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Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day ’15: August 29

Two weeks ago I teased two of the beers for SMABRD’15, and today I’m here to announce the date, a few details, and announce one of the other two beers.

First, the most important thing, the date. SMABRD’15 will be on August 29, 2015. Details:

  • This will be held at our new brewery located at 2000 S Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78210. There won’t be bottles available at our brewpub on 1604. If you show up there, you’ll be sad.
  • We will open our doors for the bottle share and begin distributing wristbands starting at 8am.
  • Bottles will go on sale and we will begin selling our beer promptly at noon.
  • We will allow the bottle share to continue until we make a “last call” for the bottle share at 1:30, and we will begin clearing all bottles at 1:45 in preparation for being open to the public at 2pm.
  • We will utilize the same wristband procedures that we have in the past.

The beers:

  • Komorebi – Belgian-style tripel referemented on pears, 1/3 aged in Mezcal Barrels, 2/3 aged in Wine Barrels. 11.2% ABV. 900 bottles. A few kegs will be distributed, but we do not anticipate distributing any bottles.
  • Peach Bexarliner – Imperial Berliner-weisse aged on peaches. 1,000 bottles. Some bottles will reach distribution, as will kegs.
  • Depertado de Manzanilla – A start of our new “Despertado” series that featured barrel aged base beer focused on specialty ingredients. This one has a focus on Chamomile. 1,200 bottles. A few kegs will be distributed, but we do not anticipate distributing any bottles.
  • 4th beer to be unveiled later. We aren’t ready to announce this one until we have the label completed, but I will tell you that it will have the lowest bottle count.

More details to come.

Teaser: Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day 2015

Hey gang,

I’m going to keep this relatively brief because I am not ready to unveil the full details yet, but I can confirm that Super Mega Awesome Bottle Release Day is coming back for 2015! SMABRD’15 will feature four wood-aged beers – three new ones and one old favorite. I don’t have a date pinned down yet but we are aiming for late August.

Today I want to tease two of the four beers, mainly because they’ll soon be published on one of the (awesome) websites that keeps tabs on TABC label approvals.

So, without further ado, I present Komorebi and Peach Bexarliner:

Komorebi is a beer we are especially excited about. We began with a Belgian-style Tripel that we re-fermented on pears. We were a little curious how this would turn out given how delicate of a flavor pear is, but in the final product the aroma and flavor of juicy pear really shines through. We took the beer, aged 1/3 of it in used Mezcal barrels and the other 2/3 in used wine barrels. The result is an 11.2% sipper that really balances the sweetness of the pear (and a Tripel) with the smokey wood character of the Mezcal barrels. We produced only 80 cases of this beer, and bottles will available only at our S Presa brewery on SMABRD’15 (or until they sell out). Kegs will go out to selected accounts in our distribution territory. [Note, this is not a sour beer]

Peach Bexarliner requires a little explanation. Yo Soy Un Berliner is a Berliner-weisse we previously made that was aged in barrels for extra tartness. Bexarliner Weisse was a Berliner that was exclusively kettle soured at our original brewpub. When we decided to can a Berliner, we wanted to use the Yo Soy Un Berliner name, so it became the kettle soured only beer. Bexarliner, going forward, will be our kettle soured and then barrel aged Imperial Berliner aged on fruit. We’ll release different variants throughout the year going forward. First in queue is Peach Bexarliner. Not quite as peachey and definitely not as sour as Peche’cus (which is still in the plans for us to make… don’t worry) but hopefully still worthy of your love and adoration. Bottles will most likely be limited to the brewery only, but some kegs will find their way out into our distribution territory.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more details on the other two SMABRD’15 beers.

 

That’s not your keg: Some thoughts on deposits, boycotts, and everything in between.

A fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of kegs owned by Freetail Brewing Co.

So here I am again, about to embark on a long-winded blog post about a topic that may in fact be bad for my own well-being in the long-run. It won’t be the first time, hopefully it won’t be the last.

If you haven’t heard by now, a handful of Houston-area bars have agreed to boycott beer from Silver Eagle Distributors over a recent increase in keg deposit fees. Some of the breweries that Silver Eagle distributes: Saint Arnold, Karbach, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, 8th Wonder, Rahr, Six Point, Anheuser-Busch, Modelo, and… you guessed it, San Antonio’s own Freetail Brewing Co.

