I’d been looking forward to visiting Dorćol since seeing them flagged on 2018’s list of fastest growing breweries in the US – the only entry from Texas, no less, coming in at number 38. Neighbours to Kunstler Brewing in San Antonio’s cool but laid-back Lone Star Arts District, Dorćol sits on the corner of South Flores and East La Chapelle, but keep your eyes peeled – the outside is high-walled and unassuming, and very easy to drive straight past (which we did). Once this had been rectified, we discovered a shaded concrete patio and hip, swanky interior that’s definitely more cocktail bar than brewery taproom. Dorćol (pronounced Dor-chol, in case you’re as confused as I was), is named after the area of Belgrade where one of Dorćol’s three proprietors hails from. From Belgrade also comes rakia, the single spirit that the Dorćol distillery produces. Despite having travelled to Belgrade, I had, to the best of my knowledge, never tried rakia before visiting Dorćol (and rather embarrassingly got it confused with raki – I clearly need to re-take my wine and spirits qualification), and was happily surprised at how smooth and drinkable it is. I would highly recommend giving it a whirl to chase down your beers, either neat or in one of their impressive list of cocktails.
So yes, on to the beers indeed. Despite its small size, the Dorćol taproom offered ten beers on tap, including three small-batch brews and seven core beers. Dorćol have covered most of the key style bases, keeping the core range on the more traditional side and channelling their more experimental side into the small-batch offerings. I particularly enjoyed the simple, clean-lined 56 West Coast style IPA and smooth, malty Irish Red, but the sweet, morello-tinged Cherry Dubbel (brewed in collaboration with the rather good Ranger Creek Brewing) had plenty of charm too. With strong distribution across the city and reaching as far afield as Houston and Dallas (although not Austin yet), Dorćol are clearly doing well at being very brand-forward and specific with their beers, but they’re not letting things slide on the taproom front either. Hosting events ranging from live music to games nights to their Bow Wow Meow Luau (which we actually caught a little of – omg the dressed-up doggies were beyond cute!), Dorćol are certainly keeping busy, and they have also just launched their own kickstarter fundraising campaign to grow even more. While the tiki-bar vibe may not be to every beer-aficionado’s taste, for those of us who like all kinds of adult beverages, Dorćol is a great place to hang out. Be mindful that indoor seating is very limited and that they are closed on Sundays, oh, and that rakia has quite a kick to it!