Sunday, October 14, 2018

Get pours for the posse at Cowtown in Fort Worth

(Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Among the more than 20 brewery or brewpub openings to happen in North Texas over the last two years, only one occurred in Fort Worth. That drought was relieved a bit this weekend, however, with the debut of Cowtown Brewing Co. in the northern section of the city.

Founded on the idea that "great beer deserves equally great barbecue," the barbecue aspect of the business may still be a few days away, but Cowtown's beer began flowing on Friday night. A mix of German classics, IPAs, and off-the-menu stouts made up the opening day menu, providing patrons with a mix of modern and traditional styles.

Large batch selections included Rhinestone Cowboy (German kölsch), Sim City IPA (DDH IPA brewed with Simcoe hops), The Last Kaiser (imperial märzen Oktoberfest) and my personal favorite, Spalt Bier (German altbier brewed with Spalt hops). Two additional double dry-hopped IPAs made up the small batch section of the menu, with Amarillo On My Mind (DDH IPA brewed with Amarillo hops) said to be a best seller.

Beyond those beers, co-founder and head brewer, Shawn Kidwell, says he's got a double IPA and a doppelbock currently fermenting in the tanks. Naturally, those fall into the company's short-term plan, while things like fruited sour beers (targeted to pair with barbecue desserts) and barrel-aged offerings are items in the works for further down the road.

With beer on the inside and barbecue on the outside, Cowtown looks to offer the
best of both to folks in Fort Worth (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
"We're kind of figuring out how to work within our space right now, but long-term we'll get into sour beers and barrel-aging," says Kidwell. "For sour beers, I want to be careful and make sure we keep things isolated, and for our barrel program to work we'll probably have to make the barrels part of the decor."

Cowtown's beers are draft-only for now, but the brewpub's setup provides it with the ability to offer up to twelve beers on tap from the bar. A can seamer is also installed on site, allowing customers to grab beer to-go in the form of 32-ounce crowlers.

Regarding an official welcoming event, that's likely to take place a few weeks after Cowtown gets the smoker out back fully up and running.

"We wanted to get open as soon as we could, just to work out the kinks and get everything in order," says Kidwell. "Once we're settled on both the beer and barbecue side, we'll schedule the grand opening party. So, come in now for the beer, but come back for the barbecue!"

Going forward, Cowtown will be closed for brewing operations on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open for business during the latter part of the week. Currently posted hours are Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Otherworldly art and offerings on tap at Celestial Beerworks

A large external mural greets visitors as they enter the brewery's taproom
at 2530 Butler Street (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D). 

Should you feel a slight tug as you drive through the northwestern section of Dallas, don't be alarmed. It's just a cosmic force telling you the time has come to visit Celestial Beerworks, as the brewery is now open in the city's Medical District.

Matt and Molly Reynolds founded Celestial on the premise of bringing together the couple's three favorite things - art, science and beer. It's appropriate, then, that the company's space sets up as a sort of out this world escape, with cosmic renderings setting the stage for a brewery universe where beers are "Celestial" bodies.

Stop in and sip on space-themed selections like Kepler (IPA), One Small Step (pale ale) and One Giant Leap (DIPA), while spotting constellations depicted on the walls. Those beers are just a preview of what's to come, though, as the brewery is operating on a soft basis while working to build up its portfolio.

"Now that we're open, I can finally turn my brewing brain back on and start to think about recipes," says Reynolds. "We plan to have up to seven or eight beers ready for the grand opening. There will be IPAs, but we've also got an imperial stout and a pale wheat session beer in the tanks right now."

Looks can be deceiving from the outside, but inside Celestial has ample elbow
room with seating options inside and out (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

On that note, Reynolds admits he's a fan of hoppy beers (he built a following brewing them during his first stint in the industry at Malai Kitchen), but consumers can expect Celestial to serve up a variety of styles. Reynolds also mentioned that the brewery will do some barrel-aging, with the first foray into that territory being a coffee stout that's set to spend six months resting in a Maker's Mark vessel.

Regarding availability, early indications are that the taproom will be the primary place to purchase and enjoy Celestial's products, at least for the time being.

"Starting out, we're going to focus on sales here at the brewery," say Reynolds. "Once things get settled, we may look into mobile canning and some limited distribution, but for now we'll pour beer in the taproom and offer crowlers to-go."

As for the official debut, a grand opening celebration will happen on Halloween. After that, Celestial will begin regular taproom hours, with the brewery likely to be open later in the week and on weekends.

