After a relaxing Sunday, we spent Monday, 1/13/14, at nearby Freetail Brewing Company in north San Antonio. Founder and CEO Scott Metzger teamed up with Head Brewer Jason Davis to create the brewpub over 5 years ago. It is named after the Mexican free-tailed bat which was designated as the state flying mammal by Texas in 1995. Bracken Cave is located less than 30 miles north east of the brewery and is the summer home of an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest known colony of bats in the world, providing important pest control and protection for local agriculture. Freetail brewed Save the Cave this past year and donates $5 of each bottle to Bat Conservation International which currently protects the area surrounding Bracken Cave.
We met with Jason Davis and while discussing Freetail’s past, present, and future, Michael and I sipped on a couple of 4-sample flights. 11 beers were on tap that afternoon and Jason affirmed that they like to keep at least 10 beers available at all times. After a tour of the brewing facilities we enjoyed the specialty Greek pizza – basil pesto, gyro meat, feta, banana peppers and Kalamata olives – along with the La Muerta imperial stout and the sour and spicy, Cherry Chipotle Lichtenhainer. The food menu contains entrees of pizzas, oven baked pastas, sandwiches, and salads – all of which looked tasty and ample in portion size.
Freetail made just over 1,000 barrels in 2013 and brewed 100 batches in one year for the first time since opening. The three year-round beers are La Rubia blonde, Rye Wit, and the amber Freetail Ale. The 5 year anniversary beer, Five: The Kitchen Cinq, was released this past November and was made with 5 of everything – 5 malts, 5 different grains, 5 sugars, 5 spices, and even involved 5 brewers. The rest of the line-up is constantly rotating through the creative recipes flowing from the 15 bbl brewhouse contained behind the bar. Jason shared that the adjunct recipes are often made with a starter concentrate in a Cornelius keg to allow for more control when added to the base beer. The concoctions are too many to list but utilize a plethora of unique ingredients and you can check online to see an updated list of what is on tap.
Lining the walls of the taproom are dozens of wine barrels which are used for their highly successful wild/sour barrel aging program. One of the more popular releases is Ananke which is accompanied by its own bottle release day (two other meticulously planned and well attended bottle release days throughout the year are Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day and Dia de La Muerta). Jason explained they typically produce about 6 bbl of the sour ales at a time and Soleratail will be the next to be released. Due to space limitations, the barrel program has not expanded of late. However, owner Scott was a prominent voice for brewers leading to the 2013 TX legislative changes that now allow a brewpub to make up to 10,000 bbl/year and sell their product to wholesalers.
Freetail plans to take full advantage of the new laws and is opening up a production oriented second location in 2014 just south of downtown, only a mile from the Alamodome. They will begin distribution to wholesalers right off the bat and can also self-distribute up to 1,000 bbl/year to their original location. The entire barrel program will be moving to the new facility and will likely be increased with the addition of foeders. Jason shared that the year-round offering, La Rubia, will remain at the original location and they will introduce a Helles as its replacement. With the upgraded facilities, Jason expects to incorporate decoction mashing to create the new Helles. The year round beers, currently only on draft at the brewpub, may even be available in cans in the future.
The brewery is open Monday-Saturday 11am-12am and Sunday 12pm-12-am. In addition to Happy Hour pricing there are several weekly specials that, when combined with the frequently rotating beers, offer a truly unique experience each visit. Monday is Geeks who Drink trivia night along with $10 pitchers, Tuesday is $2.50 pint night, Wednesday is date night where $16 gets you a medium pizza and a pitcher, and Sunday offers $2 off growler fills. We definitely recommend stopping by to take advantage of these specials or to relax on the spacious, dog-friendly patio while enjoying some great food and craft beer.
Thank you to Jason for taking the time to speak with us!
Author: Brandon Wurtz