I’ll start this out by saying that I’m well aware the opinion that follows may result in my beer never again being sold at any of these bars engaged in the boycott, and I’m willing to accept that. I’m willing to accept that perhaps my opinion even means that I can’t sustain distribution in Houston at all. I accept that too, because this is a sword I’m willing to fall on for the industry I love. I’ve always prided Freetail in our transparency and honesty to our suppliers, business customers, peers, and fellow beer drinkers. That’s disclaimer #1.

Disclaimer #2. I understand and I can sympathize with the perspective all parties involved. I’ve paid deposits for other breweries’ beer, and I’ve collected deposits from wholesalers, retailers and consumers alike. I’ve been a part of each side of the transaction. I get it.

I first heard of this story as it was relayed to me by our salesman on the ground hearing a rumor that I confirmed directly with one of the retailers, confirmed with Silver Eagle, and confirmed with a fellow brewer in the Silver Eagle portfolio. My initial reaction was to be concerned from a business perspective. Our new production brewery, and especially our Houston distribution, is so young that hiccups like these have major impacts on our financial well-being and viability. Putting those concerns aside, I thought to myself: “I get it… and I don’t think anyone is really wrong here.”

But I’ve come to change my opinion, and while I have a lot of respect for folks like Ben Fullelove (Petrol Station) and Kevin Floyd (Hay Merchant) and what they’ve done for craft beer in Houston, I respectfully disagree with them on this issue.

Disclaimer #3: if this dispute were just about advance notice of deposit increases, I would concede that point and agree with those with the complaint. But that isn’t the crux of the debate, the debate is over the fact that keg deposit fees are increasing, and may increase in the future. Bars don’t like it because it’s an additional upfront cash outlay, and that cash is best suited elsewhere. I can understand this perspective, but it doesn’t make it the only viewpoint and it doesn’t make it the correct one.

Disclaimer #4: this dispute actually has nothing to do with me other than the fact that my beer isn’t purchased anymore. I didn’t raise my deposit amount that I charge to my wholesalers, so I’m not the reason the deposits went up. However, I’m one of the brewers most impacted by this because as one of Silver Eagle Houston’s smallest supplier’s, most of my volume is at the same craft-centric accounts involved in this boycott. Maybe that’s why I don’t have an issue falling on this sword: I’m already shut out of all these places for a reason that has nothing to do with me anyway, so what’s to lose?

A keg deposit, is just that: a deposit. Just like any other deposit, when you return the item in the condition it was received (or, in the case of kegs, covered in beer and other miscellaneous things), you get your deposit back. The reason we have keg deposits is because kegs are extremely expensive, and keg loss is a major issue in the beer industry that costs small, independent craft brewers MILLIONS OF DOLLARS every year. (The Brewers Association, which full disclosure, I am a current Board Member of, has estimated that lost and stolen kegs cost craft brewers between $5.3 and $15.8 million annually.) The truth of the matter is that in almost all cases, the cost of a keg deposit is significantly less than the replacement value of the keg. The last order of kegs I made, the total cost of which was as much as a brand new Mercedes-Benz (and not an entry level model), came out to $131.62/keg after accounting for production, embossing, screen printing, palletizing and shipping. To really eliminate keg loss/theft, the market really should be charging a deposit fee significantly higher than the replacement cost of the keg to incentivize the retailer/individual to return it. So long as you are only paying a $50 deposit for something worth $131.62, why would you ever return it? (I know the answer to this question: they get returned because most bars are run by trustworthy people who see more value in selling more beer than owning stolen kegs).

But we don’t charge deposits that ensure maximum returns. The market charges a rate that is less than replacement cost off the contract of trust that has been established between the brewer, the wholesaler, the retailer and consumers in cases where they can buy kegs. The amount of the deposit is set by the brewer at a level that reflects the level of risk the brewer is willing to accept that his kegs might get lost. As losses mount, some brewers may feel compelled to increase that deposit amount to cover those losses. Remember: this costs breweries millions of dollars a year, from the global giants to the smallest breweries.

