Beer and cocktails

Islla St. Brewing Draws on Family Roots

Islla St. Brewing Draws on Family Roots

Last year, Islla St. Brewing Co. introduced themselves to San Antonio at the San Antonio Beer Festival in the Dignowity neighborhood of downtown.

Now, San Antonio’s newest brewery is ready to bring their wares to the public this weekend, with a more formal opening to include special events set for next weekend.

“We’re excited to finally open our doors to San Antonio,” said Joaquin Pena co-founder and brewer for Islla Street. “It’s been a long three year road and we’re ready to bring our unique brews to everyone.” Pena and brother Josh draw heavily from their cultural influences to create beers that they hope will highlight the unique flavors of their heritage. Josh handles the front end of the house, as well as brewing with Joaquin.

Roadmap Brewing Debuts In San Antonio

Roadmap Brewing Debuts In San Antonio

Today has all the ear marks of being a great day. Outside of the pending rain, San Antonio sees the grand opening of Roadmap Brewing Co., headed up by Texas transplant Dustin Baker, along with his wife and father. Baker, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, took to San Antonio after several visits with his wife to visit his sister.

Baker, who, like many, caught the brewing bug after a homebrew kit was gifted to him and once in the Alamo City, felt the urge to open his own brewery. Baker saw a bustling, but still largely untapped market. After months of looking for a location, he took possession of the keys to his location at North Alamo and 8th Street. Baker came upon his brewery’s name after talking with his architect and wishing there was a roadmap to opening a brewery.

Texas Beer Again Shows It Is Not To Be Messed With

Texas Beer Again Shows It Is Not To Be Messed With

nother Craft Brewers Conference is in the books and with it another World Beer Cup. Held every two years, the World Beer Cup sets its self apart from other competitions like the Great American Beer Festival and the U.S. Open Beer Championships, as the competition is on an international scale and not limited to entrants from only the United States. 

This year’s competition saw judges from 33 countries, a whopping 72 percent of whom were from outside the United States. This elite group of judges evaluated 8,234 beers, an increase of 25 percent over the number of entries at the 2016 World Beer Cup, held in Philadelphia. Of the 2,515 participating breweries, 807 were from outside the United States.

Homebrewing Icon Charlie Papazian Retires From The Brewers Association

Homebrewing Icon Charlie Papazian Retires From The Brewers Association

1978. That was the year that Charlie Papazian published the first issue of Zymurgy Magazine ,along with Charlie Matzen and announced the formation of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). That same year homebrewing became legal in the United States thanks to President Jimmy Carter. Charlie (he wouldn’t let me call him Mr. Papazian) had been teaching homebrewing classes for years prior to legalization. 

He’s authored several books focusing on homebrewing, including the now classic 'The Complete Joy of Homebrewing’, which has been updated many times over the years. His original wooden brewing spoon now resides at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He’s taught thousands of students, many of whom went on to found commercial breweries including Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper, who founded the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Texas Craft Brewers Guild Launches Political Action Committee

Texas Craft Brewers Guild Launches Political Action Committee

Not ones to give up, the State’s brewers continued with the campaign for education to show just how these archaic beer laws were and how much of a stranglehold they were placing on small business in Texas. They were joined by the grassroots consumer advocacy group Open The Taps, who formed in 2011 in response to the legislative defeat, and together with a few friendly distributors, were able to make some headway in 2013 having a few laws changed for the better. 

Though some advancement was seen in 2013, a little was lost as well. When the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions rolled around, the states small and independent brewers saw more inaction. With Open The Taps fading and the distributor lobbies doubling down, it was difficult to see what could be done. With the launch of CraftPac, we have a combined group representing the State’s brewers and consumers giving both a legislative voice.

Inaugural Brewmasters’ Invitational Sets The Tone For Pairing Beer With Food

Inaugural Brewmasters’ Invitational Sets The Tone For Pairing Beer With Food

The Brewers Association, the trade organization which represents the majority of the small and independent craft brewers in the U.S and whose mission it is to promote these breweries, as well as advocate on their behalf, is at it again. The association is known for its efforts to educate beer aficionados about our favorite malted beverage, including how its pairs with food. Each year the association highlights this marriage of food and beer with events like Paired (held during the Great American Beer Festival) and SAVOR. Each event pairs different shelf with different breweries, highlighting this unique relationship.  

