It Began in a Basement:
The Story of Real Ale

Since 1996, Real Ale has grown from a small family operation making beer in the basement of an antique store in downtown Blanco to a brewery of 45+ people making some of the highest quality craft beers in the state.

While many things have changed over the years, one thing has remained the same — our belief that minimal processing produces maximum flavor. Check out the moments that helped make us who we are today.

Real Ale owners Brad Farbstein and his wife Gabriel Gregerman.
Brad Farbstein home brewing circa 1991.

1996

Phillip and Diane Conner set up shop in the cramped basement of an antique store in Downtown Blanco and start brewing Full Moon Pale Rye Ale and Brewhouse Brown Ale. These beers were hand-bottled exclusively in 22-oz. bombers. Real Ale Brewing Company is born.

1997

Brad Farbstein, a UT grad and avid homebrewer, first learns of a tiny brewery in Blanco known for producing high-quality traditional ales. He begins driving out from Austin to help the Conners with brewing and bottling.

1998

Phillip decides to get out of the beer business. Brad cashes in his life’s savings and buys the brewery, turning a lifelong dream into a reality.

1999

We hit the 450-barrel mark for the year.

2000

We hire our current Brewmaster/Woodmaster General, Erik.

The brewery switched package formats to six-packs of 12-oz. bottles.

2001

We produce 1,350 barrels, tripling production in just two years.

The first annual Real Ale Golf Tournament takes place. Beer was drunk. Mulligans were taken.

Erik leaves.

Brad and crew in front of the original brewhouse
This is the original brewery cat. Unfortunately he is no longer with us. R.I.P. Guy McDaniels.
An original Firemans #4 tap handle.

2002

Erik returns.

Sisyphus, our first seasonal beer, is created.

2003

We launch our fourth year-round beer, Firemans 4. Even though it was draught-only at first, it quickly becomes our most popular beer.

Erik leaves (again).

2004

Director of Brewing Operations Tim Schwartz comes on board from The Bitter End brewpub in downtown Austin.

Our production tops 3,200 barrels this year.

We realize it must be more than just our friends buying our beer.

2005

Erik returns for good (we think).

Tim with Brad's dad, Jack Farbstein.
Our current location just outside Blanco.

2006

Construction begins on a new brewery just outside the city limits of Blanco.

We produce more than 5,500 barrels in the original basement brewery (on a 15-BBL system).

2007

Finally outgrowing our original space, we relocate to our new facility and double production to 11,000 barrels on a 60-BBL brewhouse.

We bottle Firemans #4 for the first time.

2008

Attempting to keep pace with demand, we install a new 100 bottle-per-minute bottle filler.

2009

We start our Mysterium Verum series and name all of our barrels after members of the iconic metal band Black Sabbath.

We partner with Bicycle Sports Shop to create the first Real Ale Ride — a bike ride through the scenic hills of Blanco, our home county. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to high winds.

The anniversary party goes off without a drop of rain (a first in seven years).

2010

We take home our first Great American Beer Festival (GABF)® medal, a gold for Rio Blanco Pale Ale in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category.

We host the Second Annual First Real Ale Ride (on a very sunny day).

MV barrel named after the Prince of Darkness.
The 2010 Real Ale Ride.
Look Mom, we won a medal.
A beer inspired by one of our favorite bands.

2012

Hans’ Pils and Firemans #4 win silver medals at GABF in the German-Style Pilsener and Golden or Blonde Ale categories, respectively.

We introduce our Brewers’ Cut series, giving both our brewers and customers a wider variety of beers to enjoy.

We add cans to our packaging lineup

2013

Brewers’ Cut Project 05 Altbier wins a silver medal at GABF in the German-Style Altbier category.

We brew Iron Swan Ale in collaboration with one of our favorite Austin bands, The Sword.

We produce over 50,000 barrels of beer.

 

2014

We win gold at GABF in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category for Benedictum.

Our new packaging facility comes online with a 400 bottle-per-minute line. We produce over 58,000 barrels of beer.

We release Blakkr, a collaboration with Surly and Three Floyds.

2015

The new Tap Room opens to the public.

We unveil our new look.

Real Ale, Surly, and Three Floyds brewing Blakkr.
Fourteen taps are pouring every weekend.