Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shannon's seasonal Honey Porter releases September 1

Images courtesy of Shannon Brewing Co.

After introducing the beer as its fall seasonal last year, Shannon Brewing Co. of Keller will release the 2016 edition of its Honey Porter on September 1.

Shannon Honey Porter was a draft-only release when it originally went to market in 2015, but this year will be the first time the beer is offered in cans. And while kegs of Shannon Honey Porter will be shipped to accounts throughout the Metroplex, six packs of 12-ounce cans will only be available at the brewery.

Shannon Honey Porter is brewed with Burleson's Pure Honey (Shannon Brewing Co.)

Built upon a Baltic porter base with Texas wildflower honey added during the brewing process, Shannon Honey Porter is designed "to have a complex blend of deep malt, dried fruit esters and a slightly higher ABV than traditional porters. The brewery's unique fire-brewed process accentuates the malt profile of the beer, which features a slight honey aroma without too much sweetness."

A launch party for Shannon Honey Porter will be held on Thursday, August 25 from 4-7 p.m., at Taverna Rossa in Southlake. After that, not only will the beer be on tap at the brewery's second anniversary party on Saturday, August 27 (click here to purchase tickets), it's slated to be one of the featured brews at the 2016 Southlake Oktoberfest, an event that will take place October 7-9 at Southlake Town Square.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yessir, it's a new fall seasonal from Community

Image courtesy of Community Beer Co.

Community Beer Co. of Dallas has announced a new addition to its seasonal lineup in the form of Yessir!, a low alcohol pale ale that will join Ascension Coffee Porter in being a fall brewery offering.

Yessir! (5.2% ABV, 32 IBU) is brewed with Eureka and Lemondrop hops, a combination that is said to give the beer an earthy character, with notes of tropical fruit, lemon and mint.

"We are extremely excited to showcase two interesting new hop varieties in this brew, which has a unique depth of malt and a hop character not typically found in beers this low in ABV," said brewmaster Jamie Fulton. "It's positively the perfect cooler weather beer to enjoy as we say goodbye to the dog days of summer!"

According to a press release, Yessir! will be available from mid-August through November on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. The beer will be sold throughout Texas in all markets that currently receive shipments of the brewery's products.

Community will also celebrate the release of Yessir! on Saturday, September 17, via a unique software-based interactive walking tour of Dallas. More details on that and other launch events will be released in late August by way of the brewery's website and social media channels.


Monday, August 8, 2016

On Armadillo's hip new 'Honey' beer

Image courtesy of Armadillo Ale Works.

It's been roughly 18 months since Armadillo Ale Works sold its last keg of beer, but after signing on with Andrews Distributing in April, the company is officially back in action and ready to release a brand new brew as it re-introduces itself to the North Texas market.

Honey Please (~5.2% ABV) is in the tanks and fermenting away after being brewed last week at North Texas Brewing Co. of Grapevine. Made with honey malt, wildflower honey and mesquite beans, it follows the lead of other Armadillo products like Brunch Money, Quakertown and WunderMelon in being a beer that incorporates a unique set of ingredients.

Of course, reading over the list of what goes into the beer, you may also be asking yourself, "What in the world are mesquite beans?" It turns out founders Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins weren't all that familiar with the beans either, prior to creating the beer's recipe.

"My dad just happened to mention the beans in passing one day," said Mullins. "He asked if I'd ever heard of mesquite bean wine, since it was something that my great grandmother used to make back in the day. I was like, I don't even know what mesquite beans are!"

The beans themselves grow in pods on mesquite trees, but most Texans are probably more familiar with the wood of the tree and how it's used to smoke meat. Were you to crack open a bean, though, Arestis and Mullins say you'd be met with the "crazy good" smell of fresh-baked cookies made with a mix of cinnamon and spice. Based on that, the pair knew it was something they wanted to try and use in making a beer.

Honey Please is a dark amber brew with notes of honey and cinnamon spice
that finishes with a faint bitterness (© Brian Brown/Beer In Big D).

"Once I started looking into the beans, I found out that the lining of the bean pod is mostly made up of sugar," explained Mullins. "I thought if I could get that converted so the yeast would feed on it, I might have something to work with."

Judging by a test batch I sampled, the flavor elements in the beer come together quite well. Honey leads in both flavor and aroma, but there's a nice balance between the sweetness and the spice that maintains from start to finish. Honey Please is an easy drinker as well, with its lighter body and refreshing nature seeming to fit right in with Armadillo's long-term vision for the beer.

"We originally designed the recipe to be a bigger, high-ABV beer that was going to be a one-off limited release," said Arestis. "Eventually, though, our thinking changed and we decided we wanted it to be one of our core beers, so we dialed down the ABV and made it more sessionable. Based on that, while the beer will be draft only at first, our goal with Honey Please is to have it be the kind of beer you'd want to pick up in a six-pack when you go to the grocery store every week."

As for when you'll have a chance to try it, a complete schedule of launch events is provided below. From there, look for Honey Please to be available on tap at select bars and restaurants throughout the Metroplex.

Friday, August 19
  • East Side Denton - 6 p.m. - Official launch party.
  • The Bearded Monk - 6 p.m. - Special tapping for growler fills only (no on-premise pours).
Saturday, August 20
  • Craft and Growler - 6 p.m. - Dallas Launch Party.
Sunday, August 21
  • The Bearded Lady - 6 p.m. - Ft. Worth Launch Party.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Yesterday and today with North Texas IPAs

For many, the IPA is virtually synonymous with the copious use of hops (© Brian Brown/Beer In Big D).

