San Antonio's craft beer scene has exploded in recent years. If you haven't noticed you're likely loyal to big brand beers or you've been living under a rock. Or perhaps, you've just been living on the far West Side of town, where spots that serve hungry craft beer enthusiasts are as patchy as a teenager's beard.
Mad Pecker Brewery Company "tempt[s] the taste of those willing to try," and due to its location on 6025 Tezel Road, it will need to convert locals to succeed. If you're like me and live 10 minutes from a Freetail or Big Hops, driving 20 plus minutes sounds like a groan-inducing task. Mad Pecker is surrounded by road construction, dim street lighting and its entrance faces Timber Path, not Tezel Road, making your first trip there a bit of an adventure. Mercifully, the beer selection justifies the trip even if it lacks anything new.
Its website describes the "Mad Pecker" character as "shunned by society" and sent away to "live in solitude," which can easily describe the location. Inside and out, the Pecker looks more like a "neighborhood" bar than most of its counterparts. It certainly has a more approachable vibe for those unacquainted with the craft scene and boasts a friendly staff.
Don't let my description fool you, it's a stylish setting for a night of drinking. A classy-looking, eye-catching chandelier greets you next to the bar, with the entire place decked out in red, black and gold. Not to mention a Chicago Cubs flag hung on the entrance wall, which indicates to me that the Mad Pecker's owner must be after my heart.
I started out with their poutine fries and the Wick For Brains Pumpkin Ale from Nebraska Brewing Company, both good choices that helped pass time during a somewhat long wait for one of the artisan pizzas. Patrons will debate whether Pecker's take on pizza stands up to Freetail's proven selection but the two are different enough to warrant giving the Mad Pecker a shot. I ordered their Hawaiian and Veggie pizzas, both filled with fresh toppings and a crispy crust that tastes homemade in all the right ways. A 12-inch pizza will set you back $8 and is more than enough to satisfy your hunger.
If you're reading this you've probably said to yourself, "I'm not driving past Ingram unless they've got a good beer selection." Well, all of your favorites are here: Alamo, Branchline, Freetail, Guadalupe, Independence, Live Oak, Ranger Creek, Stone and Real Ale. Their list of breweries from the Lone Star State just keeps going, with Texas beers dominating the tap list. You certainly get a wider selection with your pizza than you would get at Freetail since the Mad Pecker doesn't have any original brews to promote.
It is hard to not compare the Mad Pecker to all of its competitors, due to the increase of craft beer bars that offer food in SA. The atmosphere is friendlier and more easy-going than other bars and the selection of brews is deep, varied and highlights many of Texas' best breweries. Many of Mad Pecker's drinks are priced a bit higher than the competition, which is likely due to there not being a whole lot of drinking and dining options close to it.
Competition is a good thing and with San Antonio's craft beer scene expanding more than ever, random neighborhood bars like the Mad Pecker will start popping up. Mad Pecker Brewing Company is proof that there is demand for craft bars in parts of town you wouldn't have expected. With tasty pizza and an extensive list of brews, the Mad Pecker definitely deserves a spot in your pub rotation. You'll just have to spend a bit more on gas and beer if you don't live nearby.