Tag Archive | "San Antonio beer"

Two Breweries Are Brewing Up Something Special for SA300

Two San Antonio breweries have joined forces to release three special beers in celebration of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary.  Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling and Freetail Brewing Company, two breweries that have been leaders in San Antonio’s craft beer movement, will each release a beer this year leading up to the 2018 Tricentennial celebration.  They will then come together to brew a special collaboration beer to be released during the Tricentennial.

The first beer in the series will be released on Feb. 22.  Ranger Creek’s new San Antonio Lager is an easy drinking, approachable beer made in the style of a traditional German lager.  The artwork on the can is inspired by the Spanish architecture of San Antonio’s missions, and the colors are a reference to the throwback Spurs jersey.  Cans will be available at H-E-B and other San Antonio retailers on release day.  Draft will also be available in Ranger Creek’s tasting room and select bars and restaurants in San Antonio. 

The second beer in the series will be released in draft form only to select bars and restaurants in March 2017, with 12-ounce cans beginning distribution to retail outlets in August 2017.  Freetail’s San Antonio Pale Ale is a dry-hopped American pale ale featuring generous late additions of El Dorado, Calypso and Huell Melon hops lending rich aromas of tropical fruits and citrus.  Freetail’s can artwork is a tip-of-the-hat to San Antonio’s famed annual Fiesta celebration.    

The final beer in the series will be released in March 2018.  It will be a special release made for SA300 and only available for a limited time.  The two breweries are keeping the details under lock and key until further notice.  A release announcement will be made at a future date.



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A New Brewmaster Joins Alamo Beer Company

Big news keeps coming from Alamo Beer Company.

James Hudec 2

James Hudec

James Hudec has been named brewmaster for its new San Antonio micro-brewery, which is set to open in the fall of 2014.

Hudec, whose brewing training began in Nuremberg, Germany, has held similar positions at Fort Worth-based Rahr & Sons, New Orleans Crescent City Brewhouse in the French Quarter, and more recently with Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants. He becomes the third member of the executive team and joins founder and CEO Eugene Simor and Jim Walter, formerly of Pabst Brewing Company, who was recently named chief operating officer.

“As we build our new facility, it’s important that we look to a brewing veteran like James to lead our production,” Simor said. “At the opening of the brewery, we will be producing our popular Alamo Golden Ale and anticipate the rollout of a lager and a seasonal.”

The new 18,000-square-foot microbrewery will open with the capacity to brew 20,000 barrels and can expand to 40,000 barrels.

Hudec will be responsible for managing production, product formulation, scheduling and quality control for the new brewery. He has also undertaken the task of designing and managing the construction of Alamo Beer Company’s brewing equipment.

Alamo Golden Ale began distributing throughout San Antonio in 2003. Currently brewed in Blanco, the local craft beer has expanded distribution into other markets in the state of Texas. Alamo Beer Company plans to begin construction of a multi-million dollar brewery in December with an estimated completion date of next October. The new brewery will be located half a mile from the historic Alamo and will boast a full production line, beer hall and beer garden. Tours will be available to the general public.


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Alamo Beer Company Names a Chief Operating Officer

Jim Walter has been named chief operating officer of Alamo Beer Company. The announcement arrives ahead of the groundbreaking of the company’s new San Antonio microbrewery. Walter brings more than 30 years of brewing management experience having spent time at Wisconsin-based G. Heileman Brewing and recently serving as chief operating/chief strategy officer of Pabst Brewing Company.

Jim Walter

Jim Walter

“Jim brings a depth of experience to our company that is comparable to any significant brewery in the country,” said Eugene Simor, Alamo Beer Company’s founder and CEO. “I’m looking forward to working with him on establishing an organization that produces a great beer, promotes our Texas values and continues contributing to the local economy.”

Walter will be responsible for establishing all operations in the 18,000 square-foot microbrewery, including manufacturing performance, human resources, procurement, product positioning and several other duties.

As COO at Pabst, the nation’s third largest brewer, Walter led the development of a complete brand repositioning strategy that generated an 18 percent growth of net revenue. He also led a process improvement and cost control project that generated $15 million in annual savings.

Alamo Golden Ale began distributing throughout San Antonio in 2003. Currently brewed in Blanco, the local craft beer has expanded distribution into other markets in the state of Texas. Alamo Beer Company will begin construction of a multi-million dollar brewery in December. Estimated completion date is October 2014. The new brewery will be situated half a mile from the historic Alamo and will boast a full production line, beer hall and beer garden.

