Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HopFusion now flowing in Fort Worth

Flights at HopFusion are $8, with servings consisting of four 4-oz pours (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Completing the final leg of a journey that began in late 2014, this weekend HopFusion Ale Works hosted the grand opening of the taproom at its brewery in Fort Worth. Located at 200 E. Broadway Avenue, the venture is situated in the city's Near Southside district. It's an area of town that has become a sort of brewing epicenter, considering it's also occupied by the likes of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Chimera Brewing Co., and The Collective Brewing Project.

HopFusion beers have been on the market since June, but founders Matt Hill and Macy Moore had to overcome a series of hurdles before opening the brewery's doors to thirsty North Texans. With that milestone now achieved, HopFusion will be open for business Thursday-Saturday, with the eventual goal of being open six days a week.

So, what can you expect if you decide to make the trip? Well, to begin with, the building is hard to miss should you find yourself wandering the streets without a map. With a predominantly white exterior and contrasting black trim, HopFusion's home stands out like a craft beer beacon compared to surrounding structures in that part of the city. Inside, though, the space takes on a different sort of glow with a warm, sort of wood grain and graffiti motif enveloping imbibers hanging out in the taproom.

Left: The taproom at HopFusion is equipped to serve as many as 20 different beers (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Right: A bandstand occupies one end of HopFusion's public area, with sliding doors
off to the side able to be raised for a more open feel (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Speaking of which, indoors is probably where you'll want to be to get the best view of a wall-size widescreen TV off to one side of the space, but musical morsels emerging from the bandstand are easily within earshot of patrons seated inside or out. Either way, there's roughly the same amount of seating whether you prefer the inner ambiance of the bar and brewhouse or the open-air feel to be had out on the deck.

As for what the brewery will have to offer, a total of seven beers were on tap during opening weekend, with the list including both commercial releases and a handful of taproom exclusives. HopFusion's bar has space for a total of twenty beers, though, so it's assumed that more selections will be added over time.

Regarding the types of beers HopFusion is making, with the exception of a saison, the brewery's current lineup consists of mostly modern takes on American styles. Everyday beers, dubbed the Signature Series, include the names Feisty Blonde, Fur Slipper, Hairpin and Steampipe. Thoughts on those are provided below (based on samples had at a launch event during North Texas Beer Week at LUCK), as are notes on last weekend's taproom-only offerings.


Feisty Blonde (honey vanilla blonde ale): If I've ever had a more honey-forward beer, I don't remember it. In fact, many "honey" beers don't smell or taste like honey at all, since honey characteristics tend to ferment out as yeast consumes the liquid's fermentable sugars. In this case, though, orange blossom honey leads in a beer that also features background notes of vanilla, brown sugar and spice.

Hairpin (rye pale ale): Dry, flavorful pale ale with a noticeable rye component and a moderate finishing bitterness.

Steampipe (black rye IPA): While I can't completely discount the influence of drinking Hairpin right before this one, my initial reaction to Steampipe was that I got more of the roasty, dark malt flavor than I did the rye. It's there, just seemingly more subtle, adding a hint of complexity to what is otherwise a well-crafted black IPA.

Fur Slipper (imperial milk stout): Smooth, easy drinking milk stout that belies its imperial moniker, with toffee and hazelnut flavors complimenting the beer's dark chocolate underbelly.

Les Fauves (saison): The name refers to a group of "wild beasts" composed of 20th century French painters known for their bold use of color. It fits, of course, due to HopFusion's artistic influences and the fact that the saison style has origins in Wallonia, a French-speaking region of Belgium. The interpretation here is brewed with ginger and hibiscus flowers, which results in a funky and floral farmhouse ale boasting a bit more body than a typical saison.

Ahuevo (double IPA): I'd probably want to drink this one again on a fresh palate to flesh out the hop flavors, but a first impression reveals a strongly-hopped, resinous DIPA balanced by an ample malt backbone.

