Holland Lawrence and Marc Fogelsong were students at Texas A&M University when they began dreaming of opening a brewery and restaurant together.
Usually the inspiration came while tasting craft beers or working shifts at a pita shop.
Lawrence went on to work in the craft-brewing industry as an assistant at San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling, moving up to head brewer and creating some of the company’s best-selling beers.
Fogelsong pursued the restaurant-management route with the Pita Pit chain, opening several dozen stores around the country.
More than a decade later, their shared dream of opening a brewpub could be less than a year away with the main part of the brewing system purchased and the search on for a location along the Broadway corridor near Loop 410.
The Wild Barley Kitchen Co. food truck, which opened in 2019, was the first step.
There’s no beer yet, but fermentation is at the heart of its sourdough-based foods including Montreal-style bagels, bagel sandwiches and pizzas. The bagels recently had a rave review from San Antonio Express-News food critic Mike Sutter and patrons have found them in droves at a semipermanent food-truck location at 2202 Broadway.
Breweries such as downtown’s Roadmap Brewing were regular locations for Wild Barley before the pandemic kept taproom customers from hanging out for a pint and a bite.
Lawrence said he is eager to get started brewing. With a pickup and a trailer, the duo traveled to Colorado to obtain a brewing system from an out-of-business brewery. It was a long drive, but Lawrence said most of the gear arrived in San Antonio.
“Somewhere between Lafayette (Colorado) and San Antonio is the chute from the top of a grist case,” Lawrence said.
Wild Barley hopes to have a lease inked by the end of summer. That could mean a partial opening with food and guest beers before the year is out.
Setting up the brewery could take a while longer, including acquiring horizontal tanks for time-intensive lagers that will make up an important part of the beer menu.
Lawrence said there will be many classic European and American styles represented, but with a few guiding principles.
For one, each beer will be created to specifically pair with one or more items off the food menu. Each can be enjoyed separately, but the Wild Barley ethos is bringing the food and beer together for a full culinary experience.
They also will create with sustainability in mind. In this case, some beer recipes will include ingredients that help eliminate food waste from the kitchen. That doesn’t mean an indescribable ale with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in, but a thoughtful use of leftover ingredients that are beer friendly.
“One of our core beers will have sourdough bread in it,” Lawrence said. The main connection is the fermentation process in several forms for both the food and beer. “Anything we do with the beer will be with a purpose. If we add an adjunct (other than grain, hops, water and yeast), it’s because it avoids food waste.”
The location, in a business district near many neighborhoods at Broadway and 410, will be family friendly, Lawrence said. There will coffee and sourdough-based kolaches in the morning, sandwiches at lunch and a wood-fired pizza oven cranking out pies at night to accompany the house beers.
Wild Barley is working with a designer to create what Lawrence calls an “urban cabin kind of feel” that brings a homey vibe along with strong iron and industrial features.
While Lawrence said the food-truck experience has been way more difficult than he imagined, it was well worth it as a precursor to what comes next.
“If we have that food reputation already, that will help take the brewpub to the next level,” he said.
For more, visit www.facebook.com/wildbarleykitchenco/.
Travis E. Poling has written about beer and business issues in the San Antonio area and across Texas for more than three decades. He is the co-author of two books on Texas beer, including “San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint.”