The monthly event series brings local beer lovers together for a casual but informational gathering led by Southerleigh’s Brewmaster Les Locke. Just as he did last month, Locke brought out samplings of three of his new brews, explaining their names, ingredients, and brewing processes to the crowd.
The same can be expected for the final installment of the Summer Beer Talk Series on Aug. 10, which will take place from 5:30-7 p.m., the same time as the previous sessions.
“In San Antonio, there are a lot of people who are eager and interested to learn about craft beer, but for a lot of people, it’s difficult to get their foot in the door,” said Valerie Vega, a public relations representative for Southerleigh. “This invites all kinds of people — from people who are super familiar with beer to people who are not that educated about beer — to ask questions and get engaged and meet people who are interested in the beer culture that San Antonio has.”
The laid back vibe continued as attendees shouted out questions to Locke, who held a microphone in one hand and a beer in the other. Locke started the night off explaining how prolific Southerleigh’s brewery is. Last year, they brewed 2,350 barrels, but this year they are on pace to brew 3,000, making it the 76th largest brewpub in the country. The brewery opened its doors to the public April 2015.
(Read more: Southerleigh Prepares for Thursday Soft Opening)
Locke started the evening off with a sessionable beer, a buzzword he said has been floating around lately to describe lighter beers that you can drink several of without feeling weighed down. The first was the lightest: a Mexican lager called Don’t Dress Me. Locke said he intended for it to be a classic San Antonio summer beer with a bright and crisp flavor.
The second was a kettle-soured Gose, meaning that Locke inoculated bacteria into his kettle, let it sit for three days and naturally sour and then flash boiled it before treating it normally. What’s left is a powerfully sour beer mediated by cucumber and tamarind flavors called Koalas, Cocker Spaniels and Unicorns.
“It’s not for everyone,” Locke said. “We know this. But again, I brewed it for myself.”
But nobody was complaining.
It’s not the first time Locke has said that. He created each of the three brews with his own tastebuds in mind, and that’s why everyone loves him. He’s not a people pleaser, he’s just brewing the kind of beer he wants to be drinking. Every month Southerleigh introduces several new beer flavors to keep patrons’ taste buds curious.
“I love beer and I love Les,” said Michele May, an attendee who came to the event with her dog. “He makes really good, eccentric, crazy beer, but he’s not frou-frou. He takes his beer to another level, but he’s not caught up in it. He’s got that great balance.”
The final beer, the strongest of the bunch, was a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) IPA called Prince Oberyn’s Head, in reference to the Game of Thrones character. Locke suggested attendees pair the dark West Coast IPA with the jalapeño cornbread and pork being served by Southerleigh’s Executive Chef Jeff Balfour.
Local journalist and beer writer Travis Poling joined Locke behind the microphone to promote and sign copies of the book he co-authored, San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint, which is available for purchase at Southerleigh. The book explains the history of beer in San Antonio from its first brewery in 1855 through the craft beer comeback in the ’90s up until today.
Ten years ago, an event like Wednesday’s Beer Talk wouldn’t have drawn nearly as many people. It wasn’t until recently that breweries started popping up near the downtown area, accompanying the lonely and longstanding Blue Star Brewing Company, which opened 20 years ago.
A month before Southerleigh’s April 2015 opening, Alamo Beer Company started serving brews on the Eastside. Freetail Brewing Company, which began serving in their small, in-house brewery on the Northside of San Antonio in 2008, expanded operations to a second location on 2000 S. Presa St. in 2014.
New breweries are popping up all over the city, and the beer craze doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
(Read more: San Antonio Brewing Co. to Open Brewpub in Southtown)
“When it comes to San Antonio, we are finally getting our legs,” Locke said. “We had a start in the ‘90s, then we had a big slow down and got back down to one brewery and worked our way back up.”
Top image: Jennifer Marchese of Southerleigh passes out samples of the Koalas, Cocker Spaniels and Unicorns sour. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.