Friday, March 24, 2017

Be a part of the New Main story

Image courtesy of New Main Brewing Co.

With hopes of opening the first brewery in Pantego later this year, New Main Brewing Co. is entering the final stages of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at enhancing the project's vision.

That vision, according to founder David Clark, is the manifestation of a core philosophy that lies at the heart of what he and wife Amanda wish to create with the company.

"If you're passionate about something, you owe it to yourself and those around you to give your endeavor meaning," says Clark.

In this case, those who visit New Main will find such substance and significance in the brewery's name and how Clark will apply it when engaging his customers.The choice of a nautilus shell as the logo for the business is a further embodiment of how it will all come together, based on its identification as a "growth spiral."

Naturally, the gathering point (as it were), will be New Main's portfolio of beers, the presentation of which will center around a line of six core styles offered with a set of four different treatments (i.e. infusions, barrel-aged beers, etc.). In that way, customers can discover "New" ways to enjoy their "Main" go-to beer.

"Beer is about people and the relationships they forge together," explains Clark. "The symbolism of the nautilus shell, and how it uses its past to build its future, is something we want people to feel when they come into our brewery. We want our patrons to use their past knowledge of tasting our 'Main' beers as a guide for tasting our 'New' treatments, and we want them to share their experiences with friends and family."

As for the crowdfunding campaign, hosted by Indiegogo, the impetus behind it represents yet another way for consumers to feel connected to New Main by being "a part of the story." Money raised will go to creating a taproom and beer garden with patio seating, yard games and an open area for festivals and homebrew competitions. Clark sees it as a place where fans, friends and neighbors can come to spend time together while catching up over a pint of New Main beer.

"When they contribute to the campaign, our supporters become a part of the story in different ways," says Clark. "Above all, the campaign is meant to give the community a way to make the space their own. We want people to have their own seats at the bar with their names on them, we're letting people name our fermentation tanks, and anyone who contributes over $100 is going up on our wall of supporters so we can show our appreciation for the impact the community has had on our brewery. We'll also thank each of our contributors on the New Main blog as part of our Building a Brewery series, because without them our story would be vastly different."

Anyone looking to learn more about the project can visit the aforementioned blog, where Clark takes readers on a journey from his start in homebrewing, to the week he announced plans to go pro, to weekly updates on the progress of brewery build out and more. Information can also be found on the Indiegogo campain page, where rewards associated with varying contribution levels are outlined in detail.

In addition, New Main will host a Fundraising Party on Friday, March 31 at the Pantego Lions Club (located next door to the brewery). Attractions include food, live music, door prizes and a live auction. Tickets for the event are $15pp and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thirsty Bro off and running in Royse City

Thirsty Bro is the first brewery in Royse City and the
third in Rockwall County (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

The phrase "go west, young man" is one that's traditionally used to talk about the natural course of America's expansion, but here in North Texas the phrase "go east, brewer man" might be a more appropriate adage, considering the last two breweries to open in our area have done so near the region's eastern border.

One of those is Thirsty Bro Brewing Co., which held its grand opening on Saturday in Royse City. Founder Terry Gordon and wife Catherine have been welcoming visitors on a soft basis here and there since late December, but this past weekend was the first time Thirsty Bro was officially open to the public. Saturday's festivities included live music and, of course, beer - both of which were enjoyed in the brewery's intimate space, which essentially anchors one end of the city's downtown district.

On tap for the occasion were five Thirsty Bro recipes, including the flagship Gettin' Figgy Wit' It, a pale ale brewed with fig and apricot that Gordon says has been his most-requested beer so far. Also available were Licking Dog Porter (chocolate and licorice), Big Bro Breakfast Stout (oatmeal, raisin and cinnamon), Brother's Keeper IPA (Citra hops, orange and anise), and Bro'd Trip IPA (British malt).

Thirsty Bro beers will feature a variety of ingredients, including fruit, nut and spice infusions (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

That's just the starting lineup, though, as Gordon plans to serve upwards of 12 beers on a regular basis (click the image above for a full list, including ingredients and ABV/IBU where available).

"We're going to have eight regulars and four rotators," says Gordon. "One of the rotators will be unique in that we'll do a kind of homebrew spotlight beer with someone from the Rockwall Brewers Association."

Production of those beers is currently being done on Gordon's pilot system. While his 15-barrel production brewhouse was delivered in November, Gordon says he's still working with the city on a couple of issues on how it'll be set up inside the space. Originally, the plan was to open after getting everything installed, but delays got to a point where he had to make choice as to whether to wait it out or push forward.

"We're about five months behind where we wanted to be in terms of getting up and running," explains Gordon. "Sooner or later you have to get open, though, so we decided to start with the first five brews being made on the pilot system. We'll keep those on full time and work in small batches of the others every few weeks."

What that limited output also means is that the taproom will only be open on Saturdays from 12-11 p.m. initially, with hours on Thursday, Friday and Sunday being added once full production is underway.

