SAN ANTONIO – Take a tour of Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling, and you’ll be immediately greeted with the smell of grains and aged whiskey barrels.
“If you just have never made alcohol before, it’s very intriguing,” said co-founder TJ Miller. “When you come on a tour here, we focus on education a lot. It’s almost like watching the Discovery Channel and being a part of it.”
Ranger Creek was founded by Miller and his two partners eight years ago.
It was the first combined brewery and distillery in the state and is Texas to the core.
It's located on San Antonio's Northeast Side, but named after Ranger Creek Road in Boerne. It’s tanks are also named after Texas Rangers.
Miller said part of the experience at Ranger Creek is getting to know what Texas spirits and beer are all about and how they are created.
“I think the process of making alcohol is mystifying to some people,” Miller said. “I still see a lot of people surprised about the fact that whiskey is completely clear when it comes off the still. People think it's brown when it comes off.”
Since 2010, Miller and company have worked on turning brewing beer and distilling whiskey into an art form. They started brewing beer years earlier from their home and took their product to friends parties and family events.
“Being a brewer is very important because you know how grains work, you know how fermentations and yeast work, and then on the back end you have to figure out the distillation and the barrel part, but there is a lot of science to it,” Miller said. “There’s also a whole bunch of art that goes along with it as well.”
San Antonio is in the midst of a brewery renaissance. More local breweries have popped up across the area in recent years, and now there’s support from surrounding businesses, restaurants and food trucks.
“It’s great to see our beer and for that matter other local beers, at events that you used to not see,” Miller said. “San Antonio centric things that now have San Antonio-based breweries and distilleries like us.”
Miller believes the craft beer business will only continue to grow across the area and Ranger Creek will always stay true to their brand: grain to glass, double distillations and a passion to create fine spirits.
“I think a lot of people will tell you, 'Don’t take a hobby and turn it into a business,'” Miller said. “It probably surprises a lot of people that knew us making beer and trying beer to see that it would come this far, but I do think it was one of those things there was an opportunity for it in the city, but I think this city deserves to have its own locally-made product."