Monday, April 2, 2018

Girls Pint Out establishes D-FW chapter

Image courtesy of Girls Pint Out Dallas-Fort Worth.

Aligning with a national mission to build a community of women who love craft beer, and who are an active, contributing part of the greater craft beer community, a chapter of Girls Pint Out has been created in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Formed by Sandra DiPretore, co-founder of Murphy's Law Brew Co. - a North Texas brewery in development, the local affiliate joins an organization that consists of more than 100 chapters in over 30 states.

"GPO is a national non-profit organization for women who enjoy craft beer," says DiPretore. "There are several chapters in Texas, but there hasn't been one in D-FW until now. I want it to be not only a way for women to get together and enjoy a pint, but also a way to further educate consumers and breweries alike."

Along those lines, Girls Pint Out events will offer a forum for discussion, education and fun. And joining the movement couldn't be simpler, since all it takes is showing up at an event to enjoy a pint.

"We'll have a casual meet-up on the third Thursday of every month on both the Fort Worth and Dallas sides of town," adds DiPretore. "Then, once a month, there will be a more formal meet up. For those, I am working on setting up food pairings, education classes, theme nights and more."

Official launch parties for Dallas-Fort Worth Girls Pint Out will occur at North Texas locations of Taps & Caps during the next two weeks. Celis Brewery of Austin has donated kegs for each event, with all sales to be donated to charity.


Dallas Launch:
  • Saturday, April 7 from 1-4 p.m. at Taps & Caps, Lewisville.
    Beneficiary: Dallas-Fort Worth Girls Pint Out - money raised will help fund the purchase of marketing materials and the development of future classes.

Fort Worth Launch:
  • Saturday, April 14 from 1-4 p.m. at Taps & Caps, Fort Worth.
    Beneficiary: Project 2713 - money raised will go to support inner-family adoptions which rarely qualify for government aid, enabling orphaned children to remain with loving family members.

Monthly Meet-up (brewery locations will rotate every month):



For more information on Dallas-Fort Worth Girls Pint Out (Facebook, Twitter), or if you are interested in hosting or sponsoring an event, contact Sandra DiPretore at dfw@girlspintout.org.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

My 2018 Big Texas tasting card

Image credits: Brewvolution, Braindead Brewing, AleSmith Brewing Co., Tupps Brewery, Celis Brewery,
Hemisphere Brewing Co., Division Brewing, 903 Brewers, Turning Point Beer, On Rotation, Real Ale Brewing Co.

Having completed its seventh installment this weekend, one might wonder if Big Texas Beer Fest (BTBF) is susceptible to the idea of a "seven year itch." Judging by the size and consistency of the crowds, though, I'd say such a sentiment isn't something that warrants discussion. Clearly, the craft beer love affair still lingers, and BTBF continues to be a can't miss event.

So, what went down during the 2018 festivities? Well, one of the highlights at this year's event was the eagerly-anticipated appearance of Turning Point Beer of Bedford. The area's newest brewing operation wasn't the only one making its first festival foray, though, as Division Brewing out of Arlington debuted as well. Both offered attendees a taste of three different beers on Friday, with Turning Point pouring two IPAs (Snowblower, Single Hoptions Enigma) and an imperial stout (Ebony an Ebony), and Division doling out a pale ale (Transmissions from Idaho 7), a stout (Ben Stout) and a saison (Born of Oak).

Also drawing interest was the booth of 903 Brewers, as the Sherman-based company trotted out a selection of eight high-ABV beers. Five were Sasquatch variants, one of which I would count among the best local beers I've had in 2018. That brew, Bordeaux Barrel-Aged Sasquatch, draws its defining character from casks sourced from Opus One Winery in the Napa Valley.

Beyond that, given the ongoing haze craze, a mention of New England IPAs is in order. Tupps Double Dry-Hopped IPA #2 led local options, with others consisting of 3 Nations Haze Wizard, Franconia Hazy Dhaze, Humperdinks Misty Mountain Hops, Malai Kitchen Denali IPA, Manhattan Project Double Half-Life and Turning Point Snowblower. Not surprisingly, results were varied, and whether or not this one or that one truly constituted a NEIPA was likely a matter of debate at some point in the evening. Either way, all came across as good IPAs, regardless of stylistic semantics.

As for the usual roundup of festival favorites, a six-pack of notable brews can be found below. Standard disclaimers apply...these beers are new to the market, or at least new to me, which is why you won't see a list of known whales in what follows.

Cheers!


AleSmith Speedway Stout with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee: Earthy roast and flavors of dark chocolate dominate this Speedway variant made with cold-brewed coffee from the Caribbean.

