Texas is big. I know, surprise, surprise. You can drive for hours and never leave the state. So where can you go for a quick weekend get away? A place that takes both no time at all to get to, but gets you away from the daily grind? There are many places in and around San Antonio, Austin and Houston that both natives and visitors can get to with relative ease. Blanco, Texas is one such town. Nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, this quaint little town boasts quite a lot of history, a beautiful landscape and fun things to do. Rivers, hills and lots of antique shopping. Plenty for everyone. For those who also partake in the pleasures of an American craft beer, Blanco is also home to the Real Ale Brewing Company.
Real Ale Brewing has its humble beginnings back in 1996. Water from the nearby Blanco River is used in their brewing process. It utilizes a 60-barrel brewing system, but are now expanding to meet their growing demand. Its staff is small, but all are dedicated to producing fine Texas craft beer. I’ve travelled many places and visited many a brewpub and brewery and long since been a fan of Real Ale, yet I had never taken the time to stop by. Well, on a sunny Friday afternoon a couple of years ago, I decided to load up the car and take the meager 45 minute drive and head up to Blanco.
Arriving into town soon after, I passed up the historic courthouse right off Main st and took a right on San Saba, soon arriving at Real Ale. The Friday tastings and tours had just begun, so I parked an quickly headed in. The tour was led by the brewery manager and he quickly led everyone through the brewing process at Real Ale, while also making everyone feel at home.
The tour moves from the where the brewing magic begins, at the mash and lauter tun, to the kettle and then to the fermentors. A little simplistic explanation, but you get the drift. The tour also explains where all the ingredients come from, where they come up with new ideas for others beers and where they experiment.
The tour discussed the bottling and kegging process and moves over to the cold room, where all the beer is stored before is is distributed throughout the state. When the tour ended, we just happened to be at the tasting room. Aww, shucks! The folks here are very generous and will happily pour you samples of what they have on tap. I stuck around for a few minutes afterwards and chatted with the owner and head brewer about upcoming events in the area and seasonal brews that were on their way.
A great day to be sure and a destination that should be considered whether you live in the area or are visiting nearby San Antonio, Austin or Houston. There are plenty of nearby Bed and Breakfast places to stay and much to be done on the nearby Blanco River.