Flashback Friday: San Antonio Beer Week 2018

Words: Harrison Civick
Photos: JoMando Cruz

Editor’s note: This retrospective comes days before this year’s edition of San Antonio Beer Week, and we couldn’t be more excited. Please keep an eye on our blog as we promote the various events in the coming days as well as share any pertinent information you need to know. And of course, please consult our official SABW Event Guide and www.sabeerweek.org.

It’s early, the sun’s out, and I am exhausted. Why the hell did I sign up for this? I thought as we loaded keg after keg into the behemoth of a truck that is Blue Star Brewing’s portable tap wall. The San Antonio Beer Week Kick-Off Party was just hours away and the crew was working to get Main Plaza prepped for the festivities. And this was just the beginning. We still had the rest of the damn week to go.

It’s wild to think about, but it’s my third year of involvement with San Antonio Beer Week. The annual craft beer celebration itself is in its eighth year, and previously I was a loyal attendee looking for a fun time.  But three years ago, curiosity set in and I started crashing their monthly meetings looking to get more involved. Eventually, I found myself as a full-fledged show runner that works with the SABW board to make moves and execute plans. 

I’d like to think that it was my passion, drive, and the fact that our burgeoning magazine was gaining momentum in the local beer scene that got me where I am, but it was more likely the millions of emails that I sent to the board begging to help that resulted in my current involvement. It seems that determination and pestering work out sometimes. Oh well, I’ll take it.

Our kick-off party came and went without a hitch. Maybe it was the shots of whiskey and greasy pizza the team and I slammed before it started that made it seem like the best opening we’ve had to date, but I’d like to believe it really was just that much fun. The Jake Castillo Trio band had the crowd dancing, there was a great draft selection from local breweries, and our ceremonial cask tapping brought everyone closer together (mainly for a chance at a taste of the free beer we served). 

Year after year, the number of events grows. You learn to sacrifice some in order to make it to others, which is a welcome problem. It’s always difficult to choose from the long list of things going on throughout the week, but last year there was one I could not miss: my own. Fantom Kitchen, a reoccurring pop-up series featuring rotating chefs and restaurants, teamed up with Chef Reboli of Freetail Brewing Co. for an evening of special dishes and exclusive beer. Sponsored by SA Beer Magazine and hosted at Cullum’s Attagirl, the night saw hundreds of people come out to sample a New American menu and exclusive Freetail beer that didn’t see distribution. SABW has always been about including the local food and arts scene, and this proved to be the perfect combination.

With the week halfway over, we found ourselves at UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures for the official mid-week event. Brewing Up Texas, an exhibit curated by local journalist and friend Travis E. Poling that focuses on the history of Texas brewing, had a special late showing while local brewers poured beers for attendees. It’s incredible to watch how far the Texas beer scene (and especially San Antonio’s) has come in the last few years. And still more incredible to consider the decades of brewing history in San Antonio alone. Nostalgia was welcome as we celebrated San Antonio’s 300th birthday, after all. 

2018’s SABW was a hell of a time and I enjoyed being involved not only on the production side, but being able to host an event of my own.  After eight years, we have hit our stride with everything and it almost seems like we know what we are doing at this point. We don’t really, but who does anyway? Regardless, we expect to see you at the many events 2019 has to offer, and very very soon…