Monday, February 8, 2016

BrainDead to take over Taps & Caps for one night, February 25

Image credit: Lone Star Taps & Caps (click to enlarge).

Lone Star Taps & Caps debuted its Denton location just last month, and while the new spot has held a few tap takeover-type events, it has yet to play host to its first beer dinner. That will change, though, when BrainDead Brewing out of Dallas brings its brand of food and drink to Denton on Thursday, February 25.

For one night only, the most talked-about brewpub from Big D will take over the newest craft beer destination to open in 'Lil D for what promises to be "a colossal and epic night," according to owner Rick Ali."We've wanted to team up with BrainDead for a food pairing for quite some time," Ali says, "but we decided something bigger was needed. Something bigger than just beer. This takeover is the most unique and special one of any we've done before, and we're putting it on in celebration of the brewpub's upcoming anniversary."

In addition to BrainDead beers being on tap and available for growler fills, the brewpub's chef, David Pena, will prepare a special four-course dinner to be served at the event (see menu below). Not only that, those in attendance will have the right to purchase limited-release bottles of the BrainDead beers Bent de Garde and Hammer of the Gods for the first time outside the brewpub.

"I am truly excited about this one!," says Pena. "The opportunity to highlight some of our unique beers, including our first ever retail bottle release, is something that makes us all proud. Brewmaster Drew Huerter knocked it out of the park with Hammer of the Gods, a beer that's dangerously easy to drink, and Bent de Garde, which is ridiculously complex and delicious. As a close friend of Rick, it has been awesome to watch how he and his father Sam have been true proponents of craft beer. This is going to be the first-ever BrainDead Pop-up, with a unique menu of four courses paired with four of our own beers (with a few surprises as well). You definitely don't want to miss it!"

Tickets for the event are $45pp (including taxes and gratuity) and are available now by way of Eventbrite at the link that follows. Note that take-home bottles will be sold separately, and are not included in the ticket price.

Course 1:

BrainDead Red (India red ale, 6.0% ABV).

Tequila shrimp and pomegranate ceviche with serrano avocado cream.

Course 2:

Dry-Hopped Wheat (American-style pale ale with wheat, 4.8% ABV).

Roasted brussels sprouts, cactus fruit syrup, pequin chile, cumin seed, cecina beef.

Course 3:

Bent de Garde (red wine barrel-aged bière de garde, 8.5% ABV).

Rye-battered chicken thigh, red pepper manchego grits, braised collard greens, cabernet pepper cream gravy.

Course 4:

Hammer of the Gods (bourbon barrel-aged imperial wheat porter, 11.2% ABV).

Stout beer chocolate cupcakes, bourbon vanilla cream, ancho chile pecan brittle, quince and tiger fig jellies.

Apricot Provincial coming from Funkwerks in March

Following up the 4-pack release of its year-round Raspberry Provincial in the fall of 2015, Funkwerks has announced the addition of a new Belgian-style fruit beer with similar naming to its seasonal lineup.

Apricot Provincial, slated as the brewery's spring seasonal, is a sessionable Belgian-style sour ale with an ABV of 4.2%. It was brewed with a unique 24-hour warm souring technique using lactobacillus in the wort, then fermented with a Belgian yeast strain famous for its fruit character. The chosen yeast is said to be the perfect compliment to the fruit, resulting in a beer with a citrusy apricot aroma that transitions into a subtlety sweet and tart finish.

"It's the perfect beer to bring in the spring season because of its light citrus flavor and delightful apricot notes," says Gordon Schuck, co-founder and head brewer of Funkwerks.

According to a press release, Apricot Provincial will be available in 4-packs of 330 mL bottles, with deliveries to retail outlets in North Texas to occur by late March.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Backcountry hires head brewer, opens for business in Rowlett

A new banner hangs above the door at 3313 Enterprise Dr. in Rowlett (Brian Brown).

Just over a month after announcing its plan to establish operations in North Texas, Backcountry Brewery of Frisco, Colorado, held a three-day grand opening celebration this past weekend at the company's newest location in Rowlett.

Backcountry, as many may know, took over FireWheel's former building after purchasing the operation in late December. At the time, owner Charlie Eazor indicated changes to the existing set-up would be minimal, likely only involving the addition of a few personal touches to the taproom and beer garden. As for whether or not that ended up being the case, initial impressions suggest that Eazor was definitely true to his word.

Indeed, you won't notice any striking differences should you visit the brewery and its new occupant. There are obvious things, like the staff being decked out in Backcountry gear and a different brand of beer being served, but the only other thing that caught my eye were some slight alterations to the seating options. For example, what used to be a gift shop in one corner of the space is now a lounge-like area with a couch, a table and a pair of cushioned high-back chairs.

Creature comforts aside, though, what will probably matter most to visitors of Backcountry is what's offered in terms of the beer. During the debut, patrons were able to purchase standards like the brewery's Amber and Pale Ale, as well as seasonals like Breakfast Stout, Double IPA and Imperial Saison. Also available was a Texas IPA, a beer with a grapefruit-forward flavor profile that's said to be a Lone Star State-exclusive.

Tasked with the production of these beers going forward will be Ian Hendry. The newly-hired head brewer comes to North Texas after stints at breweries in Colorado and Montana. Hendry began his career in 2009, and was most recently working at Ska Brewing in Durango. He'll work under the guidance of Frisco-based head brewer J. P. Vander Veen, who's expected to check in often to ensure quality control.

On that note, outside of the exclusive, really the only difference in beers that turn up in the taproom at the Rowlett outpost will be that they happen to be brewed in Texas. As has been mentioned before, recipes may be tweaked to adjust for local factors, but the goal is to have Texans drinking the same styles of beer that they do at Backcountry's brewpub in Colorado. It's a "stick to your guns" type of approach, to be sure, but it shouldn't come as a surprise considering the brewery has nearly 20 years of brand history to fall back on.

Backcountry Brewery 
3313 Enterprise Drive

Friday, January 29, 2016

Local brewers among 2016 Best of Craft Beer winners

Five North Texas brewers are among the honorees recently announced for the 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Billed as "America's newest craft beer contest", the BJCP-sanctioned Best of Craft Beer Awards competition awarded its first medals in 2014, making this the third annual event for the Bend, Oregon-based organization. This year, 65 different styles of beer were evaluated, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded in each category. Judging was carried out by professional judges and industry leaders, and it should be noted that some medals were not awarded in categories with limited entries.

Winners from North Texas include:

Bitters Sisters Brewery
  • Silver for Busy Body Blonde Lager in the Helles or Helles Bock category.
  • Bronze for Family Trip in the Belgian Tripel category.
  • Bronze for NightWatch in the Oatmeal Stout category.
  • Gold for Blue Lacy in the American Brown Ale category.
  • Gold for 10/6 in the English Pale or English IPA category.
  • Gold for Chocolate Stout in the Sweet Stout category.
  • Silver for IPA in the English Pale or English IPA category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!