Zombie Crack (imperial milk stout): A version of Fur Slipper aged on charred oak with roasted pecans, the nuts are front and center in terms of the flavor profile. They also likely play a role, along with the wood, in giving the beer a touch of tannic dryness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Winter is coming: Rahr & Sons Angry Santa joins BBAWW in bottles

Images courtesy of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth has announced it will release two seasonal specialty beers this month, both of which are based off the brewery's popular Winter Warmer recipe.

The first of these is Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer, a beer that has become a North Texas tradition since it kicked off the brewery's "To Thee" series in 2010. As has been the case in prior years, the beer will once again feature updated label artwork, with the 2016 edition sporting a red, gold and metallic silver design that incorporates a static hologram.

As for the other beer, Angry Santa will be packaged in bottles for the first time after appearing as a limited draft-only product last year. Crafted with mulling spices, vanilla beans and honey to create a brew reminiscent of gingerbread cookies, it's a beer that Craig Mycoskie, vice president of brewing operations, based on baking recipes.

"The gingerbread baking philosophy gives Angry Santa a sweeter taste than Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer, though both are equally delicious," says Mycoskie. "We use ingredients in both beers that are typically associated with the holidays and nicely compliment the notes found in our Winter Warmer English dark ale."

According to a press release, each beer will be the featured pour at an upcoming tour at the brewery, with Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer being poured Wednesday, November 23, and Angry Santa scheduled to be served on Wednesday, December 21.

The two beers will also be available on tap and in 22-ounce bombers at establishments around the Metroplex.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Armadillo re-ups originals for NTX Beer Week

Images courtesy of Armadillo Ale Works.

Since Armadillo Ale Works re-appeared on the North Texas Beer Scene in August, hardly a day has gone by without a question as to when the Denton-based brewing company would be bringing back some of its original brews.

"Soon" is what founders Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins would say when asked about the status of Brunch Money, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale and the award-winning Quakertown Stout (gold medal, 2014 Great American Beer Festival). The pair chose to kick-start Armadillo's comeback with new recipes like Honey Please, a honey-forward blond ale brewed with mesquite beans, and Dapper Apple, a beer you might say drinks like a bowl of apple cinnamon Cheerios. But now the time has come for the return of the brewery's first three recipes.

"People are really digging both of our new beers, but of course they keep asking us when their old favorites are coming back," says Arestis, "so we thought North Texas Beer Week was the perfect time for a limited draft-only release."

Some will no doubt wonder about the "limited release," tag, but that simply has to do with the fact that Armadillo is currently brewing its products on a part-time basis at North Texas Brewing Co. in Grapevine. Once the brewery's permanent home in Denton is up and running, though, fans can expect these beers to be back in the fold on a more regular basis.

"Construction at the brewery is in full swing and we are aiming to open early next year," explains Arestis. "When that occurs, we plan on bringing them all back in various capacities, but we really wanted to make this happen now for everyone who misses the old beers like we do."

As for where and when you'll be able to enjoy a pint of an Armadillo original, a schedule of special tappings is provided below. However, take note that additional events are still being added, so be sure to follow the brewery's social media channels for the most up-to-date details.

