Lone Star Beer may brand itself as the “national beer of Texas,” but in San Antonio, new local microbreweries offer craft beers that are truly the toast of Texas. Over the past 12 months, several new micro/craft breweries have tapped into the San Antonio scene, and other small breweries have expanded operations. Best of all, in 2015, even more suds will be flowing as even bigger breweries open their doors.
Alamo Beer Company: Just below the Hays Street pedestrian bridge near downtown, for instance, sits Alamo Beer Company, which plans to produce about 560,000 cases of beer within its first five to seven years of operation. Its latest addition, a beer hall and garden, opened earlier this year, on the 179th anniversary of the Battle of The Alamo. This neighborhood hot spot is the perfect place to sip a smooth pilsner at picnic tables outside, listen to live music and sample the fare of onsite food trucks. Tours are also offered Saturdays at noon and 3 pm.
Then there's Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, a 15-barrel brew house designed by Portland Kettle Works, featuring six serving tanks and a Firkin barrel-aging program. Southerleigh is set in the rooms of the original brew house of the Pearl Brewery, which was first established in 1883 as the San Antonio Brewing Company. Brewer Les Locke will offer as many as 21 beers on tap, with Southerleigh slated to be the country’s tenth biggest brewpub with plans to produce 4,200 barrels a year. The brews are complemented by Chef Jeff Balfour’s modern take on Texas’ cross-cultural coastal cuisine.
But Southerleigh isn’t the only brewpub at the Pearl. Nearby, Granary ‘Cue & Brew is set in the historic 1800s house of the original brewery’s chief cooper. Home to a seven-barrel brewery, the Granary is a laid-back spot with an outdoor deck and inside dining where the staff also serves Texas barbecue, house-made pickles, sandwiches and more. The Granary produces 200 barrels of beer each year.
Locals have loved Blue Star Brewing Company in Southtown since 1996. This brewpub makes its home in the Blue Star Arts Complex at the head of the newest stretch of the River Walk’s new Mission Reach, a bike- and pedestrian-friendly trail along the San Antonio River. This ever-busy, 100 percent organic microbrewery currently offers 10 craft varieties.
Nearby in Southtown, a new production space and tasting room has opened up to serve the growing demand of fans of Freetail Brewing Co. Freetail’s original (and still busy) Loop 1604 location, nestled in an unassuming strip center, is a bustling, 15-barrel brew house and restaurant popular for its wood-fired pizzas and other beer-friendly menu items. Tour Freetail’s state-of-the-art brewery and tasting room Thursday through Saturday.
Other contenders for best little local breweries in Texas include Ranger Creek Brewing and Busted Sandal Brewing Company. Ranger Creek, located on the north side of San Antonio, was the first spirits-only distillery in town and the only “brewstillery” in Texas, creating not only craft beer but also whiskey. Head to Ranger Creek for educational tour led by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Busted Sandal in Shavano Park crafts four different year-round beers and several additional limited edition beers, while production brewery Branchline Brewing is worth a visit during one of its monthly tasting events.
Of course, beer lovers don’t have visit a brewery to sample the best of San Antonio’s suds. Many restaurants, bars and ice houses offer local craft beers: Cured (at Pearl); Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (Northwest); Big Hops Growler Station (Broadway); El Machito (Quarry Marketplace); Tuk Tuk Taproom (Broadway); The Friendly Spot (Southtown); Missions Untapped (Broadway); Liberty Bar (Southtown) and more.
With so many options in Alamo City, forget bar hopping; why not beer hop?