Before we become fully submerged in Texas' brewing history, we have to pay homage to points north and west. El Paso is an unlikely place to find one of Texas' top historic brews. And the Metroplex is strangely quiet in this tale.
Never count out El Paso — which you will do anyway until you actually go there. That’s what it took for me to realize that El Paso is just a little West Texas town that is bulging at the seams with Mexican food, history and scenery. Where else would you find something as cool as Rosa’s Cantina, the actual joint mentioned in the Marty Robbins opus “El Paso.”
(I saw someone on CMT one time refer to “El Paso” as the “Stairway to Heaven” of country music. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I wish to hell I had said it.)
The El Paso Brewing Co. that existed before Prohibition became the Harry Mitchell Brewing Co. in 1933 and produced a beer that went through names like a self-conscious teenager: Harry Mitchell Beer, Mitchell’s Beer, Mitchell Beer and Mitchell’s Premium Beer were produced during a 20-year run from 1935 until HMBC went out of business in 1955.
But that’s not quite the end of the story for El Paso. The brewery was purchased by Falstaff Brewing in 1955 and it produced Falstaff until 1967.
Falstaff was a national brand, but was produced in Texas from 1955 until at least the 1990s (When Falstaff’s Galveston brewery was closed in 1981, production moved to San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery).
El Paso was also a temporary home to Frantz Hector Brogniez — one of Texas' most iconic brewmasters. Herr Brogniez lived in El Paso and had his driver take him daily to Juarez where he brewed beer while waiting out Prohibition. You'll learn more about him in the Houston section.
You had no idea: Falstaff was still available as recently as 2005.
Dallas / Fort Worth
The Metroplex doesn’t have much of a brewing history (though they did better than Austin) and I’m not sure why. Not enough Germans? Too close to the dry regions of the Panhandle and East Texas? We would need a historian to help us out on that one.
What D/FW didn’t have in history, though, they made up for in memorable beer names. A pair of breweries that existed before Prohibition — Dallas Brewery Co. and Texas Brewing Co. — would both come back post-Prohibition and put out interestingly-named beers before both folding up before World War II.
Dallas Brewery would give us White Rose, Texas Select and Chubby Beer (I did not make that up). Texas Brewing was reborn as Superior Brewing Co. and would give us Old Chippewa, Golden Kreme, Casino Club, Kellermeister, Prosit and … wait for it ... Kego Beer in addition to the less awesomely named Superior Ale, Old Style and Golden Lager.
But it’s a brewery born post-Prohibition that would give us North Texas’ most iconic beer.
Schepps Brewing Corp. existed from 1934-1939 (giving us Schepps, Highland Park and Black Dallas, among others) before becoming Time Brewing for a short time.
Finally pulling it together as the Dallas-Fort Worth Brewing Co. in 1940, the brewery gave us Bluebonnet beer until shutting down in 1951. With an 11-year run, Bluebonnet qualifies as one of Texas' top historic brews.
Up next: Good times on the Gulf
Harry Mitchell's from 1936. Taverntrove.com
Mitchell's from 1950. Taverntrove.com
A Mitchell's beer glass from the 1950s. Taverntrove.com
A Mitchell's label from 1954, just before they went out of business. Taverntrove.com
A Schepps label from 1935. Taverntrove.com
Black Dallas beer from 1936. Taverntrove.com
Time beer from 1939. Taverntrove.com
Black Dallas beer from 1939. Taverntrove.com
Bluebonnet beer from 1943. Taverntrove.com
Bluebonnet beer from 1947. Taverntrove.com
White Rose Bock from 1935. This one is pretty cool. Taverntrove.com
Falstaff, from the El Paso plant in 1957. Taverntrove.com
Chubby Lager. Told you I wasn't making it up. Taverntrove.com
A Bluebonnet beer shell glass and an appropriate stand-in beer.