Friday, November 11
  • Oak St. Drafthouse, Denton - 6-10 p.m. - Brunch Money Release Party, with glassware while supplies last*. Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout will also be available.
Saturday, November 12
  • Untapped Dallas, Fair Park - 2:30 p.m. - 12 a.m. - Sampling Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
  • Thirsty Growler, The Colony - 2-10 p.m. - Snapchat Takeover (24 hour session) featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
Monday, November 14
  • Midway Craft House, Denton - 8-11 p.m. - Pint Night/Tap Takeover featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
Tuesday, November 15
  • East Side, Denton - 1-4 p.m. - USBG Denton (members only) Presents Armadillo Ale Works featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
  • East Side, Denton - 6-9 p.m. - Tap Takeover (public event) featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
Wednesday, November 16
  • Taps & Caps, Denton - 7 p.m. - Hip Hop and Brews featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
Thursday, November 17
  • Drunken Donkey, Denton 7 p.m. - Tap Takeover featuring Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout.
Friday, November 18
  • Omni Hotel, Dallas - 7-10 p.m. - North Texas Beer Week Brewer's Ball featuring samples of Brunch Money and Honey Please.
Saturday, November 19
  • The Bearded Monk, Denton - 8 p.m. - A Night of Armadillos, with glassware while supplies last*. Brunch Money, Dapper Apple, Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Honey Please and Quakertown Stout will be on tap.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Beer list and brewery reps revealed for 2016 Brewer's Ball

Image courtesy of CrowdSource.

According to the latest numbers, there are nearly 300 events at over 100 venues on the bill for North Texas Beer Week. Yet, based on past experience, the most unique and intimate of them all will happen on November 18 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas.

Back for its third annual edition, the 2016 Brewer's Ball will bring together founders, owners and brewmasters from 45 breweries, giving you a chance to rub elbows with the men and women behind some of the most popular local and national brands available in North Texas.

While doing so, you'll be able to choose from a selection of 90 beers, conveniently listed below for your viewing pleasure, 27 of which are of the barrel-aged variety. And, if you want to talk about the "strength" of the beer list, over a quarter of the selections have an ABV of over 10% (so, naturally you're advised to plan ahead and drink responsibly).

Tickets for the 2016 Brewer's Ball are $125 (click here to purchase), with the total number available capped at 500 attendees. That price includes unlimited beer samples (i.e. no festival tasting cards), as well as noshes for nibbling provided from a dozen of the area's top beer-centric restaurants.

Also of note, this year's festivities include a free pre-party and live broadcast on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket. Taking place on the lawn of the Omni Hotel, the gathering will feature a special toast by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

All in all, it's an event unlike any other and one you simply don't want to miss (click here to see pictures from last year's event). Now, about that beer...

3 Nations Brewing Co. - Gavin Secchi, Founder

  • Texas Xmas Ale – Imperial Stout – 8.3%
  • Double Dry-hopped GPA – Kölsch – 5.2%

903 Brewers - Natalie Roberts, Co-founder and Jeremy Roberts, Co-founder/Head Brewer
  • Balcones Barrel-Aged Sasquatch (True Blue batch #1) – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 10.3%
  • Whiskey Oaked Coffee Pecan Porter – 8.5%

AleSmith Brewing Co. - Peter Zien, CEO/Owner
  • Vietnamese Speedway Stout - Imperial Stout – 12%
  • AleSmith IPA – India Pale Ale – 7.25%

Armadillo Ale Works - Yianni Arestis, Co-founder/CEO and Bobby Mullins, Co-founder/Head Brewer
  • Honey Please – Blonde Ale – 5.3%
  • Brunch Money – Spice/Herb – 10%

Audacity Brew House - Scott Lindsey, Founder/Owner and Doug Smith, Founder/Brewmaster
  • Boss Raptor – India Pale Ale – 6.5%
  • Lil' D – Tequila Barrel-Aged IPA

Austin Eastciders - Attendees TBD
  • Texas Honey – Cider – 5.2%
  • Tequila Barrel-Aged Cider – Barrel-Aged Cider – 4.9%

Backcountry Brewery - Charlie Eazor, Co-founder
  • Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barley Wine – Barrel-Aged Barley Wine – 10.5%
  • Artisan Series Quadrupel – Belgian Quadrupel – 11.2%

Ballast Point Brewing Co. - Colby Chandler, VP of Specialty Brewing
  • Barrel-Aged Victory at Sea – Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter – 10%
  • Sour Wench – Berliner Weisse – 5.4%

