EOLA – For most lovers of micro-brewed beer, 30 miles is not a long way to go to find a great beer. And for patrons of the Eola Schoolhouse Restaurant & Brewery, it's a no brainer because most have put this little spot off of US High 67 on their list of places to visit when they are in the area.
EOLA – For most lovers of micro-brewed beer, 30 miles is not a long way to go to find a great beer. And for patrons of the Eola Schoolhouse Restaurant & Brewery, it’s a no brainer because most have put this little spot off of US High 67 on their list of places to visit when they are in the area.
Owner and soul proprietor James Mark Cannon has put the place on the map too, with his signature lines of beer including the customer favorite Farm Ale, Prickly Pear, IPA and stout varieties. Along with his most popular beer Farm Ale he brews oak porters, pilsners and a true German Hefeweizen.
When folks stop in at the Eola School located off of Ranch Road 381, they will always find Cannon there – he is indeed the chief cook and bottle-washer and brewmeister and the place is open seven days a week.
Cannon is quick to tell the story of how he arrived in the almost ghost town hamlet of Eola from Portland, Oregon in 2003.
“I was looking for a place in Texas because that’s where my family’s roots are,” he explained.
So, he found the Eola School and decided to buy it. The school, built in 1928, is pretty much all that’s left in Eola, except for a convenience store down the road. The school burned in 1946 and officially closed in 1983.
After purchasing the school, Cannon began renovating a little at a time, and decided that he wanted to learn how to brew beer.
In 2006, he offered up his first beer from what he was calling “Bright Brewery” and he has been brewing and experimenting ever since. He later decided just to go with the Eola School moniker.
“I had to learn right here on the job,” Cannon said. “It’s good teaching experience. What I learned was if you succeed, do the same thing again.”
He has developed a reputation of sorts – some folks call the place, “unique” or “eclectic” and that is certainly is. There is an outdoor beer garden of sorts, where when it is a little cooler, folks gather. Plus, from time to time, he welcomes musicians in to play.
The Eola School Restaurant & Brewery, was featured in “Brewing News” in a feature titled “Good Beer That’s Worth the Trip.” The place has also been featured on "Texas Country Reporter."
He makes the beer in what was the old auditorium of the school. He has five tanks and a canning machine and he does it all himself. It takes about three weeks, to process a batch of beer from brewing to canning and packaging.
And, each day, he gets up early and makes deliveries to places like H.E. B. and Pinkies San Angelo and Abilene. He makes deliveries to the Depot in Brownwood from time to time as well.
And the word is out that this unique place, has good pizza and burgers too. Most days, he’s got his menu written on the chalkboard in the main restaurant and bar.
Folks can stop by and can get a good burger and fries, as well as whatever special he may be doing that day. His regulars know that Fridays are pizza nights where he wows them with a handmade margarita pizza with goat cheese, basil and tomatoes all grown in his garden.
Over the years, he has made a lot of friends, and some stop by from time to time to help him out – for a free beer or two. Those who frequent this rather large beer joint don’t mind the any frills and laid back atmosphere.
Phillip Hartley of Goldthwaite has been stopping since he discovered the place about a year ago.
“I stop by here every time I go to visit my family in San Angelo,” Hartley said as he tasted a bit of the IPA. “I meet people from all over.”
Cannon’s faithful customers have been posting online too. Here's what folks are saying:
“What a cool place! It is an old school house, and the owner, Mark, is a one man show. He is friendly and helpful and working his butt off to bring his dream to life. The beer is good and the food is tasty and the history of the building is awesome. It is definitely worth a visit.
If you want white tablecloths and an upscale eatery, go somewhere else... Although mark would probably try to find you a white tablecloth if you insisted.”
“Very unique dining option in the middle of really nothing else. This pub is located in what looks to be an old abandoned schoolhouse. Mark, the owner, was very friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. Quick and good food. Don't forget to taste his beer! Great place to stop and grab a bite and brew while passing through.”