The Brewers Association has taken this a step further by bringing this unique concept directly to the beer enthusiast. Dubbed the ‘Brewmasters Invitational’ dinner, which pairs five different breweries with five different chefs.

Texas Scores Big Time At GABF Awards

Texas Scores Big Time At GABF Awards

This year's Great American Beer Festival (otherwise known as GABF) competition saw a record 2,217 breweries from around the United States enter a staggering 7,923 brews. The competition saw another record with 276 judges from 13 countries brought together to evaluate the best of American ales, lagers, and specialty brews. Many Texas breweries have been recognized in for their efforts in past years, and 2017 was no different.

This year Texas brought in a record 21 total awards this year 9 gold, 6 silver, and 6 bronze medals with Large Brewpub and Mid-size Brewery winners.

Pearl Brewing: A Book Teaser Part II

By 1887 Otto Koehler and company had taken over City Brewery and rechartered as the San Antonio Brewing Association. From there it gets wild and crazy through Pearl's second period which runs through 1918 and the start of Prohibition. Welcome to part two of a preview into Pearl; A History of San Antonio's Historic Beer due out December 2017. 

" Chapter Four

Though the San Antonio Brewing Association’s beginning is set in 1886, Koehler did not actually leave the Lone Star Brewing Association until 1887. It was during that year that Koehler made his now we'll know trip from San Antonio to Bremen, Germany and to the Kaiser-Beck Brewery to acquire what would become the recipe and trademark for San Antonio Brewing Association’s XXX Pearl Beer.  

An alternative theory on how Otto Koehler came upon the name Pearl and possibly the recipe lies with recently discovered match safe bearing the name ‘A. Griesedieck Brewery Co’ with dates stamped on it ranging from 1879-1886, the very year the San Antonio Brewing Association debut its XXX Pearl beer. Coincidence? Perhaps, but consider again that Otto Koehler worked for Anton. Griesedieck. “Kaiser-Beck did not have a Pearl beer and Anton, as well as his future sons, did not continue to call their beer Pearl,” says Charlie Staats a local historian and collector of Texas brewing memorabilia and who discovered the match safe. “It is possible that Otto struck a deal with Anton to purchase the recipe and Pearl name from him, making one wonder what Otto Koehler was actually doing in Germany if he was not at Kaiser-Beck.”

Pearl Brewing: A Book Teaser

In December of 2015, my first book “San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint” was released. Co-written with my friend, and fellow beer writer, Travis Polling, it chronicled the history of brewing in San Antonio from the early 1850's to the present. Two of the chapters alone were just the Pearl. It was through this research I realized that the full scope of Pearl's story could be contained in such a small number of words. Thus my second book "Pearl: A History of San Antonio's Iconic Beer" was born. Though the book will be released in December of this year, I wanted to release a series of 'teaser' posts. Below is the first of six previews. 


The early 1880’s were an interesting time for San Antonio. The population had 225,000 by 1880; the city’s second railroad, the International-Great Northern, had arrived and an industrial revolution had gripped the city. Modernization was in full swing, paralleling that of the country’s growth at the time. Having dropped slightly from being the largest city in Texas, San Antonio’s infrastructure boomed as well, with hospitals, paved roads, telephones and the like bringing San Antonio into the modern era and once again the State’s largest city. 

It's A StrangeTail After All

It's a tale of two cities. It's a strange tale. It's a tale of two breweries. It's StrangeTail VI. StrangeTail is collaboration between Denver’s Strange Craft Brewing and our own Freetail Brewing here in San Antonio, now in its sixth year. It's collaboration not just between two brewers but between two friends.

Strange Craft’s Tim Myers and Freetail’s Jason Davis first met in 2010 during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. “His (Tim Myers) small, then nano-brewery lying in the shadow of Mile High Field, was in its first year of production and appeared on the front page of the Denver Post.  Our small crew hiked down there to taste their wares and we’ve been friends ever since.”says Davis describing their first meeting.

