Not a gastropub. Not a brewpub. Not even a pub at all. Southerleigh has taken beer-n-food to a new and rather exciting level with its high-concept (and highly priced) fine dining brewery. Located in the gorgeously restored old Pearl Brewery building in downtown San Antonio, which dates from 1894 and is now one of the city’s chicest locations, Southerleigh is full of swank and swagger. The meticulously restored dining room is panelled in dark lacquered wood, with a wrought-iron staircase and bustling bar, where we were fortunate enough to find seats. If you want a table, booking is advised. The supremely decadent menu includes Wood Fired Texas Quail, Stout & Sorghum Braised Beef Cheeks and Kaluga White Osetra Caviar – a mere 85 of your American dollars! Don’t let this put you off though – for the more modest among us, there are $13 burgers. And the oyster bar. I am a massive oyster fan, so for me to visit a craft brewery with its own oyster bar was nothing short of delightful. The fresh oyster selection varies, and they cost from $3-$5 apiece. I had two Jamestown oysters which were full of meaty briny yum, and didn’t break the bank either. In fact, I think that beer and oyster pairing should be the next Thing. Who’s with me?!
And now the beers. The problem with my beer-drinking (if such a thing can be considered a problem), as I’ve described on many occasions, is my penchant for the bold-n-boozy. This resulted in our flight being somewhat dominated by the presence of not one but two massive Impy Stouts – the massive, rich, smoky Putin’s Revenge, a gigantic 17.1% no less, and the beer-chai yum of the equally boozy Santa Ana’s Revenge. Both were very nicely delivered, although for obvious reasons I wouldn’t get anything larger than a flight pour! I was less impressed with the Donkey Dander Altbier, which was, in my opinion, much sweeter than it should have been. This was also true of the Darwinian IPA, which was too syrupy for an American IPA. The light, gently malted Kellerleigh Kellerbier was, happily, more successful. The ambitious and experimental beer list at Southerleigh changes frequently – at the time of writing, they are offering a Sake Ale, Tomato Gose and Cucumber Sour, all of which I would very much like to try (assuming I can drag myself away from the big hitters for more than five minutes!).
A visit to Southerleigh is an experience. Maybe this is the future for high-end beer consumption, maybe it’s a really cool anomaly. Either way, I would certainly recommend a sojourn among the well-heeled of San Antonio to check out how the other half brew. And don’t forget the oysters.