Red Gap Brewery is the only place within fifty miles of my house where you can buy a craft beer or eat from a food truck. Yesterday, after finishing a home improvement project that I started on July 4 (I don’t recommend hiring me if you want it finished quickly), I decided to celebrate by driving over. It is an easy ten miles down a state highway that runs through hay patches and range land stocked with cattle and goats, like most of rural Texas.
For the lone ranger, Saturday is the day to go to the Rio Gapo, as it is never busy nor crowded—just a few scattered, bearded, men. Depending upon the time of year, they’ve often just left their hunting lease from the morning’s hunt. This was the case yesterday; one man I spoke to had been filling up deer feeders, and the other had been on an unsuccessful dove hunt.
The brewery is at the main intersection of a West-Texas town of less than four thousand. Like most West Texas towns of less than four thousand, downtown consists of old west looking architecture, mostly built a century ago—the old bank building (now a coffee shop), the old five and dime, the old drug store, the old feed mill. The newer business owners have been wise to preserve the original look by restoring the high ceilings of aluminum tile, the original flooring, and the old look in general.
The brewery has a covered porch in front with tables and, if you really want to kick back, couches. Parked in front is usually a food truck from Abilene or Fort Worth offering things you can’t normally find in such a town. Lamb street tacos, for instance.
Inside is rugged, as you’d expect from a Texas brewery. You could dress up if you wanted, but you wouldn’t feel out-of-place in your hunting or fire wood chopping clothes, either. I did brush the sawdust off myself before going.
Yesterday I stopped at the truck, chatted with the worker there, and ordered my steak and cheese sliders before sitting at the end of the bar with a pint of amber, as far away from anyone as I could get, but not far enough to be safe from Mr. chatty who had finished more than one or two porters. I learned that the doves were not flying this weekend, which I always like to hear. I try to keep them all in my back yard during dove season. Chatty only saw one, which he shot but could not retrieve. I hid my disdain for irresponsible hunters from the city behind my tall glass of beer.
The female bar-tender drew me into a conversation about whether or not an eight second stare constitutes sexual harassment. This, we decided, was not black and white. If it is a mutual stare, which party is the victim? Does it count if you don’t know you are being stared at? And does it have to be a consecutive eight seconds? We didn’t solve these problems, as the lady had to leave her shift to participate in a ranch rodeo, where she was to do the milking part of the wild cow milking event and be stared at much longer than eight seconds.
A man I know and like came in for lunch and sat down near me, taking a break from his day’s ranch chores. We said hello, but he spent the rest of his time staring at his phone, which is a curse I guess we’ll have to get used to, even out here where city hunters go to “get away from it all.”
I had my second amber with my fries; I’m a large-ish man, so two is fine. It is also my limit, though, when I’m driving. The second, along with the fries, was an act of rebellion, as the perky young nurse told me the day before that I need to lose a little weight during my yearly check-up. Here’s to that, you perky young nurse. I’ll be damn sure that I weigh ten more pounds next year. That’ll show you.
When I turned my pickup back east to head through the only light before leaving town, I realized that, although my belly was full and I felt like I’d been on an adventure, I’d only been gone from home for an hour.