based out of Fort Worth. Rahr & Sons has been around since 2004 when Fritz and Erin Rahr decided to revive a Rahr family tradition dating back to 1847 and while the company is actually more established than other Texas breweries, it continues to look for ways to improve product selection and better serve its customer base.
I caught up with Rahr & Sons president and founder, Frederick “Fritz” Rahr Jr. just recently and had a chance to learn more about his brewing operation, his company’s outlook, and his opinions on the craft brewing business in general. I offered up some questions and he responded with some honest, thoughtful words of wisdom on the business of beer and its future:
Across the United States, the craft brewing industry is enjoying tremendous growth and influence. What is your feeling regarding these trends? Has the industry reached a peak, or is the best yet to come?
I think the growth of craft beer is exciting. I think this growth is more than sustainable as more and more people get turned on to great tasting craft beer. I think we will see some fallout from breweries along the way – but that would be expected in any industry. But the market share created will stay and be absorbed by other craft breweries.
What do you expect the big brewers like Anheuser- Busch InBev, MillerCoors, and others will do to answer the craft brewing threat and remain competitive?
I think you will see more and more smaller craft breweries partnership up with the larger breweries. The larger brewery partnerships with craft brewery that has an established market and the smaller craft brand can take advantage of costs savings, infrastructure, ease of entry into new markets and capital from their larger partners. I think in order for the craft brewery to maintain relevance and street cred, the larger breweries need to be hands off and provide them assistance when they need it……
With so much growth in the industry, how does a craft brewer differentiate itself from the competition?
There are so many different areas where a craft brewery can differentiate from one another… ie. Lagers, Ales, Sours, High ABV beers, Belgians, Hop Choices, Non-Malt Additives, Culture, Schwag, Barrel Aging etc etc.. the list goes on….. But the one defining aspect is going to be quality and marketability… You can be so much different from the next guy, but your products need to be the best quality possible and there has to be a sustainable market to sell them…….
What advice would you give to a new craft brewing operation?
Don’t try to be everything to everyone right off the bat and don’t over sell yourself…… Don’t promise what you knowingly can’t provide.
Texas’ brewing business gained some much needed relief when, following a lawsuit by Jester King, a Texas judge ruled several beer laws unconstitutional last year. What do you see as some of the other important legal obstacles to the craft brewing industry in the state?
For breweries and brew pubs alike, I think we would like to see the two forms of brewing come into one; i.e, allow brew pubs distribution rights and allow breweries retail licensing (IE. selling beer out of the brewery to people for on and off premise use and/or for retail licensing away from the brewery IE. allowing a brewery to also have a brew pub……, etc.)
What are Rahr & Sons plans for growth in the Houston area?
We have committed to a full time on site sales guy in Houston. We have seen steady growth over the past few years in Houston, but we are seeing 60%+ growth in this market and it’s time we take the next steps in supporting the wonderful growth in this very exciting new market for us.
What states presently sell Rahr & Sons beer? Do you foresee adding more states in the near future?
Currently just Texas, no plans to go anywhere else yet…..
Are there any new products in the Rahr & Sons pipeline at the moment that you can share?
We just came out with our latest beer… “The Regulator” a German Style Doppelbock in a 22oz format. That will be the only new product for us to come out on the market this year. We will however come out with new styles of FIRKINS monthly that can be enjoyed around town at various bars and restaurants around Houston.
Many craft brewers have made the move to canning instead of bottling. Will Rahr & Sons follow suit?
We would love to can and it’s in the 12 month plans…. Hopefully by this time next year we will have CANS !!!!
National recognition can help any brewery gain new followers. Which Rahr & Sons products have won awards and/or achieved some significant level of recognition?
We have won medals numerous medals in beer competitions around the country. Our proudest achievement was winning Bronze at the World Beer Cup for our Bucking Bock – a German Style Spring Bock, which happens to be our current seasonal out in the market now
As one can quickly surmise from the responses to the questions above, Rahr & Sons is certainly a brewery on the move and Fritz Rahr is confident that the business of beer has plenty of room to grow and abundant rewards to share. His own brewery, and many others, should see continued growth in the coming years as more individuals discover the amazing taste of Texas- made craft beer and the market responds accordingly to meet the new demands.
Texas continues to fare better than the rest of the United States in terms of business growth, opportunity, and innovation and Rahr & Sons is a prime example of these recent economic trends. With a commitment to quality and an eye on customer satisfaction, Rahr & Sons future looks bright and Houston residents can expect to see more Rahr & Sons beer products in stores, restaurants, and taverns over the coming months as the Fort Worth- based craft brewery continues to make its presence known in the Houston market.
Article originally posted in Examiner.com