San Antonians Embrace The Golden Age of Homebrewing for SA Beer Week

A vendor serves beer to eager patrons. (Photo Credit:  Joel Pena .)

A vendor serves beer to eager patrons. (Photo Credit: Joel Pena.)

June 18, 2019 - Downtown San Antonio

Article By: Joel Pena - Lifestyle Editor, SA Sentinel

As an official part of San Antonio Beer Week, local craft beer lovers came to the The Golden Age of Homebrewing: A Homebrew Festival and Competition under the Hays Street Bridge next to Alamo Brewing company.

A souvenir cup sits atop a serving platform at The Golden Age of Homebrewing. (Photo by  Joel Pena )

A souvenir cup sits atop a serving platform at The Golden Age of Homebrewing. (Photo by Joel Pena)

Featuring music and food options, the festival also contained an educational portion where enthusiasts explained the brewing process to attendees. As expected, there was also a large assortment of local beer from home brewers who love making beer as well as drinking it. At the entrance, participants received tickets to vote on different beers, and at the culmination of their experience, they dropped their ticket into a cup as a vote for the best brewery at the festival.

Two local Homebrewing groups, the San Antonio Cerveceros and the Bexar Brewers, brought their love for the craft, as well as more than a few of their own members to the competition. David Medlin, President of the San Antonio Cerveceros remarked on the purpose of this year’s event. “This is the longest running SA Beer Week event…Golden Age of Home Brew. We do it every year. It gives us home brewers a chance to come out and show their stuff and show the public that not only the pros can get things done,” said Medlin. “Usually we get a pretty good turnout. Anywhere from 150 to 300 people.”

A server pours a sample of beer for attendees. (Photo by  Joel Pena )

A server pours a sample of beer for attendees. (Photo by Joel Pena)

At first glance, one might assume that the event is all about partying and drinking copious amounts of free beer, but the truth couldn’t be farther removed. When listening to the crowd speak about their favorite beers, their language resembles poetry more than party-speak. Whether utilizing adjectives such as hoppy, malty, dark, light, or hazy, their wording reflects their passion for brewing…a passion which they share freely with anybody willing to listen and learn more about the fermentation process. “This isn’t really a ‘give away a whole bunch of beer’ type of event,” said Markus Haas, Vice President of Bexar Brews. “It’s a ‘let people try different styles of beer and let people realize they can brew some really good beer by homebrewing’ (type of event).”

Damian Dobbs, founder of Hard Corps Brewing, won first place in this year’s festival with a beer called The Gunny’s Porter. “I’ve been brewing for seven years. To win first place in a competition like in San Antonio…it’s a phenomenal feeling,” described Dobbs following his triumph at the festival. Dobbs also participated last year, winning second place with a Stout, but this year he decided to enter with The Gunny’s Porter. “I retired as a Gunnery Sergeant Marine and thats why I call it The Gunny’s Porter,” said Dobbs. This wasn’t the only competition he has won with his prized Porter, having also won second place in a sanctioned American Homebrewers Association competition. With his most recent win here in San Antonio, he will be able to brew with Alamo Beer on their small batch system and will have the opportunity to have his beer for sale in their tap room. 

People commiserate outside Alamo Beer Company. (Photo by  Joel Pena )

People commiserate outside Alamo Beer Company. (Photo by Joel Pena)

As this year’s competition came to a close, Hector Rodriguez, a craft beer enthusiast, remarked on how the festival inspired him to begin making his own beer. “I’m really glad I came to this event. It has my gears turning and now I want to try my hand at homebrewing. I would like to make a good IPA,” said Rodriguez. Turning to his wife, he jovially asked her what beer she would like to make. Laughing, she responded, “Ill be the taste tester! But really I wouldn’t mind making a summer blonde and it would be a great way to bond as a family.”

“The Golden Age of Homebrewing” inspired locals to talk about what beers they like and to mingle with other enthusiasts, many of whom feel a sense pride in a city that continues to host events like this and work with groups like San Antonio Cerveceros and Bexar Brewers to teach people about the variety of beers available and the ways they brew them. “I just think with this event…hopefully some of these people that aren’t homebrewers right now might taste the beer and say ‘wow I mean this is a hobby I can make something this good.’ And if we can just get one person converted to the cause that would be great,” said an enthusiastic Haas.

With all of this enthusiasm aound the San Antonio brewing scene, I think the city can safely say Cheers and Mission Accomplished to those who make this event possible every year.