There is little doubt that 20 years ago San Antonio was a vast beer wasteland, as was most of the country. Craft brewing was still young in places like California, Colorado, and Oregon, and regional breweries like Spoetzl in Shiner and Yuengling outside of Philadelphia were doing what they could to remind the public that beer was allowed to have some flavor.
Today, the Shiner brands, owned by San Antonio-based Gambrinus Co., are stronger than ever with the frequent new releases of classic German and Czech styles and distribution to half the nation.
Blue Star Brewing Co. celebrates 15 years in 2011, most of that time serving as the city’s only brewpub. Freetail Brewing Co. is taking innovation in craft beer to new levels. And Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling brings microbrewing back to the city with its first releases next month.
Now, the question is, with so many choices, where am I going to drink tonight?
Central Market on Broadway will be celebrating some of that beer bounty starting this week and going into the first week of October with its Brewtopia event featuring homebrew demonstrations, beer and food pairings, and demonstrations in cooking with beer. Check the cooking school tab at centralmarket.com for a full list of events.
At Freetail, they have 19 of their own beers on tap right now, a major feat for even the most established brewpubs in the nation.
Especially worth trying over the next week are the Hatch chile versions of the rubio fumando. It starts with a slightly smoky version of the golden ale La Rubia and then adds either Hatch green chile or roasted Hatch chiles to provide a little sweetness and heat that pairs well with nearly everything on the brick oven menu.
Small batches of the tantalizingly sour Solara VI and the coffee porter are also on draft.
At Ranger Creek, Rob Landeman says they have two batches of beer in fermentation that should be available on draft and in bottles by mid-October if all goes well with label approval from the state beer overseers. •
Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current. He is the author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewers of the Lone Star State. He can be reached at [email protected].