After Lone Star and Pearl skedaddled for more lucrative pastures, San Antonio suffered a long drought of local breweries to quench our thirst. But, lucky for us, new breweries have popped up in and around town as the national craft brew craze has grown to outperform Anheuser-Busch in aggregate sales.
For the Alamo City brew tour, start with Blue Star Brewery (1414 S. Alamo St.), serving up eight originals in its restaurant and bar. Try the Spire Stout, a 5.3 ABV full-bodied brew in the Irish style, or the Männerchor Märzen, a 5.4 ABV take on Munich's Oktoberfest beers. There's also the Texican, a crossover between a Texas lager and a lime-friendly Mexican pale.
A little further south is Freetail Brewery, operating out of its new Southtown location (2000 S. Presa St.). With a rotating, seasonal selection of beers, our favorites include the Bat Outta Helles, a 5.0 ABV light German lager and the Freetail Ale, a 6.0 ABV American amber with a light red color. The most recent arrival takes after our city's namesake – talking about Alamo Beer Company (718 N. Cherry St.), which operates out of a state-of-the-art facility on the East Side near the Alamodome. Try the local brew with the widest distribution, their 5.1 ABV headless Golden Ale.
For fans of craft beer and clean typography, Branchline Brewing Company (3633 Metro Pkwy.) offers charming brews across the IBU spectrum. The 5.2 ABV Evil Owl is a lightly carbonated, relatively dry American Amber with crystal and caramunich delivering a malty flavor with a caramel-like finish. The Shady Oak is a 4.45 ABV blond ale with a touch of wildflower honey that gives the beer a unique and untamed texture. With a rich gold hue and buoyant flavor, it's an ideal prescription for summer heat.
Our picks at Busted Sandal Brewing Company (7114 Oaklawn) include the Fire Pit Wit, a 5.25 ABV wheat beer with fresh ginger root and Texas red grapefruit peel, and the Slippery Rock IPA, a 7.1 ABV ale with citrus tones in harmony with the IPA's signature hoppy flavor. Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling (4834 Whirlwind Drive) is the only "brewstillery" in Texas, with beer and whiskey bred at their distillery. With a Lone Star bourbon, a quick-finishing white whiskey and small-batch options, Ranger Creek won two silver medals at the 2014 Whiskies of the World Awards. Over at the brewery, we're partial to the Mesquite Smoked Porter, a chocolaty 6.4 ABV rauchbier featuring malt smoked over Texas mesquite. And if you're up for a day trip to Cibolo, 5 Stones Artisan Brewery (850 Schneider) offers wild illustrations on the bottles of their complex beers. Our darlings are their blonde beers, the 6.4 ABV Aloha Piña crossed with pineapple and the 6.83 Norma Jeane crossed with strawberry and vanilla beans.