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Love of family inspires small-batch brewery

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Brothers Josh and Joaquin “JD” Peña are making more than beer at Islla St. Brewing Co. on the Northeast Side. They’re making memories.

The company is named for the Corpus Christi address of their grandfather Ricardo Peña, who moved to the United States in 1937 and served in the Army. The duo are brewing beer from a love of family and seasoning the libations with an appreciation for their Hispanic culture.

“I think (my grandfather) would be definitely blown away with the effort and what we’ve put into it,” JD Peña said. “We built this place, literally turned nothing into something, and that’s what he’s always been about.”

Josh Peña, who co-owns Islla St. Brewing Co. with his brother, tends bar in a taproom they say is reminiscent of their grandfather’s backyard on Islla Street in Corpus Christi. Photo by Collette Orquiz

The establishment at 11911 Crosswinds Way, Suite 201 on the Northeast Side, opened Jan. 2, marking their late granddad’s birthday.

The brothers enjoy cooking and originally wanted a food truck, but switched to brewing after three years perfecting their craft.

Josh Peña wears the chef’s hat while JD Peña has a background in chemistry.

“He (JD) is the mad scientist that lets us mix such uncommon flavors and elements. We use real Mexican pastries, fruits and spices,” Josh Peña said.

The duo prepares small batches using seasonal ingredients. Beer styles range from American to Belgian, with a family twist.

Favorites include Indian pale ales; one made from pineapple empanadas, another from a brownish brew with toasted coconut and Mexican caramel.

Josh Peña said the latter, Sauvecito 37, pays homage to their sweet and smooth grandpa. In addition, the tasting room is modeled after their grandsire’s backyard with picnic tables and stringed lights.

According to the brothers, it is intended to be a place of reminiscing, where Selena and Vicente Fernandez can be played without a care.

“We play Tejano, cumbia and old country music here just to give it a relaxed vibe like the one we grew up in. Dancing is known to break out,” Josh Peña said.

Hours are 5-10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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