Tablet Life & Arts

Welcome to the Texas brew review

Editor’s note: After years spent wandering in a craft-beer wilderness, North Texas is finally overflowing with choices.

Innovative breweries are popping up like wildflowers, joining pioneers like Rahr & Sons of Fort Worth. Grocery stores and growler stations are expanding their options faster than you can say fill ’er up. Beer festivals and tastings are becoming fixtures on the calendar. ( Paste Untapped is March 8, by the way.)

And that doesn’t even begin to consider the roster of restaurants and bars that now offer long lists of craft beer, much of it brewed here in the Lone Star State.

Simply put, we are in the midst of a craft beer renaissance.

This became crystal-clear during our first Beer Bracket in November and December. Not only did we showcase some of the best craft beer that was being made in North Texas — congrats to our fab final four, Revolver Blood & Honey, Lakewood The Temptress, Peticolas Velvet Hammer and Community Public Ale — we became immersed in the always lively craft beer conversation.

Now, in the interest of keeping that conversation going, we’ve asked for a little help from one of the most knowledgeable beer drinkers we know, Scooter Hendon, founder of

Scooter was instrumental in building the Beer Bracket, which included 32 of the best craft beers in North Texas. And now we’re tapping into his brew IQ even more, with a new weekly column that will tell our readers about new beers, rare beers and even some mainstays you may have forgotten about. He’ll also shine a light on the creative work being done at local breweries, answer your questions and help you catch on to the North Texas craft beer wave.

Elissa IPA: An overlooked classic

Beer is an everyman drink. That’s what we like about it. You don’t need a Ph.D. to find a great IPA.

But as the beer section at your local liquor or grocery store grows, it can become an intimidating place. And the myriad choices make it easy to overlook a classic.

Like Saint Arnold Elissa IPA.

Sure, you’ve probably seen the red six-pack a hundred times, but you pass it by whenever you spot something from a spanking new brewery or some zany beer you’ve never seen before.

This is folly.

Saint Arnold is the first craft brewery in the state (besides Shiner), and every Texas craft brewery since has benefited from its pioneering ways.

Saint Arnold launched in 1994, and after 10 years in business, decided to make an India Pale Ale. IPAs, as they’re referred to, feature a significant amount of hops, and with that comes bitterness.

But Elissa ($7.99 for a six-pack) toes the line and doesn’t become so blatantly bitter that it’s difficult to drink.

Also something to keep in mind: Elissa is a single-hop IPA that only features the Cascade hop. This means the brewery only uses Cascade when making the beer, and the citrusy, floral characteristics of this hop are on full display with Elissa.

If you aren’t used to highly hopped beers, this is a good place to start. And even if you are, revisit Elissa. It’s one of our state’s best mainstays and is always available.

Plus, Saint Arnold’s 12-ounce beers are in twist-off bottles. What’s more everyman than that?