San Marcos’ Roughhouse Brewing debuts limestone cave-aged beer made with 100% Texas ingredients

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Roughhouse founder and head brewer Davy Pasternak checks in on the barrels housing the first run of his UNDERGROUND series. - COURTESY ROUGHHOUSE BREWING
  • Courtesy Roughhouse Brewing
  • Roughhouse founder and head brewer Davy Pasternak checks in on the barrels housing the first run of his UNDERGROUND series.
Roughhouse Brewing, a family-run farmhouse brewery located just outside of San Marcos, has begun production on a beer that's quintessentially Texan — that is, it’s made entirely with Texan ingredients, and it's barrel-aged in an underground limestone cave.

The new brew, the first in a series dubbed UNDERGROUND (in all caps, just like that), is a collaboration between Roughhouse and Austin’s Jester King Brewery. The inaugural run will feature natural yeast, aged hops, American white oak barrels and some old-world techniques.



“Your environment really isn’t affecting the product in stainless fermentation tanks, and that’s by design,” Roughhouse founder and head brewer Davy Pasternak told the Current. “Once you go into oak, you’re relinquishing quite a bit of control in terms of guiding the beer into fermentation. We’re super excited to see what the cave contributes to the barrel aging process.”
An entrance to the cave. No, thanks. - COURTESY ROUGHHOUSE BREWING
  • Courtesy Roughhouse Brewing
  • An entrance to the cave. No, thanks.

The team at Roughhouse was alerted to the cave via a 2018 geological survey of the property — set above the Cow Creek section of the Trinity aquifer just outside of San Marcos. After a long and careful excavation process, the small hole slowly gave way to an underground room, which the brewer eventually outfitted with a small slab, barrel-storing structure, dehumidifier and lighting.

With these modifications, the 18-by-20-foot space became a natural fermenting cellar.



Pasternak said the first version of the UNDERGROUND series will likely be a smaller run, available for preorder in select distribution markets and on draft at the brewery sometime in 2021.

“We don’t really know how much we’ll package this year,” he said. “We’re still excavating the cave, and there weren’t a lot of examples to follow.”

At the moment, there are no other Texas breweries barrel-aging their beer in limestone caves.

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