Some people have asked: why not just punish the bars who are losing the kegs instead of everyone? Well… they are. Only bars that don’t return kegs end up losing their deposit. Bars that return kegs, get their deposit back. If they have another order, that deposit can be applied to the next purchase. I’ve had instances where only paid $5 for a keg of beer because we had four shells to return and we were only buying one keg. In other instances, we were buying more than normal, so we had to put down new deposits. Some people have said “you only get your deposit back when you decide not to sell anymore beer.” But that’s how all deposits work. If you rent an apartment, you only get your deposit back when you move out.

Others have asked, why not only charge the higher deposit amount for the kegs with higher deposits? That would be one way to do things, but in my opinion it creates an accounting quagmire that isn’t worth the trouble. If Scott’s bar is carrying Saint Arnold and wants to buy a keg of Freetail next week, the bar doesn’t have to worry about if there is a difference in the deposit – they get credit for the same deposit amount. This makes things nice and simple for both the wholesaler and the retailer. In my time buying beer from other breweries, the toughest part about managing my outstanding keg deposits was keeping track which ones were are various price levels. Having them all the same price made things a lot easier for me.

Lastly, many have said this is about greed from Silver Eagle. The reality is that Silver Eagle pays keg deposits too. Every week when they come pick beer up from me, I charge them a deposit on kegs and give them credit for returns. If they never return a keg, they lose their deposit. The system of deposits rolling downhill keeps accountability on the person who last “rented” the keg. If Specs, for example, sells a keg to Joe Blow, they are going to collect a deposit. If you don’t return the keg, you don’t get the deposit back. Specs is free to charge whatever price for the deposit they want, since they are responsible for getting that keg back to the wholesaler or they will lose their deposit. If Joe Blow loses it, he is on the hook. If Specs loses it, they are on the hook. If Silver Eagle loses it, they are on the hook to me. When anyone loses it, the brewery is on the hook because the deposit didn’t cover the cost of the keg.

[Note, not discussed here is the topic of bars that hold kegs to age, sometimes for years. This has a real cost to breweries to. We expect a keg to turn over 10-12 times a year, so a keg out of commission for years at a time means it needs to be replaced. I'm not saying this practice needs to stop, but it is something to be aware of]

In the end, this is a nuanced situation that doesn’t have easy answers that boil down to “damn the man!”. In this case, “damn the man” is actually hurting Freetail, Saint Arnold, Karbach, Rahr, 8th Wonder, etc., because we are the ones who rely on these bars to sell our beer and keep us in business.

I won’t be responding to comments to this post because our blog has major spam problems right now and comments get lost. I will, however, respond to any comments posted in the Beer Advocate Southwest Forum in this thread. I’m committed to transparent business practices and am more than happy to engage in a discussion on the topic. I invite any retailers who disagree to engage with me too. Some of you have my cell number, reach out, or let’s talk on the BA forum. There may be something I am missing and my mind is always open to new perspectives.

Cheers,

Scott

 

May 20.

What a difference a year makes. The top photo is from May 20, 2014. The top was taken just a few minutes ago. Thanks to all of you who have been part of this wild ride with us!

Freetail SA Beer Week Events

San Antonio Beer Week draws near and we have a full slate of events scheduled to celebrate and honor the growing craft beer culture in San Antonio. The scene has come a long way since we opened in 2008 as the second operating brewery in SA (tip of the hat here to our good friends at Blue Star Brewing Co.. Joey Villarreal started Blue Star in 1996 and San Antonio beer culture would look vastly different without the foundation he laid).

Without further ado, here is our list of Beer Week Events!