Since then, Myers and Davis have had collaborations in both Denver and San Antonio each year. Although the IPA style has dominated their collaborations, the two brewers have also released a hoppy Saison brewed with Piloncillo and a couple of versions of Berliner-Weisse that have included hibiscus, cherry, and ancho chiles. This will be the first time the collaboration will be brewed at Freetail’s production facility on S. Presa St in San Antonio.

This year’s collaboration comes in the form of a hoppy lager, or Texas Lager as the guys refer to it. “We wanted to brew something reminiscent of both cities, yet was easy drinking for the upcoming summer” said Myers. Colorado grown Chinook hops were used in addition to lemondrop hops, Weyermann Pilsner, Vienna and Carafa malts. Expect a very hop forward lager due to late hop editions. The brew should come in around 5-6% ABV, perfect for both Colorado and Texas summers.

As with the last three years, StrangeTail will be entered in the Colorado Collaboration Festival, now in its fourth year and highlights brewery collaborations, giving brewers a way to “brew a unique beer with another brewery.” “The festival will feature 75 projects and 100 breweries,” said Alexandra Weissner of Alexa PR. This year’s festival will be held March 25th in Denver. The festival was created by Two Parts, a Denver based ticketing co, and the Colorado Brewers Guild.

StrangeTail VI will be available in the Alamo City at Freetail’s South Presa location, as well as the usual bars around San Antonio, with a few kegs making their way to Colorado for the festival. As to when it will be available? “When it's ready” said Davis.  You're quite the comedian Mr. Davis.


Photo Credit: BeerPulse



2016 Craft Beer Year In Review. The Shake Up Edition.

David Bowie. Merle Haggard. Prince. All gone, along with many more. Big changes in 2016 for all of us. These changes were not limited to movie and rockstars though, the craft beer industry was affected as well. Though not all inclusive, the following are some of the upheavals with craft beer that surprised many in 2016 and surprised none at the same time.

TABC Gets 'Canned' Regarding Crowler Issue

TABC Gets 'Canned' Regarding Crowler Issue

The State vs. Cuvée Coffee

Sounds catchy, doesn't it? It’s actually not far from the current suit styling used by the TABC’s lawyers (Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission) when suit was filed against Cuvée Coffee out of Austin, Texas and its founder Mike McKim over their use of ‘crowlers’, as well as their defiance of TABC’s interpretation of the alcohol and beverage code.

Tuesday Cuvée’s attorney, Angel Tomasino received the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling recommendation, which was made November 17 and will be sent to the TABC’s Executive Director for review. Judge John Beeler advised in court documents that “Because TABC failed to establish Cuvée committed any violation of the Code, the ALJ recommends no action be taken against it.”

2016 Texas Craft Brewers Festival

2016 Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Now in its sixth year since starting up again in 2011, the Texas Craft Brewers Festival (TCBF) descended upon Austin on Saturday September, 24, 2016 bigger and better than ever. The TCBF is a product of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG), with some proceeds benefiting various charities each year.

This year's festival featured over 100 Texas craft brewers with more than 470 unique brews for attendees to enjoy. Whether a novice to craft beer or a seasoned vet, the festival certainly had something for everyone, with special tappings on the hour from many of the participating breweries.

2016 San Antonio Cocktail Conference

Long looked at as a desert when it came to cocktails or adult beverages, San Antonio is quickly changing that perception around the country. This past January, the Alamo City was host to the 5th annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference, a gathering of professionals in the bar and restaurant industry that focuses on education and guided tastings. The conference attracts speakers and attendees from all over the United States eager to expand their knowledge, ask questions to further their craft/business and mingle with other professionals. 

Each year the variety and number of seminars has grown and this year included over thirty seminars, with many more pairings and social events, such as ‘Waldorf of the Prairie”, a social event featuring dozens of cocktails and culinary combinations held at the historic St. Anthony Hotel, once referred to as the Waldorf of the Prairie because of it’s East Coast style opulence. 

Although there were multiple dinners and pairings early in the week, for many the conference began on Thursday morning with several seminars, which continued into Saturday. Here are some seminar highlights: