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Goliad Brewing Company closes in on opening (w/video)

By Jessica Rodrigo
Jan. 28, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2014 at 7:29 p.m.

BOTTOM: J.R. Ebling, left, and John Martin, both with Westone and Associates, of San Antonio, work to install piping at the Goliad Brewing Company on Jan. 18. The pipes will carry the beer from outside fermentors into the warehouse where the  beer will be bottled on site.

Look for these brews

• Goliad Golden Ale - Lighter lager-like style of beer. Very clean taste with a touch of sweetness and citrus notes. The legend tells of lost gold hidden in Goliad between three marked oak trees in a triangle pattern.

• Redfish IPA - It's a popular style of craft brew that has the perfect blend of malt and hops. The name celebrates fishing for redfish in the Gulf Coast.

The Goliad Brewing Company is working to develop a few other styles, including a stout and hefeweizen. Stay up to date with the brewery's Facebook page.

GOLIAD - Something new will soon be brewing in Goliad County.

The Goliad Brewing Company is preparing to turn on its brewing system - capable of producing about 6,000 barrels of beer per batch - and begin bottling its fermented beverage for distribution by mid-February.

The tall, stainless steel tanks and glistening maze of pipes will soon be flowing with beer, but there's more to the brewery than supplying a tasty drink to consumers. Ask Mark Nichols, who is in charge of sales and marketing for the company, about what the company is up to, and he'll say that it is here to tell the story of Goliad.

"There's no shortage of history and great stories here," he said.

Nichols, 40, of Houston, remembers being mesmerized by Goliad's history in his seventh-grade textbooks. He plans to use the rich history to brand the beer coming from the brewery. Tales of hidden gold, battles fought long ago and geographic details are just a few of the stories he plans to weave into the background of one of the newest breweries in South Texas.

Construction started late last year, and by the middle of February, he said, the company should be brewing and bottling beer on-site.

The Goliad Brewing Company sits a short drive beyond Goliad city limits on a patch of land that includes about 60 pecan trees, a pond - when there is enough water - and everything it needs to brew, bottle and distribute beer. There is even a cooler large enough to house all the kegs and cases of bottles after packaging.

Owner John Wilkerson, 43, decided to open the brewery after a few years of discussions with Nichols.

Wilkerson's wife has roots in Goliad, so he thought it would be great place to build the business.

"I love it out here," he said. "It's going to be great times out here."

He and Nichols worked together to find the right brewmaster for the job and eventually hired Stefan Zurakowski, of Tennessee, to create the company's lineup.

Zurakowski, 30, has since made Goliad his new home and can often be found in the brew house creating each unique blend of hops, yeast and water that will make the brewery's beers. The brewery pulls water from a private certified water supply that he said is good for yeast propagation - an important step in the beer-making process.

"We have better water here than most cities in the country," Wilkerson said proudly.

Using water that goes through a city filtration system can add different minerals to the water, which Zurakowski said can change the final product.

The Goliad Brewing Company has two brews already in the design process: a Goliad Golden Ale and a Redfish IPA. They've even drawn up a few designs for the taps, which Nichols has been talking to area bars about featuring on their menus.

That's something Goliad business owner Reagan Sahadi can hardly wait for.

When he heard about the new brewery, he immediately made plans to add the Goliad Brewing Company's beers to his bar's tap selection.

The Commercial Street Bar, owned by Sahadi, 34, and his wife, Mary Margaret, is the only bar in Goliad that offers draft beer.

"It'll be great to have a hometown beer in bottles and on draft," Sahadi said.

He met Wilkerson during the planning and building stages of the brewery and was impressed with how quickly it was built. It was a patch of land, and all of a sudden, it's almost done, Sahadi said.

Having a brewery in the area will help draw people to the square, and he hopes it'll be up just in time for the rodeo.

"It's going to be a great addition for Goliad and the state," Sahadi said. "Once they get their foothold, they're going to take off."

The brewery plans to open for tours and offer samples by April, said Nichols. Hosting events at the brewery is still in the talks, but for now, the company plans to have a beer garden where people can take in the scenery.

"We don't want to take business from Goliad," Wilkerson said. "We want people to come into Goliad and stay a while."

Sahadi also looks forward to working with a company that has Goliad's best interest in mind. It's very respectable that Wilkerson wants to help Goliad, Sahadi said.

"He's got a good vision of what he wants to do," he said.

Before any hops or yeast make it into the brewing system, the men behind Goliad Brewing Company - Wilkerson, Nichols and Zurakowski - are completing any work left on the brewery.

"This was just a dream come true," Wilkerson said with a smile.

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