High-school chemistry teachers haven’t had the best PR of late. Walter White might feed your Netflix quota, but he doesn’t necessarily inspire the healthiest life choices. Funny then that I first heard about Missions Untapped in a teachers’ workroom. Word was that the chemistry teacher and baseball coach at the school where I taught, Xavier Garcia, would be opening San Antonio’s third growler station with his sister and brother-in-law, Yvette Garcia and Chris George. With summer break mercifully upon us, I dropped in a few days ahead of their official June 28 opening to chat with them about their venture into San Antonio’s burgeoning craft beer scene.
“Ever since I was old enough to drink,” declared George, “I always went for something a little more. I started out with Miller Genuine Draft. Once I joined the Air Force, I got a taste of the Bass and Newcastle that floated around the base. I liked a good black-and-tan and that sort of thing. I never was a Bud Light guy.”
Xavier credits Sam Adams’ Gingerbread Stout as his gateway beer into a porter/stout fixation. Yvette remains a non-beer drinker, though an expert on non-alcoholic alternatives—Abita Root Beer sits in the cooler alongside the Old Rasputin and Sam Smith.
They all became regulars at Big Hops on Broadway shortly after its opening. For George, the impetus for opening his own establishment came from a particularly lengthy session at the San Anto growler station among a crowd of thirsty beer drinkers. “My dad was visiting from Pittsburgh and we went down to Big Hops before Thanksgiving and sat there for about four hours. They couldn’t keep track of our tabs, there were so many people coming in. I was about 17 months away from retirement from the Air Force and figured, ‘Hell, why not give it a shot?’”
After a five-hour planning session with Xavier and Yvette, the three emerged with a name, a vision and a blueprint for making their mark on the emergent craft beer scene in the Alamo City. With some assistance from George’s father and son, the brothers-in-law secured the space that formerly housed part of Revolution Room on Broadway and set about renovating the space from the ground up.
The resulting establishment reflects both the family and city that nurtured it. “We wanted something that would remind patrons of San Antonio,” said George. “We wanted to keep in touch with the missions and the Catholic Church. Without the missions, this would still be a cow town. Without the monks, you wouldn’t have this beer.”
Indeed, pictures of the five historic missions hang on the wall, kitty-corner to the four shelves of growlers emblazoned with the pub’s logo. The interior, furnished with exposed wood, a granite bar top and a small stage for musicians, reflects the hands-on approach the proprietors apply to every aspect of their business.
“Everything you see has been recycled or reused,” said George. “The only thing we spent money on was the beer lines, because they had to be good.” Their grassroots sensibility extends to even grander ambitions, too: The back room is currently under construction to host a second bar where homebrewers can set up to serve to fellow DIY drinkers gratis.
Indeed, Missions Untapped offers plentiful reasons for the local beer hound to visit. With 10 taps chilled in the walk-in cooler that George and Xavier built by hand, their preference for strong, dark malty beers is on full display, along with a growing selection of bottled and canned brews. Since Missions Untapped doubles as a growler station as well as a pub, we settled on 64 ounces of Adelbert’s Philosophizer saison to carry home.
They’re also helping enlighten the masses both new and close to home. “My mom was a Miller Lite girl,” said Yvette. “She said, ‘I’m not going to drink that dark stuff.’ Now she’s drinking Strawberry Cream Ale. Now that we’re out, she’s like, ‘What am I going to drink now?’ I told her not to worry—Chris would find something for her.” Cheers to that.
8123 Broadway, Ste B