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Freetail Brewing Co. Will Build on South Presa

Freetail Brewing Co. is announcing its second facility, located at 2000 S. Presa St., at 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

Along with the unveiling, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild will honor two state lawmakers, Rep. Mike Villarreal from District 123 and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte from District 26, with special awards commemorating their work in the Texas Legislature. Villarreal and Van de Putte were leading figures in the fight for statutory reform to aid the state’s burgeoning craft beer industry. The Guild estimates the new laws – which for the first time allow Texas breweries to sell directly to consumers and Texas brewpubs to sell into the wholesale market – could create up to $5 billion of new economic activity and 50,000 new jobs over the next decade. The news laws were signed by Gov. Rock Perry and went into effect on June 14.

freetailAccording to Villarreal, the new laws are working as he envisioned: “Freetail’s expansion is exactly what we had in mind when we wrote this legislation. By replacing outdated laws with smart regulations, we’re allowing small business owners to create new jobs. I’ll raise a glass to that.”

To benefit from the new laws, San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing Co. has announced they would be building a new facility with the capacity to allow for wholesale production. “At our original location, we simply don’t have the space,” said Freetail Founder & CEO Scott Metzger, adding that “we can hardly keep up with the demand for our beer for customers of our pub. Expanding into another facility was a no-brainer in terms of being able to take advantage of these new laws.”

Van de Putte said, This type of business expansion and job creation is exactly what I had in mind when I called together beer and spirits industry stakeholders back in 2012 to reform our Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. The craft beer sector was skyrocketing around the nation, yet Texas’ craft brewing industry was restrained by outdated laws. I applaud the Freetail success story and anticipate many more as Texas’  brewpubs finally catch up with pent-up demand for a great product.”

As previously rumored, the new Freetail facility, codenamed “Freetail2,” will be at 2000 S. Presa St., occupying 30,000 square feet of space on 1.8 acres. it will cost an estimated $3 million and creating 15 new jobs. Freetail2 will be designed in order to produce up to 10,000 barrels a year, the new statutory limit for brewpubs. The company’s goal, according to Metzger, is rooted in the company’s heritage: “San Antonio is my home town and Freetail is a San Antonio company. We want to be San Antonio’s beer.”

Saturday’s unveiling will begin at 11:15 a.m. and include a brief program introducing the space and presenting awards, followed by an open house and samples of Freetail product until 1 p.m. Villarreal and Van de Putte will be available for questions and to meet with constituents during the open house.


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Cans Are Best for Beer — and Not Just Because You Can Cook Chickens on Them

I once thought it was hard trying to keep up with all the wineries in the state, but now I think the growing number of breweries might give them a good run for their money.

Eric Warner raises a glass of Karbach's Sympathy for the Lager.

Eric Warner raises a glass of Karbach’s Sympathy for the Lager.

The latest to hit San Antonio is Karbach Brewing Co. from Houston, which has set up taps all over town. The beers are the work, in part, of brewmaster Eric Warner, who earned his degree in brewery science and has worked everywhere from Munich, Germany, to Flying Dog Brewery in Colorado. In just two years, Warner and his partners have helped make Karbach “Houston’s largest craft brewery,” he said in a telephone interview.

A diversified portfolio has helped attract attention, and so have the fancifully named selections, such as Sympathy for the Lager, Hopadillo IPA, Rodeo Clown Double IPA, Weisse Versa Wheat and Weekend Warrior. But it’s the beer behind that is drawing customers back for more.

“We’re very fortunate to have developed such a strong local following that it gives us the luxury to be able to expand close to home,” Warner said.

Karbach WeisseCanThe San Antonio expansion is happening in several stages. Right now, Karbach is only available on tap, but you won’t have to look too hard to find it. The beer has been placed in more than 100 establishments throughout the city. I found the bracingly strong Rodeo Clown Double IPA at the Point Park and Eats and the refreshing Sympathy for the Lager at the Flying Saucer.

“Just look for the good places that carry craft beer,” he advised.

In the fall, you can expect to find Karbach available in cans. That’s right. No bottles for the brewery. Warner wants it that way.

He finds cans are far better for preserving the flavor he wants than bottles — and there are a number of reasons why this is.

One is that the can does not allow any light to interact with the beer.

Why is that bad? “If you leave a bottle in the sunlight, the beer can get skunky. This becomes more pronounced with clear glass,” he said.

Warner went on to criticize the bottle caps, which are not as airtight as you might think. “The seal’s not perfect,” he said. “On a can, the seal’s more impervious.”

Besides, a freshly popped beer can is perfect for grilling chicken. Warner suggested the Sympathy for the Lager, his tribute to German- and Czech-style lagers, as the best to use.

Making so many beers and making each one consistent are challenges that Warner seems to welcome. Part of making can after can and keg after keg of a particular brew taste the same is being able to use the same  hops. Home brewers know this can be a problem because there’s been a worldwide hops shortage for several years now, and “the most-coveted hop varieties are now contracted a year or two in advance,” he said.

