Over the past decade, San Antonio has quietly racked up an impressive collection of craft breweries and chic restaurants to complement the city’s historic roots. While its neighbor to the north—Austin—has garnered the attention of national media, San Antonio continues to build on its base of fantastic brewing history with independent brewers that reflect the city’s rich, cultural background while simultaneously serving contemporary beer styles.
San Antonio’s brewing history traces back to the 19th century in an area that is today near to the heart of the city. Pearl Brewing Company started operations in 1881 and two years later merged with the Lone Star Brewing Company. For more than 100 years, the Pearl Brewing site mass produced beer, including Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lone Star Beer, known statewide as “The National Beer of Texas.”
Production at the original Pearl Brewing factory ceased operations in 2001, when brewing operations were moved up to Fort Worth. But before the plant closed, independent craft brewers were setting up shop in San Antonio. In the mid 1990s, Blue Star Brewing Co. in San Antonio and Faust Brewing Co. in nearby New Braunfels started pouring the metro area’s first craft beers. Both brew houses are operational to this day.
Fast forward two decades and there are now independently owned craft breweries across all corners of the city. San Antonio is a very large city geographically, so if you want to hit all the best points during a visit, you’ll need to prioritize your stops. Here is a breakdown of all the best breweries, bites and sights in San Antonio.
Best Breweries in San Antonio
There are plenty of breweries to check out in San Antonio, with several offering unique takes on local cuisine or culture.
Where to Score a Stout
You may have heard of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. by now. In 2020, the San Antonio brewery launched its Black is Beautiful initiative, a fundraising effort for police reform and social justice organizations. Since it launched, Black is Beautiful has been brewed by more than 1,200 breweries across all 50 states and 22 countries, with 100% of proceeds going to local organizations.
Weathered Souls reliably keeps its now-famous stouts on tap rotation, even throughout the overbearing Texas summer. Look out for the brewery’s ambitious pastry stouts or any of their barrel-aged offerings.
Where to Find Barrel-Aged Beer
Found in Uptown San Antonio, Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling offers up the hard stuff. In addition to its long line of beer releases, Ranger Creek makes bourbon in house. As a result, the brewery has a large selection of barrels to age beer inside. On top of its line of barrel-aged dark beers (like a Wee Heavy), Ranger Creek has a limited release series of barrel-aged Belgian strong ales with fruit additions including cherries and figs.
Where to Grab Off-the-Wall Beer
Since opening its doors in 2019, Islla Street Brewing continues to extend the boundaries of what to expect from their beer. The brewery, owned by a pair of Mexican-American brothers, churns out unique brews that showcase the flavors of San Antonio’s cultural heritage. Try out the brewery’s Big Rojo Berliner, which is brewed to mimic the flavor of Texas’ famous Big Red soda. Also grab a pint of Islla Street Brewing’s Concha La Flor, a stout brewed with concha—a traditional Mexican sweet roll—and cold brew coffee.
An Afternoon in San Antonio
Check out this collection of local hot spots in close proximity so you can eat, drink and see San Antonio all in one afternoon.
Stretching 15 miles through downtown San Antonio, the River Walk is the crown jewel of the city. The San Antonio River Walk connects the city’s historic missions with boutiques, bistros, museums, hotels and breweries. The paved path along the San Antonio River allows for an unforgettable day walking around San Antonio.
Located on the River Walk, local eatery Schilo’s is a long-established restaurant of record. The restaurant has been serving customers since 1917 and claims to be the oldest restaurant in San Antonio. Schilo’s serves classic diner and deli fare alongside German dishes.
On the other side of the River Walk, visitors to San Antonio should wash down their schnitzel with a few fantastic brews from Alamo Beer Co., one of the city’s longest operating craft breweries. Visitors to Alamo Beer Co. can take reprieve from a long day of walking inside the brewery’s massive beer garden space, with a seemingly endless number of shaded tables to drink at. Enjoy one of the brewery’s iconic local craft beers, such as its Amber Lager or La Villita Light Pilsner.
Swing by these sites to document your trip to San Antonio.
The Japanese Tea Garden
This year-round park is open daily to the public (and pets on leashes) from dusk through dawn and is wheelchair accessible. Admission is free to the park, which features a 60-foot waterfall, extravagant floral displays and multiple koi ponds.
Mission San Jose
Forget the Alamo, check out the Mission San Jose! This historic mission, built in the late 18th Century by Franciscan missionaries, is a qualified UNESCO World Heritage Site.
World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
You simply can’t leave San Antonio without a photo with the World’s Largest Cowboy Boots. These boots, located in Uptown San Antonio, tower 35 feet tall. The spurs were removed decades ago for safety reasons (just kidding).
Worth the Drive
Looking to get out of the city? These nearby attractions are Worth the Drive.
Directly north of San Antonio, the historic town of New Braunfels has experienced tremendous population growth over the past decade (much like the rest of Central Texas). New Braunfels is rich with German heritage—derived from the city’s early settlers—and is brimming with Bavarian influence. Because of its relative close proximity to San Antonio, New Braunfels is well worth the journey for more restless travelers.
Beer tourists can start their day in New Braunfels at 5 Stones Artisan Brewery. The idyllic brewery, located out in the heart of scenic Hill Country, produces beer bursting with flavor. Nearly all of its brews are made with fruit, like an ale made with fresh peaches from nearby Fredericksburg, making the brewery a perfect stop on a hot Texas summer day.
Before heading back to downtown New Braunfels from 5 Stones, every visitor has to visit the Bracken Cave Preserve. An estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats live inside the cave, making it the largest known concentration of mammals anywhere on Earth. From late spring to early fall, visitors can watch the bats emerge from the cave to hunt insects. The spectacle lasts about half an hour, and reservations are often required so book ahead.
Finish your night off in the New Braunfels area by stopping in for a show at the historic Gruene Hall. The music venue is Texas’ oldest operating dance hall (built in 1878!) and hosts country, blues and folk shows multiple nights a week. Don’t pass up the chance to go two-stepping in the honkiest tonk you’ll ever find.