Beer buzz: Things are hopping at Galveston Island Brewing, where two new fermenters arrived this week, bringing the total number to four and the venture closer to its May opening.

With the fermenters, owner Mark Dell’Osso has all the equipment necessary to begin test runs at the 8423 Stewart Road brewery. Galveston Island Brewing will produce about a dozen classic styles of beer from around the world, such as Irish stout, Belgium ale and American pale ale, among others.

Thanks to recent changes in Texas laws, the brewery will be able to sell beer for on-premise consumption in its tap room and distribute products to local bars and restaurants.

The venture will be the first distributing brewery on the island since Falstaff Brewery closed in 1981. Before the laws changed, breweries couldn’t sell product for on-premise consumption. Instead, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission allowed brewers to sell tours and glassware to help subsidize their costs.

Dell’Osso has secured a permit from the state commission and is awaiting a federal permit.

Dell’Osso most recently was brewmaster at Beerfoot Beach Bar, 2816 Ave. R1/2. Charlie Taboada has replaced Dell’Osso at Beerfoot. Dell’Osso hasn’t pinned down a precise opening date. Stay tuned.

Still brewing: Meanwhile, what’s become of a Dallas developer’s plan to transform the long vacant Falstaff Brewery at 33rd and Church streets on the island? In July, Dallas-based Matthews Southwest confirmed it had the Falstaff Brewery building under contract.

This week, Scott Galbraith, a Matthews Southwest representative, said the firm still has the building under contract but is considering options for its use and attempting to line up potential tenants. Initially, the firm had considered redeveloping the property for residential use.

But the firm has been “looking at the numbers.” A housing concept wasn’t working for the site, Galbraith said. Matthews Southwest now is considering commercial and industrial offices at the Falstaff site, Galbraith said.

The Falstaff Brewery, built in 1895, is considered an important building by the Galveston Historical Foundation. But some neighbors consider it to be an eyesore and have advocated demolition. The building has made the foundation’s Heritage at Risk list.

Matthews has made headlines lately for planning a makeover of one of downtown Dallas’ largest empty landmarks, the 57-year-old Statler Hilton Hotel on Commerce Street, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Matthews developed the new Omni Hotel and redeveloped the historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. building on Lamar Street in Dallas and is regarded as civic minded. According to his bio, Jack Matthews “routinely finds underutilized redevelopment sites, structures leveraged financing very skillfully and manages the civic implications of urban redevelopment.”

Gary Schero of The House Co. has the Falstaff Brewery listing. Stay tuned.

What’s that? All that activity at the former site of a Shell gas station at FM 518 and Interstate 45 is for a Timewise convenience store and gas station, League City officials have confirmed. The 4,277-square-foot store is a $835,000 dollar development, officials say. Several convenience stores in the county operate under the Timewise banner.

No word on a construction timeline. Timewise is awaiting approvals from the Texas Department of Transportation. Stay tuned.

Pier review: The island got some nice national attention this month when USA Today Travel’s online edition featured the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier among the 25 most beautiful piers, promenades and boardwalk. USA Today writers said strolling along the pier “is like stepping back in time to a 50s-era seafront midway.” Want to talk about it? Visit Buzz Blog, galvnews.com.

(4) comments

Jim Casey

I am optimistic about Galveston, but ...

Regarding the Falstaff Brewery, vacant retail and office space can be found all over the island, including in the Strand area and on Broadway and Tremont Street. These are areas with heavy street traffic—established, known business areas.

How could someone lease out a million square feet at 33rd and Mechanic? They must be a lot smarter and more ambitious than I.

The "highest and best" use for that building is recycled bricks.

-- Jim

Ellen Morrison

I think that someone hyped that area/building to them... with the possible building of whatever they are rebranding that was once Cedar Terrace, I am sure that MBS is going crazy trying to encourage additional investment in the area. Nice to know that not everyone can be fooled.

Steve Fouga

Jim -- I'm curious why you're optimistic about Galveston. I love this place, and I WANT to be optimistic, but it's hard when I keep seeing questionable decisions made, silly concepts garnering support from local committees and organizations, and a serious "lack-of-process" problem in City government and management.

I've only been here 2 years. Must be terribly frustrating for long-time residents...

Jim Casey

"Jim -- I'm curious why you're optimistic about Galveston...."

Like Churchill said in a slightly different context, they'll do the right thing after they try everything else.

Some wasteful and stupid mistakes are made, but that's no different from anywhere.

This sandbar has been inhabited by civilized society and recovered from disasters for over 175 years. As some stock broker used to say in their commercials, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But after enjoying the aftermath of Ike here, I know there are plenty of people who will persevere and be taken out feet-first.

- Jim

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