Book Review: Beer Flights

PolingTravis E.

Travis E. Poling
Travis E. Poling (Photo by Lee Nichols)

'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 (, and Paul W. High­tower, creator of the Texas Beer blog ( 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] [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.

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