Although our two visits to Künstler have been nearly a year apart, on both occasions we’ve come away full of praise for this stand-out San Antonio brewery. After a couple of false starts in different locations, Künstler opened its doors in the newly-hipster Lone Star Arts District in October 2017, so by the time we first visited last summer it had become a well-established part of the neighbourhood. Sunday afternoons are busy at Künstler – and deservedly so. This is a cool, stylish neighbourhood taproom in a residential area with excellent beers, a relaxed screen-free atmosphere, board games, taxidermy and freshly made beer bites. Boom.
Künstler proudly sports its German heritage – head brewer and owner Vera Deckard was born in Germany – and the brewery’s food menu is a happy fusion of Texan and German beer snacks. The beer menu is altogether more international and experimental, and this is where Künstler has an edge over many of its San Antonio counterparts. I’ve been impressed with the way that Künstler are unafraid to try different styles and put their own spin on everything from and English Strong Ale to an Imperial Red to a Belgian Tripel to a Hefweizen. Among my favourites of the mighty 16 beers that I’ve managed to try over just two visits is the Chamuco, a sweet-spicy beer brewed with cinnamon and mix of three types of chilli ethically sourced from Ecuador and Peru. It’s so easy for this type of beer to end up tasting synthetic or syrupy, but the Chamuco hits the right note of exciting-but-drinkable, which is also true of the My Milkshake IPA – another style it’s so easy to get wrong, but Künstler have managed to make deliciously special, using Pink Boots’ 2018 hop blend and donating a portion of profits to the society.
As well as supporting Pink Boots, Künstler also spread their charitable wings supporting US veterans with their Alone And Unafraid DIPA. The beer is brewed with hops selected by a group of veteran-owned breweries from across the country, who then donate profits from the blend to different charitable organisations for veterans. Their keen, visible interest in supporting good causes is yet another reason to stop by.
Other top beery picks include the Johnny Rye Pale, a style that I’m happy to see becoming increasingly available here in Texas, the juicy-tropical Hawaiian Frog IPA, cocoa-peanut Choco-Huate Porter, rich, malty Illegal Red and the sweet, boozy Fortis English Strong Ale. That said, with such a strong, diverse list it feels unfair not to mention how tasty many of Künstler’s lighter beers are, particularly the bright, clean Dortschlager and sweet, smooth Dieter Dunkel. There is, indeed, something for everyone here, including folks who don’t want to be drinking 8-9% beers on a hot Texas afternoon! A quick scan through Künstler’s brewing history reveals plenty more exciting delicacies, and I’m looking forward to trying their next batch of brews when I’m back in town. And hanging out with all the taxidermy. Love a bit of taxidermy.