Pretty as a pitcher
San Antonio's 9 best independent breweries for craft beer lovers
San Antonio Beer Week is coming April 7-14 with a full slate of 5Ks, dinners, and educational opportunities celebrating local brew. But as much as we’re thankful for an event highlighting San Antonio’s booming craft beer scene, we think it should be enjoyed all year.
Where should you go when the party ends? These nine area breweries are making some of the best pilsners, porters, and pales around. Try many of them during the Beer Week festivities, then make it a point to support them in the weeks ahead.
5 Stones Artisan Brewery
5 Stones may not be as close to San Antonio as it once was, having pulled up the wagon from Cibolo to New Braunfels in 2017, but it remains one of the most well-respected breweries on the scene for its seasonal approach to brewing and constant experimentation. If you need an introduction, start with an ale like Frederick Berg, a light sipper made with locally sourced peaches. Already a fan? Go with something weirder like Snipe Hunter, a drinkable version of s’mores brewed with graham crackers, cocoa nibs, and marshmallows.
Alamo Beer Company
You could call it the big bummer. San Antonio’s then-burgeoning brewery scene was destroyed in 1918 when Prohibition hit, consigning classic brands like Alamo Beer Company to the dustbin of history. That is until Eugene Simor had the very good idea to bring it back. Although the recipe isn’t the same (the original was made with Texas rice), Simor is continuing the tradition by making easy drinking beers like pilsners, lagers, and Belgian-style wheat ales that locals can be proud to call their own.
Branchline Brewing Co.
If you enjoy tubing down the Guadalupe River with a local brew in hand, thank Branchline, the first San Antonio brewery to embrace the can. Though you might want to avoid the relatively boozier Silver and Black IPA (Go Spurs!), your koozie will be honored to cradle a modestly hopped Evil Owl American amber as you apply another layer of sunscreen.
Busted Sandal Brewing Co.
Although Busted Sandal makes a chocolatey porter perfect for San Antonio’s two days of winter, lighter beers are where this brewery really hits the mark. When the temperatures rise, try porch slammers like the crisp 210 Ale or gingery Belgian-style Fire Pit Wit while manning the grill. Or cool off with something from the seasonal La Chancla series, like the summery Jeffeweizen, named after head brewer Jeff Kuhle.
Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Co.
This Southtown brewery brings the same commitment to beers as it does to the cult favorite small-batch Rakia. Hop heads will like 56, a West Coast-style IPA with bright citrus notes balanced with just the right amount of bitterness. The Coq Hardi saison is a crisp and spicy farmhouse style that practically begs to be paired with a fish taco.
Ghost Pixel Beer Studio
As the name probably clued you in, Ghost Pixel isn’t your traditional brewing project. Launched in January 2017, the tongue-in-cheek brand is a side gig of Freetail Brewing, allowing the team to dabble in beers outside the main brand’s core. Without the pressure of wide distribution, Freetail founder Scott Metzger and company are able to take chances on limited batch beers like Pineapple Bomb, a tropical take on the IPA, and Mexican Hostel Slumber Party, a 7.9 percent ABV stout brewed with cinnamon, liquid cacao, and ancho and chipotle chilis.
When Vera Deckard’s home became a de facto brewery, it was time to make the transition from hobby to business. Along with husband Brent Deckard, she opened Künstler in 2017 in Southtown’s Lone Star Brewery redevelopment. The newcomer specializes in German styles, including Verboten!, a kottbusser-style beer rarely brewed since the 19th century, and Kölschineal, a sprightly red kölsch brewed with prickly pear and named after the bugs that munch on them.
Mad Pecker Brewing
Owners Jason Gonzales and Errika Gonzales have kept their Mad Pecker operation small, allowing them to keep their neighborhood feel and brew only the beers they want to. You’ll find a dizzying array of styles at their intimate taproom, from a seasonal cucumber saison, a Cascadian dark ale, and an imperial IPA with a whopping 9 percent ABV. They also just happen to serve some of the best comfort food in the city, like Madchos topped with smoked pulled pork and beer cheese fondue.
Ranger Creek Brewing
Perhaps better known statewide for its whiskey distilling operation, Ranger Creek has a solid portfolio of beers. Each offering has a sense of place, whether that’s from the brewery's commitment to using local ingredients, or their penchant for brewing styles like a sessionable lager or a refreshing hefe that can be enjoyed in San Antonio year round.