Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Common Table Uptown: Where local craft beer came together

Image credit: The Common Table.

Earlier this week, The Common Table (TCT) announced the closing of its Uptown location in Dallas. And while the hope is a new site may be found in the city for the future, the little house on Fairmount St. will forever be a part of local craft beer lore.

The grand opening of TCT occurred in June 2010, and you wouldn't be wrong to think it arrived on the scene when there wasn't much of a scene to arrive in. A discernible beer culture hadn't developed in North Texas, and it would be another year or so before the local craft beer boom began.

Looking back, beer menus at the time generally featured a standard array of imports and long-standing national brands. At TCT, however, the focus was (and always has been) on acquiring the best beers available in the market. In the beginning, that meant North Texans were drinking better beer before most understood what better beer was all about. To be clear, TCT was ahead of its time.

It was more than that, though. Great beer deserves to be paired with great food, great atmosphere, and great events. Yet for a long time, options were limited for local beer lovers looking for an elevated experience. That started to change at places like TCT, where rarity became commonplace. Over the years, hard-to-find beers, exclusive beer dinners, and happenstance appearances by industry legends were all in a day's work at TCT.

For me, though, what's impactful about time spent at TCT relates to the people and how TCT debuted just two months before I posted my first article as a beer writer. Because of that, industry friends I've known the longest are people I've either met or had a beer with at TCT. Those connections were made at Brewsday Tuesdays, Dogfishtivals, Starkbierfests, Firestone Walker Tap Takeovers, Pour Man's Beer Dinners, and more.

You might say a lot of us grew up in the craft beer world collectively at TCT. Sure, some (including myself) had been drinking better beer long before TCT came along, but the local craft beer community didn't start to come together until the years after TCT opened.

Of course, going forward TCT will continue, whether it's in a new Dallas spot or in the Frisco location living on. So, it's likely some old traditions will survive, as new traditions are born. Still, for many in this industry, the little house on Fairmount St. is the house local craft beer grew up in. And they say you never forget your first house.

Truly, for nearly 10 years, North Texas craft beer called that little house home.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Revolver opening second location at Texas Live, February 20

Image credit: Revolver Brewing.

Texas Live! has revealed details for Revolver Brewing BLDG 5, a taproom and brewery set to debut at the 200,000-square-foot dining, entertainment and sports complex in Arlington. The venue will open to the public on Thursday, February 20, and will feature a brew pub, tasting room and private event space.

Revolver was was founded in 2012 by father and son Ron and Rhett Keisler, and brew master Grant Wood. The brewery's original facility is located southwest of Fort Worth in Granbury, but the addition of BLDG 5 at Texas Live! allows Revolver to plant a flag closer to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

In addition, the BLDG 5 space will house an experimental pilot brewery, offering guests a first look at new and innovative small batches of craft beer.

“At Revolver Brewing, we encourage people to ‘drink different’ and visitors to our BLDG 5 at Texas Live! will get a real sense of what we mean,” says co-founder Rhett Keisler. “You’ll find favorites like Blood & Honey there, but the BLDG 5 brewery also will be a playground for our brewers, a place where they can try new beers and get immediate feedback from beer drinkers.”

As Revolver continues to grow and expand across Texas and in neighboring states, its presence at Texas Live! presents an opportunity to introduce its beers to thousands of new people each month. Plus, BLDG 5 creates a special experience for people visiting Texas Live!

“Revolver Brewing is known for bringing a fresh perspective to world-class craft beer in the Dallas/Fort Worth region,” says Jim Watry, CEO of Texas Live! “BLDG 5 will create a completely unique experience and a special opportunity for our guests of age to enjoy brand new batches of beer created right here at Texas Live!”

Once it opens, visitors to BLDG 5 will be able to experience the brewing process while enjoying one-of-a-kind beers paired with specialty menu items, including fare from Lockhart Smokehouse. There will also be pet-friendly seating outdoors that flows into a courtyard overlooking the newly-opened Live! by Loews hotel.

