The 'unicorn' hops that helped create the first ever all-Texas pale ale at Southerleigh

Texas Born and Bred using hydroponically grown hops

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Ken Huizar - Photojournalist, Valerie Gomez - Video Editor

SAN ANTONIO - It’s been quite a journey for Les Locke, the head brewer at Southerleigh at the Pearl, to create the first ever all-Texas pale ale.

For years, Locke made it his mission to find the best way to brew an all-Texas pale ale, although growing the right hops was difficult in the Texas heat.

But Locke was determined, and later got in touch with Mark Koehler, the owner of Hank's Hops in Somerset.

Koehler started hydroponically growing Centennial hops, a key ingredient in pale ales, for the first time early last year.

Koehler’s greenhouse uses a computerized system to control the temperature, a fertilized water system, a water cooling unit and a series of lights that all mimic the climate in the Pacific Northwest.

It ultimately created an environment in which hops can successfully grow without harm from the Texas heat.

“Our unicorn we chased were the hops and we finally have lab-tested grown hops about 20 minutes south of town in Somerset,” Locke said.

The first harvest was ready in April and Southerleigh was the first to the hops in their brew called Texas Born and Bred. The hops weren’t the only key ingredients from Texas.

Born and Bred includes Maverick malt from Wildorado and a Nueces strain of yeast from Texas Yeast Labs in New Braunfels.

“We have a yeast lab up in New Braunfels called Texas Yeast Lab that was able to come up with their own cultivated yeast from house, and that’s where the magic is,” Locke said.

Once the ingredients were in, the next step was to get the right taste combination.

Texas Born and Bred is a throwback to old-school pale ales, with hints of citrus, pine and malt sweetness.

“It’s so fresh, the hops are very aromatic,” Locke said “I think that’s the first thing that hits them. The aroma lingers on their palette many minutes after they drink it.”

Southerleigh began serving Born and Bred about week ago. The brewery is already having trouble keeping up with customer demand for the pale ale.

It's a beer born in the Lone Star State and made for Texas beer fans.

“We’re supporting local farmers down the street, farmers in North Texas,” said Locke. “Those are important things. It hasn’t happened yet, not on this level.”

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