  • Saturday 03/21 – SA Beer Week Kick Off Party. Main Plaza, downtown San Antonio. San Antonio breweries will take over all the taps in Main Plaza and we will hoist a brewers’ toast at 7:15 followed by live music from Cryin’ DT Buffkin and the Bad Breath. Free to attend, you just need to buy the beer. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/21/san-antonio-beer-week-kick-off-party
  • Monday 03/23 – Texas Beer & Cheese Pairing. Freetail Brewing Co.-1604 Brewpub location. Join us as head brewer Nick Adcock takes you on a journey pairing our beers with 4 artisan cheeses from CKC Farms and Blanco Brazos Valley Cheese. Tickets are $20, limited to 30 seats, for sale now at the brewpub on 1604. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/23/texas-cheese-freetail-beer-pairing
  • Tuesday 03/24 – Southtown Progressive Beer Dinner. Take a walk through the historic Southtown neighborhood as we embark on a progressive beer dinner with stops at The Friendly Spot, Liberty Bar, Stella Public House and Blue Star Brewing Co. for a course and a beer at each stop. Only 20 seats, tickets are $40 each available only at our S Presa tasting room. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/24/southtown-progressive-beer-dinner
  • Wednesday 03/25 – Flying Saucer Bourbon Barrel Aged Local Coffee Stout and keep the glass night. The Saucer will be tapping their keg of Bourbon Barrel Aged Local Coffee Stout and we have developed a unique glass that will only be offered at this event starting at 7pm. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/25/flying-saucer-brewery-night-freetail
  • Thursday 03/26 – Piñata Protest Launch Concert at the Empire Theater. We are launching our collaboration beer with San Antonio’s own Piñata Protest with a free concert at the Empire Theater. Unfortunately, it’s already sold out. Fortunately, you may still be able to win some VIP tickets. Stay tuned to various social media for details. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/2/26/59l9iv5q0uldgqnmo78ppx1xg4pea2
  • Friday 03/27 – Big Hops Growler Station (Huebner & Broadway) Bourbon Barrel Aged Local Coffee Stout tapping. Big Hops Huebner and Broadway will be cracking into their keg of Bourbon Barrel Aged Local Coffee Stout starting at 7pm. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/27/freetail-special-release-tapping
  • Saturday 03/28 – Tower of Sour featuring Wood-Aged Beer Q&A with Jester King Craft Brewery – 3pm at Freetail 1604 Brewpub. The tradition continues as we dedicate one of our tap towers at the brewpub to sour beers. We will be featuring Peche’cus, Endymion, Makaria and the debut of Seiza, beer from the last remaining unblended barrel from our original sour program at the brewpub. We will also have two beers from our friends at Jester King Craft Brewery and maybe a few other surprises. We will also be joined by Jester King Head Brewer Garrett Crowell and Barrel Program Head Adrienne Ballou to engage in a Q&A panel with our Head of Brewing Operations Jason Davis and Head Brewer Nick Adcock to discuss the philosophy, approach and technique of making wood-aged beers. This is a no cost event, other than the cost of the beers you order. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/27/tower-of-sour
  • Saturday 03/28 – 5 Pint Pub Crawl 2015. A bus crawl featuring stops at 5 San Antonio breweries hosted by Appliance Liquidation Outlet. The crawl visits 5 breweries, treating participants to a pint glass souvenir from each brewery visited, custom wood crate for your pint glasses, lunch, and dinner. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/3/28/5-pint-brew-crawl-2015
  • Sunday 03/29 – SA Beer Week Closing Ceremonies. As the capstone event for SABW, the Closing Ceremonies will conclude the week in style. It’s a beer festival-style get together that showcases all of the amazing San Antonio area breweries in one location. This year’s Closing Ceremonies will be hosted at the Pearl Brewery. Follow the link for more details. http://www.sanantoniobeerweek.com/2015-events/2015/2/26/obbquwx17nv5pb6yh81ml3q4e7cq6h

Cheers to San Antonio and Craft Beer!

Bourbon Barrel Aged Local Coffee Stout Release Details

Back in… I think 2009… we released bourbon barrel aged La Muerta. Much to our dismay, it eventually turned sour and was worthy of only one thing: pouring down the drain. It was then that I vowed NO MORE BOURBON BARREL AGED BEER! (Even though I believe we did do one more barrel aged Old Bat Rastard if memory serves me correctly, and we have done one-offs in 5-gallon bourbon barrels sourced from craft distillers).

But, you know, times change. We all get older, some of us mature. Since those olden times, we’ve built a new brewery and we (feel like we) have a better grasp of the barrel-aging game.