Soft opening hours:
Friday, October 12: 4-10 p.m.
Thursday-Friday, October 18-19: 4-8 p.m.
Saturday, October 20: 2-8 p.m.

Hoppy Halloween Grand Opening Celebration:
Wednesday, October 31: 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Friday, September 28, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - September 28, 2018 edition

A bevy of beverage types appear in this edition of the Conspectus, yet seeing as how it's National Drink Beer Day, perhaps it would be appropriate to drink a beer while reading this latest round of updates.


Black Man Brewing introduces "First Cello" series

Nomadic brewer Barrett Tillman of Blackman Brewing has produced a concerto of beer he has dubbed the "First Cello" series. The arrangement consists of a draft-only base beer, First Cello Tart Ale, and a series of movements to be released in bottles. The movements represent deviations from the original beer, each featuring different ingredients infused with liquid taken from the early or late stages of fermentation. First Cello is available on tap now at Small Brewpub, while bottle variants may be purchased online for pickup on Tuesday nights in October.

Breaking Brew Meadery opening in Dallas

Emerging somewhat quietly on the North Texas scene, Breaking Brew Meadery opens its doors to the public for the first time on Friday, September 28. Located at 14438 Midway Rd. in Dallas, the company's initial operating hours will be Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 1-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

Trinity Cider makes Dallas debut on October 5

Production is underway at Trinity Cider in Dallas, with the company's grand opening now set for Friday, October 12. The business, which has set up shop at 2656 Main Street in Deep Ellum, occupies the same space as a 1990s-era brewing operation that was known as Main Street Brewing Co.

Special use permit approved for Siren Rock

After successfully navigating a number of roadblocks, a special use permit was approved by the Rockwall City Council for Siren Rock Brewing Co. in August. This will allow the venture to continue to move forward in the development process, with the submission of site plans, architectural drawings and the like being next on the agenda.

Image credits (top to bottom): Blackman Brewing, Breaking Brew Meadery, Trinity Cider, Siren Rock Brewing Co.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Oskar Blues now brewing Dale's Pale Ale with Texas-made malt

Tim Matthews, Brandon Ade and Michael Harris
at Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas (Oskar Blues Brewery).

Oskar Blues Brewery in Austin, Texas, has announced a change to the company's flagship beer, Dale's Pale Ale. The beer is now being brewed with locally-crafted malt developed by Leander-based Blacklands Malt.

Up until now, Dale's had been brewed with commercial Munich malt, but a move to Blacklands allows the brewery to incorporate sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, while supporting the community and calling attention to the art of craft malting. As for how the change came about, the idea started germinating when Tim Mathews, Oskar Blues' head of brewing operations, met Blacklands' founder, Brandon Ade, in 2016.

After that, Ade and Michael Harris, Oskar Blues’ head brewer in Austin and malt enthusiast, started working together by incorporating Blacklands malt into specialty beers. Then, in the fall of 2017, they started talking about a larger project.

“I approached Tim and Michael and asked, ‘how can we get this malt out there and capture something unique and authentic going on in Austin?,'" says Ade. "The conversation evolved and we started looking at the Munich malts used in Dale’s.”

What followed were months of research, development and collaboration between the two teams, including the Oskar Blues’ lab headed by Brian Roye. Eventually the kiln schedule and recipe were dialed in to develop Brown Field 10 Texas Munich, which meets the color and toasty flavor profile required to brew Dale’s Pale Ale.

“I don’t know of any other iconic flagships doing something like this,” says Matthews. “We hope people will start coming into the taproom and saying, ‘I want something with Texas malt in it.’ It’s sustainable, and contributing back to a sustainable world is definitely important to us. This is a major way we can illustrate that.”

Harris has an equally compelling reason for pursuing craft malt – it’s part of supporting the community.

“I’ve been interested in where ingredients come from since I started professionally brewing," says Harris. "It’s important to use local ingredients and to be involved in the community.”

Ade also makes the point that it’s important to raise awareness around the connection between the consumer and the supply chain, and to call attention to the farmers that grow the barley that ends up in beer. Blacklands has worked with Texas A&M University since 2012 on research that aims to empower farmers to grow barley.

"It’s about supporting farm families outside of hops - hops get a lot of limelight," says Ade. "Malting is equally important."

According to a press release, Dale’s Pale Ale brewed with Blackland's Brown Field 10 Texas Munich is now available in Texas and surrounding states.