• April 2, 2020

Small brewery, big appeal - Odessa American: Good News

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Small brewery, big appeal

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Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2020 3:00 am

MARATHON Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue, located in the tiny West Texas town of Marathon, puts the “micro” in microbrewing. “We’re a one-barrel brewhouse,” lead brewer Alton Huebner exclaimed.

Huebner brews each craft beer in a quarter-barrel keg, which may only last for one week before the next rotation.

“It’s the freshest beer south of I-10 and west of the Pecos,” Huebner boasted. It also happens to be the only brewhouse serving the Tri-County region near Big Bend National Park.

The fully stocked bar offers other domestic and foreign options by the bottle, along with wine and liquor, but the only thing you’ll find on tap is brewed in-house.

There are six choices on any given night, with recipes sometimes inspired by regional ingredients.

One unique offering was a cream ale created with agave nectar and locally harvested prickly pear tunas. The cactus fruit imparted a pink hue to the beer, and since it came out in October, Huebner dedicated the beer to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Huebner, a Fredericksburg native, got his start in the industry almost 25 years ago with Fredericksburg Brewing Company, a 15-barrel brewhouse. He also worked at Big Bend Brewing Company in Alpine, a 30-barrel brewery, before it closed its doors for good.

Downsizing has been a lot of fun. It’s given Huebener a chance to try special recipes, plus, clean up is a lot easier.

One of the more adventurous styles is the Chili Blonde Ale. Its roasted pepper flavor pairs perfectly with barbecue. To create it, Huebner adds roasted jalepeños after the fermentation process. He deseeds and deveins the peppers to prevent the overbearing heat present in other chili beer varieties.

The brewery makes a point to have accessible, drinkable flavors on tap to appeal to a wider audience than some of the craft industry’s more fringe flavors.

“We don’t want to be too high falutin’ about it. Anyone can enjoy our beers— not just elite crafties,” explained the ever exuberant and attentive bartender Tanna Lee.

Case in point are two favorites that are almost always available, the Patio Kolsch and Howdy Cream Ale. Both are mild and smooth, with about 5 percent alcohol by volume.

Even the Pecan Porter is more of a brown porter rather than the more robust styles out there, according to Huebner.

He works hard to keep thirsty fans happy, and this April, he will test his merit at the World Beer Cup in San Antonio. Huebner is entering two beers on behalf of the brewery— the Chili Blonde Ale and Gold Bars, a juicy hazy ale created by Huebner’s predecessor, Brodie Pierce.

Pierce took a gold medal for his creation at the 2019 U.S. Beer Open.

Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information and to plan your next, visit www.visitmarathontexas.com.

Odessa, TX

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