Braindead Piper at the Gates of Dawn: A tasty Scotch ale with a wee bit of roast, thanks to the infusion of Noble Coyote coffee beans. Oh, and it gets bonus points for the Pink Floyd debut album reference.

Celis Raspberry: If memory serves, Celis Raspberry represents the first fruit beer I ever tried. Of course, that was back when the original Celis Brewery was operating in Austin during the 1990s. And like all of the returning recipes, this beer brings back memories of days gone by.

Hemisphere Black Sacrament: Solid and straightforward, Black Sacrament is an imperial stout that stands on its own without any additive ingredients.

On Rotation Grisette w/ Lemon, Ginger & Grapefruit: A fruity and funky refresher, with a touch of spice, a hint of tartness and a slightly bitter edge.

Real Ale Mysterium Verum Cease & Desisyphus: A rum barrel-aged version of Sisyphus, this beer features rich flavors of caramel and molasses, with a vanilla flourish in the finish.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bluffview Growler adding small-batch brewhouse


Image credit: Bluffview Growler.

Just over a year after it began filling growlers near the Park Cities neighborhood of Dallas, Bluffview Growler is looking to add to its business by offering patrons the option of house-brewed beer.

Dale Czech, who co-owns both Bluffview Growler and Lakewood Growler with wife Stacie, was a homebrewer before he opened the Lakewood shop in early 2014. He'll utilize those skills, while teaming with Ross Frederick and Mason MacPhail from the Dallas Homebrew Collective, to craft small-batch recipes covering flavor profiles not well represented in the local market.

"We ordered a one-barrel system, which we'll use to fill two or three taps to complement our existing lineup," says Czech. "This will be a fun project for us, and we view it as a way to evolve our craft offerings by producing experimental beers with fresh ingredients and hops that are more difficult to brew on a larger scale."

On the subject of styles, Czech let it be known that hazy, juicy IPAs are something that's definitely on the team's radar. Beyond that, though, indications are that style choices will generally fall in line with the season.

As for when this will all take place, federal and state license applications are currently pending. Once those go through, test batches will be run initially, which means it'll likely be closer to the summer before production gets underway. When that happens, expect to see Bluffview beers on tap in house, as well as at the Lakewood location.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Beer by way of Beetle and Bus: German autos adorn Franconia's 10th anniversary packaging

Case boxes in the form of a classic Volkswagen Pickup will include six packs of all
four of Franconia's anniversary brews (all images courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.).

Following an announcement earlier this month revealing plans for its yearlong 10th anniversary celebration, Franconia Brewing Co. of McKinney has released images of package designs the company has created for its line of anniversary brews.

Individual six packs of four distinct styles will be shipped on a quarterly basis, according to the schedule outlined below. That doesn't mean you'll have to wait to try all four beers, however, since the full range will be brewed all year long and sold in special mixed cases (see the lead image above) at select locations around North Texas.

Regarding the package designs, Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann decided to go with imagery inspired by a classic German automobile brand as a way to balance the fact that recipes for three of the four anniversary beers have origins outside of his homeland.

"We chose to do something out of the ordinary with our 10th anniversary beers, only one of which is based on a traditional German style," says Wehrmann. "We're a German brewery, though, so we thought we needed to add a German element to all the beers to recognize our heritage. And, what better way to do that than to design the packaging around a German icon like Volkswagen."

Images of label and six-pack carrier designs are provided below, as are tasting notes taken from pre-release samples. As for availability, look for anniversary mixed cases and six-packs of Hazy Dhaze to begin arriving at retailers towards the end of March.


Spring

Hazy Dhaze (New England IPA, 6.8% ABV): Franconia's foray into the realm of New England IPAs is brewed with wheat and oats to promote the style's characteristic cloudiness, while a mix of Denali, Calypso and Lemondrop hops is used to create the beer's "juicy" element.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Bus.



Summer

Fun in the Sun (Belgian Blonde, 8.1% ABV): Easy drinking and sneaky strong, a traditional Abbey ale yeast infuses Fun in the Sun with a complex mix of funk, fruit and spice.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Thing.



Fall

Full Steam Ahead (California Common, 5.1% ABV): Franconia's entry into the steam beer category hits the nail on the head in terms of style, with its grainy malt backbone and pronounced hop presence.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.



Winter

Chicken Dance (Bordeaux-Aged Wheat Bock, 8.2% ABV): The brewery's original winter seasonal, Winter Wheat, is aged on Bordeaux to give the beer a woody, vinous character, with hints of dark fruit and toasted malt rounding out the flavor profile.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Beetle.