For Granary brewmaster Alex Rattray (right), it's all about the beer.
The Granary 'Cue and Brew opened this week, bringing the art of beer making back to the Pearl Brewery. Visitors can sample several treats from owner and brewmaster Alex Rattray, who has come up with a series sure to please any taste.
The Blonde is light with a touch of hoppy flowers. The Rye Saison adds citrus notes to a beer marked by a rye so pronounced and alluring that you'll think of it as liquid bread. The India Pale Ale is all beautiful beer bitterness with an engaging hoppy floral bouquet. The Brown Ale unfortunately wasn't ready when I stopped in on opening night, but it should be soon.
I asked Rattray what beers he likes to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. His first choice would be his Rye Saisonal, which would certainly add an extra dimension of richness to the meal. But since you can't get the Granary's beers to go, he suggested looking for a Belgian saisonal, such as Saison Dupont. "I think the dry qualities of the beer and the spicy nose would really complement turkey, pumpkin, stuffing, etc.," he said.
Rattray also talked about his plans for the Granary's future as well as offering a few tips for home brewers.
Q: What is one misconception that people have about beer that you like to clear up?
Try four beers in a flight.
A: I think a lot of people still think that beer is not sophisticated or they never think to pair beer with meals. In my opinion, beer can be every bit as sophisticated as wine, but it has a lot more to offer when pairing with food. The vast array of beer styles and the different flavor profiles they offer are quite staggering, and it makes it very easy to find a great match for any meal. Beer is much more forgiving then wine when it comes to food too so you can really have fun pairing different flavors. There aren't many rules either, so I think beer and food pairings are much more approachable for people to do on their own. Wine pairing can seem intimidating for people that are just getting into it.
Q: What got you interested in brewing your own beers?
A: After a study abroad trip to London and a visit to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, I really started getting into craft beer. I was in a store one day and saw a cheap home brewing kit and thought it'd be fun to try my hand at it. I grew up with my mom cooking daily meals for us from scratch, and my siblings and I learned to cook and bake from an early age. So, I guess we all have that extra desire to make the things that we enjoy. So, I asked for the home brew kit for my birthday, and my brother Tim (my current business partner and chef) purchased the kit for me. I was hooked from the first batch I made.
Q: What advice do you have for home brewers?
A: Keep it simple, especially at first. I think a lot of home brewers try to do too much and add crazy ingredients to their beers. Now that's half the fun of home brewing, but especially for beginners, I think simplicity is the key. More does not usually mean better. Some of my favorite beers are very simple. Subtlety is important.
Q: What plans do you have for the beer program at the Granary?
A. Obviously we brew our own beer, and that is an integral part of our program. We plan to star brewing our own seasonal beers soon, which will give us a chance to use local fruits, etc. We're also going to be serving some of our beers on cask. For guest taps, we really want to showcase Texas breweries. Currently we're the first and only place in San Antonio where you can get a beer from Rogness Brewing. They are from Austin, and their stuff is great. We also plan to start tapping a special cask once a month or so from a local brewery and serve it right on the counter top through a gravity tap. Not only is the beer awesome that way, but it makes for a really cool presentation and fun experience for guests that haven't had a beer pulled straight from a cask. We're also brewing our own root beer from scratch and plan to introduce some seasonal house-made sodas as well.
The Granary 'Cue and Brew is at 602 Avenue A. At this point, it is open 6-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and 6-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Call (210) 228-0124 or click here for details.