Boston Beer Co. - Attendees TBD
  • Yuzu Reserve – Fruit Beer – 7.7%
  • Rebel Juiced – India Pale Ale – 6.2%

BrainDead Brewing - Sam Wynne & Jeff Fryman, Co-founders and Andrew Huerter, Head Brewer
  • Blood Orange Rhymes With Tangerine – India Pale Ale – 7.5%
  • 2015 Bent de Garde – Barrel-Aged Bière de Garde – 8.7%

The Collective Brewing Project - Ryan Deyo, Co-founder/Brewmaster and Mike Goldfuss, Co-founder
  • Bourbon Barrel American Sour Red – Barrel-Aged Sour Ale – 6.5%
  • Dream Folk – Wild Ale – 7.6%

Community Beer Co - Kevin Carr, Founder and Jamie Fulton, Head Brewer
  • Texas Helles – Dortmunder – 5%
  • Macallan Barrel-Aged Legion – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 11.6%

COOP Ale Works - Blake Jarolim, Head Brewer
  • F5 IPA – India Pale Ale – 6.8%
  • Barrel-Aged DNR – Barrel-Aged Belgian Dark Ale – 10%

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. - John Reardon, Founder and Barrett Tillman, Barrel Master
  • Barrel-Aged Four Swords – Barrel-Aged Quadrupel – 10.5%
  • The Fascinating Bellman – Barrel-Aged Imperial Brown Ale – 7.7%

Epic Brewing Co. - Dave Cole, Founder and Kevin Cromptom, Brewmaster
  • Sour Brainless on Peaches – Sour Ale – 7.3%
  • Big Bad Baptist – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 12.7%

Founders Brewing Co. - Dave Engbers, Co-founder
  • PC Pils – Pilsener – 5.5%
  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 11.2%

Four Corners Brewing Co. - George Esquivel, Co-founder
  • Celebracion – Belgian Strong Ale – 8%
  • NTXBW Cascadian Seasonale

Franconia Brewing Co. - Dennis Wehrmann, Founder/Owner/Brewmaster
  • Fall'n Bock – Bock – 6%
  • Champagne Ale – American Strong Ale – 8.5%

Great Divide Brewing Co. - Ro Guenzel, Brewmaster
  • Oak Aged Yeti – Imperial Stout – 9.5%
  • Colette – Saison – 7.3%

Green Flash Brewing Co. - Mike Hinkley, Founder/Owner
  • Lustrous Frumento w/ coffee – American Strong Ale – 13.5%
  • Sea to Sea Lager – Zwickel Lager – 4%

Harpoon Brewery - Kevin Thompson, Head Brewer
  • Interrobang – Imperial Stout – 18%
  • UFO White – Witbier – 4.8%

Karbach Brewing Co. - Eric Warner, Co-founder/Brewmaster and Brad Batson, Co-founder
  • Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter – Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter – 10.8%
  • Roll in the Hay – Barrel-Aged Saison – 7.5%

Lakewood Brewing Co. - Wim Bens, Founder
  • Wild Manimal – Wild Ale – 8.9%
  • Thread Spinner – Barrel-Aged Barley Wine – 13.5%

Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. - Will Brown, Head Brewer
  • 10th Anniversary – American Strong Ale – 10%
  • Southern Pecan – Brown Ale – 4.5%

Martin House Brewing Co. - Cody Martin, Founder/Head Brewer
  • Queen of the Mist (Black Currant) – Barrel-Aged Gose – 6.5%
  • Cheer Wine – Wheat Wine – 11%

New Holland Brewing Co. - Brett Vanderkamp, Co-founder and Fred Bueltmann, VP of Sales/The Beervangelist
  • Mad Hatter – India Pale Ale – 7%
  • Dragon’s Milk – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 11%

Noble Rey Brewing Co. - Chris Rigoulot, Founder and Tommy Miller, Head Brewer
  • Whiskey Oaked Vertigo – Double IPA – 9.5%
  • Barampus w/ cinnamon sticks, coffee, & rum – Brown Ale – 6.1%

