These days, it is not unusual to find a brewery that also distills spirits or vice versa. However you slice it though, it is hard to deny that San Antonio has cornered the market on this combined business model in Texas.
Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling started the party off in 2010 when they released their first brews along with their .36 Small Caliber series Texas Bourbon the following year. Joining Ranger Creek is HighWheel Beerworks located at 1902 S. Flores St. in San Antonio's revitalized South Flores district, making both breweries the only combined operations in Texas.
HighWheel Beerworks is the brewing side of Dorcol, makers of Kinsman, a Serbian spirit known as Rakia. Dorcol debuted the Kinsman brand in December 2013 and announced last December that they would be adding a brewing component to the company. Preceded by a soft opening during San Antonio Beer Week this past April, HighWheel officially debuted May 21, 2016 much to the joy of Dorcol founders and college friends Chris Mobley and Boyan Kalusevic, as well as a new partner and longtime homebrewer, Randy Ward.
Ward who has been homebrewing for more than 20 years, (and earned a medal or two along the way) met Mobley and Kalusevic at small business incubator Café Commerce, where they found common ground. With Ward already looking to take the next step, Dorcol had its brewer.
Brewed off their seven barrel brewing system obtained from Brew Bilt Manufacturing, three of their four core beers have already been released and are currently available at Liberty Bar in Southtown, as well as Lüke and Francis Bogside. The four year-round offerings include 56, a West Coast-style IPA with notes of citrus and piney hops; the aptly named Porter, a malty and slightly hop-forward American Porter; Betty, a crisp and light German Kölsh; and Coq Hardi, an American Farmhouse ale with tart notes and a peppery finish, which was released in mid-July.
This hyper-local focus may be a product of necessity at the moment as they look to expand organically, however, the guys are embracing it.
"We love being in Southtown and contributing to its revitalization," said Kalusevic. "Serving just our immediate community in San Antonio gives us great satisfaction."
Though their availability is confined to the Downtown area for now, expect HighWheel Beerworks to expand out to other areas of San Antonio soon. Beer enthusiasts eager for a taste can always stop by their taproom for a flight or a pint Thursday through Friday.