By now, you should be familiar with Local Coffee Stout. If you aren’t, go back in time on this blog and educate thyself. Then, go find a bottle and enjoy it. It’s FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS. When we were conceptualizing Local Coffee Stout, we knew we had to age this in bourbon barrels. And thus began a quest in which Head Brewer Nick Adcock (one of 3 head brewers we have… because we are like a hydra) searched far and wide to find us enough barrels to make it worthwhile. Lo, Nick found us a dozen freshly-emptied Woodford Reserve barrels and in went Local Coffee Stout for a brief one-month stint. Why only one month? Lots of breweries make a point of emphasizing how much time their beer sits in their wooden bourbon-soaked tombs. To be honest, given the balance of bourbon-barrel and base beer character we were hoping to achieve, we found that one month was really all it took. Anything longer would have allowed the bourbon to dominate and overpower the coffee character, which sort of defeats the purpose of aging a coffee beer. The key for us here is balance. With this beer, we aren’t trying to present a preeminent dissertation on bourbon and beer but rather a nice balance of the character of our original beer, that excellent coffee flavor, and the bourbon barrel.

Some tasting notes: if you pull this straight out of your fridge, the bourbon aroma will be faint. Let it warm up, and the fruity American white oak character of the bourbon will come through along with a heavy char and the typical vanilla accents. Coffee is still present but definitely in the background. Take a drink and you’re met with a rich, creamy mouthfeel, roast bitterness offset by the sweetness of the coffee and a slight smokiness from the bourbon. Subtle alcohol heat that doesn’t overwhelm (a pleasant result of limited barrel aging time).  Super Head Brewer Jason Davis says “it’s like drinking bourbon filled chocolate.”

So… where do you get it? Glad you asked.

For OFF-PREMISE BOTTLE SALES. 22oz bombers will hit the shelves this coming Tuesday, March 10. Below is a list of accounts that will receive cases. Please note, we do not have control over the price or quantity that each retailer will sell this for. We also cannot control when they will receive their allotment. It will all be on a truck to each of these accounts for sale at some point on Tuesday. Please contact the individual stores for exact details.

BROADWAY CENTRAL MKT CAFE 4821 BROADWAY

SPEC’S WINES & SPIR #100 5219 DEZAVALA ROAD #100

TOTAL WINE & SPIRITS #503 125 LOOP 410 NW SUITE 260

GABRIEL’S LIQUOR & WINE 1309 LOOP 1604 NORTHWEST

WHOLE FOODS MKT BLANCO 18403 BLANCO SPGS

TOTAL WINE SPIRITS #504 17530 LA CANTERA PKWY 103

WHOLE FOOD MKT # 10075 255 E BASSE RD STE 130

SPEC’S WINES & SPIR #113 11751 BANDERA ROAD

SPEC’S LIQUOR #69 14623 IH 35

CANYON GOLF MARKET 26180 CANYON GOLF ROAD

HEB SA32  BANDERA RD/LOOP 1604

HEB SA45  HWY281/EVANS RD

HEB SA31 WURZBACH/NW MILITARY HWY

HEB SA46  WILDERNESS OAK/HARDY OAK

HEB SA41  POTRANCO/1604

HEB SA 39  BLANCO/1604

HEB SA 43  BASSE/BROADWAY

HEB SA 23  BABCOCK/WHITBY RD

HEB SA 17  IH 10/DEZAVALA

HEB SA15  1604/KITTY HAWK

HEB SA12  281/1604

HEB Leon Springs LEON SPRINGS

HEB SA01 NACOGDOCHES/NEW BRAUNFELS

JESTER KING CRAFT BREWERY Austin

For ON-PREMISE DRAFT TAPPINGS: We have a limited number of kegs and we will announce each tapping as they occur. The first tapping we have to announce will be at 3pm THIS FRIDAY (that’s tomorrow) at the grand opening of Big Hops’ new location at the Hays Street Bridge. These guys are killer and we want to help them open their newest location with a bang.

