The Bar Tab

For months I’d ridden by San Antonio Homebrew on my bike without ever giving the place more than a third thought. The windows looked dark. There wasn’t a large sign in the front. Were the lights on? Were they even open?

By the name of the place, I assumed they served beer-making supplies. (Yes, I went to college.) But were it not for being tipped off by my friend, I might not have realized they actually serve beer on tap — and good beer, too. Now that I’m writing the Bar Tab for the Current, people keep suggesting places for me to drink, but where were all those suggestions when I was just a normal citizen trying to do it by myself, lost in the wilderness?

I rolled by for a round with friends Julie and Ben around 6 p.m. As we walked inside, the place did indeed seem dark. Brewing supplies are arranged by the owner’s logic, as in things aren’t super neat and tidy, but have their own inherent order. Having said that, I would be disappointed if the place were immaculate and brightly lit. It doubles as a bar, not as a hospital. But I didn’t have to go about the store digging around for different grades of hops and yeast; the bins and shelves were just interesting production design to me.

As we took a look around, I noticed the owner making several trips through the store, gathering ingredients for a customer’s large order. There were a few handmade tables in the center of the store and a decent-sized bar against the left wall. A few dogs walked casually around the store. The place was actually pretty crowded, but amazingly, for a place that felt like a West Texas saloon-general store from the 1880s, no one was smoking. I’d be surprised if that was an accident.

There were a few beers on tap: Stella, a Real Ale Coffee Porter, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. All fine options. I went for the poor man’s 8-ball, the Coffee Porter, and after seeing how dark and dense it was, my friends changed their order to a Stella. The owner was busy, but had time to give me a few home-brewing tips. He was friendly, even though my questions were probably pretty stupid. Before I knew it, 7 p.m. rolled around and the place was closing.

No place multi-tasks like the Cove (and why try?), but SA Homebrew Supply serves a needed function. Though not a typical bar, it allows serious beer lovers a place to go and discuss brew. If the time is right, and I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll stop by again.

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