Former homebrewers Stewart Altmeyer and Byron Lewis are proud to say they own the first production brewery in San Marcos.
So far, the college town to the south of Austin has a handful of brewpubs, but Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing Co. is the first one — within city limits but outside the county — to operate with a production brewery license. The brewery will be officially up and running Saturday with a grand opening celebration that will serve as many locals’ first chance to try the four beers that the founding duo is offering.
The brothers-in-law who met because they married a pair of sisters, they’ve been avid homebrewers for many years and finally decided to make their hobby a business a few years ago. Although getting the proper permitting took longer than expected and required a move a little outside of town, they are “looking forward to officially opening, but we’re terrified at the same time,” Lewis said.
Thanks to Altmeyer’s German heritage and his science background, Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing has crafted a brewing program centered on the traditional practice of Reinheitsgebot — making beer, as German brewers did 500 years ago, with only four ingredients: hops, barley, water and yeast.
“It only takes one bad batch of beer to turn people off craft beer and drink whatever it was they drank prior,” Lewis said. “To do our part, we make sure we’re 100 percent Reinheitsgebot-compliant. We have nothing in our beer but the four basic ingredients. Stewart is very passionate about technique and making sure the beer is clean and crisp and the way it used to be.”
Both founders have brought skills and preferences to the job that balance each other. While Altmeyer tends to prefer lagers, Lewis is all about ales. Altmeyer brings his science background to the forefront for brewing, while Lewis, previously in the military and now a part-time firefighter, knows “how to make things work with limited tools. We complement each other pretty well.”
They have two lagers and two ales — as per their personal tastes — in their core lineup, with each one intended to pair with the Texas heat.
These include a German lager, “brewed using the same techniques practiced by the Altmeyer family over 100 years ago,” according to the Altmeyer & Lewis website, and a bock, which Lewis said won’t taste like the most ubiquitous beer in Texas (Shiner Bock) and will remind people what the style traditionally is supposed to be like. The brewers also make a red ale, which is proving to be their most popular, and a double IPA at a whopping 9 1/2 ABV.
The brewhouse is capable of producing 3,000 to 3,500 barrels a year, and with that capacity, Altmeyer and Lewis have plans for a rotating series of SMaSh beers in addition to the core four brews. (SMaSH beers have one type of hops and one type of malt to emphasize the individual flavors of each ingredient.)
On Saturday for the grand opening party, starting at noon, Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing will have the Maine-iac Seafood truck (offering “amazing lobster anything,” Lewis said) parked outside, as well as live music from three acts including a local band called Spilt Milk. There will also be T-shirt screenprinting, games for kids and “plenty of beer flowing.” In the future, the brewery will be looking for more food trucks during weekend taproom hours.
“We probably could have done a brewpub license, but there’s an allure to being first to something,” Lewis said.