Monday, May 21, 2018

Armadillo Ale Works makes Denton debut

Available as a taproom exclusive, the initial batch of Armadillo's experimental
New England IPA squeezes out a fair amount of juice (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

Sometimes a simple statement says it all, and if you've followed the journey of founders Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins, then the phrase 'Armadillo Ale Works is open in Denton' likely tells you all you need to know.

Surely, most are aware of how Armadillo got started, stopped, and got started again. A Kickstarter campaign effectively launched the brand in 2011, but securing a location took longer than expected, forcing the company to pursue interim production agreements at breweries in Dallas and Grapevine. All along, though, the goal was to get back to Denton, a city Armadillo has always called home.

Now, that dream has been realized. An on-site coffee shop, Cryptozoology, began service in mid-April, but the brewery poured beer from its own taproom for the first time on Friday. And, as it turns out, the combined operation is something Arestis and Mullins had in mind from the start. All the better that Armadillo ended up at 221 S. Bell Ave., a spot that is arguably at the epicenter of Denton's daily grind.

"This was always the plan," explains Arestis. "Bell Ave. is busy all-day, every day, with a stream of cars going both ways all the time. Now that we're here, people can come by for coffee in the morning on their way to work, and then swing by for a beer on the way home."

Speaking of beer, Friday's tap list consisted of three familiar offerings, Honey Please (gold medal winner at the 2018 World Beer Cup), Land Yacht IPA and Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat, while the fourth represented something new. The debut beer being the first batch of an experimental New England IPA that's currently on draft as a taproom exclusive.

Left: Production/office space occupies more than two-thirds of the available 18,000 square feet that make up Armadillo's facility.
Right: With 5000 square feet and a seating capacity of nearly 300, Armadillo's taproom epitomizes the beer hall atmosphere and experience.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

There's more to come, of course, as Armadillo works to build up its day-to-day portfolio.

"We're hoping to start off with around six beers for the official grand opening, adding Brunch Money and WunderMelon to what's on tap now," says Arestis. "Eventually we'll work our way up to 12, so Bobby is finally going to be able to brew some recipes he's been sitting on for quite a while."

In terms of pricing, patrons can expect to pay a flat rate. All beers are $5, with standards served in a 16-ounce glass and specialty brews arriving in a 10-ounce size. Flights are on the menu as well, priced at $10 for a lineup of four five-ounce pours.

On top of that, other beverage options will include tea and soda, the latter coming as welcome news for those who recall drinking Bee's Knees Lemonade Soda Pop and Clawfoot Ginger Cream Ale early in Armadillo's history.

As for the aforementioned grand opening, that event will occur over two weekends early next month (June 1-3, June 8-10). In the meantime, the brewery side of the business will operate on a soft basis with hours as follows: Mon-Thu 2-10 p.m. and Fri-Sat 2 p.m. - midnight. Combine that with Cryptozoology's hours, Mon-Sat 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., and that means Armadillo's facility is open morning, noon and night.

Or as Arestis put it, "We're going to be running this thing from 7 a.m. to the late hours, pretty much every day of the year."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

JubJub taking roost at Rabbit Hole

Images courtesy of Rabbit Hole Brewing.

Soon, a couple of odd birds will take roost at Rabbit Hole, as the Justin-based brewery releases two new beers for summer.

The first of these is JubJub, a classic German hefeweizen that's said to shine as bright as its namesake. The namesake, in this case, being the Jubjub bird from the world of Lewis Carroll. Yet, while the Jubjub was a creature to be wary of in Carroll's work (appearing in Jabberwocky  and The Hunting of the Snark), a pre-release note promises the beer will be something to savor.

"There is little reason to fear this JubJub, as it is the perfect summer quaff.  Cloudy by design, the soft malted wheat flavor is perfectly complimented by a bold finish of banana and clove derived from the beer's signature yeast still in suspension."

Also in the works is a variation of JubJub infused with a touch of tangerine.

"By adding a dash of whimsy and a hint of folly to JubJub, the complex aroma and flavor of JubJub Tangerine was created.  The strong, sweet citrus note of tangerine expands the already bold clove and banana flavors of the classic hefeweizen to a realm that is all its own."

So, when can consumers expect to have these birds in the hand?

Look for JubJub to be available on draft beginning May 22, with a taproom debut set to occur during Rabbit Hole's annual Summer in Wonderland celebration on Saturday, May 26 (click here to purchase tickets for the event).

As for JubJub Tangerine, look for that bird to land in early June.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Texas Ale Project wants to add your name to the next great craft beer

Image courtesy of Texas Ale Project (click to enlarge).

Looking to break new ground in the search for the next craft beer, Texas Ale Project of Dallas has announced a research and development project built on the idea that innovation can come from anywhere. The R&D Series, as it's being called, will be a rotating line of beers developed from ideas collected from both inside and outside the brewery.

“We’re encouraging our staff, our distributors, and customers alike to send in their creative ideas for future beers in this series,” says Kat Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Texas Ale Project.

The first R&D beer is Hawaiian Roadrunner (5.0% ABV, 28 IBU), a tropical blonde ale that draws inspiration from free-range chickens that roam the Hawaiian Islands. Brewed with guava, pineapple and Simcoe hops, the beer exudes a fresh tropical fruit aroma that "will sweep you away to the Hawaiian Islands for a virtual summer vacation."

Cans of Hawaiian Roadrunner will feature the signature of Texas Ale Project co-founder and brewer, Brent Thompson, but the name on the next can could be yours.

“The signature represents someone that made a major contribution to the creative development of an R&D Series beer," adds Kat. "We want this to be a fun, collaborative effort.”

Concepts for the series can be submitted via the contact page on the brewery's website. Ideas will be vetted for not just innovation, but also taste, appearance, aroma, and overall genuine quality. Selected beers will be representative of Texas Ale Project’s mission to provide high quality, great tasting craft beers that the brewery takes pride in.

As for when consumers can get their hands on Hawaiian Roadrunner, the beer will be available on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans beginning May 28. Launch events are also on the bill, with a Reveal Party set to occur Friday, June 1 from 4-9 p.m., at Texas Ale Project's facility in the Dallas Design District. Following that, the Official Release Party for Hawaiian Roadrunner will be held at Truck Yard Dallas on Friday, June 8 starting at 4 pm.

Lakewood launches 21 days of giveaways for Zomer Pils fans

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co. (click to enlarge).

Hot on the heels of the annual release of its summer seasonal, Zomer Pils, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is launching a new text-to-win "How I Zummer" program for fans of the beer and brewery.

From May 21-June 11, Zomer (Flemish for summer) lovers that text "Zummer" to 99888 will be entered to win special prizes. A total of 21 daily winners will receive a Lakewood Brewing summer swag bag including a beach towel, koozie, sunglasses, lip balm & stickers. Plus, 10 grand prize winners will win a custom Adirondack Lounge Chair, perfect for relaxing poolside with a cold Zomer Pils.

“We always look forward to Zomer season around the brewery,” says Lakewood founder Wim Bens. “It’s such a crushable, easy-drinking beer that we can’t get enough of it. And since we started dry hopping it last year, it’s now even more enjoyable, if that’s such a thing.”

Brewed with Belgian pilsner malt and dry-hopped with a combination of Lemondrop and noble hop varieties, Zomer Pils is described as a light, crisp, and refreshing beer, with a slight, citrus peel zing.

“We like having that go-to summer beer that helps our fans cool off,” adds Bens. “When you think summer beer, we want you to think zummer beer.”

Look for Zomer Pils on tap and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans.