Old Habits Die Hard: 6 Texas Beers to Try

Texans are a stubborn bunch. Proud and headstrong, we hold our beliefs as closely as just about anyone. Sometimes we do it out of tradition, and other times simply out of habit.

What other excuse do we have for still executing the mentally handicapped and eating at Saltgrass Steak House? Old habits die hard, and ordering a beer is no exception, so here are some Texas craft brew replacements for your old mainstay beer choices:

If you like: Shiner Bock Try: Saint Arnold Santo

Turning Shiner Bock drinkers on to this Houston favorite is a very small leap even by baby-step standards. Santo is what Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner calls a "Black Kölsch," and it, much like Shiner Bock, has roots in classic German brewing. Regulars of Bock will find familiar caramel notes and a very similar crisp finish. With its distinctive label art by Houston artist Carlos Hernandez, Santo is a beer any Texan can be proud of.

If you like: Blue Moon Try: Live Oak Hefeweizen

Think of Live Oak as Shiner on steroids. Like Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, these guys brew traditional, old-world German styles and recipes, but the comparison ends there. Live Oak quality is unparalleled. Live Oak Hef is a creamy, straw-colored beer with lingering clove and banana flavors more pronounced and distinctive than those found in Blue Moon. The clean, refreshing finish is hard to argue with on a hot Texas afternoon.

If you like: Guinness Draught Try: 512 Brewing Pecan Porter

Guinness drinkers are a tough nut to crack. Not only are pours of Guinness wildly inconsistent stateside, most casual beer drinkers consider the dark nitrogen-infused beer "heavy." In reality, however, Guinness is lighter in calories than most craft beers of any category. 512 Brewing from Austin does a great job of imparting rich pecan and chocolate malt flavor to their porter while maintaining drinkability most should find approachable.

If you like: Miller Genuine Draft Try: Real Ale Fireman's #4

Dragging the staunch adjunct beer drinker into the world of craft beer is no easy task, and MGD drinkers may be the toughest sell; the beer has an odd and long-standing cult-like following in pockets around Texas. Picking a gateway beer for macro pilsner drinkers is also exceptionally tough because there is no analog in the craft beer world. So then, you must not only pick a light, approachable beer, but one that will leave an impression. Real Ale's flagship beer is more than up to the task. This golden blond ale is equal parts refreshing and filling, with creamy malt flavor and just a slight, sharp hop bite at the end. Named after local Texas bicycle company Firemans, this central Texas beer has an understandably devoted following of its own.

If you like: Strongbow Try: Leprechaun Dry Cider

I'm quick to admit my experience with Strongbow is limited. I know it's cheap, sweet cider that packs a wallop in its tallboy packaging. Just like Leprechaun's painted champagne bottles improve upon Strongbow's garish yellow tallboy cans, there isn't much Strongbow does that Houston-owned Leprechaun and their Dry Cider don't trump. Made with champagne yeast strains, the flavors found here are far more refined than in the import cider.

If you like: Newcastle Try: Real Ale Brewhouse Brown

Real Ale makes its second appearance on our list and for good reason -- a very approachable lineup of beers across a bevy of styles. Newcastle's popularity is baffling considering Brown Ales are neither a popular style in America nor is it an exceptional example of the style. Real Ale, however, makes a superb beer in their Brewhouse Brown. Malty caramel and a sharp bite of nuttiness make this satisfying alone or with a good chicken-fried steak.

If you like: Miller Lite Try: Water skimmed from Buffalo Bayou

Hey, it might kill you, but death seems like a viable option over swill beer.

Believe it or not, we've done the easy work here. There are dozens of great beers and breweries we left off this list. Converting a Texan macro beer drinker is no easy task, but it's a labor of love.

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