More than any of the other beer-makers to have sprung up in San Antonio, 5 Stones Artisan Brewery embodies the visionary spirit of independent brewing. Since going public on March 1, 2013, brewmaster and owner Seth Weatherly has produced 15 different beers, sold exclusively in 750-milliliter champagne bottles, whose ingredients are as much at home in a gourmet kitchen as in a lauter tun. This uncompromising philosophy has garnered 5 Stones a number of awards and loyal drinkers across Central Texas. Over the course of a few beers on a recent Sunday afternoon, Weatherly discussed how the self-reliance, integrity and fidelity to one’s vision have served as motivation for one of Texas’ most innovative breweries.
The brewery is located in Cibolo, roughly half an hour from downtown San Antonio, in the same commercial space that houses Weatherly’s cabinet business. He estimates that 5 Stones produces between 600 and 800 bottles per batch, brewing on a “loosely seasonal” schedule that best follows their distinctive ingredients. Their most visible offering, the Aloha Piña, incorporates pineapples and jalapeños; the Norma Jean is brewed to coincide with the Poteet Strawberry festival, when Weatherly and his family pick their fruit in the morning and have it in the mash by the afternoon. Elsewhere, clover, honey, cocoa nibs, black strap molasses and roasted pumpkin find their way into recipes. Everything is sourced from the Lone Star State as much as possible, including the pineapples, which Weatherly buys wholesale from H-E-B.
Their emphasis on fresh ingredients and direct distributing has so far kept 5 Stones’ beers within a 90-mile radius of Cibolo. They are distributed widely across San Antonio and Austin, including the bottle shop at Austin’s world-renowned Jester King Brewery (Weatherly estimates that 60 percent of their sales come from the state capitol). Though orders come in from across the state, Weatherly’s focus is on producing his beer properly, even if it means sticking closer to home.
This attention and care for detail extends to the brewery’s distinctive artwork. After trying out several professional designers with lackluster results, Weatherly found artist Haley Householder by contacting his alma mater Texas State University. Indeed, Householder’s whimsical, cartoony illustrations display a remarkable connection with Weatherly’s beer.[Related: 10 Whimsical Labels from 5 Stones Artisan Brewery]
As to the provenance of the brewery’s name, it turns out to be straight from the pages of the Good Book, both reflecting Weatherly’s faith and providing an apt metaphor for beer mavericks like him. “I remember watching Beer Wars,” he said, “and after finishing that documentary, I thought, ‘If there is a David and Goliath story in American business, it is this’… Those small Davids, 20 years ago, are the ones that slew the giant that allowed me to brew a beer with pineapples and jalapeños so nobody looks at me like I’m freakin’ crazy.”