Karbach HopadilloCanWarner has skilled brewers working with him to ensure standards are met and consistent flavor profiles emerge every time someone goes to the tap. But he was also straightforward that the job pool of master beer craftsmen in Texas isn’t what you’d find in micro-brewery havens like Colorado or Oregon. “It’s not perfect, but we’re doing well with it,” he said.

By the way, the name of the brewery comes from its location in Houston: Karbach Street. It’s also the name of a town in Bavaria, and, as the brewery’s website says, “We hear they drink a lot of great beer there.”

The growing field of food and beer pairing naturally appeals to Warner, who suggests newcomers start by trying to match the intensity of the beer with the intensity of the food they’re eating. And get playful with both. Think about matching Karbach’s Weisse Versa Wheat with pancakes, while the fall seasonal offering, Karbachtoberfest, goes great with, what else?, brats and pretzels.

Putting beer and food together is made even easier when you consider, as Warner said,  “It’s hard to find a food that beer doesn’t go with.”

For more information on Karbach Brewing Co. and for some videos of Warner discussing his beers, click here.

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Freetail Brewing Co. Is Throwing a Big Party This Weekend

Four years of beer. It’s a great start, and it’s what the folks at Freetail Brewing Company, 4065 N. Loop 1604 W., are gearing to celebrate this weekend, Nov. 23-25.

“We’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but will be open all weekend celebrating our fourthanniversary with the release of our fouranniversary brew (“Four”) – a German Chocolate inspired beer made with toasted coconut and cacao,” founder Scott Metzger says. “We’ll also have a bunch of other favorites on tap that we stocked up throughout the year.”

According to the brewery’s website, beers available now include Buffalo Hump 1840 IPA, Freetail Ale, Hopothesis F, La Muerta, Rye Wit, La Rubia, Morning Wit, Otono Bienvenido and Schoppe’s Lichtenhainer. But you can expect even more than that. A partial list includes American Amber Ale, American India Pale Ale, Belgian Black IPA, Crazy Green Beer, Crazy Pink Beer, Chile Limon Wit, Cherry Wit and Spirulina Wit.

Sounds like a party to us.

For more information, call (210) 395-4974.


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Beer of the Week: Big Sky IPA

Opening a beer doesn’t generally remind me of wine, but the Big Sky IPA is an exception.

I opened a bottle recently and discovered a huge explosion of caramel sweetness and flowers bursting forth in the aroma, in keeping with some India pale ales, though perhaps not at quite this intensity. And there was just the right amount of hoppiness bitterness on the palate. Nice.

And just like one of favorite summertime wines, the Argentine Torrontés, which smells floral and sweet but is dry and crisp in your mouth.

But enough about wine. Back to the beer.

Big  Sky IPA poured a rich copper color with one finger of foam that lingered quite a while.

Those intense aromas carried over into the taste, as caramel, flavors of wheat, a touch of orange and herbs mixed with that hoppy bitterness, all leading to a lengthy finish that had a metallic touch.

I enjoyed this brew with a spicy Caribbean-style oxtail stew and let the various spices in both beer and stew complement each other. the same would be true for pairing this with Mexican street tacos with plenty of onion and cilantro on top or grilled burgers with pickles and, again, onions on a whole wheat bun.

This beer comes from Big Sky Brewing is in Missoula, Mont., an area that has plenty of sky indeed — and now it has beers with enough flavor to match.

Brew notes

A new brewery, Busted Sandal Brewing Company, has plans on opening in SA later this year.

According to the company’s website, the “nanobrewery” will specialize in small craft brews made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients: “We are full of brewing energy! Our ambition is to privately brew 20 concept batches in 18 weeks! In November, members of the ‘secret taster’s circle’ will judge the concept batches. From these 20 beers we will select only our best to move forward with. By this time, we will be very close to beginning pilot batch brewing and will begin opening our tasting events to the public!”

The company is the work of brewer and founder Michael DiCicco, “brewchitect” Robert Garza and brewer Joseph Alvarado, who is also responsible for brand development. Follow them on Twitter @bustedsandal for more details.


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Beer of the Week: Grilling and Swilling Some Great Brews

Memorial Day weekend is a perfect chance to put a few six-packs on ice, light up the charcoal and relax.

But what beers go best with grilled or smoked meat? The easy answer is whatever you like, of course. A light treat like a Pacifico will go great while you’re sweating over a fire. But is it the best choice for the burgers you’re cooking up or the brisket you’re smoking?

My thought is always to have some fun, go for something new, something that adds to the party. Here are three choices to bear in mind when you’re at the store.

