Not long ago, San Antonio wasn’t particularly known for craft beer. The city had housed dozens of breweries since the late 1800s — the most famous of which are Lone Star and Pearl — but by 2000, production of those mainstays had moved to Fort Worth, where they are still brewed by Pabst at the Miller Brewery.
After that, Blue Star Brewing Co . was pretty much the only option for beer made in San Antonio until 2008 when another brewpub — Freetail Brewing Co . — opened its doors. Then, as the current craft beer boom really began to take off in late 2010, Ranger Creek launched and San Antonio was on its way to becoming known for beer again.
In another twist, Ranger Creek announced it would open as Texas’ first “brewstillery.” Not only would they brew beer, but they would distill whiskey and (eventually) offer bourbon. As they further sought to stake their claim with unique takes on traditional styles, Oatmeal Pale Ale (or “OPA,” as it was iconically emblazoned on their signature wooden taphandles) was announced as one of their four launch beers.
For years, OPA appeared here and there on DFW tap walls but with little consistency. Large-format bottles of Mesquite Smoked Porter and La Bestia Aimable have been regularly available on North Texas shelves for some time, but recently, OPA showed up in six packs of 12-ounce bottles.
OPA is a brightly, moderately hopped pale ale with a soft finish. It’s brewed with oats, so the sharpness from the hops is diminished a bit. It’s well-balanced with a little bite but is still quite drinkable. It’s a new Texas classic that has been around for almost four years and we’re fortunate to finally have it available regularly here.
Best Little gets bigger: The second annual Best Little Brewfest in Texas saw a big jump from last year’s attendance, with numbers reported upward of 4,000. Having shifted venues, Old Town Lewisville hosted two packed tents that featured breweries from several new folks like Keller’s Shannon Brewing and Dallas’ Texas Ale Project, as well as all the usual festival mainstays. The festival also featured a Professional Brewers Competition that saw Grapevine Craft Brewery awarded Best of Show for its Sir Williams Northern English Brown Ale.