Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lakewood set to release Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress

Image courtesy of
Lakewood Brewing Co.
Following up on a promise made when the brewery unveiled its 2017 release calendar in November, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is ready to release the first of a series of barrel-aged versions of its popular Seduction Series.

Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress will be unleashed in draft-only form, and only at select locations beginning at the end of February.

"We're excited to finally release these highly-limited beers, starting with Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress," says Wim Bens, president and founder of the brewery. "For this release, we used bourbon barrels from Breckenridge Distillery. It's everything you love about Bourbon Barrel Temptress with a big burst of raspberry flavor and aroma."

According to a press release, Lakewood chose bourbon barrels for the initial release after experimenting with the blend a couple of years ago. Moving forward, though, fans should expect to see a variety of other barrels used for upcoming releases.

"We're constantly trying to push ourselves creatively," explains Bens. "Each of our Seduction Series beers has its own unique personality, so we're interested to see how different spirits and barrels can add to that mystique."

As for this release, Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress will be available for a limited time.

"We are only releasing a handful of kegs of each Barrel-Aged Seduction Series release to the entire market," says Bens. "Get them while you can!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ice Bock leads list of new bottles coming from Franconia

All images courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.

We're just over a month into the new year, but if you know anything about the history of Franconia Brewing Co., you know that's when the wheels start turning in the mind of owner Dennis Wehrmann. That's because it's anniversary time for Franconia, which means it's time to talk about what's new and coming soon at the McKinney-based brewery.

Of course, over the past few years, Franconia's anniversary has become more or less synonymous with the annual release of some form of eisbock. This year will be no different, though there will be more to go around thanks to Wehrmann's decision to package this year's batch of Tripel Dunkel Ice Bock in bottles. It's a move, he says, that makes sense considering the beer's bold flavor and heightened strength (with an ABV of 17%) should compare favorably to specialty releases already on the market.

"This beer stands up to what some of the other breweries are doing out there," says Wehrmann, "so we thought it would be good for a limited release."

The label for Franconia Ice Bock tells the story of how this style of beer originated in Germany.
It's a tale that in some way mirrors how Franconia created its first version in 2014 (click to enlarge).

A total of 1680 12-ounce bottles will be produced, all of which will be relegated to single bottle sales. That's not a truckload of beer by any means, but it's certainly a lot more than has been available in the past. Fans of the brewery may recall that only 16 gallons of Ice Bock were produced when it debuted in 2014. That amount, which yielded from a starter batch consisting of only two 13.2 gallon kegs, is roughly a tenth of what was produced this time around. Naturally, Franconia's eisbock process has evolved, otherwise a wide release probably wouldn't have been possible.

"It was a challenge to get this done in volume," explains Wehrmann. "We had to change the way we make the beer quite a bit, but I'm pretty happy with the result."

RoughRiders Red Ale will be sold exclusively in Collin County for a limited time, while Franconia Lager will be
bottled year-round and available across the brewery's full distribution footprint (click each image to enlarge).

In related news, two other Franconia beers are also slated to get the bottle treatment for the first time, with both to be sold in six-packs. RoughRiders Red Ale, which debuted as a draft-only offering at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in May of 2015, will be released exclusively to accounts in Collin County for a limited time. Not limited, however, will be bottles of Franconia Lager. That beer, whether purchased in bottles or on draft, will maintain its status as a year-round standard.

As for when these products will arrive on local retail shelves, Ice Bock and RoughRiders Red Ale will be packaged and shipped once label approval is obtained from the TABC (expected by the end of February). Franconia Lager, on the other hand, will be bottled in the coming days. Initial allotments of that beer will be heading to Costco as early as next week, with deliveries to other retailers to follow thereafter.

Beyond that, be sure to follow the brewery's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) for details on festivities related to Franconia's ninth anniversary. A celebration at the brewery is scheduled on Saturday, March 25, where Wehrmann is once again planning to serve multiple varieties of eisbock in honor of occasion.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Shiner enters sour beer fray with Berliner Weisse

Image Credit: The Gambrinus Co.

For a few years now, we've watched the little brewery in Shiner take steps to branch out from its stereotype of producing primarily German lagers. Over that time, the Spoetzl Brewery has released beers of Belgian influence, American-style ales and various fruit infusions, not to mention brews crafted with coffee and even chocolate. Its latest release, however, may be the most surprising of all...because let's be honest, how many of you ever expected Shiner to brew a sour beer?

Expectations aside, Shiner Berliner Weisse is rolling out as the 10th beer in the company's Brewer's Pride series. It's a product the brewery describes as a South Texas take on a type of beer Napoleon's troops once called "the champagne of the north." The north of Germany, that is, which is where the style originated.

Berliner Weisse beers are a regional specialty of Berlin, making the style
one that stays true to Shiner's German roots (The Gambrinus Co.).

So does Shiner Berliner Weisse have, as the neck label suggests, a "sour note worth hitting?"

Well, like most Shiner beers it's approachable and easy to drink. It's not sharply sour, which shouldn't be a shock, having more along the lines of a lightly lacto character. Citrus peel is added, giving the beer a distinctive background note, with remaining impressions revealing a brew that's subtly sweet and a bit spritzy, with some lingering tartness and a dose of doughy malt rounding out the finish.

As for its appeal, Shiner Berliner Weisse would probably be a good first step for someone just getting into sour beers, though I imagine established fans of the style will wish for a drier presentation. Other than that, the beer is a tad stronger than is typical*, but an ABV of 4.1% is not something you're likely to notice while engaged in the quickness of the quaff.

Shiner Berliner Weisse will be available for a limited time only. Look for it on tap, in 24-ounce bombers, and in 12-ounce bottles are part of the brewery's Family Reunion six-pack.

* Style guidelines published by the Brewers Association call for an ABV range of 2.8%-3.4%.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Deep Ellum, Nine Band medal at 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards

Image credit: Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Winners from the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards competition were announced this week, with two area brewers being among those bringing home medals.

Judging criteria was based on the 2016 Brewers Association Guidelines, which represented a change for an event that had previously relied on standards set by the BJCP. This time around, a total of 1751 beers were submitted for evaluation, with 88 judges awarding medals in 82 different categories.

As for breweries from North Texas, both Nine Band Brewing Co. of Allen and the Dallas-based Deep Ellum Brewing Co. scored wins at this particular competition for the second year in a row.

This year's results:

  • Silver for Rye Pils in the American-Style Lager or Light Lager category.
  • Bronze for Toad Choker Barley Wine in the American-Style Barley Wine Ale or Wheat Wine Ale category.
  • Bronze for Ghost Cow Oktoberfest in the German-Style Märzen or Oktoberfest/Wiesn category.

Cheers and congratulations to the winners!