There’s no map to opening a brewery in downtown San Antonio, but Dustin and Hannah Baker have been forging their own way into the industry over the past 18 months.
Roadmap Brewing Co., 723 N. Alamo St., is slated to open in September, and on Monday, the Bakers brewed their first batch, an IPA called Mama Dukes.
Named after Dustin’s IPA-loving mom, Joan Baker, Mama Dukes is among four core beers they plan to keep on tap yearound; the others being a coffee stout, a German-style Kölsch and a saison. They’re launching with eight beers and plan to build up to a rotation of about a dozen beers and one cider. Aside from the cider, all beer will be made on-location.
“We didn't want to do this without our customers being able to see the equipment, see where the beer is coming from that they’re drinking,” Hannah said.
Hannah and Dustin are responsible for running the day-to-day operations at Roadmap, while Dustin’s dad, Scott Baker, handles the business end.
The trio is joining a community of breweries — small and large — that have opened in the downtown area in recent years, including Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, Alamo Beer Company, Künstler Brewing, and Freetail Brewing Co.
“On one Monday morning, I gave grain to another brewer while (head brewer Les Locke) at Southerleigh helped us out as far as storing some ingredients, until we got the freezer up and running,” Dustin said.
Unlike other industries, he said, the more breweries operating in an area, the more of an attraction the area becomes.
"I would love for (another) one to come within our neighborhood here because it makes it more of a destination," he said.
The entire endeavor is a long way from their brewing beginnings, when Dustin was using a home kit to make beer for the first time on the stovetop nearly four years ago. The kit was a wedding present from Hannah’s uncle, Kelly Jobe.
Eventually, Dustin moved his beer production into the garage and his batches continued to grow. They moved from a home in Pittsburg to San Antonio about two years ago for Dustin’s job. He’d been substitute teaching for about four years and eventually taught math in his own classroom at Gus Garcia Middle School in Edgewood Independent School District.
Dustin said he secretly put a business plan together for a brewery before showing it to Hannah, and they both agreed to show it to his dad to Scott Baker, who splits his time between Rhode Island and Florida. Scott Baker’s ambition has always been to open his own bar when he retired.
“I somehow convinced him to forgo that and open our brewery,” Dustin said.
As the 2017 school year came to a close, they’d been working on a business plan for several months.
“The moment that I told my principal that I wasn’t returning was one of the scariest but most exciting time of my life — our life,” Dustin said.
Since then, they’ve put in long hours at the brewery, painting walls, setting up the brewing system and tying up all the loose ends they need to open next month.
“We don’t really know what our niche will be yet, so to say, but we’re definitely the type of brewery that likes to experiment and have some fun with our ingredients,” Dustin said.
For more updates on the Roadmap Brewing Co. opening date, visit their Facebook page.
Photos by Ben Olivo | San Antonio Heron