Inside Look: Southerleigh Brewery, San Antonio

Investing in unique build-outs isn’t always a priority for breweries, but when Southerleigh Brewery secured San Antonio’s Pearl, they knew they had to take the opportunity to create something special. Southerleigh is the first brewpub to open in the 1800s-era building since Pearl Brewing Company stopped producing beer in 2001, so when Austin-based Clayton & Little Architects (Jeffrey’s, Hotel St. Cecilia) and interior designer Joel Mozersky (Uchi, La Condesa, Midnight Cowboy) teamed up to refresh the space, they did everything possible to preserve its soul.

“Over the years the historic space had developed layers of character, and we felt the best way to honor the space was to respect these layers,” architect and principal Paul Clayton says. “We wanted the space to look lived in, as if it had never shut down.”

To create a tangible window into the Pearl’s past, the designers left lush, layered wall surfaces alone and salvaged artifacts from the existing site to enhance the building’s sense of “gritty magnificence.” Reclaimed wood floors create a visual mélange of color, character and shape, while old conveyor belts texturize one of the dining room walls, a historic cast iron staircase provides access to the brewing operations, and vintage bottling equipment transforms into the lighting fixture over the chef’s bar. Every detail works in concert to reflect and celebrate the story of the former brewery.

Beer-wise, the brewpub (which is the 10th largest in the country), will offer a rotating selection of up to 20 house beers on tap made by former Branchline Brewing employee William Les Locke Jr., who says he aims to maintain a beer program centered around balance and approachability that’s also eclectic. “I want to showcase a wide array of what’s possible and what has historically worked well, both on its own and with food,” Locke says. To start, three original brews will flow from the taps, including a Dortmunder-style lager, a seasonal IPA and an English-style Curry Porter, which Locke calls “aromatic,” with “hints of mustard, pepper and fenugreek.” Down the line, an extensive wood-aging and firkin program will also take place.

The food program takes inspiration from Southern coastal traditions to reflect owner and executive chef Jeff Balfour’s upbringing in Galveston. Coming from the kitchen at Citrus at the Valencia Hotel, Balfour’s cuisine will “have both modern wit and famous Southern charm.”