Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.
Opening a craft brewery in the Texas Hill Country won’t deliver the fanfare or celebratory parades Jeremy Affeldt experienced during his 14-year career in Major League Baseball, including three World Series championships with the San Francisco Giants.
But the retired reliever has found a new calling in an old town some 1,700 miles from his former Bay Area home.
Affeldt has opened Free Roam Brewing Co. along Boerne’s Main Street. Serving as CEO, he’s enlisted some help from a California brewpub not far from the Giants’ ballpark, Oracle Field, and withstood significant setbacks in the launch of this second career.
“I can’t just golf and hunt for the rest of my life,” said Affeldt, who was 36 when he retired from baseball. “I wanted to do something important.”
In San Francisco, Affeldt worked with 21st Amendment Brewery management on a series of fundraisers. Those relationships inspired Affeldt’s pursuit of his own craft beer business. His ultimate landing spot in the Texas Hill Country had more to do with his former wife’s passion.
She wanted to be around horses and the couple settled on Boerne. Then, after they left Spokane, Washington, for Texas, life threw Affeldt a curve ball. His wife of 20 years wanted a divorce.
“I got blindsided,” he said. “Unfortunately, I lost my marriage. It was the biggest storm of my life.”
Affeldt persevered. He stayed committed to Boerne and the new business, recruiting Brandon Phillips and Jaron Shepherd from 21st Amendment to help him open the new Boerne brewery.
It was the unexpected collapse of his marriage that inspired the brewery’s name, a nod to the old adage about how buffalo are free to roam the open range and charge directly into a storm rather than try to outrun it, he said.
There have been other challenges, including a lengthy pandemic that’s had an impact on the Texas craft beer industry. Affeldt said his partners know the industry and were confident their business could withstand this storm too.