With burgers, one option would be Shiner’s new Wild Hare Pale Ale, which is floral and nicely hoppy, certainly bold enough to stand up to the beef. Or pork. Or even rabbit, as Jeff Balfour of Citrus demonstrated recently when he was drinking the Wild Hare while making cheese-stuffed rabbit burgers.

I asked Mark McDavid of Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling for a recommendation from his lineup. “Our Mesquite Smoked Porter is perfect for a barbecue,” he says. “It’s not the beer you’ll drink while you’re grilling. It really shines as an ingredient/marinade, so you can drizzle some on your burgers while grilling or marinate your sausages in it. It’s also a great beer to drink with your food. The roasty, smokey, dark chocolate flavors from the beer pair well with grilled red meats and can bring out new dimensions of flavor in food. Plus, our Mesquite Smoked Porter is a beer made for Texans, and grilling is also made for Texans, so enjoying both together can make you feel like a very proud Texan!”

A third choice would be the Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, which I like to pair with a big slab of blue cheese or aged cheddar on that burger. The beer has a certain creaminess that matches the cheese, while the bitterness, with flavors of coffee  and chocolate, provides a rewarding contrast.

All three would add life and more than a little flavor to your weekend.

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Beer of the Week: Five Beers That Go with Ham



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





What's on tap for Easter?

Sunday is Easter, and hams are practically flying out of the supermarket. So, many possibilities await home cooks. You could dress it up sweet with a honey glaze or brown sugar. You could go savory with mustard and spices. You could go salty with a country ham or smoke it until it boasts a great hickory or pecan flavor.

All these possibilities mean a host of possibilities for the beer that you want to go with dinner.

Here are five brews we have featured in the past and reasons why each would go with that centerpiece.

Franziskaner Weissbier: This German beauty is great with ham and other light foods. Notes of clove and coriander on both the nose and in the flavor make it a great companion to the old-fashioned but ever-welcome style of covering your ham with pineapple slices adhered with cloves. My mom used to make ham like that, and it’s still a crowd-pleaser.

Lindemans Pomme Lambic: Pork and apples are natural companions, so why not try an apple-flavored brew with ham of any style? Lindemans’ lineup of lambic is a great choice if you want to serve people who think they don’t like beer.

Smithwick’s: This Irish ale is rich and fruity with a pleasant touch of bitterness, just right if you’re going with a smoky ham or even with grilled ham steaks. It also will like your mashed potatoes and most all of your side dishes.

Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale: This local brew night not be the best match with a ham that’s been heavily sweetened, but it’s versatile enough to go with just about every other style, from country ham to one rubbed in a mustard sauce. It’s also coolly refreshing if you’re having a picnic in the heat.

Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer: This is a great addition if any of your guests are avoiding gluten, but it’s also a fine enough brew to hold its own against a honey-glazed ham.

Happy Easter!

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Beer of the Week: Stella Artois


Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Stella Artois

This lager is probably Belgium’s most famous beer. Not necessarily the best, mind you, but certainly the most popular.

Popularity is, after all, determined by those qualities that are most desired and yet can also appeal to the public at large. So, don’t expect Stella Artois (pronounced R-twah) to provide the same complexity you’ll find in the Chimay brews or an Orval. But do expect a finely crafted beer that’s great for quaffing on a hot day.

In other words, grab a six-pack of this if you’ve got to mow the lawn and put in any spring flowers this weekend. You’ll be able to reward yourself for a job well done. And if it rains, you can still reward yourself for your good intentions.

What you’ll notice first when you start pouring the beer is a gorgeous golden color that shows off the wheat to good effect. The head builds nicely but soon dissipates to little lacing around the edge.

The brewery suggests you pour it into a chalice, and it even offers deals on its website where you can get your own engraved chalice to drink it from. Click here to learn more.

The nose is filled with wheat and a slight skunky quality that’s not off-putting, just somewhat odd.

The taste is what makes the beer so popular. It’s pleasant, with a refreshing lightness and clean feeling that has a touch of wheat and an even lighter note of hoppiness. The finish is dry and a touch bitter, in the best way possible.

This is lager at its most essential. It tastes like beer, like what you think of when you think of beer, like beer on a Platonic level.

So, don’t think. Drink.

That’s what people love about Stella Artois and it’s what will have you wanting more.

It’s perfect with a great deal of flavors, so you can have with whatever you have a hankering for. At the Lion and Rose, you could start with spicy Hackney Hot Wings or go with something as comforting and earthy as Holloway Road Hummus. Then move on to a Lion and Rose Garden Salad with cheddar, bacon and egg or Fin, Feather and Shell, a fried plate of fish, chicken and shrimp.

You might want to finish the Artois before dessert, because its bitterness will fight sweets. Or you could have another instead of dessert.



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