There is no Ranger Creek flowing near the industrial buildings lining Whirlwind Drive in Northeast San Antonio, but it won’t be long before something else altogether begins flow from the newest tenant.
Ranger Creek Brewing Co. is San Antonio’s first microbrewery since Frio and Yellow Rose mashed in for the last time a decade ago. In another twist, Ranger Creek also will be the state’s first combination beer brewery and distillery.
Four beers for kegging and bottling should be brewing by next week now that CPS Energy has finally turned on the gas. The flagship offerings include the crisp and assertive Dortmunder Export-style South Texas Lager and a smooth and citrusy American Oatmeal Pale Ale.
On the dark side are two very different brews. The La Bestia Aimable, or “the friendly beast” in this mashup of Spanish and French, is a Belgian dark strong style not often seen in Texas micros, although a favorite of home brewers. The addition of local Fain’s honey gives it a Texas twist.
The mesquite-smoked porter with its chocolate and roasted flavors should go well the mesquite-smoked malt as a Lone Star homage. A decommissioned shipping container behind the brewery has been converted to smoke the malt at low temperatures so the smoke permeates the grain without overpowering it or creating off flavors.
While the brewery setup is impressive – there’s just something sexy about a 30-barrel conical fermenter – the showpiece is the still for making small-batch bourbons. The copper still picks up an extra gleam as it climbs through the skylight. Expect to see bourbon aged in small kegs in as little as six months. TJ Miller, head distiller at Ranger Creek, said they’ll just keep sampling until it seems the flavor has hit the right spot from aging in the charcoal and oak vessels. Texas corn will be used in the bourbon along with experiments using other grains typically found in specialty beers.
Ranger Creek will feature a tasting room with samples of all the flagship beers, special offerings, and the bourbons. Tours will be by appointment and at once-a-month events.
Miller, finance chief Dennis Rylander, and marketing manager Mark McDavid all work in the same department at a major San Antonio corporation and met head brewer Rob Landerman at a homebrew club meeting. They soon formed their own club and the seeds of Ranger Creek were sown.
The beers will be showcased with cuisine at the monthly beer dinner the first Tuesday of October at Pavil under the tutelage of Landerman, who also is a certified cicerone, the beer world’s version of a sommelier. Get more info at drinkrangercreek.com.
Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is co-author of the book Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brewers and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.