For those of you who may miss the release, we will have a limited number of bottles at our two locations starting Thursday 3/12. Note, this is not a bottle release like we have done in the past. We will just have the beers on the shelf when we open. The brewpub on 1604 opens at 11am, the S Presa tasting room at 4pm

 

Growing & Busting at the Seams!

Hey gang, we sent out the press release below this morning and I was really excited to hit send. So much so, that I held myself back over the weekend from leaking spoilers. Bottom line: our plans are coming to fruition. We’re making beer, getting out there and selling it, and we’re expanding our reach. I’ll be back after the Press Release to talk a little bit about some of the thoughts and discussions we’ve had internally throughout this process.

FREETAIL BREWING CO. POSTS 100% GROWTH IN 2014, ANNOUNCES EXPANDED DISTRIBUTION

(February 2, 2015) San Antonio, TX – Following a record year for beer produced, San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing Co. announces it has entered into a distribution agreement with Tri-City Distributors to carry its products in Comal, Guadalupe and Gonzales counties and will expand its existing distribution territory with Silver Eagle Distributors, the nation’s second largest beer distributor, to include Houston and surrounding areas.

After the completion of its new brewing facility just south of downtown San Antonio, Freetail began distribution of its products into the San Antonio market on October 21. Even with just a little over two months in the market, Freetail was able to post a 100% increase in beer production versus 2013 thanks to the increased capacity offered by the new facility. “This is what we worked so hard towards,” said Freetail founder and CEO Scott Metzger. “We are humbled and grateful for the fantastic reception our beers have enjoyed since we began distributing. As a born and raised San Antonian, I’m proud to make a contribution to our city’s growing culinary and artisan beverage scene.”

As it continues to grow its presence in its hometown, Freetail has also set its sights on new markets. To do so, it has partnered with New Braunfels-based Tri-City Distributors to cover Comal, Guadalupe and Gonzales counties, and the brewery will be extending its existing partnership with Silver Eagle Distributors to reach eager Houstonians.

“Our new partnership with Tri-City is exciting as it not only helps us expand our reach in the greater San Antonio metropolitan area, but it gives us greater access to the Texas hill country and the kind of outdoor activities we brew for,” explained Metzger. “The choice to primarily package our beers in environmental friendly, recyclable, aluminum cans comes from our own passion for hiking the hill country, hitting the bike trails, tubing down the river or enjoying a day on the lake.”

The roll-out into Comal, Guadalupe and Gonzales counties should take place in short order with both packaged and draught available this spring.

In reference to its move into the Houston market, the brewery describes it as inventible and obvious. “We’ve always enjoyed a great deal of support from our friends in Houston and I promised that it would be the first major market we moved into after San Antonio. Today, I’m extremely proud to make good on that promise.”

The initial roll-out into Houston will be draught-only this spring, with the full-assortment of packaged beers available in fall 2015. Look for additional details in the coming months on the official launch date in Houston.

 

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About Freetail Brewing Co.

Freetail Brewing Co. was founded in 2008 on the pursuit of creating exciting, innovative and unique world class beer. We embrace the laid back and fun-loving Texas culture and set out to create products that mirror the lifestyle of our diverse and rapidly growing community. We believe in promoting an increased appreciation of craft products and their responsible enjoyment. For more information visit www.freetailbrewing.com.

About Silver Eagle Distributors

Silver Eagle Distributors, L.P. is the nation’s second largest beer distributor. The company employs approximately 1,400 employees that serve 16 counties in Texas through operations in Houston, San Antonio, Conroe, Cypress and Rosenberg. Silver Eagle distributes a broad selection of domestic and import brands, as well as microbrews and craft beers and several non-alcohol beverages and waters. For more information, visit www.silvereagle.com.

About Tri-City Distributors

Tri-City Distributors started out in New Braunfels, TX in 1971. Since then, Tri-City has grown into a major distributor, delivering nearly 2 million cases per year from 20 different suppliers serving Comal, Guadalupe and Gonzales counties. In 2011, the company expanded its beverage portfolio to better serve its customers, adding wine, mixers, water, vitamin drinks and teas to its product mix. Whether you’re a retailer or a brewer, Tri-City offers services that let you focus on running your business and connecting with your customers. For more information, visit www.tricitybud.com.

