In an age where smaller is often better and handcrafted translates to improved brewing, the Texas city of San Antonio’s voice is heard loud and clear: Remember the Alamo! That would be the Alamo beer, my friend, as you prepare for celebrations from game days to picnics, raising a glass in a toast to the good life.
The Alamo Beer Company, along with more than a dozen of its peers in the San Antonio area, brews beer with passion. The contemporary view embracing farm-to-table dining and pure, organic products sent a signal to craftsmen everywhere that the time was ripe for firing up new, small-scale breweries to complement that modern palate. Giving beer a sense of place (as opposed to a tether to a television commercial) has given beer back its personality. If you’re not convinced, we suggest you plan your trip to San Antonio to give the local menus a go. Right in the middle of things is a microbrewery called Blue Star that opened in 1996. Owner Joey Villarreal took his biology degree and turned it into a career of his own making, using his knowledge to craft a high-quality beer made of local ingredients. His success encouraged the addition of pub food to accompany his brews and a bike shop to encourage you to ride the Mission Trail,. The dry, crisp flavor of his Texican Lager, whether on tap or filled into a keg per your request, has proven to be a popular recipe. Stop in when you’re downtown to see why.
The Granary ‘Cue & Brew serves five recipes ranging from a Blonde Ale and a hoppy IPA, to Belgian-style Rye Saison, malty Brown Ale, and an easy-on-the-sip Irish Red. Paired with their Texas-style barbecue sold by the pound, these brews are worth exploring at this cozy, casual restaurant.
A new brew on the scene comes from Busted Sandal Brewing Company. This trio of amigos, Michael DiCicco, Robert Garza and Joseph Alvarado, have banded together to create high-quality brews using seasonal and local ingredients in an energy-
efficient brewing process powered totally by renewable energy. They are certain beer connoisseurs, like you, will find their session beers and unique seasonal offerings reason enough to embrace the label and return for more. Working with the community to improve life for all brewers, as opposed to competing with them, strengthens their position among San Antonians.
Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling covers all your bases, brewing five signature labels as well as distilling their own whisky and bourbon. An awesome spread, the “brewstillery” is incredibly engaging, inviting patrons to join in the bottling and labeling process, tour the brewery and distillery – even party with the crew upon new releases. Mequite Smoked Porter, Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a host of seasonal and small batch recipes await your judgment. Funded with Kickstarter, the operation is healthy and growing, as it’s sure to become a favorite local brand.
Head Brewers Jason Davis and Chef Gary Butler make a suitable pair, bringing together a passion for the palate in handcrafted food and beer at the Freetail Brewing Company. After Freetail’s owner, Scott, took a ski trip flavored with a menu of local mountain brews, he knew he had to give San Antonio his own version of what beer should be. When he returned to Austin, he gathered Jason and Gary together to build the 15-barrel brewhouse. The great brewery with the funny name now delivers several sought-after brews to down with Gary’s outstanding pizza pies. Speaking of the name, the story goes a little something like this: when Scott learned the Texas Legislature had chosen an official state flying mammal, he just couldn’t resist. Helpful in controlling insects, keeping farmers’ fields free of pests, the Mexican free-tailed bat earned a title from the great state of Texas, as well as from this cheeky brewery.
That’s a nice little circle of beer suds, starting in the center of town and rounding a sort of counterclockwise arc north of the city. Should you find yourself headed this way for a Spurs game, an Alamo tour or just a lovely escape to the fair enclave of San Antonio, stop in and enjoy one or two of these local, high-quality beers.