The Good Line Beer Co. in Lubbock offers two mainstays: the Range Life Pils and their schwarzbier, an Electric Candelight dark lager. Photo courtesy of Good Line Beer Co.

Beyond West Texas’ ranch-style manors and Seventh Day Adventist churches, past the Caprock’s monolithic, ever-revolving windmills, and across the cosmic plains of lotebush and shin oak, there is a destination: the Texas Dust Coast. Lubbock. Hub City. A place as dry as Spoon frontman Britt Daniel’s vocals.

But what Lubbock lacks in shoreline it makes up for by doubling down on a celebratory ethos; its spatial isolation is a perpetual island party on a dusty strand. Water be damned. Besides, they’ve got beer to keep everyone saturated. Exactly the place where former Austinites and longtime craft beer journalists Chris Troutman and Shawn Phillips decreed the perfect place to develop their vision of building a 10-barrel brewery from scratch.

“We thought we could bring what Austin breweries were good at, but also give it a uniquely West Texas experience,” says Phillips, Good Line’s front-of-house operator and hospitality specialist. Phillips was a co-creator and photographer of the popular Austin Beer Guide, for which Troutman served as editor-in-chief. “A lot of people came in from the outside and made that scene better. We thought, yeah, let’s bring that to the middle of West Texas. I think we have something to add to the beer scene.”

The bond between Troutman and Phillips goes back a quarter century from their years attending university college in Belton. After that, they were roommates in Austin, and eventually began their own families. Both of them have strong ties to Lubbock. Troutman’s wife was born and raised in Lubbock and Phillip’s wife and father went to Texas Tech. “We weren’t carpetbaggers,” says Troutman, Good Line’s master brewer. There on Boston Avenue in the Tech Terrace neighborhood of Lubbock, Troutman and Phillips have seemingly recreated an Austin-style brewery—a family friendly, pub-style, communal table taproom, usually with a patio, that feels distinctly Central Texas—much the way one might see Texas-style barbecue in outposts like Charleston or Los Angeles.

On weekends, the Good Line taproom can be exceptionally raucous. A former post office, the taproom is a stunning building that the partners renovated with intricate details of wood and metal a bar gable that mimics a concert stage. Clean, crisp lagers are one of Good Line’s specialties. The owners purposely designed the cellar and brewhouse to give their lagers a full eight-week conditioning after fermentation for a smoother, crisper, clearer beer. Out of the five they currently offer, two of them are mainstays: the Range Life Pils, a traditional German pilsner, and their schwarzbier, an Electric Candelight dark lager.

Good Line Beer Co. is located on Boston Avenue in the Tech Terrace neighborhood of Lubbock. Photo courtesy Good Line Beer Co.

The gag is that “Good Line” refers to not only how fresh the brewery’s beer is, but the group’s mutual interest in indie music and the “good lines” that they cull from some of their favorite songs to name their beers. The owners brought on renowned Lubbock graphic artist Dirk Fowler to design the brewery’s visual identity. He proposed that the then-nameless brewery align the two ideas and go with Good Line Beer Co.

Celebrated for his talent creating concert screen prints for touring bands, Fowler miniaturized his art medium to the size of 16-ounce tallboy aluminum cans to reveal sensational illustrations that aligned with the beer name in interesting ways. “When we started talking about cans we started talking about how you might feel while holding it,” Fowler says. “There’s a lot to experience with this beer.”

On a bright but frigid Saturday, families gather in the Good Line taproom. A projector soundlessly plays the NFC divisional playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. The space is jovial, cozy, and noisy in the same way it feels walking in as one of the later-arriving guests to a Super Bowl get-together. Tokyo Police Club plays from the overhead speakers giving an odd soundtrack to Brock Purdy’s game-winning drive over the Packers. Younger kids play cards and an older one alternates between her sketch pad and her AirPods. “Lubbock County was dry for so long that you couldn’t experience a place like this without signing a club card or whatever weird workaround there was, so a family-friendly bar was totally out of the question,” Phillips says. “We had to do a little bit of educating, but being welcoming to families is paramount to who we are.”

Everyone appears to be smiling and laughing mid-way through a tablemates’ drawn-out story. Their dimpled mugs and pilsner glasses are filled with lagers. Yet, absolutely nobody is pondering the details of what makes the Good Line experience so satisfying. The beer? The design? The hospitality? Nobody here cares. Not right now, listening to a friend’s yarn or Tokyo Police Club’s A Lesson in Crime over the brewery’s P.A. Good Line has expertly designed it so that you don’t need to.

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