Inspiration at Big Bend Brewing Co.
As we drove away from Big Bend Brewing in Alpine, TX, I told my wife. “I need to figure out a way to get in the beer business.” Moments earlier I had the privilege of meeting Steve Anderson, the brewmaster at the brewery. It was a moment that set me on the most exciting journey of my life.
A Long Drive
Traveling from Houston to Big Bend country is a long one but boy is it worth it. Going through Fort Stockton before heading down to Alpine is the easy route, but I would suggest taking Hwy 90 out of San Antonio. This road will take you through nice little Texas towns like Uvalde and Del Rio. The real treat is when you get west of Del Rio. The sights include Lake Amistad Reservoir and the Pecos River Bridge. Soon the distant Davis Mountains get larger announcing your arrival into Big Bend country.
We arrived in Alpine on a Saturday afternoon and, immediately after checking in at our hotel, headed to the brewery. Big Bend Brewery is on the outskirts of town just before you realize you’re heading to Marfa. The building reminds me of a mechanic shop with a few additions. The grain silo outside with the brewery logo lets you know you’re in the right spot.
When you first enter the brewery you’ll find a small waiting area with a merchandise display with shirts, hats and other brewery merch. We didn’t linger long before we were beckoned into the adjoining taproom area. The bar is welcoming and has plenty of room to stand and lean. There are also a small number of tables that you can share with the other patrons as well as an outdoor area behind the brewery. We were also happy to see that they had several beers available. My favorite was the Terlingua Gold Golden Ale, a light bodied blonde that was perfect for the desert heat.
My favorite part of the trip was the privilege of getting to meet Steve Anderson who as of this writing has passed from cancer. Steve was the original brewmaster at Big Bend, and his resume is one of the most impressive in Texas. Starting at Waterloo Brewing Co in Austin and then going to legendary Texas brewery Live Oak, his mark on the Texas beer scene is widespread. When speaking with Steve I had no idea who he was and didn’t until one of the bartenders let me know. Steve was very unassuming and laid back and not one to brag. During our brief conversation, I learned things I didn’t know about beer. My favorite piece of knowledge that Steve imparted was the benefit of beer in cans over glass. He stated that the two enemies of beer are oxygen and light. A can provides 100% protection from both, even dark bottles can’t guarantee that.
A Changed Outlook
As we headed back into town, my wife, Lynn, looks over at me and says, “Do it! Figure out a way to work in the beer industry.” A year later, I made some tough decisions to change careers and made some sacrifices. These sacrifices allowed me to gain the experience that would allow me to enter the industry I love. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the inspiring conversation I had with Steve on that hot summer day in Alpine.