By Gaige Davila
Padre Island Brewing Company can lay claim to several instances of doing something before it was “cool,” or, in other words, a mainstream, normal facet of life.
The lone brewing company on South Padre Island, Padre Island Brewing Company has been making beer in its large in-house tanks since 1995, one year after Texas legalized breweries. It’s the first, and only, brewery on South Padre Island, and one of 5 in the Rio Grande Valley.
And in Padre Brewing Company’s list of firsts is their serving beer to-go, specifically in 64 ounce, stout-colored growlers, contrasted beautifully against their saturated orange logo on the front. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more people are opting to take their favorite restaurant meals and beverages to-go and at Padre Brewing Company it’s no different. With that in mind, the growlers are more popular than ever, according to head brewer Mark Haggenmiller.
“We were really fortunate that we were able to continue doing curbside, and it was surprising: we were doing 10 to 20 growlers on a good day,” Haggenmiller said, referring to when restaurant and bar dining rooms closed due to state mandates in March then reopened in May. “I think it’s even better now, opening at 50 percent.”
Padre Island Brewing Company is filling those growlers with seasonal beers, recently rotating their Raspberry Wheat ale with a pilsner beer, along with their four stable drafts: Padre Island Pale Ale; South Padre Island Blonde; Tidal Wave Wheat; and the Speckled Trout Stout.
Padre Island Brewing Company has a ten-barrel brewhouse onsite, with each of those barrels capable of holding 31 gallons of liquid. Haggenmiller yields around 250 gallons of beer with each batch, making them once a week. Shelf life for the beer, pre-filtered, is three to four months; post-filter is another two months of shelf life.
Haggenmiller said Padre Island Brewing Company is experiencing the same issues restaurants across the country are, regarding staff retention and keeping remaining staff safe as COVID-19 cases increase. The state mandating restaurants back to a 50 percent-occupancy cap (rather than a 75 percent-occupancy cap) has made these concerns manageable, he said.
Winter Texans who opted to stay in the Laguna Madre area rather than return to their homes up north accounted for some of the business drive, Haggenmiller said. Otherwise, locals and first-time-growler-buyers alike are refilling their growlers regularly.
Bar: Padre Island Brewing Company
Location: 3400 Padre Blvd South Padre Island, Texas 78578
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.