By the end of October, they plan to celebrate the opening of the San Antonio Brewing Company (SABC) brewpub and tavern at 302 E. LaChapelle with a Texas Wildflower Pale Ale or another of their small-batch brews in the Lone Star neighborhood within the burgeoning Southtown Arts District.
The husband and wife team will wait until City Council returns from its July break for the likely final approval of the new brewpub’s zoning change that allows the 7,000 sq. ft. warehouse, formerly a foam rubber supply and recycling facility, operate as both a brewery and restaurant. Council will vote on this and dozens of zoning changes on Aug. 4. That’s when serious investment and renovations will start, Vera said.
The couple joked about calling the small street “Brewer’s Row” as it’s less than a block away from Dorćol Distilling Company and its HighWheel Beerworks. The Lone Star neighborhood hosts the monthly Second Saturday Art Walks and the new brewpub will be a stone’s throw away from anchor galleries like Gallista, 1906, and at least a dozen more surrounding South Flores Street, as well as new multi- and single-family housing developments.
“The big goal for us is that it becomes a local hangout,” Brent said, for the families that have lived in the area for generations to the new neighbors moving in everyday. SABC will ultimately employ about 14 people.
The Lone Star Neighborhood Association supports the project, he said, and the people that live next door are “so stoked” to see something happen to the long-vacant building.
SABC was selected to be one of four local business tenants slated to move into the small, historic homes in Hemisfair Park. Due to the limitations inherent with renovating and operating out of historic buildings, the duo broke ties with Hemisfair and looked south. The building on the corner of East César E. Chávez Boulevard and South Alamo Street is now home to a pop-up shop, Indigo Makers Collective, and will host other shops until Hemisfair finds a more permanent tenant.
The SABC property came up for sale at just the right moment, Brent said. A lot cleaning and installation work needs to happen between now and October to set up four fermenters and all of the tanks and tubes that come with them. At full capacity, SABC’s setup could produce about 20,800 gallons, or 670 barrels, of beer per year. For comparison, Alamo Beer Company’s Eastside brewery maximum capacity goal is 41,000 barrels. That’s 1,271,000 gallons.
Almost all of the beer that they do produce will be sold on-site, Vera said, with a few out-of-town bar exceptions.
“It boils down to capacity — it makes more sense to sell it out of our own location” than try to distribute across the city, Vera said. “We really want our customers to be a part of the process and the experience (at the brewery).”
Vera, who grew up working in her mother’s restaurant in Germany, is the brewmaster. She draws on her culinary experience to play with flavor profiles and ingredients to create unique, small batch beers. The experimentation is just as rewarding as the process, she said. “It doesn’t mater how exacting you are, you don’t know what the final product is going to taste like.”
Her German roots and San Antonio’s Hispanic culture informed the style of brew, feel of the brewpub, and motto for SABC.
“Hecho mit liebe,” their logo states. “Made with love.”
Some of SABC’s previous and current concoctions include the Texas Tube Float IPA, Tejano Coffee stout, Belga Loca Dark Strong Ale, and Fiesta Witt that include flavor notes from coffee, pineapples, piloncillo sugar, blood oranges, and more.
Brent’s hobby of homebrewing in the garage grew into a small business when Vera purchased a book, Beer Craft, for him while he was deployed in Afghanistan in 2011. She largely ignored the “mess of pumps and hoses and water volume arguments” until she skimmed through the pages.
Vera used the book as a guide for her first batch of beer. Those first two gallons went down the drain, she said, but by the time her husband returned, she produced a drinkable brown ale. With Brent’s help, she started brewing once a week, they became very active in the local homebrewing club Cerveceros, and “then we decided to go pro,” Vera said. The company became official in 2013.
She never did send Brent that book, but they still have it in their Southtown home.
“It’s really all her, I’m more moral support – and tasting support,” Brent laughed.
Through the local network of beer aficionados and patrons, Brent and Vera toyed with different business models and strategies before gathering up friends and family to become investors in the brewpub.
“All of our investors are friends – family and friends – that we’ve gleaned from sharing beer with over the years,” Vera said.
Alongside their carefully-crafted beer, they’ll be serving appetizers and charcuterie.
“It’ll be a locally sourced, simple-but-tasty menu,” Brent said. “She makes a mean pretzel.”
They’re thinking about partnering with nearby Jimmy’s Pizza and hosting food trucks, Brent said. The focus of the new brewpub is, well, the brew, but “beer needs food.”
Beyond beer and food, the couple plans on creating a 200-member Mug Club, hosting homebrewing competitions, and offering discounts to customers who use alternative transportation to get to the pub as parking is limited on the narrow neighborhood street.
Top image: The future home of San Antonio Brewing Co. at 302 East LaChapelle in the city’s Southside. Photo by Scott Ball.