Jason Davis / Director of Brewing Operations, Freetail Brewing Co., San Antonio, Texas


The Craft Brewer’s Conference is back, and with it a pandemic success story of the beer destined for last year’s cancelled gathering of America’s largest craft brewing industry celebration.

In early 2020, The Perfect Purée donated Prickly Pear Puree for what was to be the official CBC Symposium Beer – Trio Grande Juicy IPA from Freetail Brewing in San Antonio, Texas.

Like every brewer, Freetail had to pivot in a hurry but had the extra worry of what to do with 60 barrels of beer that would have been canned and distributed in 13,000 attendees’ welcome bags.

“Due to the cancellation of CBC, cans were never produced for Trio Grande and the beer was in a state of limbo for a bit,” said Jason Davis, Freetail’s director of brewing operations.

In October, Freetail participated in the San Antonio Beer Run with the re-named Prickly Pear as part of an effort with other local brewers to raise community awareness and enthusiasm for struggling craft brewers. Freetail also collaborated with Roadmap Brewing Co. on a prickly pear gose named Prickle Juice to capitalize on San Antonio’s pickle beer hysteria. One of Freetail’s founding principles is community support and Jason said it wanted to donate the value of the originally donated ingredients including purée, hops and malt. Freetail collaborated with Roadmap because of its support for pet adoption and the San Antonio Food Bank.

“It was a hit,” Jason said of Prickle Juice. “We really regret that we lost the conference but definitely agree that was the right decision. We tried to make the most of it and not have all the planning go to waste.”

When the CBC convenes September 9-12 this 2021 in Denver, both Freetail and The Perfect Purée will be there, eager to get back to the business of making great beers, whether that’s in San Antonio or another city.

The Perfect Purée Prickly Pear is harvested from sustainably-grown, non-GMO cactus trees. Aptly-named prickly pears grow on top of the flat cactus pads and have a vibrant reddish-pink interior with a delicate melon-fig taste. Trio Grande Juicy IPA was produced in collaboration with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and White Labs, a fermentation analytics brewing company.

The creation of the Symposium Beer is a tradition at the CBC where every year brewers from the host city collaborate on a beer that expresses their city.

Jason said Trio Grande Juicy IPA was a fairly malty and not super-bitter beer with tangy citrus-forward hops complemented by prickly pear’s delicate melon-fig notes. The ubiquitous prickly pear embodies San Antonio but is hard to find in a brew-ready product.

“We see prickly pear cactus everywhere we go. It’s a part of Texas and that’s why we wanted to incorporate it in this beer,” Jason said.

The Perfect Purée Prickly Pear Puree was added after primary fermentation and gave the beer a pinkish hue. It remains a popular flavor with The Perfect Purée’s brewing partners.

“We found that using even a little less of the purée still brought through a lot of flavor though obviously not as much color,” Jason said. “I was super happy with the results.”