Solar-powered breweries may not be unique in this era of alternative energy, but you can win a barroom bet that there's just one under the Texas sun with reflective rooftop panels shaped like the Alamo.
Alamo Beer Co., of San Antonio, won the distinction in March when it opened an $8 million plant in the city's historic east downtown area.
The brewery includes an 1,800 square foot beer hall and beer garden about half a mile from the original shrine to Texas independence.
Its most distinguishing feature is on the roof - a custom solar array that includes a lone star-shaped solar panel in the middle.
“That’s what really makes it different,” said Patrick Attwater, CEO of One80 Solar, which installed the array and specializes in commercial work. “The star in the middle turns it into a piece of art.
"This is unique, even for us,” he said. “It’s the only one in the world that’s shaped like something identifiable.”
Alamo Beer's solar panels generate about 64,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That's enough to run 7 to 10 houses, Attwater said, or 20 percent of the brewery's needs.
Alamo Beer founder and CEO Eugene Simor said solar rebates from the city and and a federal tax credit convinced him to go green. The modules should pay for themselves in three to four years, then crank out free energy for decades.
Simor tapped beer-making history when he began crafting Alamo Beer at another brewery in 2003. He revived a local brand that dates to 1884, when a San Antonio brewer started Alamo Ice and Brewing Co.
Anheuser-Busch bought Alamo in 1895 and merged it with Lone Star Brewing Company.
Alamo was also the first business to license a likeness of the the state-owned Spanish mission for its label.
And, it's the brand of beer that Hank Hill and his homies quaffed in the animated “King of the Hill” TV series.
On television, Alamo was billed as coming “from the lukewarm headwaters of the mighty Brazos River.”
In real life, the solarized suds-maker isn’t anywhere near the Brazos, which flows through Waco, about 180 miles to the north.
It is close to a historic foot bridge in San Antonio, however, and a group of town houses that were that much more attractive because of the solar-powered beer hall going up across the street.
“Because of the brewery coming in, it was an easier sell," said Shail Patel, whose company marketed the town homes.
Neighbors aren’t the only ones who paid attention.
“Time Out New York” recently included Alamo and three other Texas brews — two from Fort Worth and another from San Antonio — in a 20-best list of American craft beers.
The magazine called Alamo's Golden Ale “crisp, flavorsome and well balanced" and "one of the best examples of its kind in America.”
So far, Alamo is distributed as far north as Waco, as far south as Houston, and west to El Paso.
It’s also in area groceries.
“I usually take home a variety pack" of everything Alamo makes, Patel said. “They all taste really good.”
John Austin covers the Texas Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach him at email@example.com