Mission Trails Historic Sites

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lone Star Brewery

The establishment of the Lone Star Brewery along Mission Road in 1940 was part of an extended history of commercial brewing in San Antonio that began with William A. Menger’s Western Brewery in 1855. This establishment was located in Alamo Plaza and is generally recognized as the first commercial brewing operation in the state of Texas. San Antonio’s lengthy association with brewing is in part related to the sizeable German community that developed in the city during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. These immigrants brought their traditions and methods of beer production with them from Europe, including their preference for the lager-style beer still produced at Lone Star Brewery during the early twentieth century (Hennech and Etienne-Gray 2013).

The original Lone Star Brewery, located on the north side of downtown on Jones Avenue, was established in 1884 by a group of San Antonio businessmen. The project was spearheaded by beer baron Adolphus Busch, and the factory was designed for the mass-production of beer. The facility was extremely modern by the standards of the day and included its own bottling plant and railroad access to ship its product throughout the state (City of San Antonio n.d.). The brewery’s success continued the trend of displacing small, family-owned brewing outfits in the city and the state who could not afford to compete with the larger mechanized brewing operations. The large brick facility on Jones Avenue that is still standing today was constructed in 1904 and replaced earlier wooden buildings on the site. By 1918, the company was selling as many as 65,000 barrels of their lager beer every year throughout Texas and the nation. The facility, along with most other breweries in the state that did not successfully convert their plants to produce nonalcoholic products, was forced to close its doors shortly after the passage of the eighteenth amendment, which banned the production and sale of alcoholic beverages throughout the United States (Hennech and Etienne-Gray 2013; Lone Star Brewery n.d.). The former brewery facility is now home to the San Antonio Museum of Art.

The more modern Lone Star Brewery complex along Mission Road opened circa 1933, although it did not produce Lone Star Beer until 1940 when owners acquired the beer’s copyright. The factory then became the official production site for the “national beer of Texas” and produced approximately 39,000 barrels of beer in their first year of production alone (Lone Star Brewery n.d.). Beginning in 1956, the Brewery purchased and displayed the famous Buckhorn Saloon collection of Horns, Fins, and Feathers. They constructed a separate facility “to house the original bar and collection” that served as their “hospitality and sampling room.” The collection remained at the facility until 1996 (The Buckhorn Museum 2012).

The industrial complex was one of several that developed in the area during the early twentieth century and reflects San Antonio’s status as an important regional processing and manufacturing hub. Other examples of industrial properties in the area visible from the Mission Trails hike-and-bike trail alignment include Pioneer Flour Mills, the Big Tex Grain Complex, and the Blue Star Street Industrial District. Though the facility no longer produces beer, the former Lone Star Brewery is currently undergoing renovations and will house loft apartments and commercial facilities. As a result of this adaptive reuse of the property, visitors and residents alike can continue to learn about economic and industrial development in San Antonio during the early twentieth century.


  • Buckhorn Saloon and Museum

    2012 - “The Buckhorn Museum: History,” http://www.buckhornmuseum.com/pages/buckhornmuseum.html, (Accessed August 12, 2013

  • City of San Antonio

    n.d. - “Old Lone Star Brewery,” http://www.sanantonio.gov/historic/Districts/Lone_Star.aspx, excerpted from National Register Nomination: Old Lone Star Brewery (1972), Texas Historical Commission, Accessed April 2013.

  • Hennech, Michael C. and Tracé Etienne-Gray

    2013 - “Brewing Industry,” Handbook of Texas Online, (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dib01), accessed June 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

  • Lone Star Brewery

    n.d. - “Our Proud History,” http://www.lonestarbeer.com/our_story/our_proud_history.aspx, (Accessed April 2013).
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