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History of brewing in Fort Worth

Photo of a glass of beer.

Stop in to Cowtown Brewing Co. at 1301 E. Belknap St. for a cold one. | Photo by @FTWtoday.

Table of Contents

Let’s talk about beer. Fort Worth has had a rodeo of a time corralling the beer industry + while we might not have a Lone Star-sized brewing history like San Antonio, we’re familiar with fermentation. From pre-Prohibition lagers to a lite beer giant to contemporary craft brewpubs, we’re pouring out a pint of Panther City history.

Way back when

Fort Worth’s first brewery supposedly opened during the Civil War and was owned by Nathaniel Terry, but it didn’t last very long — if it even went into business. Breweries had a rocky start in Cowtown because creating cold lager required ice and the first ice house didn’t open in Fort Worth until 1878. Until then ice had to be shipped by rail line from St. Louis to Dallas where it was brought to Cowtown on a stagecoach.

By 1900, there was only one brewery in town: the Texas Brewing Company, which opened in 1891 at 1001 Jones St. — where the Fort Worth Central Station is now. It closed in 1918 with the onset of Prohibition. Beer production slowly picked up again around 1950.

Archival photo of a brewery.

In the mid 1960s, rail cars carried supply tanks to the Carling Brewery building that would soon be purchased by Miller. | Photo courtesy of the Clyde Walton Hill Papers, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.

W.D. Smith Commercial Photograph

Meet Miller

In 1964, Canadian brand Carling Brewing opened a facility in Fort Worth off I-35W + just two years later sold it for $5.5 million. Enter Miller Brewing Company — the Milwaukee-based brewery started operations in September 1969 and is the region’s oldest active brewery. The brewery started producing Miller Lite in 1975, jump starting the low-calorie beer revolution with those ubiquitous retro white cans.

In 2008, Molson Coors teamed up with SABMiller (then owner of Miller Brewing Co.) to create MillerCoors, which would be fully purchased and revert to the Molson Coors name in 2016.

With 155 acres of property — 51 of which are covered, the Miller brewery is the largest in Texas. Here are just a few note-worthy stats:

  • The facility uses 600-1000 lbs of hops, 250,000 lbs of corn + 500,000 lbs of malt every day.
  • There are two brewhouses going at all times, a combined size of 1,600 barrels of beer — that’s almost 50,000 gallons.
  • The brewery uses 750 million gallons of water per year — but it also treats 1.3 million gallons of water per day and returns it to the city.
  • The facility can fill 1,200 bottles and 1,700 cans every minute plus kegs. That comes to between 120 million and 1440 million ounces of beer per day.

And that’s not all — In 2021, the Miller facility started producing “America’s Oldest Beer” Yuengling & Son + last month broke ground on a $65 million packaging warehouse for hard seltzer.

The craft beer comeback

Despite its size, Miller doesn’t have a monopoly on beer in Fort Worth. In 1993, Texas legalized brewpubs — restaurants that sell beverages that were brewed on the property — and the beer scene went crazy. There are now over a dozen craft breweries in Cowtown + you can visit them all with a self-guided tour of the Fort Worth Ale Trail.

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Bonus: Try Fort Worth’s newest craft beer — Hypnotically Caucasian, an Imperial Berliner with Kiwi and Mango (ABV: 7%, IBU: 15) — released this week by Funky Picnic Brewery & Café in honor of #DrinkUpFortWorth. Mention FTWtoday when you order and get 10% off.

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