Monday, January 20, 2020

LUCK leaves a lasting legacy of local support

Last call at LUCK (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Six years after introducing its concept of a craft beer-inspired kitchen, LUCK at Trinity Groves held its final service last night in Dallas.

Founding partners Jeff Dietzman, Daniel Pittman and Ned Steel established LUCK (an acronym for Local Urban Craft Kitchen) in 2013, with a mission to provide the best in local food and local beer. And make no mistake, LUCK was a local leader, especially when it came to promoting the North Texas beer industry.

From the beginning, LUCK touted a tap wall of 40 beers, all sourced from a brewery within 75 miles of its location. But, the restaurant's commitment to supporting local brewers went far beyond just serving local beer to its customers. It was about bringing awareness to area breweries by way of unique and varied events, as well as the simple act of being present on a day-to-day basis throughout the local scene.

On the event side, LUCK's beer and food pairing flights may be what's remembered most. Donut pairings were the biggest deal, by far, followed by Girl Scout cookies - both of which have been the catalyst for copycat events ever since. However, let's not forget other items LUCK featured on its flight pairing menu: bacon, bierrocks, British pies, cake balls, cheesecakes, chocolates, cookies, cookie dough, cupcakes, empanadas, German food, Halloween candy, mini pies, sushi, tacos, tamales, tarts and tostadas.

Those flights, along with local pint nights and beer dinners increased awareness of active breweries, but it's also important to note how LUCK brought attention to breweries looking to open in the future. Tastings with breweries in development were a staple of events like LUCKtoberfest, LUCKapalooza and the restaurant's anniversary gatherings. In fact, over the course of LUCK's existence, roughly 80 new brewing operations debuted in Dallas-Fort Worth, and nearly 30% of those sampled beer at LUCK prior to opening.

Then, of course, there was the Craft Beer and Chili Challenge, an annual event bringing together the entire craft beer community to benefit North Texas Food Bank. At its peak, upwards of 40 local breweries competed in this fun and lively cook-off event that was a highlight of the late-winter calendar.

As for being present, LUCK extended its reach in a variety of ways. The restaurant was the official snack supplier of the Dallas Brew Bus, while also being a staging point for the 6-Pack Trail's Design District Bike Cruise & Craft Brewery Tour. Plus, you'd have been hard-pressed over the last six years to attend a local beer-centric festival, anniversary party or grand opening event and not see one or more of the founders in attendance.

Moreover, a couple of partners even went all out - literally - for charity, but let's not revisit the LUCK-related visuals arising from that whole North Texas Craft Beerds (and Bellies!) Calendar thing. Hey, at least it helped raise money for a good cause.

Indeed, the North Texas beer scene is better today because of LUCK, and the industry should thank its lucky stars the project came along when it did. Upon opening, there were less than 20 area breweries. Today, there are up around 80, and there's no denying LUCK had a hand in helping to spur that growth.

Now, though, it's on to the next venture. As previously reported, the company behind LUCK is collaborating with Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points on a new brewpub called Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery at Mustang Station. So, let's look forward to that, and hope a little bit of LUCK makes its way to Farmers Branch.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Collective Brewing Project announces indefinite closure in Fort Worth

Image credit: The Collective Brewing Project.

Effective immediately, The Collective Brewing Project has closed in Fort Worth.

Founders Ryan Deyo and Mike Goldfuss began brewing Collective's initial recipes out of a temporary facility in Haltom City during the summer of 2014. A permanent location debuted in Fort Worth's Near Southside neighborhood later that year, and from there Collective soon began making a name for itself as the premier wild and sour beer brewer in North Texas.

Along the way, Collective's reputation grew to the point that its products were added to the portfolio of noted import firm, Shelton Brothers, in late 2017. That move, along with subsequent partnerships with other distributors, allowed the brewery to extend its reach outside of Texas to more than a dozen other states across the country.

As for its beers, Collective produced a number of notable offerings by way of its Brett Series and the Foeder Fantasies line, but the brewery may best be remembered for two beers that gained national attention for their use of unusual ingredients - Cup O' Beer, a gose with ramen noodles, and Peep this Collab, a sour beer brewed with Marshmallow Peeps.