On Monday, 1/13/14, we made our way out to Guadalupe Brewing Co in New Braunfels, TX. The first thing we noticed after walking in the door was a unique wood-paneled fermenter tank, which the headbrewer, Ryan Bishop, told us was hand-made in order to keep added insulation in place. He said they have a “Franken-brew” system since much of their equipment was pieced together, including the dairy pasteurizers repurposed as a mash tun and a hot liquor tank.
Guadalupe Brewing Co is the brainchild of owners Keith and Anna Kilker, who are both Native Texans. The Kilkers opened the business in 2011 after being inspired by trips to the US Pacific North West and Europe focused around beer. Using homebrew recipes Keith brought to the brewery, they were able to produce 290 barrels in 2012 and 840 barrels in 2013. Their goal is to increase production to about 1,000 barrels this year with the help of a new 20bbl fermenter and bright tank they just ordered. In addition, there is a mirrored space next door that they purchased for extra room, however we were told they are still waiting for the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) to approve it.
Ryan graduated from Texas State University, volunteered at Guadalupe Brewing Co, became assistant brewer at Lone Peak Brewery in Montana for about five months, and then came back in order to be headbrewer. While showing us around and speaking about the beers, we were informed that there are 3 year-round beers and a couple of seasonals. Their most popular and best selling beer is the Texas Honey Ale, which is made using honey purchased from an Amish farm down in Beeville, TX. The honey is added during the second fermentation in a way that adds honey flavor but not too much sweetness; that way it is sweet enough to attract people who do not normally drink beer, but isn’t too sweet for the people who do. Furthermore, a percentage of the proceeds from the beer goes toward bee research at Texas A&M.
Some of the other beers in their repertoire include the year-round Scotch Ale, Rye IPA, and Americano Wheat Ale. Additionally, we were lucky enough to try some of their Chocolate Stout pilot batch, and also had the chance to see their barrel room where they are piloting a sour, amongst other beers, in white wine, red wine, and Jack Daniels barrels. Ryan’s favorite style of beer is Belgian Wheats, so he created a rendition of the Texas Honey Ale that is refermented with Belgian yeast, known simply as their Begian-style Texas Honey Ale. They will also be releasing a Beglian Style Wit Beer this spring.
Guadalupe Brewing Co has been hand-bottling for about 5 months in a room that is named after whoever the current bottling technician is. The last technician’s name was Garth, so at the time of our visit the room was known as the “G-Spot.” Three or four times a year they’ll set up some tents, grill-out, and offer live music, so make sure to subscribe to the mailing list so you don’t miss the next one. Big thanks to Ryan and bottling technician / delivery driver, Jason Barrier, for letting us bother them on their busy day!
Author: Michael Roberts