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Fort Bend Brewing

Microbreweries sure are a growth industry around here.

Chris Leonard came to Houston and was struck by the similarity with his hometown of Philadelphia. It was enough to convince him to move to Missouri City from the City of Brotherly Love.

“I see the opportunity here, and I’m really excited about it,” he said on a recent blistering workday. “I see it the way Philadelphia was about 15 years ago.”

He was talking about beer, a conversation topic suddenly as ubiquitous as the Texas weather. Leonard, 44, described another city with an exploding craft-beer scene and a crush of breweries cropping up to meet the new demand.

A 15-year veteran brewer, who most recently was a consultant to a craft brewery in Peru after running the General Lafayette Inn & Brewery outside Philly for several years, he’s now part of the four-person team at Fort Bend Brewing Co., one of at least three breweries-in-progress across the Houston area.

The group expects to start selling its first beers – Texas Backyard Blonde, Texas Farmhouse Ale, Texas Lightning India pale ale and Texas Thunder stout – by the end of the year.

Those looking for an early taste can find one Labor Day weekend at the third annual Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival at Galveston’s Moody Gardens. Fort Bend will pour early versions of its Farmhouse Ale and IPA as one of eight breweries on the festival’s “Texas Brewery Tasting Tour” next Saturday, Sept. 1.

The Missouri City brewery is one of three expected to open by early 2013 across the greater Houston area. They will join five craft breweries already in operation here.

Getting hard to keep track of them all. I really need to make it to the next Houston Beer Fest and do some comparative sampling. Anyway, best of luck to the latest newcomers. May the craft beer market continue to expand to accommodate all the entrants, and may the Lege eventually do the right thing on letting microbreweries sell their wares on site.

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