San Antonio's Got Beer!
There is nothing quite as refreshing as your favorite beer served ice cold after a long day at work. For those of us living in San Antonio, the selection of national beers can sometimes get bland or repetitive. Little do people know that to find a local beer, brewed fresh and crisp, all they have to do is go down the street to their local craft brewery.
The craft beer community in Texas stretches back to the late 1800s with the start of Lone Star brewery, Pearl brewery, the Spoetzl brewery, and Pabst. These brands have gone national and are now enjoyed by millions. But what of the local brewery? The ones that don’t go global or national? Are they any less of a beer, or are they better for not being produced in mass quantities? In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s a matter of comparison, but a matter of taste—a matter of breaking the mold and exploring the great innovation of local brewers.
If you were to ask James Huedec, Brewmeister and Head of Brewing Operations at Alamo brewery, to describe the craft beer community in San Antonio, he would use one word: young. After the local brands went national, the city went through a dry spell when it was a real journey just to find beer brewed locally. However, in the last ten years, our low crime rate and affordable living have led to a huge jump in population here in the ‘Tone. The migration has brought in people with new perspectives and ideas—including brewers from all over the United States, from Maine to Oregon, Wisconsin to California. These men and women of the trade have all brought something unique to the craft beer community here. There truly is something for every walk of life to be found in these breweries.
Alamo, Freetail, Ranger Creek, Big Hops, Busted Sandal, and Southerly are just a few San Antonio brews. These beers epitomize the individual style of each company and the very heart of the craft beer community. While competition runs strong, the real trick to staying ahead in the craft beer game is creating a beverage that everyone can enjoy.
Alamo Beer’s flagship is the Golden Ale, a blonde with a clean refreshing finish that can relate to almost any beer drinker’s palate. You have your IPAs that are extra hoppy for the stronger taste palates. Freetail specializes in those individual, rebel types of beers. Ranger Creek not only makes its own beer but also makes the close relative, Ranger Creek whiskey. To see what kinds of beer catch your attention, you have to be adventurous enough to get out there and find these diamonds in the rough instead of settling for the same old brew from the same old company.
In San Antonio, our community, craft beer included, relies not on tourism or popularity but on our hometown people coming together and sharing what makes our city unique. You’ll find these beers on tap in some of the hundreds of bars around town. In HEB and other Texas-grown stores, you may find one or two craft brands on the shelf, but to truly experience the flavor and sense of pride of our city you have to go straight to the source. There’s nothing like tasting a beer that was brewed hours ago, coming from tanks to the packaging line to your hand.
While the term “craft beer” may deter people from trying a brew because it’s not national or well-known, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. When customers who come to the beer hall at Alamo brewery are asked what brings them back, they answer, “The beer tastes fresh; each beer is so different from the next that just trying them all is a journey.” Now, you can have the best marketing strategy in the world, but the only thing that really helps boost business is word of mouth and reputation. Customers, for all these breweries, are absolutely the most important part of the industry.
In every craft brewery you walk into, whether it be a brew pub or a brewery with a separate area to drink, the atmosphere embodies how they make their beer and what you are about to drink. From the rebel new-generation type of atmosphere at Freetail all the way to the tap room that makes you feel comfortable at Big Hops, these beers are all reflections of the brewmasters who created it. Whether you’re a first time beer drinker or a seasoned veteran of the beer game, it’s always important to try new things and keep everything fresh and moving.
Joining a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs and innovators as a return customer shows that you’re a part of something greater, especially in San Antonio. Not to mention you’re tasting beer that NO ONE else anywhere in the United States has tasted. The craft beer community, while young and spry, would be nothing without you the customers, and I encourage you to attend events at your local brewery. Take brewery tours to learn more about the brewing process. As a fellow beer admirer and San Antonian, I can say it makes me proud to see local businesses thrive. If I can assist in that, then I feel like I’m contributing.
Local beer is calling your name. Don’t let it go unanswered or you may miss out on the next great beer around town. You can be the trendsetter by going around and trying all the newest adult beverages. Drink local. Drink soon. No fear. No surrender. Texas craft beer lives on!
Interview with Alamo Beer owner, Eugene Simor
As we explored the Beer brewing craze in San Antonio, one individual and his brewery stood out. Meet Eugene Simor, owner of Alamo Beer. INFLUENCE visited with Eugene Simor at Alamo Beer for a relaxed interview and tour.
INFLUENCE: Tell us about yourself?
Simor: I’m 52 years old, married with a 2 and an 8 year old.
INFLUENCE: How did you choose beer as a career?
Simor: I've traveled for beer. Tried over 3,000 beers through Spikes Around the World...figured I could enjoy a passionate career in beer.
INFLUENCE: So what makes Alamo Beer unique?
Simor: We have a German-trained brew master with 23 years experience. We use traditional beer brewing methods. In regard to our premises, we’re both kid and pet friendly. We do unique things with our brewery like every Tuesday evening is Beer, bacon and Bingo night. We feature a nice bar with beer on tap and our facility is great for outdoor events.
INFLUENCE: Our research surfaced some controversy you experienced while locating your brewery here in East San Antonio. Why did you choose this location?
Simor: We’re a destination brewery. Just 15 minutes from the Alamo Museum; prices were affordable, and although some neighborhood folks weren't thrilled with us locating here, over time they’ve accepted us for the good will and energy we give the revitalization efforts to this side of town.
INFLUENCE: What do you do when away from work?
Simor: Next to beer, traveling is my passion. I also like sailing, landscaping, and of course, spending time with my wife and kids.
INFLUENCE: We’ve also learned you make a sincere effort in contributing to non-profit organizations. Which ones do you support?
Simor: Twice a month we host a non-profit organization to raise funds. A few include: MS Bike Ride, Pints for Prostate. There are more, however, these are two we’ve worked with for several years.
Interviewed by Cedric Fisher
Story by Vince Alexander
Photography by Evan Silva & Vince Alexander
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