Build It, Brew It, and They Will Come
By Lance Higdon
5 Stones Artisan Brewing has pursued the unbeaten brewer’s path from the start. Now, settled into their new home at the end of two dirt roads on a patch of ranchland, that commitment has become quite literal. It’s where founder Seth Weatherly plans to double down on his mission to make boundary-pushing beer that brings people together — especially, ideally, right there in the beautiful limestone building where it’s made.
Weatherly opened 5 Stones in 2013 in Cibolo, working on a three-barrel setup to produce imaginative, adjunct-rich beers in share-friendly 750 milliliter bottles. Weatherly tasted success quickly, taking home a silver medal for Aloha Piña (a pineapple-and-jalapeno-augmented blonde ale) from the Great American Brew Festival in 2014 and putting 5 Stones on shelves across Central Texas. In the same year, which saw an anniversary party crowd of 400 stretch the brewery’s serving (and sitting) capacity to the limit, 5 Stones started looking for a bigger home.
The search lasted for three years, but ultimately Weatherly settled on a 19-acre tract off FM 1836, just outside New Braunfels. The brewery has gone from three barrels to 15, built to spec by California’s BrewBilt Manufacturing, situated behind a taproom running the length of the entrance. Elsewhere, in an excellent exercise in economy, Weatherly has built a sit-and-sip setup on the roof of the barrel room. With its custom woodworking and bucolic wooded views, It’s not hard to foresee the 5 Stones taproom becoming a place of pale ale pilgrimage.
5 Stones has been and remains a family affair for the Weatherlys. Seth’s daughters Ashley and Taylor work for him now, and multiple other relations have lent a hand at one time or another. In addition to longtime employee Andrew Meyer, 5 Stones recently hired Garrett Crowell, the former head brewer at Austin’s mixed-fermentation farmhouse mecca Jester King, to assist with several projects around the brewery — including chasing down some microbes.
As Crowell described it, he foraged the property for various flora and fauna that had come into bloom — flowers, juniper berries, freshly-sprouted leaves — and pitched them into a small batch of wort. Using what he described as “really old and simple techniques” he nurtured the batch along, suppressing the bacteria and encouraging the yeast, until 5 Stones had what Crowell characterized as an “almost Dupont-esque, close to a classic Belgian saison yeast.”
The yeasts were captured and sent to a Canadian lab, where three separate strains will be isolated and returned to 5 Stones. That means Weatherly will be able to brew wild styles or stable standards using fermentation agents from his own backyard.
More changes are coming. Weatherly revealed that 5 Stones will change is packaging: going forward, beers will come in a combination of 4-packs, cans, and kegs, the latter of which will be mostly available exclusively in the taproom. The can plans include staples like Manmosa and Back To Bridge City, as a brew called Shepherd Boy (“We brewed it as a kölsch and then dry-hopped the living crap out of it,” Weatherly laughed), all of which will allow you to enjoy 5 Stones in single servings.
The move kept the brewery out of commission for four months; at the time of this writing, the new facility has only been in production for a little over a week, and besides the sneak peek offered by a 5K beer run the property on October 14, there’s no date yet for an official opening. There’s a lot of uncertainty for sure, but when a brewery name-checks the Biblical showdown between David and Goliath it’s no surprise that its workers can see the reward beyond the risk.
“Time and time again, he’ll bounce ideas off me and be like ‘I don’t want this to be a gimmick. I don’t want this to be something to just get people’s attention,’ and I think beer kind of needs that right now,” Crowell said. “You need people who are making things that are intentional and honest and not a cash grab. I think that’s their biggest asset of what they’re going to offer: really great, honest beer.”
“The bringing down the Goliath, for us, was the opportunity to have something like this,” Weatherly said, gesturing to the property around him, “[but] as in David’s life, he fought a long time, and I think that’s just the story. Not to be too philosophical, but I don’t think the fight ever ends.”
“I think there’s a lot that that story speaks to,” he continued. “Fear is a giant in a lot of people’s lives. There’s a healthy part of fear, too. That’s wise. But there’s also a giant of fear that just paralyzes people to no action. I’ll tell you straight up, we’re scared crapless out here. We’ve put our family’s future on the line. But you’ve got to suck it up and get your freakin’ stones, if you will, and go to battle.”
By Jessica Elizarraras & Jeremy Banas
San Antonio’s brewing industry just keeps on growing. Though we’ve seen some changes like the re-organization of Branchline Brewing going from a stand-alone operation to being brewed at Alamo Beer Co., overall San Antonio keeps chugging right along. In the next six months, we’ll see three new breweries begin operations in the Alamo City. Here’s what we know about Künstler Brewing, Brew Monkey Beer, and Roadmap Brewing.
