Words: Harrison Civick
Photos: JoMando Cruz
The best word to describe San Antonio Beer Week would be community. It’s a time for breweries, restaurants, and other local businesses to work together to bring the city unique events and interesting collaborations. The goal of the week is to raise the bar and offer experiences that consumers might not find at other times of the year.
A testament to this goal: sitting on the second floor terrace of a 105-year-old hotel with a cigar in one hand and a 16-year-old bottle of beer in the other. This year was the first time that our friends at Hotel Havana participated in San Antonio Beer Week, and they came out swinging. Teaming up with Real Ale Brewing Co. and Cigar Pointe, they curated a cigar and beer pairing dubbed Sisyphus and Cigars that was like no other.
Each attendee was welcomed with a can of Hans’ Pils (a favorite of the magazine team) while we mingled and perused offerings from Gonzalez Handmade & Barba Guapo Handcrafted, two local vendors with leather and wood-crafted goods. As the sun began to set, it was time to light up and begin our tasting.
We were in for a treat. Awaiting us was a Chogüí Dos77 Robusto cigar brought by Cigar Pointe and a vertical (2017, 2014, 2007, 2003) of Real Ale’s Sisyphus barleywine that spanned over 16 years. Gabriel Garcia, owner of Cigar Pointe LLC, led the crowd in a discussion about the cigar we were about to enjoy and told us which notes to look out for—both in the cigar and the pairing. We found notes of black pepper, coffee, and chocolate that were only heightened by the sweet barleywine (that showed almost no evidence of the heavy punch of alcohol it contains). We worked backwards through the lineup (starting with the youngest bottle from 2017) and could easily taste the beer maturing and mellowing over time.
Brad Farbstein, owner and president of Real Ale Brewing Co., was kind enough to release the last case of the 2003 Sisyphus vintage in the world just for this event and was on hand to answer questions, give a brief history of the beer and the company, and lead the special tasting.
This was a wonderful evening that proved to be a very exclusive and standout event that represented the spirit of San Antonio Beer Week completely: community, collaboration, and creativity. But then again, we’ve come to expect these unique events from Hotel Havana—we’re just glad this one came during San Antonio Beer Week.