Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SA's Freetail Brewing picks Houston

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2011 at 12:06 PM

In 2012, Houston beer drinkers will get what they've been waiting for: a brewpub.

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Since the Two Rows brewpub in Houston shut it's doors in October over a rent dispute with the landlord, Houston has had to make do with it's myriad of great beer bars and a handful of local microbreweries. Not so shabby. But being the fouth largest city in the nation and not have a brewpub, even as the craft-brew craze reached molten-lava intensity, was a distinction that city's beer lovers could do without. They were smarting when down to one.

Last year, with business success and beer that has received state and nationwide noteriety, San Antonio's Freetail Brewing Co., began a hunt for a second location. (In Texas, brewpubs can only sell their beer on the site where it is brewed, so it usually comes along with a restaurant).

Scott Metzger created Project Gemini to attract the attention of suitors for a brewpub and floated the ideas of New Braunfels, San Marcos and Dallas as possible locations. Those were mostly red herrings and a strategy usually used by big corporations to squeeze incentives out of cities, by giving the illusion of competition for those jobs.

It was always Houston. Or at the very least Houston emerged very early on as the place to go not only because it made sense, but because the community really wanted it. Freetail fans living in Houston not only would visit the San Antonio brewery whenever they could and make their pleas to owner Metzger. A Twitter handle @freetailhouston and Facebook page FreetailHouston quickly emerged from the fan base.

Houston downtown development officials beered and dined Metzger on visits to the city and showed him historic downtown buildings that came with economic incentives. Even the mayor sent a letter urging Freetail to come on downtown and help with the revitalization effort.

Meanwhile, the city of San Antonio continued hitting Freetail with citations for noise ordinance violations even after decibil testing determined they were not in violtation. Metzger even ended up in court for citations given by SAPD for loud music based on neighborhood complaints on nights when there was no music on the outdoor patio. The mayors office has declined to meet with the owner of Freetail, even about doing more business in the city.

The official announcement of Freetail Houston later this afternoon is very good news, but an opportunity was lost for having the news during  this San Antonio Beer Week be about a second location in our own fair city.

(Update: The full announcement is located at Scott's blog  and you can also find the transcript of an online chat between Freetail fans and Metzger at the bottom of a blog post here.)

Prosit!

Travis E. Poling

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