|Beer comes forth from these handles, or so the Ancient Vietnamese Legend goes|
Last summer, Texas laws governing alcohol sales changed slightly -- not nearly as much as they should have -- allowing a brewer operating under a "brewpub" license to produce more beer and, most importantly, sell it outside of their own establishments. This is why we're seeing a rash of new microbreweries popping up with this license -- Shannon Brewing, Collective Brewing -- and traditional brewpubs with an eye toward distribution now in the works -- Small Brewpub and BrainDead Brewpub, among others.
But the brewpub license itself has been around since 1993, allowing restaurants to turn their kitchens into makeshift breweries and make their own beer to serve alongside their food. About a half-dozen restaurants took the bait and gave it a shot in the early mid-90s, but none survived for long in a market that still demanded Bud-Miller-Coors. Several national chains, like BJ's and Gordon-Biersch, have pushed the "brewpub" concept pretty hard in their marketing, despite not actually making any beer on most sites and, also, making bad beer. With Union Bear now (sadly) closed, and none of the newsmakers yet open, I can only find one local Dallas restaurant that's taken up the state of Texas on its brewpub offer: Malai Kitchen in the West Village.