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Busted Sandal Brewing Crafting Beer Inroads In San Antonio

Attention San Antonio craft beer lovers: Another local brewer is about to go into production.

Although Busted Sandal is months behind schedule thanks to some minor inspection mishaps and some lagging construction progress, Michael DiCicco and his crew should be churning out three base brews pretty soon: Slippery Rock IPA, El Robusto Porter, and Fire Pit Wit, a non-traditional Belgian-style beer with ginger and grapefruit peel.

They have been steadily working to get the brewery up and running.

"We've built every wall and done every bit of the general construction; sheetrock and painting and wall building," DiCicco said.

With the brewery still under construction, the tap wall is already installed -- DiCicco does have his priorities -- and it is impressive, displaying nine taps. None of them are connected, however, as nothing has been made.

The lights aren’t even on in the warehouse building off Fredericksburg Road near loop 410, and the inspections still need to be completed, but that hasn't stopped DiCicco from planning for the future.

Six of the taps are for planned growth when the brewery expands by another 2,200 square feet.

Some of the new Texas beer laws won't apply to him yet, but eased restrictions for on-site sales could be helpful later.

"With the new laws I think it definitely makes us feel more comfortable as the business grows that we have a true plan now for what we want to do as we expand," he said.

As DiCicco walked through the unfinished brewery, he showed off his 10 barrel brewing system, 90 barrels of fermentation capacity and a large walk-in cooler that will be the storage for hops and where the kegs will feed the tap room.

All of the equipment is ready.

He said he is excited to begin brewing, and said San Antonio is the perfect place for it because the city needs more.

"There's room for growth," he said. "I tell everybody that San Antonio is the Wild West of craft beer right now and we welcome as many craft brewers as we can because we want the general public to start to embrace craft beer as a whole and the more craft beer drinkers you get to the aisle, the more we all benefit."

What would a brewery be without the beers?

In a small cooler, DiCicco pulls out several frosty bottles and pops the tops. He poured a taste of a special beer he calls Negro Noche, a black IPA that is delightfully balanced. It’s strong and malty with an alcohol content of 7.5 percent ABV.

"It’s a planned beer for release in the winter time," DiCicco said.

DiCicco wants to make it possible for local beer makers to contribute to the rotating menu at Busted Sandal.

One craft brewer made a blueberry milk stout, an experimental beer that could be a strong possibility for being brewed at Busted Sandal.

"We'll talk about having you come contract and brew it," said DiCicco. "We’re a company that’s built by home brewers. We believe in home brewing. We embrace home brewers going pro."

DiCicco’s El Robusto Porter is one of the most popular beers so far, according to a few beer aficionados who have been privy to a sample.

Of El Robusto, DiCicco said it’s balanced, the malt profile is just right, and it has a strong chocolate characteristic.

Inspiration in an abandoned sandal

Busted Sandal hopes to be the fun brewing company. It’s name is as much a part of the mission as the three regular beers DiCicco will keep on tap.

One night, after drinking in Austin, he and his comrades came across a busted, flattened sandal in the middle of the road.

Their ensuing conversation about the sandal led to many theories and stories as to the life the sandal lived and why it came to be left abandoned.

The experience gave DiCicco an idea: People wearing sandals have good times in them.

"Good times follow you when you're wearing your sandals," he said, "and we want people to think of Busted Sandal and think about that relationship that they have with beer drinking and good times."

It's been a small battle for Busted Sandal to get started, but if the home brew is any indication of what's to come, beer lovers might think this brewery will be worth the wait.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.