Künstler Brewing has been a labor of love and more. Owner/head brewer Vera Deckard and her husband Brent started down this path in 2014 with the same hopes and dreams as other brewers: making quality beer. Bringing a passion for brewing that started at home, and after overcoming various legal issues with their previous name and some community opposition, the Deckards are just about ready to serve up their tasty brews.
Shooting for a November opening, Deckard and her husband have just begun brewing on their new Brewbuilt brand system in anticipation. Their lineup will include IPAs, English styles, Belgian and German styles made using local ingredients such as honey, herbs, cactus paddles and various peppers.
After a year of renovations to their South Flores location, the décor is pays homage to both Old and New World taverns. With a focus on traditional German fare, the neighborhood brewpub will feature plenty of outdoor seating, a large community table inside (as well as many tables) and, with a nod to its German background, even a deli display case. Piped-in music will grace the main hall, creating a relaxed atmosphere, while the auxiliary room off of the main tap room will feature multiple TVs, old-school arcade, and roll up garage doors giving a livelier vibe. Located at 302 East Lachapelle, Künstler will feature a variety of styles that are sure to please most palates.
Construction on Islla St. Brewing Co.’s frame is set to begin in the coming weeks, but San Antonians already got a taste for the microbrewery opened by brothers Josh and Joaquin Peña. The Corpus Christi natives are bringing in a little bit of sabor to area breweries with their 1,200-square-foot brewery inside the LocalSprout Food Hub on 503 Chestnut Street.
Opened as a homage to their coastal roots and their grandfather Ricardo Peña, Islla St. Brewing will feature beers such as a Chola Blonde, named after a cheeky tía; a 1606 Belgian saison named after their home on Islla St. in Corpus; a Mexican Hot Chocolate stout that nods to the family’s New Year’s Eve traditions; and a Suavecito 37, smooth brown ale with hints of pecan.
“We bumped into Stephen Paprocki (of Texas Black Gold Garlic) and he’s been a real advocate for us going into the space,” Joaquin said.
Paprocki will expand his footprint at the food incubator as well by adding a kitchen, which will be used to host beer pairings with local chefs.
Though a little farther off, San Antonio will welcome two more breweries in 2018: Roadmap Brewing Co. and Brew Monkey Beer Co., both of which have Texas transplants behind them. With an approximate opening date of late May 2018, Roadmap Brewing Co. is the is the brainchild of Pittsburgh native Dustin Baker, who took to San Antonio after several visits with his wife to visit his sister.
Baker, who, like many, caught the brewing bug after a homebrew kit was gifted to him.
Once in the Alamo City, he felt the urge to open his own brewery, seeing a bustling, but still largely untapped market. After months of looking for a location, Baker just took possession of the keys to his location at North Alamo and 8th Street. Baker came upon his brewery’s name after talking with his architect and wishing there was a roadmap to opening a brewery. He’ll be working with a seven-barrel system from Alpha Brewing Operations. Roadmap will keep 95 percent of their brews on site, with the other 5 percent distributed within only a few blocks of the brewery. Roadmap will feature nine beer taps and a cider, as well as offering plenty of space for an indoor beer garden with games like corn hole. Look for year around offerings to include a kölsch, pale ale, saison, and porter.
Opening a few months later in the fall of 2018, owner and head brewer *James Hansen is hoping to make Brew Monkey Beer a destination within San Antonio. The Californian began his brewing career cleaning tanks at Devil’s Canyon Brewing in San Carlos, and would eventually go on to handle production procurement and brewing for Gordon Biersch Brewing Company’s production facility.
Hansen met his wife, a native of San Antonio, in San Jose and after many trips to visit her family, fell in love with the Alamo City. Not long after relocating, he hatched his plan for Brew Monkey Beer, a name derived from a system he used to work on that was described as being so easy a monkey could use it. Hansen plans to take his decade-plus industry experience and put it to use on a 10-barrel ABS Systems brewhouse that will be located off DeZavala near I-10. The 3,500-square-foot brewery will include a dog park and plenty of outdoor seating.
Hansen plans to have 10 house beers, including a cream ale, steam beer, session IPA and Irish stout, along with several seasonal offerings. Hansen doesn’t plan to keep all the brewing knowledge to himself — he plans to eventually create multiple brewing educational programs for homebrewers and those just looking to learn more about the malted beverage they love.
*The article has been updated with James Hansen's correct name.