Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rahr & Sons shifts The Fort Worth to year-round status

Looking to keep up with the growing demand for canned craft beers, Rahr & Sons of Fort Worth recently installed a new, larger canning line capable of producing up to 1200 cases per day. The move, which doubled the brewery's capacity, was no doubt a precursor to an announcement today related to changes in the packaging and availability of two of its beers.

The Fort Worth will be the sixth beer in Rahr & Sons' year-round lineup.

The first of these changes involves The Fort Worth, a beer named in honor of the U.S. Navy's littoral combat ship, USS Fort Worth. It was first released as a seasonal brew in August 2015, but going forward The Fort Worth will be offered year-round, both on draft and in 12-ounce cans. As was the case upon its introduction, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer will go to the USS Fort Worth Support Committee, an organization which provides moral support for the ship's crew and families.

According to a press release, Rahr & Sons will celebrate the release of The Fort Worth by hosting a tasting at the brewery on Armed Forces Day to benefit The USO. Happening Saturday, May 21 from 1 to 3 p.m., all who attend will receive a red, white or blue commemorative pint glass. General admission is $10, with past or present military members paying only $5 admission with identification.

Commemorative red, white and blue pint glasses will also be given away
during a release party at Lola's Trailer Park in Fort Worth on Saturday, May 28 at 1 p.m.

As part of the festivities, Rahr & Sons will present the USS Fort Worth Support Committee with a check for more than $2,000 based on sales of the beer during its initial release.

“The Rahr & Sons brew crew is honored to be able to give back to the USS Fort Worth crew,” said owner Fritz Rahr. “The Fort Worth is just a small way to support those who make big sacrifices to serve our country.”

Summertime Wheat is brewed with Warrior hops and four different types of malt.

Also revealed today, Rahr & Sons will package Summertime Wheat in cans for the first time in May. The beer, which is described by the brewery as an American wheat ale, has been a staple of Rahr & Sons' seasonal lineup since it debuted in 2006.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Armadillo Ale Works joins up with Andrews

Image courtesy of Armadillo Ale Works.

Following recent news of plans to re-introduce itself into the market, Armadillo Ale Works revealed today that it will partner with Andrews for the distribution of its beers once production starts back up this summer.

Founded by Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins, Armadillo Ale Works began "representin' Denton" with a lineup of beers inspired by the history and culture of that city in January 2013. Since then, the pair has gone on to produce Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, Quakertown Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Brunch Money Imperial Golden Stout and Wundermelon Watermelon Kölsch. Of those, Quakertown was the first to be recognized with a major award after the beer won a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

Arestis, who is also Armadillo's chief executive officer, said the team is looking forward to learning from Andrews and collaborating with them to expand the brewery's reach and vision.

"We are looking forward to working more closely with the people from Andrews," Arestis said. "We've been impressed with the caliber of team members we've met thus far and we think there is a lot of knowledge for us to gain in the future. We were very glad to find a company that understands our vision and concept so well and is excited to help us achieve our goals."

Kelli Hopson, Andrews brand manager for Armadillo, said the new partnership will create exciting opportunities to share great local beers with Dallas-Fort Worth craft beer lovers.

"We have been so impressed by the story of Armadillo Ale Works since our first encounter with Bobby and Yianni," Hopson said. "They are developing a portfolio of unique beer styles that incorporate local, and some unexpected, ingredients. Andrews is honored to be the partner that will get Armadillo beer back in the hands of local beer drinkers."

According to a press release, Andrews will kick-off the launch of Armadillo Ale Works this summer with a new draft offering to be called Honey Please. Billed as a beer with deep roots, Honey Please is a blonde ale brewed with Texas wildflower honey and mesquite beans. The addition of mesquite beans in alcohol production dates back to the early 20th century, and it's said their use will give the new beer a complexity of flavors unmatched by any other.

For the time being, Armadillo's beers will be brewed under an agreement signed with North Texas Brewing Co. of Grapevine. That is, until construction of its new brewery is completed in Downtown Denton, something which is expected to happen in time for a grand opening in the fall.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Three North Texas breweries win medals at 2016 L.A. International Beer Competition

Image credit: Fairplex.
Results are in from the 2016 Los Angeles International Beer Competition, and three North Texas brewers are among the honorees.

