Friday, February 06, 2009

Somethin' Good Brewing in Blanco

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being full time travelers and explorers is discovering places and things that don't fit the conventional pattern that we're used to. Our visit to the Real Ale Brewery in Blanco was one of those experiences. Having visited the big breweries of Coors and Budweiser, and the small brewery of Shiner, we were interested in seeing the local operation and with our Blanco State Park neighbors Bob and Gladys, headed for the once-weekly Friday tour. Hidden on a side road, the Real Ale Brewery looks more like a warehouse, with it's large doors and metal walls. The first hint of something different was the Foosball table in front, being used by two employees, each with a mug of beer handy. Crowding into the office/tasting room, we enjoyed the samples of their Brewhouse Brown Ale and Pale Ale. Finally, our tour guide addressed the crowd by encouraging everyone to "tank up" with a fresh beer, held up his large mug as a rallying point, and led us into the innards of the brewery. To say that the brewery was a marked contrast to those we'd seen before, especially Shiner, would be a huge understatement. The tour guide seemed to be amusing himself with some type of banter - we couldn't hear anything because of the loud rock music pounding throughout the facility. Looking closely around during the tour was like a scavenger hunt; there was the plastic (at least I hope it was plastic) tarantula sitting next to a gauge, the water pistol hidden behind spare parts, and everywhere, pieces/parts of brewery stuff and empty bottles. And while at Shiner we watched as floors were scrubbed and sanitized, here the floors were protected by a layer of environmentally friendly Texas dust. Overall, the interior of the brewery had all of the ambiance of a Chinese restaurant's men's restroom, but hey, all of that alcohol kills the germs, right? The bottom line - they make really good beer, even if they drink a substantial amount before it leaves the place. What else would you expect from a brewery whose web page contains the wisdom of Frank Zappa, who said: "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."
And we'll be a real country as long as places like this exist.
We're off to the Texas Coast; come back and visit!

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