————————————-

So that’s the news. We grew a lot in 2014, we’re expanding our reach in the greater San Antonio area with the extension to Comal, Guadalupe & Gonzales counties, and Houston… you’re finally getting some Freetail.

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been all puppy dogs and ice cream as there have been some growing pains. We went from a single brewpub location with a brewing staff of two producing a little over 1,000 barrels a year to a packaging brewery with a brewing staff of 7, a support staff of 5, running canning & bottling lines, re-building our wild ale program essentially from scratch, and doubling our annual production from 2013 in just a little over 2 months. As you can imagine, there’s been little time to catch our breath.

Along the way, we had to ask ourselves a bunch of tough questions. Not to make our six-and-a-half year-old brewery sound more grizzled than it is, but the craft beer world has changed a lot since we entered it. The expectations of craft beer drinkers, both from the casual to the experienced, have been heightened (for the better). The biggest question we asked ourselves was whether we were still relevant in the Texas craft beer dynamic. It was a tough one to ask given our history, but the answer was aligned with the same principle of staying true to ourselves and always striving to do better. We aren’t going to chase trends if they aren’t aligned with who we are. We’re going to continue to strive to make quality beers that are accessible (from a pricing perspective). We’re going to have our core “boring” beers, we’re going to have specialty “exciting” beers, because we love “boring” beers as much as we love “exciting” beers. We’re just going to be us.

Lastly, another thank you to all the folks who support us along the way. We make beer, but it’s for nothing if you aren’t out there drinking it. We are continually humbled that you give us a place at your dinner tables, your tubing trips, your gatherings with friends, and your backyard bar-b-ques. We pumped to keep it coming.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a teaser. In addition to our new seasonal can in March, we’ll be rolling out two more year-round cans soon as well. You’ll have to wait for more details there!

Cheers,

Scott

FT2 Bottle Release: Local Coffee Stout Sat 1/24/15

Hey friends, it’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these, and we definitely haven’t done one at the new brewery. This Saturday, Jan 24, we will host a bottle release at our new brewery on S Presa for Local Coffee Stout.

Before I get into the details of the release, let’s get into the details of this beer:

While we were undergoing construction of our new brewery at 2000 S Presa St, we noticed some activity across the street in this building at 2001 S Presa.

After a little asking around, we found out that San Antonio’s esteemed coffee shop, Local Coffee, was setting up shop with their new roasting facility, Merit Roasting Company. We immediately perked up on a couple of levels: we were pumped that continued positive development was happening down here in Roosevelt Park, we were psyched that we’d have a place to get world-class coffee every morning, and we were absolutely thrilled at the prospects of collaborating on some coffee beers. We’re not the type to throw around the term “no-brainer” a lot, but a potential collaboration with Merit fit the bill. Fortunately, Merit was just as curious and excited about us as we were about them. Merit owner, Robbie Grubbs, would poke his head in from time to time and we developed a relationship built on mutual respect for each other’s craft. Soon after, the idea of for our first collaboration, Local Coffee Stout, was born.

As we began to develop the recipe for Local Coffee Stout, our head of brewing ops, Jason Davis, was inspired by Merit and their passion for letting the beans drive the flavor profile of the coffee rather than the too-typical practice of the roast dominating. Merit provided us with a cold extract of lightly roasted El Origen coffee from Honduras. Sampling the concentrated extract gave us a deep appreciation for Merit’s craft: a brew that was full of fruit flavor (tamarind, dark fruits) without overpowering us with burnt astringency that has become the trademark flavor of mass-produced coffee grounds. We blended the extract with our stout in the cellar. Our own experience taught us that adding coffee on the hot-side of the process would result in changes to the coffee, which would have negated Merit’s efforts. The result is a coffee stout that is a little different from most coffee stouts, because this coffee is different from most coffees. Virtually all of the roast character of the finished beer comes from the malt, not the coffee. Rich coffee notes abound upon first whiff and playfully dance with the residual sweetness of the malt. Coffee stouts aren’t exactly innovative these days, but can often still be quite special. We are proud of the one we’ve created and hope it stands among the other great ones available today. Check out the video below for a more detailed look at the development and production of this beer.

