Thanksgiving is special for all Americans, perhaps more so than any other holiday. For me, it carries extra significance because it represents the end of the “Freetail Year”. On Black Friday we are honored to welcome weary shoppers (and well rested folks who stayed away from the madness) into our pub for a weekend long Anniversary celebration. Tomorrow, the brewpub that I’ve devoted five years of my life to officially turns two.
Two years ago Head Brewer Jason Davis, Chef Gary Butler, and our draft technician (from DraftTex out of New Braunfels) joined me at the brewpub for a take-out meal from a generic chain Italian restaurant as we tried frantically to finish all we could to prepare for the next day’s opening. We ate that meal on a ply wood bar top (as ours wouldn’t be installed until 30 minutes before we opened) and I have to admit there was a certain sense of “holy shit I don’t know if we can pull this off tomorrow” in the air.
Even in the middle of all the chaos, I never doubted whether we would succeed in what we were trying to accomplish. As Jason and Gary will attest to, I have lofty standards – the kind that drive folks like Jason and Gary mad at times. But the vision I had on New Year’s Eve 2005, when I resolved to open the second brewpub in San Antonio, never seemed out of reach. (Note, there we’re plenty of times in our first few months of operation when that “holy shit” feeling returned, but it always passed).
Two years later – having already collected a handful of awards and recognition, neck deep evaluating our next location while trying to initiate legislation that would change the Texas beer landscape forever, no longer fretting about the ability to make payroll – the best feeling is still that moment when we convert someone into a craft beer drinker. All across the US but especially in Texas, craft beer is poised to revolutionize the way we all think about beer – and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of that.
I’m thankful for all the amazing friendships I’ve made at the brewery. To the coworkers, industry peers, and the customers who have become friends – you are all truly amazing and I couldn’t have do it without you.
Thanks for the wonderful two years. I can’t wait to write next year’s Thanksgiving post.