Williamson County taps into craft brewing boom

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Studies show Texas’ craft beer industry brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state every year, and Williamson County is hoping to cash in on the boom. Georgetown’s first brewery, Rentsch Brewery, is aiming to start production in late February. In Round Rock, beer was already flowing at Flix Brewhouse, but it is considered a brewpub. So when Bluebonnet Beer Company started production in late 2014, they were the city’s first stand-alone craft brewery.

“We just kind of scratched together the money we could and purchased what we could,” said David Hulama, who turned his home-brewing operation into a business.

He decided to open in Round Rock because it’s his home, but also because of its untapped potential.

“We also saw a need, or a niche if you will, that Round Rock was basically underserved,” Hulama said. “There was no craft brewery in Round Rock.”

Craft beer is being served up more and more throughout the country and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild has noticed expansion outside of major cities.

“The key is to connect with the community and build your brand, so we’re seeing breweries pop up in more remote locations,” said Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

The Guild had about 50 members in 2012. That number has grown to 120, including a handful either up and running or in the works in Williamson County.

“We like to say we’re Round Rock’s largest and oldest brewery, seeing as how we’re the only one in Round Rock,” Hulama said with a smile. He has dreams of making his brews available statewide. Until then, he’s taking it one barrel at a time.

Laws were changed in 2013 to help breweries compete in Texas, but there are still some restrictions.

For example, when determining a location for the brewery, it must be at least 300 feet away from a church and at least 1,000 feet property line to property line from a school. Some breweries are also suing the state over one new law. It requires breweries to hand over distribution rights for free. Brewers say they are prepared to take this all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.

For more on final preparations for Georgetown’s newest craft brewery, look in the Georgetown issue of the Community Impact Newspaper in mailboxes Thursday.

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