After a morning visit to Real Ale in Blanco, TX we cruised through the beautiful hill country to Pedernales Brewing Company located just south of downtown Fredericksburg, about an hour and a half west of Austin. During our afternoon visit, we had the opportunity to speak in depth with Owner and CEO, Lee Hereford, as well as Brewmaster, Peter McFarlane, while sampling beers in the tasting room. Lee then showed us around the facilities where we were again joined by Peter. They could not have been more inviting hosts and both were incredibly excited about the beer they are brewing as well as the future of the business.
Pedernales began distribution on April 18, 2012 and production grew over 300% in 2013. In just over a year and a half the brewery has already started shipping their bottles to all major markets in TX, out of state, and even internationally into Mexico. Lee explained that his goal is to be producing 30,000 cases per month by the end of their fourth year. This will be accomplished with a large upgrade in equipment. Pedernales is currently operating with 10 fermenters – nine 40 bbl and one 80 bbl – as well as three 80 bbl lagering tanks. This year will see them operating with three 160 bbl and fifteen 80bbl fermenters with five 80 bbl lagering tanks.
Lee and the rest of the board of directors have wide ranging and extensive business knowledge. Together with Brewmaster, Peter McFarlane, this brewery certainly has a penchant for growth and bringing their hand crafted beers to the mass market. Peter has a long list of brewing experience. To name just a few, he graduated from the Siebel Institute of Technology, co-founded McFarlane Brewing Co. in Arizona, and spent time as Master Brewer at Leinenkugel’s Ballpark Brewery. He was most recently working at a winery in Napa Valley before being drawn back to his passion for beer with an enticing opportunity at Pedernales. While discussing the atmosphere in the brewery, Peter shared, “you have to have a good attitude, you have to love what you do, and you have to have a passion for it.”
Pedernales Brewing Co produces two different lines, the Lobo and Classic, with a “goal of creating benchmark quality beer” said Lee. The Lobo series focuses on lagers, adding a craft approach to the most consumed styles. Lee explained, “We want people who don’t consider themselves craft beer drinkers to try Lobos because chances are they are going to like it.” The Lobo line began with Texas Lager and Negro but was soon expanded with the addition of Lobo Lito. While bottling has been a focus and sales are currently about 70% bottles and 30% kegs, Lee advised they are working on a canning operation as well.
The Classic line focuses on traditional styles that represent a unique approach since they endeavor to recreate historical standards rather than the American twists so common of many breweries. Currently available is an English-style India Pale Ale and a German-style Hefe-Weizen. Seasonal brews include an Oktoberfest and spiced porter with plans to release others in the near future. Lee even shared the story of a WWII veteran who flew B-17s from England to Germany whom exclaimed he had not tasted an ale like that since being in an English pub circa 1945. The Hefe-Wiezen is unfiltered with bold, banana esters and clove, utilizing yeast that Peter has had in his personal collection for 27 years.
The tasting room is open from Friday 3-5pm and Saturday 1-5pm. Enjoy a scenic trip out to the Texas Hill Country, explore historic Fredericksburg, and visit with the friendly people of Pedernales! A big thank you to Lee and Peter for showing us great hospitality as well as John Aguirre for making the connection.
Author: Brandon Wurtz