Stumblefoot Brewing Company isn’t new — it’s been making beer in southwest San Marcos since 2012. However, it’s not exactly the same company anymore. In January, the business changed hands, when founding owner Bill Randolph sold the brewery outright to Cameron Rentch and Cory Schmelzer.
“We’re both locals,” says Rentch. The two friends live in the nearby community of San Elijo Hills. While he and Schmelzer were born in the same northern Virginia hospital just a year apart, they didn’t meet until seven years ago, when they found themselves living in the same community, with children around the same age, and a shared interest in extreme distance running — and opening a craft brewery.
“We were originally hoping to do a new brewery inside San Elijo Hills,” Rentsch goes on to say, though they quickly learned zoning made that impossible. “Right about that same time, after really pushing through that, we found out that Bill might be interested in exiting. The timing just really worked out for everybody.”
While they redesigned the brand’s logo and website, they decided to keep the Stumblefoot name. “It was very apropos,” Rentch says. “We stumbled into one another out here, then we stumbled into this with Bill. So we thought, We’re going to keep the name and integrate our story behind it. Initially, that means celebrating local landmarks and community, though in time its scope could expand.”
Rentch recently sold a successful marketing business, while Schmelzer operates a wealth management company. Bringing their skill sets together, they aim to ultimately raise Stumblefoot’s profile, expanding distribution and potentially opening new locations. But for now, they’re taking the five-year-old business back to phase one. “We are 100 percent focused on the quality of the beer,” say Rentch, “and making sure that we have everything in phase one done.” For the moment, they’ve stopped bottling and distribution and have been upgrading the 15-barrel brewhouse to make it more efficient.
“The first thing we did when we turned over was clean the brewhouse,” says head brewer Matt Adami, who had been making beer at Stumblefoot prior to the sale and returned to work for its new incarnation. Adami homebrewed for 13 years prior to taking his first job at Stumblefoot, so he initially wasn’t sure what the change in ownership would bring.
“They let me do what I think is artistically correct for the beer,” he says, “and trust that I only have the best intentions for the beer in mind — just making good, consistent beer.”
While the team is excited about some of the new beers on tap — thus far including a pair of new IPAs — Rentch recognizes that a lot of changes at once might concern regulars who’ve been coming to Stumblefoot for years. He pledges many of their favorites — such as Vixen dunkelweizen — will remain on the menu. “We’re going to continue to do some of the award-winning stuff,” he says. “We’re going to bring back some of the beers that our locals have been requesting.”