As for the release:

In addition to this weekend’s release, Local Coffee Stout will be distributed throughout San Antonio in limited quantities. We will release 30 cases (360 bottles) this Saturday starting at 1:30pm. In Freetail tradition, we also invite folks to enjoy a bottleshare prior to the release starting at 10am. Important details:

  • LOCATION: The new brewery, 2000 S Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78210
  • 360 bottles
  • $9/bottle
  • Limit to be determined based on number of people in attendance at 12:30. We will have a wristband system in place
  • Bottleshare beginning at 10am
  • All bottles from the bottleshare will be picked up at 1:25pm in preparation of Open For Business at 2pm.

If you have any other questions, please find us on our company Facebook, or you can ask me on twitter @beermonkey. (The comments section of our blog gets spammed too heavily for us to really be able to respond to comments, unfortunately)

Cheers,

Scott.

 

 

‘Tis the Season

As I am sure many people do, I find myself in a reflective mood as the year winds down and we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. 2014 was a year of achievement for Freetail. We finished the completion of our new brewery, began distribution, find ourselves already in 150+ off-premise and 100+ on-premise accounts around San Antonio, and are already having to plan for expansion.

For me though, the proudest achievement is the continued growth and development of our team. For the first time, we actually have people in critical functions who actually know what they are doing, as opposed to me faking it. Instead of handful of folks wearing hundreds of hats at once, we have sharp folks in key positions to help drive our company forward. I’m forever thankful for all the folks who made getting to this point possible, and I’m thankful to have built a team now that will take us to the next level. When we relaunch our website in 2015, we plan to feature profiles of our employees as they are truly the heart and soul of our company, even moreso than our beer.

Short and sweet: thank you all for your continued support and allowing us to have dream jobs. We couldn’t do it with you! Happy Holidays!

-Scott

 

 

Easy Parts & Hard Parts

What a whirlwind.

All of it. The production, the events, the promotion, the sales, the distributor relations, the branding, the media requests, the social interaction. The all of it.

Some of it is easy, most of it is fun. Some of it is hard, a very small portion of it really sucks. None of this is groundbreaking. Thousands of breweries before us, and thousands more after us, all with the same stories to tell. Very few of us were raised with beer in our blood. The vast majority of breweries in the United States are owned and operated by first-generation brewers, all of us learning on the fly.

Wait, not just learning on the fly… writing the textbook on the fly.

I’ve spent the last year serving on the Brewers Association Board of Directors with many of my heroes. The people who wrote the first chapters of the modern brewing industry textbook.  When Freetail opened 6 years ago, I was assured that this textbook was sound and solid, and I’m just as sure today. But what I know now that I didn’t know then… is that all of us who came after aren’t just footnotes tucked back in unfurled pages. No, we are writing the next chapters in the book. Further, our heroes are welcoming of the new additions and are avid readers of our work. They read intently, and not in some perverse schadenfreude sort of way. They are truly curious, and inquisitive, and more than anything else, proud. (And anyone who ever questions the motives of these folks, you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you that these are folks who twist themselves into knots to represent the smallest of us, even if it isn’t even in their best interest)

There are easy parts… and there are hard parts. Some parts I used to think were easy, are harder now. And a lot of parts I used to think are hard, are a lot easier than I ever. Easiest among those things: never forgetting those who wrote the chapters ahead of us, and fostering those who will write the chapters after.

To pioneers and future innovators a like, cheers!

-Scott

PS: Over the years, I’ve received a countless number of requests of folks starting breweries who just want an hour of time. To pick my brain, to throw their ideas at me, etc. Out of necessity I’ve turned down a lot of these requests, but I’ve always told folks to email me your questions and I will do my best to answer them for you in time. That offer still stands for anyone trying to get into this crazy business, but I now also preface my responses with, “these are just my opinions, and a lot of really successful breweries have started after me who have business models I thought were crazy!”. The point there being, none of us know anything about the future. We may have opinions about what you’re doing, but they are just our opinions, and we can easily be wrong! Don’t be afraid if your chapter in the textbook of the future is of a different form of prose or is in a completely different language. Be the one to prove everyone wrong!