Steve Anderson of Alpine passed away the day before Thanksgiving, November 25, at age 53. He had been Brewmaster at Big Bend Brewing Company. He was also a part of the craft beer movement that changed liquor laws in Texas.
Visitors are festive at the Big Bend Brewing Co. in Alpine, but the staff is mourning the loss of their brew-master. Anderson was a Dallas native, who attended UT Austin. Here he is in 2012. “I majored in psychology for 9 years. As a typical slacker would.”
But it was a trip to Colorado in the early 1990s – with his friend, bar owner Billy Forrester – that gave him a career. “I was introduced to the Wynkoop Brewpub, the first brewpub in the state of Colorado, which was owned by now governor John Hickenlooper.”
Back in Texas, laws were strict. A retailer couldn’t sell manufactured beer of their own direct to the consumer. The pair wanted to change that. Anderson went to Chicago for brewery school while Forrester went to the state capital.
“And so Billy was very instrumental in getting the law changed. He spent the following two years working with lobbyists and legislators to get the brewpub law changed.” Their work paid off. And Anderson became the first brewpub brew-master in the state. “In the Fall of ’93 the legislature did pass the law and we opened up Waterloo Brewing Company, the first brewpub in Texas, in December of ‘93.”
After 8 years, he moved from brewpubs to breweries, to Live Oak Brewing Company, in Austin. “And my very first brew day there was September 11, 2001.” But he was always interested in West Texas. “My wife and I bought a place in Sanderson back in the late ‘90s.
In 2012 he moved to Alpine and became brew-master at the newly launched brewery. The company is honoring him with a celebration on Saturday (December 5) and by naming their taproom “Steve’s Cantina.”