While craft beers, including IPAs, are certainly gaining a foothold in the Rio Grande Valley, they still haven’t made a great deal of headway in this land of common lagers. But there’s a place that may help to expand the popularity of craft beers in the Valley. It’s Grain to Glass in McAllen, which is devoted to “Keepin’ McAllen Crafty.”
After making some revisions to its original menu, the restaurant and ale house held a grand re-opening in March. General Manager Genesis Moreno courteously described to patrons the beer offerings and food options amid a relaxed atmosphere. Local guitarists and singers Jay Muniz and Christian Garcia accented the din of the younger set and older folks conversing. As a result, it made for an enjoyable “St. Patrick’s Eve” for the full house.
With its updated menu, Grain to Glass offers various tasty “bites.” The hamburgers, which come both quarter pound and half pound, are a favorite. This includes the adventurous Macaroni and Cheese Burger, which sports a fried mac-and-cheese ball and queso. There is also the Poblano Burger, which features roasted poblano peppers. In addition, there is a nod to the more health-conscious with the Veggie Burger.
The menu, Moreno said, “hits it in the middle,” providing healthier offerings such as salads and soups, while, of course, offering plenty of hearty rib-sticking eats alongside some delectable dessert offerings. And there are weekly features.
Yet, you have to look beyond the menu at Grain to Glass, which is run with a vision in mind. Putting people to work locally and throughout the supply line is important to Moreno, 31. He began working in the food and beverage business at age 17. Moreno is also a former manager and beer-buyer for nearly three years at Roosevelt’s at 7th in McAllen. He began to manage Grain to Glass at the request of two investing Valley families, David and Dora Sanchez, and Albino and Irma Trejo.
“The two families wanted to provide a community space for people to enjoy,” Moreno said. “I like to highlight our whole staff here – a great team that brings people back with good service. It’s all about developing from the bottom up.”
Touching on the “soul” of the place, he added, “It’s a restaurant first and ale house second. People come to congregate, including parents and their children. Some people bring their dogs, so we have dog bowls and always offer the dogs water on our outdoor patio. It’s a very comfortable environment. You can get your work done here. People come in with their family, or they come in with friends, including those visiting from out of town.”
Moreno added, “If there’s something unique and the visitors from out of town ask what there is in McAllen and they’re beer-drinkers, this is the place to go. I like to be in tune with my guests and with my community.”
The Grain to Glass website explains: “We don’t think of craft beer as something to be enjoyed by a select few, but by all … The world of craft beer is immense and always expanding. Our bartenders and servers are constantly researching to ensure we can help make your journey into the craft scene as exciting as possible.”
Centric to the beer offerings are the products of independent craft brewers throughout Texas, although the many IPAs; amber, red and brown ales; along with pale, amber and dark lagers; porters, pilsners, stouts and more come from as far away as Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Canada and Europe.
Popular Texas offerings include the Imperial IPA Ingenious Harvest Haze out of Humble and the 512 Pecan Porter out of Austin, to name but two. Let the taster be the judge because you can get your favorite brew on tap, in cans and bottles. You can even order a “flight” and try four different small pours at once. There are 32 beers on tap, with another approximately 90 beers in the bottle or can.