Book Review: Beer Flights
Reviewed by Lee Nichols, Fri., Nov. 27, 2009
'Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State'by Travis E. Poling and Paul W. Hightower Maverick, 80 pp., $12.95 (paper)
The Texas craft-brewing scene has finally reached a benchmark: It's gotten big enough to have a book written about it. Now, the fact that the volume is only a slim 80 pages shows how far we still are behind the likes of California, Colorado, and Oregon, but nonetheless, we've arrived. Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State is exactly what the title says, with every brewer and brewpub in the state described, a breakdown of beer styles and which ones are made here, and a fascinating minihistory of Texas brewing going back to the days of the Republic.
The guide is the teamwork of Travis E. Poling, formerly a San Antonio Express-News reporter and now creator of a blog with the same name as the book (www.beeracrosstexas.com), and Paul W. Hightower, creator of the Texas Beer blog (www.texasbeer.blogspot.com). I met with Poling at the Draught House 41st anniversary party and squeezed in an interview between sips of some magnificent beers brought in for the event.
Austin Chronicle: What inspired you to do the book?
Travis E. Poling: Beer has been a passion of mine for many years, the tasting and enjoyment of it. And Paul Hightower, my co-author out of Fort Worth, and I were talking and found out both of us were working on books. They were similar in nature, but not exactly, so when I actually ended up almost by accident with a publisher interested in the book, I called him and said, "Hey, let's merge our ideas and join forces." And there's really not a comprehensive guide, in book form, of the Texas breweries that people can take and use as a guidebook or use as a reference for history. Somebody had to do it.
AC: You used to write for the San Antonio Express-News?
TP: I worked there for 13 years as a business reporter and beer writer, and I left in March to write about beer full time.
AC: How did you hook up with Paul?
TP: Paul and I met through [the] BeerAdvocate.com [forums], and I was traveling, covering a story in Fort Worth, and we got together with a bunch of beer enthusiasts from Dallas and Fort Worth, and we met at the original Flying Saucer in Fort Worth.
AC: Have you been to every brewery in the book?
TP: Between the two of us we have. I have never been to Lubbock in my life; not that I would not like to visit sometime. Paul's been to Eola [a rural West Texas brewery in an abandoned schoolhouse near San Angelo that is now up for sale on eBay]. I was in Alpine, and unfortunately, Edelweiss was one we had to pull at the last minute, because it closed. And we managed to squeeze Wimberley Brewing Co. in at the last minute, although they closed right after the book came out. But hopefully they'll reopen soon.
AC: What's your favorite brewery in Texas?
TP: I don't have a favorite brewery in Texas. Usually my favorite brewery is whichever one has a pint in my hand at the time.