PORT LAVACA – When O’Neil and Sons Brewing Company opened in what looked like a garage off Half League Road, it quickly developed a cult following.

People would come from all over to sit in one of the 10 chairs inside, undeterred by the fact that there was no air conditioning.

Five years later, the company hasn’t lost its cool factor even after moving to a bigger, more visible space on South Commerce Street that is stocked with free arcade games for the kids to play, a patio and backyard n which dogs can play, food trucks and live music.

Owner Padraic O’Neil said it feels a little strange to see so many people sipping the beer he first started brewing with his late father.

“It was always kind of a joke,” he said, until he was between jobs and had enough time to dedicate to it.

Now, he can’t brew Pass Cavallo Pale Ale or D.A.D. Stout fast enough to keep up with the demand.

He said it takes between four and five weeks to make a brew and two weeks to sell it out.

That’s why O’Neil and Sons Brewing Company advertises on its website that it has at least seven other beers on tap and three in cans that people can choose from. The beers come from as close as Houston and as far away as Milton, Del., and range from pilsners to pale lagers, ciders and meads, IPAs, porters and stouts, wheat beers and sour and fruit beers.

“We also have wine on tap from Gulf Breeze Winery,” he said.

Gulf Breeze Winery has a story similar to O’Neil’s in that its owner, too, made wine as a hobby before starting a business.

O’Neil said he hopes to build on the family atmosphere he’s created by landscaping the backyard and renting bicycles or kayaks.

“This is not a bar,” he said. “For Port Lavaca, there’s really nothing like this.”

Scott Horne, who has known the O’Neils since he was in high school, relaxed with a glass of Galveston Island Hefen-A in his hand one afternoon there. He said he doesn’t go out except to come to O’Neil and Sons Brewing Company. A Rotary Club group, which included Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow, was having a meeting at the table next to him.

“I’m glad to see a small business like this do well in Port Lavaca,” Horne said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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