Put on by Fairplex, in association with the Los Angeles County Fair, the commercial beer competition has been going on since 2000. Beers are judged using a blind-tasting method with the goal of awarding medals to the best beers from both domestic and international brewers.

This year, beers were judged in 97 different categories, with gold, silver and bronze medals being possible in each category. However, depending on the amount and/or quality of the entries, medals were not always awarded in every class.

The list of beers recognized from North Texas is as follows (click here for a complete list of winners):

Community Beer Company
  • Honorable Mention for Public Ale in the Extra Special Bitter category.
  • Bronze for Inspiration in the Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category.
  • Silver for Yessir! in the International-Style Pale Ale category.
  • Bronze for Sin Mint Temptress in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Silver for French Quarter Temptress in the Coffee Beer category.
  • Bronze for Oktoberfest in the German-Style Märzen category.
  • Bronze for Stormcloud in the English-Style India Pale Ale category.
  • Silver for Rahr's Blonde in the Munich-Style Helles category.
  • Silver for Texas Red in the American-Style Amber/Red Ale category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

New beers, bombers on tap for year two at Bitter Sisters

The year-round lineup at Bitter Sisters will soon include Family Trip, a Belgian-style tripel (Bitter Sisters Brewing Co.)

During a visit to Bitter Sisters on the occasion of its first anniversary last weekend, I took some time to talk to owner Matt Ehinger about what fans of the Addison brewery can look forward to as it embarks on its second year in business. Looking back on its first 12 months as a point of reference, it would seem that Ehinger has followed his original plan for the company to the letter. Of course, that's based on what he shared with me when we met prior to Bitter Sisters' grand opening last year. In addition to developing a portfolio of year-round brews, Ehinger has introduced the brewery's first seasonal and specialty beers, and has also begun work to establish a small-scale barrel program.

As for year two, Ehinger says there's more to come in all of the aforementioned areas. In terms of year-round brews, Family Trip is poised join an everyday lineup that currently consists of Busy Body Blonde Lager, Cat Fight IPA, Hissy Fit Märzen Lager and Knock Out Irish Red. Family Trip first came out last August under the name Bitter Sisters Belgian Tripel, but now that it's being bumped to year-round status, it'll be only one of two full-time North Texas tripels.

On the topic of specialty brews, Ehinger is working on three new beers to fill out that segment of the brewery's offerings. A steam beer is currently slated for the summer, to be followed by an imperial märzen and a double IPA in the fall. Ehinger says the timing of each could change, though, depending on when he settles on a recipe and how quickly each beer receives label approval.

Left: A version of Knock Out Irish Red aged in barrels from Russell's Reserve (Brian Brown).
Right: Labels are approved for the pending release of Barrel Aged Knock Out in 22-ounce bombers (Bitter Sisters Brewing Co.)

What may generate the most excitement, though, has to do with what's going on relative to Bitter Sisters' barrel program. The brewery currently has Nicaraguan rum barrels in house, as well as a stock of bourbon barrels from the likes of Russell's Reserve, Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve. Thus far, Ehinger has used the rum barrels to age Family Trip, while Knock Out has spent time in both rum and bourbon barrels. A barrel-aged Family Trip and a couple of varieties of Knock Out were tapped at the anniversary party last weekend, with the batch of Knock Out aged in Russell's Reserve barrels being particularly good. In that case, the barrels imparted notes of toffee, vanilla, and maybe even a hint of coconut, which proved to be a great compliment to the rich, malty nature of the underlying Irish red.

Regarding the availability of each of the above-mentioned barrel-aged beers, batches of Family Trip and Knock Out aged in rum casks are set to be taproom exclusives. On the bourbon barrel side of things, though, one variation will end up being the first bottled beer to emerge from Bitter Sisters, as the brewery has already gotten label approval ahead of what will be a very limited release of Barrel Aged Knock Out in 22-ounce bombers.

Beyond that, one other thing Ehinger has penciled in for the future is a move to packaged products for retail sale. That probably won't happen until 2017, but when it does the intent is to go with the canning option when it comes to Bitter Sisters' standard brews, with bombers continuing to be an option for specialty releases on into the future.