San Antonio, TX

In San Antonio, we practiced being tourists and stayed in an air conditioned hotel in the heart of downtown near the Riverwalk area. We biked along the river spying water taxis, ducks and fish in the river. We soon realized that it was too damn hot to do anything but sit in the shade and be still. That didn’t stop us from biking around the city and to the Alamo. The Alamo, much to our surprise, was in the middle of city, not in the middle of the desert as we had always imagined. The city grew all around this historic site where Texas was won.
San Antonio has not yet realized its potential in the craft beer industry, so we had to seek out our fine beers based on recommendations. We had heard about Freetail, an awesome brewpub that was kind of in the suburbs. The brewpub is named after the Mexican Freetail bat, which if you are from North Carolina, looks like a small dragon and is actually the official flying mammal for the state of Texas. Whoops. Roy the manager was kind enough to set the record straight about this and let us sample some of their beers. The Broken Treaty IPA and the Round Earth IPA were delicious and we were pleasantly surprised by the Witicus. We enjoyed talking beer and koozie business with him and Michael, a Freetail regular. Michael gave us a great recommendation for dinner “just down the road”.
Now, “just down the road” in Texas is a lot different than on the east coast. We arrivedat the Dodging Duck Restaurant & Brewhaus forty minutes later in Boerne, TX to find that the restaurant was celebrating its 10th Anniversary! The owner, Keith, was good enough to take the time to talk to us during his celebration. We sat on the porch enjoying the small town ambiance and savoring our chance to have vegetables for the first time in Texas. The beers that we sampled were theSir Francis Drake Porter and the Old Speckled Duck E.S.B. We left and walked along the Cibolo River, watching the dozens of ducks with full stomachs and knowing that the drive was worth it. Locals rock.
San Antonio wouldn’t have been complete without us visiting Ranger Creek Brewing & Distillery. That’s right, we got to taste some bourbon that recently won the American Distillers Institute Bronze Award in 2012. The owner, TJ gave us a tour and taught us a little more about the distilling process that was happening alongside the brewing equipment. While sipping on the Oatmeal Pale Ale (which was delicious) we learned that the submarine looking thing is actually copper still for distilling the bourbon.
Outside, in the hot Texas sun on a 100 degree day, TJ took us to see a forty and a twenty foot shipping container out back. The first held casks upon casks of small oak barrels aging the bourbon. When you step inside the container, your senses are filled with the aging process. With watering eyes and noses on fire from the heady aroma, we felt the heated metal rims of the bottom barrels versus the top barrels and learned of the 20 degree temperature difference in the solar heated environment. The smaller shipping container was actually a smoker for the grains that would be soon be turned into yummy beer. We asked TJ what gave him the idea to use shipping containers in this way and he referred to his time in the US Army where containers were often used in many ways. We were so impressed with TJ’s passion and good old fashioned American ingenuity. ’Merica.
On our way out of town, we stopped by Blue Star Brewing Company that was still undergoing construction during our stay. Alex at Blue Star was sweet enough to listen to our spiel about what AWESOME beer gifts our Oowee Koozies make even though she and the rest of the crew were busy remodeling their facility. We really wished that we could have hung out with the Blue Star team because the South Town area where they were located was very artsy and cool. It reminded us of Asheville’s very own River Arts District. As Gabriel was getting some spare bike tubes at the cycling shop next doors, he got a great recommendation to take a smaller highway up to Austin and visit another great brewery in Blanko, TX. So we did.
Blanko was a part of Texas’ hill country that we have found to be incredibly beautiful and wild. The guys were hanging out at Real Ale Brewing Company, and Tyler was kind enough to give us a tour of the facility. We found it to be immaculate and they were expanding into a whole additional warehouse! After the tour, we got to shoot the breeze with Tummy, the laboratory man and their buddy Kelly, who was starting up a brewery of his own in New Braunfels, TX. Tummy tried to teach us big “science words” like “lactobacillus” that were integral in the processes of making some of their beers. If you are reading this blog and thinking that I am going to explain any of them, you’ve got the wrong blog. But here are a few sites that can help: American Chemical Society and The Chemistry of Making Beer. We sipped on their flagship beer the Fireman’s #4 Blond Ale as well as several of their seasonal and year round brews.