Today is IPA Day, a day set aside each August to celebrate craft beer's most popular style. Founded in 2011, what was once a hashtag holiday meant to bring craft beer drinkers together over social media is now an international event with festivities featuring IPAs occurring at bars and restaurants all around the world.

Looking back, it was 2001 when the American-Style IPA became the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival for the first time. The category has held the top stop ever since, as the number of American IPAs entered in the competition continues to grow and set new records annually. In 2015 alone, a total of 336 entries were logged, representing a roughly 20% increase over the previous year.

As for how popular the style is here at home, if the number of IPAs being produced is any indication, then clearly the IPA is king. Survey local lineups and you'll find that well over 60 different IPAs have been created by local brewers in recent years, with beers of American, Belgian and German influence being brewed to match style descriptors for session, single, double, triple and even quadruple IPAs.

Going further inside the numbers, it turns out that nearly all of the 50 active brewing operations in North Texas have brewed at least one IPA. One outfit, that being Division Brewing, has crafted upwards of 10 different recipes. As for the holdouts, North Texans have yet to see an IPA from the likes of 3 Nations Brewing, Armadillo Ale Works, Barley & Board or Wild Acre Brewing.

Of course, what's mentioned above only takes into account where things stand in the here and now when it comes to the IPA. There's more to the story, though, if you're curious about the IPA's place in North Texas brewing history. Granted, there was probably a hundred-year stretch when there wasn't much going on IPA-wise around these parts, but there are still stories to tell about the presence of IPAs in Dallas stores around the mid-to-late 1800s, and when the first IPAs were brewed locally during the 1990s. So, with that in mind, here are few highlights from the IPA's North Texas timeline.

Image credit: Brewers Publications

The one true history:

While the focus will be on local facts in what follows, it should be noted that the complete history of the IPA can be traced back to the late 1700s. Given that, should you wish to delve into the details of how the style came into being, look no further than Mitch Steele's comprehensive work on the subject, IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of the India Pale Ale.


The IPA in early Dallas:

Some variation of IPA was selling in Dallas as early as 1859, when E. Young's liquor store offered "East India Ale" for sale, though no there were no details as to the branding given in order to identify the maker.


Latimer, J. W.
Dallas Herald, Vol. 7, No. 52, Ed. 1 Wednesday, June 29, 1859, newspaper; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth294078/: accessed August 2, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu.

A similar story held true in 1870, when listings for the Mays Store advertised "India Pale" ale for purchase in both bottles and jugs. Despite that, newspaper ads in other cities provide clues as to who was supplying IPA to Texas at the time, with brands like Tennent's, William Younger & Co. and Bass being among those appearing for sale in the Galveston Daily News.


Swindells, John W. & Hutchen, Virginius.
Dallas Herald, Vol. 17, No. 28, Ed. 1 Saturday, March 26, 1870, newspaper; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth294562/: accessed August 2, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu.

An award-winning brew from a bygone era:

Shortly after the Texas Legislature legalized the operation of brewpubs in 1993, the Hubcap Brewery & Kitchen was open in Dallas and brewing Vail Pale Ale, a beer that won gold in the IPA category at the 1995 Great American Beer Festival. Its recipe was designed by Wayne Waananen, who at the time was the head brewer at Hubcap's original location in Vail, Colorado. Waananen would go on to work at other breweries, including the SandLot at Coors Field in Denver, but he published a homebrew recipe for his award-winning IPA in the October 21, 1995 issue of Home Brew Digest. It's reproduced here in case anyone wants to try their hand at brewing up a bit of history.

Ingredients (for five gallons):
  • 10 lbs Baird English 2-Row Pale Malt.
  • 1 lb Baird English 2-Row 50-60 Crystal Malt.
  • 1.2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (90 minute boil).
  • 1.2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (60 minute boil).
  • 1.2 oz. Cascade hop pellets (10 minute boil).
  • 1.2 oz. Cascade hop pellets (end of boil).
  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast.
Procedure:
  • Mash at 68 °C for 90 minutes. Boil 90 minutes. Force cool and ferment with your favorite ale yeast (1056 works well). Rack into secondary, add finings and 1.2 oz. of Cascade whole hops. Let sit in secondary for three weeks, rack into serving vessel and force carbonate.
Targets:
  • Original Gravity - 1.055.
  • Final gravity - 1.016.
  • IBU - 62.

Dallas' first brewery-produced IPA was a San Antonio original:

Cactus Queen's label tells the story of Belle Starr, a.k.a. the "Bandit Queen" (click to enlarge).

Another borrowed recipe was likely the basis for the first IPA brewed by a production brewery in North Texas. Great Grains Brewery of Dallas began producing Cactus Queen IPA in 2001, after the company purchased the recipes of the defunct Yellow Rose Brewing Co. of San Antonio.


An award-winning brew in the modern era:
Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co./GCG Marketing.

There may be 60 or more locally-brewed IPAs, but only one has brought home a medal from one of the industry's two major competitions. Stormcloud, which was first produced by Rahr & Sons in 2007, won a silver medal in the English-style IPA category at the 2014 World Beer Cup. It's billed as a German-style IPA, due to its incorporation of native hop varieties like Tettnanger and Perle. In addition, Stormcloud is brewed with Vienna malt, an ingredient found in many traditional German-style beers (Vienna lagers, Oktoberfests, bocks).