Bottle & tap

It’s been seven years since San Antonio’s Alamo Beer Co. founder Eugene Simor began picking up kegs of Alamo Golden Ale from a little brewery in Blanco and delivering it to draught accounts out of his minivan.

Since then, Blanco’s Real Ale Brewing Co. has moved to a bigger brewery and is fighting to keep up with demand even as it makes beer under contract for Alamo.

Alamo Golden Ale, thanks in part to a distribution agreement with major Texas wholesaler Ben E. Keith Beverages, now sells about 3,000 barrels a year. (For those of us who don’t buy by the barrel, that’s equal to about 6,000 kegs or 41,000 cases of 12-ounce bottles.)

Gesturing out over 1.9 acres of former parking lot at a near-Eastside location within hiking distance of The Alamo and the heart of the tourist district, Simor talks about his vision for a new brewery that will accommodate the next round of expansion.

If all goes as planned, Alamo Beer Co. could be making its own beer in San Antonio by early 2012. The brewery would be built in phases and is designed to expand to 60,000 barrels of beer a year as it gains ground in markets outside San Antonio.

Simor envisions building party and event space into the brewery location and perhaps a rooftop bar that would be independently owned and operated so as to not run afoul of archaic alcoholic beverage laws in Texas.

“A brewery done right is not just another manufacturing building. It’s a community building,” Simor said. Residents will embrace well-made local products, being able to interact with the brewery through tours, and special events will enhance that loyalty, he said.

Brooklyn Brewing Co. in New York is a classic example of how a civic-minded brewery can turn a rundown warehouse district into a community gathering point while pulling in tourists and aiding economic revitalization. Every Friday night at Brooklyn, the doors are thrown open to the public and beer flows, while neighborhood residents and beer adventurers from around the world congregate.

The prospective Alamo brewery site, the nailing down of which still requires certain finagling with the city, would bridge the gap between a community and a warehouse and manufacturing area. Even without the new brewery, Alamo is rolling out into the Austin, Houston, and Dallas markets next year and has done well in some test runs in Corpus Christi and Padre Island. •

Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is author of the book Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. He can be reached at [email protected].

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