Fill a pint, clink some glasses, or pop a cork…just ask for a local creation. I had the chance to strut my cowboy boots around San Antonio (in time for the annual Tamale Festival), and enjoy their hometown beverage renaissance. Napa, they’ve got your number.
(photo credit: Alamo Beer Company)
First stop: Alamo Beer Company. A simple 12-minute saunter from the front door of the actual Alamo, this refreshing craft beer brewery (say that three times fast after a few savored sips), does everything—brewing to bottling, plus rocking a beer garden—all on their inviting campus. I drank the easy-to-love Golden Ale while peering into the expansive glass-walled warehouse, which hosts the functioning brew area and is completed by on-hand, love-beer-so-much-they-live-it Brewmasters.
4.0 Cellars combines three Texas wineries at a well-located fourth spot (so if you, like me, thought the name referred to a straight-A student, you can impress your friends with your new-found knowledge). We enjoyed the Texas Cheese & Wine Experience ($20), which married five scrumptious Texas cheeses from the Veldhuizen Cheese Shoppe with five varied wines from 4.0. I’m a blue cheese girl myself, and the Bosque Blue provided a nice bite against the sweetness of the Brennan Vineyards’ Portejas. The table’s favorite, however, was the Lost Oak Dawson Red, a smooth and delicious sip served with a strong cheddar cheese. Consider it an instant contender for pairing with weeknight dinner.
The wine of Grape Creek Vineyards is so well-distributed that my Iowa-raised husband knew the logo immediately. Owner Brian Heath has combined a stunning setting and a full sensory experience. During the tour of the barrel room, the sweet scent instantly brought images of a juice-stained bite into peek-of-the-season grapes. My favorite here was the Merlot, which we sampled straight from the French-oak barrel.
Need to put your spurs up while touring nearby Fredericksburg, Texas? Stop at Fredericksburg Brewing Company. Beyond my tasty tilapia fish tacos (and the bite of dreamy German Potato Salad literally toppled onto my plate by an encouraging fellow traveler, “You are going to try this!”), I reached for their Not So Dumb Blonde, which fit perfectly into the sweet spot of a refreshing drink that doesn’t over-fill.
There’s also the small matter of knowledgeable bartenders. Here’s a good stop for you: Cibolo Moon inside the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Specializing in tequila, their tequila bar is one of 23 U.S. restaurants that has been certified with the “Award T” distinction. That means that staff members have tasted a wide variety of tequilas, know the history and production of tequila, serve certified tequila, and, basically wake up thinking about tequila. The restaurant isn’t kidding when they talk about their “resident tequila masters.”
I officially raise a glass and tip a 10-gallon hat to San Antonio’s diverse drink culture and the artisans behind the barrels.