Oak Highlands Brewery - Brad Mall, Co-founder and Derrin Williams, Co-founder
  • Barrel-Aged Vanilla Porter – Barrel-Aged Porter
  • Freaky Deaky – Belgian Tripel – 10%

Odell Brewing Co. - Doug Odell, Founder
  • Drumroll – American Pale Ale – 5.3%
  • Additional selection TBD

Brewery Ommegang - Justin Forsythe, Innovation Manager
  • Rosetta – Fruit Beer – 5.6%
  • Additional selection TBD

On Rotation - Jacob & Lindsay Sloan, Founders/Head Brewers
  • Café Au Lait (randallized w/ cinnamon & vanilla) – Sweet Stout – 6.6%
  • Blackberry Mint Julep – Saison – 6.2%

Oskar Blues Brewery - Dale Katechis, Owner and Michael Harris, Brewmaster
  • Texas Reeb Rye’d IPA – Rye Ale – 7%
  • Death By Coconut – Porter – 6.5%

Peticolas Brewing Co. - Michael Peticolas, Founder/Owner/Head Brewer and Melissa Peticolas, Founder/Owner
  • A Lost Epic – Belgian Tripel – 11%
  • 2015 Black Curtains – Imperial Stout – 11%

Rabbit Hole Brewing - Laron Cheek, Matt Morriss, & Tom Anderson – Co-founders
  • Rum Barrel-Aged Rapture – Barrel-Aged Brown Ale – 6.4%
  • Off With Your Red – India Pale Ale – 7.9%

Rahr Brewing Co. - Fritz Rahr, Founder
  • Bourbon Barrel-Aged Regulator – Barrel-Aged Doppelbock – 8.5%
  • Tenderfoot – Barley Wine – 11.5%

Real Ale Brewing Co. - Brad Farbstein, Owner
  • Axis IPA – India Pale Ale – 7%
  • Mysterium Verum Highlander – Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale – 10.1%

Revolver Brewing - Rhett Keisler, Founder and Grant Wood, Brewmaster
  • Yam Dankee – Sweet Potato IPA – 7%
  • Bourbon Barrel Anodyne – Barrel-Aged Wheat Wine – 12.7%

Saint Arnold Brewing Co. - Attendees TBD
  • Bishop’s Barrel 15 – Barrel-Aged Barley Wine – 13.1%
  • 5 O’clock Pils – Pilsener - 5.2%

Shannon Brewing Co. - Attendees TBD
  • Double IPA – Double IPA – 8.2%
  • Wee Heavy – Scotch Ale – 8.5%

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Attendees TBD
  • Estate Homegrown Northern Hemisphere – India Pale Ale – 6.7%
  • Celebration – India Pale Ale – 6.8%

Stone Brewing Co. - Steve Wagner, Co-founder/President/Senior Brewmaster
  • Double Bastard on Rye – Barrel-Aged American Strong Ale – 12.7%
  • 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA – Double IPA – 9%

SweetWater Brewing Co. - Nick Nock, Head Brewer
  • Smokey and the Brett – Wild Ale – 7.3%
  • 420 Extra Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.7%

Texas Ale Project - Brent Thompson, Co-founder/Head Brewer
  • 50 Ft Jackrabbit – India Pale Ale – 7%
  • Oaty McOatface – Sweet Stout – 7.5%

The Bruery - Jeremy Grinkey, Bruery Terreux Production Manager
  • Poterie – Barrel-Aged Old Ale – 16.8%
  • Quadrupel Tonnellerie – Barrel-Aged Wild Ale – 10.2%

Wild Acre Brewing Co. - John Pritchett, Founder and Mike Kraft, Brewmaster
  • Tarantula Hawk – India Pale Ale – 6.5%
  • Soul O’ Coco – Stout

**Note – selections subject to change**