A Primer on Freetail's Downtown Brewery

Scott Metzger is almost too zen as we talk on the phone about the impending opening of Freetail’s Brewery and Tasting Room on South Presa this November. The economics professor turned brewery owner talked about what he’s doing to control his nerves, how he’s expanding his team, what the brewery means for San Antonio and when you can get your first taste of the hoppy stuff.

What’s the word on your debut?

We’ll be at San Antonio Beer Festival with the five beers in our initial lineup.

What’s the lineup look like?

We’re going to have three [beers] in cans and two in bottles. In cans we’ll have the Bat Outta Helles, our German-style lager that’s lighter, and our more accessible beer that will be available year-round. The other year-round offering will be our Third Coast IPA, and our third can will be a seasonal that rotates quarterly. We’ll start with Oktoberfiesta for the last two weeks of October and add another in the beginning of November. We’ll have two beers that will be in 22-ounce bottles. Our Witicus double Belgian-style witbier and our Freetail Ale, a throwback to the first Freetail Ale we did at the pub that’s a little stronger than what people find these days; it’s slightly hoppier. We had tweaked the recipe to make it less strong and more sessionable [for the brewpub]. This one’s a bit more potent, something you can enjoy at home that’s a little stronger. We’ll have seasonal bottles through the year—the first will be the annual release of La Muerta, our imperial stout, the first week of November.

What’s production look like so far for the beer cans?

We’re looking at half a million cans in our first year, that’s our goal. We’ll have to see how much people like us.

Is the facility close to done?

We’re pretty much done. We’re here in the space, we got all our permits approved. We’re officing down here now every day. There are a few punch-list items our contractor is finishing up. We’ll open to the public on November 7. It’s a First Friday, so let’s just go for it right out of the gate. After that our normal hours will be Thursday and Friday, 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, 2-9 p.m. The tasting room can fit 150 to 200 comfortably, sitting and standing. We have a massive bar that’s even bigger than the one at the brewpub, but it won’t be the type of deal where you come in and sit there. We’ll invite food trucks out to provide food, but we won’t have a kitchen.

You’re a little too calm for someone that’s about to open a brewery…

We’ve been through this before … the bigger point of any unknowns or nervousness is the fact that we’ll have our beer out for wholesale. Instead of one point of contact with the brewpub [which isn’t going anywhere], we’ll have a second taproom and hundreds of points of contact wherever they have our beer, so there are so many things to worry about. Product quality has to be top notch either way, and if anyone is having a bad experience, be it from dirty taps or pipes, that’ll reflect poorly on us. These are the little things we have to worry about. We’re approaching this with a sense of excitement because this is what we’ve been working toward since we opened the pub.

What will the pub’s role be in the future?

Our core beers here will be a lot different from what people have come to expect from us. We’ve had three year-round beers with 10 to 15 other seasonal beers available on tap. Now, we’ll have five year-round beers. It’s a very different approach for people who have come to expect any of the 200 beers we’ve made. It’ll be about managing people’s expectations … we still have the pub, that’s still free to carry on all that experimentation. We’re going to view it as an incubator, or test facility, and let its hair down even more than before.

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