The first time Dustin and Erica Teague tried to make beer, they wound up painting the kitchen with wort. Nevertheless, the Cactus Land Brewing Company
co-founders persisted, and now San Antonio is reaping the benefits.
“The first brew day was awful,” Erica recalled in conversation with the Current.
“Hops went all over the stove. We were up ‘til 2 o’clock in the morning. I was like, ‘What are we getting ourselves into? We’re chilling our beer in the bathtub on ice!’”
Such an incident might have discouraged other first-time homebrewers — and, for a couple barely a month into their relationship, resulted in some domestic discord. Instead, the Teagues dutifully bottled, labeled, and consumed the beleaguered batch (dubbed “Buzzard Breath”), recalibrated their approach, and have made brewing a cornerstone of their relationship ever since.
The couple opened Cactus Land in January of this year in Adkins, just across the Bexar County line in Wilson County on property owned by Dustin’s parents. Built out on nights and weekends away from their day jobs, the Teagues’ commitment to craft is apparent right down to their flight boards — Dustin and Erica tore down their backyard fence to make them.
output covers the style spectrum, ranging from saisons to stouts. Brewed on a 2-barrel system with a storied history (it started out brewing macros lagers at SeaWorld’s Busch Gardens), beers come at around 60 gallons a batch, with pilot recipes run on Dustin’s original, hand-built homebrew setup. They’ve got a collaboration under their belt already, too: together with fellow newcomers Weathered Souls, they produced Truth of Darkness, an imperial stout pitched with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.
Currently, San Antonians can find Cactus Land beers at The Hoppy Monk and The Growler Exchange. The taproom also maintains weekend hours, where visitors can experience onsite exclusives, such as their ongoing “Texas Juice” series of New England-style IPAs, or the Lucas, a gose which Erica dresses with the venerable tangy candy.
In keeping with their DIY ethos, the Teagues are accomplished foragers. The bulk of their adjuncts, from prickly pears to mesquite wood, come from their own property.
“We pick all the prickly pears onsite. The mesquite that we use for our farmhouse mesquite, we got all onsite,” Dustin said. For him, such attention to quality is not just good craftsmanship, but good business planning.
“Good craft beer, in my opinion, is 50 percent marketing and 50 percent good beer,” he said, “and the good beer does the marketing itself, so it’s technically 100 percent marketing.”
So how has running a brewery impacted their relationship since that first ill-fated brew?
“I’ve learned so much more about him,” Erica says. “I feel like we’ve both grown so much from this experience.”
“It’s also helped us stay occupied,” Dustin adds. “We have stuff to do. We’re never bored.”
Cactus Land is open every first and third weekend of the month; 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.
368 County Road 325, Adkins, (210) 414-2776.