Austin, Texas: Craft Beer Boomtown

 * Image provided by  OPA Design Studio , a local Austin-based architecture firm specializing in brewery design.

* Image provided by OPA Design Studio, a local Austin-based architecture firm specializing in brewery design.

 * Image provided by  OPA Design Studio , a local Austin-based architecture firm specializing in brewery design.

* Image provided by OPA Design Studio, a local Austin-based architecture firm specializing in brewery design.

It's only been a little over a year since Austin's iconic South by Southwest festival drew Fortune Magazine's attention to the city's burgeoning craft beer scene. In their March 2015 article, they acknowledged the presence of 18 production/destination brewery locations in the greater ATX area at the time. Speculation into national and local growth in the craft beer industry has since run the gamut from suggestions that the market was already over-saturated to optimistic assertions that it had not even begun to hit the peak of its growth spurt. One thing is certain; a lot of the big corporate beer manufacturers have to be looking more closely at these little start-ups as they continue to significantly gain market share, winning over more and more customers who look for the unique beers craft brewers are putting together to differentiate themselves.

Fast forward a mere year and a half, and the growth naysayers are eating their hats. But if they're in the Bat City, at least they can wash them down with any one among a plethora of delicious local brews from the 54 micro breweries or brewpubs now in operation or being planned in and around Texas' capital city, 31 of which operate inside the city limits. That's a 200% increase in less than two years!

Time will tell how much and how quickly the craft beer market will expand in coming years, but it would appear that local, regional, and national consumers and enthusiasts are still thirsty for more -- signalling many home and hobby brewers to consider starting their own micro breweries and many established craft brewers to eye expansion plans. Those aspiring Austin garage brewers looking to realize their "hoppy" dreams would be well-informed to have a close look at the charts above (provided by Austin-based brewery architecture firm OPA Design Studio) before taking their leap, showing how the numbers of Austin breweries are dispersed in and around the greater ATX geographic region and in which zoning areas they're running operations -- because as competition increases, strategic planning, particularly as to location selection and facility design, will work in the favor of brewers who know how to best reach a growing throng of thirsty craft beer customers.