* Click here for more on the brewery and the story behind its name.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hemisphere is here: Long-awaited brewery now operating in Rockwall

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Finishing the final leg of a journey that's lasted nearly six years, Hemisphere Brewing Co. has opened its doors in Rockwall.

Indeed, if ever there was a brewery that ought to have a beer called Murphy's Law, Hemisphere would be the one. All startups face obstacles, but it seems as if founders Ruben Garcia and Brandon Mullins have met with more than their fair share since kicking off the project in 2011.

"Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong," says Garcia.

In the last year alone, they've dealt with code issues related to ramps and doors, not to mention problems with getting the gas line hooked up. Then, on top of all that, Mullins ended up landing in the hospital right as Hemisphere was poised to announce its long-awaited opening.

A small-batch system and a working list of over 90 recipes means patrons can expect a lot of
experimentation when it comes to what Hemisphere has to offer
(© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Thankfully, though, perseverance has finally paid off. And to hear Garcia tell it, it's rewarding just to be able to get to the point where he and Mullins can say "We're open!"

"There a lot of things we want to do with the brewery," explains Garcia. "For now, though, we really just want to enjoy being open here in Rockwall. Eventually, we'll work on getting our beer out to a wider audience, but we'd like to get settled in first while building a following with the local community."

As for the types of beer Hemisphere will be serving, the brewery's debut weekend featured five different beers. Early returns suggest Straight Dope IPA will be the crowd-pleaser, but my favorite beer on the board was Hemisphere Grisette (the coffee porter was a close second). No matter which you choose, though, this first run of beers suggests that balanced, approachable brews will be the order of the day.
  • Shiver Blueberry American Wheat (5.86% ABV, 17.6 IBU): An easy-drinking wheat beer with a hint of blueberry sweetness and a lightly tart finish.
  • Straight Dope IPA (6.46% ABV, 73 IBU): A hazy IPA, with upfront notes of citrus and tropical fruit that's backed by a moderate bitterness.
  • Hemisphere Grisette (5.56% ABV, 15.3 IBU): Complex and crushable, this light-bodied beer is a little tart and a little funky, with elements of citrus and bread yeast rounding out the flavor.
  • Superfleek Coffee Porter (7.22% ABV, 46.3 IBU): Distinctive roast and an earthy underbelly form the base of this coffee-forward beer, which finishes smooth with little bitterness thanks to the use of cold-brewed coffee.
  • Gnarlacious English Pale Ale (6.46% ABV, 30.5 IBU): A dry, estery and earthy English-style pale.

Hemisphere's taproom has an open and casual feel, with wide-screen TVs and
Giant Jenga offering entertainment options (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Of course, other beers are in the works, but what form they'll take remains to be seen. According to Garcia, the partners are working from a list of over 90 different recipes. What ultimately gets chosen, though, will depend on a variety of factors. Naturally, consumer preference will play a part, but so will a desire to offer styles and/or flavor combinations that are currently missing in the local marketplace (ergo, offering up a style like the grisette).

Regardless of what styles get brewed, expect Hemisphere to remain draft-only for the time being. Packaged products will follow at some point, but when that happens will probably depend on that whole getting their feet firmly on the ground thing. Either way, a trip to the taproom is currently your best bet if you're looking to try a Hemisphere beer.

On that note, taproom hours will occur on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to start. Exact times are still being worked out, so be sure to follow the brewery's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter) for the most up-to-date information.


* Click here for more on the brewery and its six-year journey.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From NTX and beyond: A (very) brief history of green beer

If you happen to be one of those people who simply must dip your lips in a pint of green beer this St. Patrick's Day, why not do it while knowing a little bit of the history behind the emerald elixir? By all accounts, these crafty concoctions got their start during the early 1900s (as you'll see in the snippets below), but you might not realize that a former brewery in North Texas plays a small part in the story as well.
Plano's Reinheitsgebot Brewing Co. was the first microbrewery in Texas, not to mention the sixth one ever to open in the United States. And, believe it or not, the company once produced the only bottled green beer in the country. Collin County Emerald was an all-malt beverage crafted for St. Patrick's Day in the mid-1980s. It was packaged and sold in clear glass bottles, which came complete with a Leprechaun on the label.

Image info: Snapshot taken from an original, unused bottle label.

America's first exposure to green beer appears to have happened in Spokane, Washington in 1910. That year, a local bar poured a beer with an apparently naturally-occuring shade of green, which...when combined with the imagery of a beer that "looks like paint"...makes you wonder what exactly patrons were being exposed to while drinking this beer.

Image info: Article snapshot taken from the March 17, 1910 edition of The Press, a newspaper out of Spokane, Washington. Click here to access the article by way of The Library of Congress.

Long about 1914, a man by the name of Thomas H. Curtin created a green beer by adding a bit of blue dye to a glass of amber-hued lager. The coloring agent, wash blue, was and still is a product used to improve the appearance of certain fabrics. No word on whether or not it had any effect on the taste of the beer.

Image info: Article snapshot taken from the March 26, 1914 edition of The Independent, a newspaper based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Click here to access the article by way of Google News.