Friday, January 12, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - January 12, 2018 edition

Things are back to being busy in the local scene just two weeks into the new year, as this edition of the Conspectus reports on new releases, new company names and a new brewing operation to the north.


Cellarman's serving house beer in Sherman

After declaring its intention to institute brewing operations in late 2016, Cellarman's American Pub of Sherman has begun serving house brews. The business, which now goes by the name of Cellarman's Pub & Brewery, offered up free samples of its inaugural beer, Cosmic Goat Cream Ale, on New Year's Day. A small pilot system was used to create the first batch, but a full production run was slated to occur late last week.

Cobra re-brands as Old Town Brewhouse

Cobra Brewing Co. of Lewisville has re-branded as Old Town Brewhouse, with the company taking on a classic rock theme. A new head brewer is in place, and indications are that Old Town plans to overhaul its entire portfolio to focus on more sessionable styles.  Examples of beer names to come include Can't Get Enough Amber Ale (Bad Company), All Night Long Pale Ale (Rainbow) and Evil Ways Mexican Lager (Santana).

Tupps reveals 2018 release calendar

Tupps Brewery of McKinney has shared its production plans for the coming year, with one addition to the lineup being a Double Dry-Hopped IPA series. Among other items of interest, Tupps will add to its line of Full Grown Man varieties in February with Full Grown Scallywag (coconut, vanilla), while cans of Raspberry Wheat will debut in May. Click the image to the right to see a full-size version of the 2018 calendar.

Deep Ellum rolls out Barrel House brew number two

Bottles of the second beer to emerge from Deep Ellum's Barrel House are now on shelves around North Texas. Brett Pale Ale (6.8% ABV) is a beer that's said to feature notes of sun-dried fruit, barnyard and flavorful hops. Look for it in 500 mL bottles.


Cans, cans and more cans are coming to a retailer near you, with the following newly-canned beers either already on the market or coming soon.
  • 3 Nations Blood Orange Wit: coming soon, pending TABC approval.
  • 903 Brewers Birthday Sasquatch (imperial milk stout with fudge and toasted marshmallows): on sale at the brewery Friday, January 12.
  • Martin House Old Mose (wine barrel-aged quad with figs and plums): available in two-pack boxes of 12-ounce cans.
  • Martin House Reverie Pomegranate Sour: available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans.
  • Unlawful Assembly Idol Time (passion fruit pineapple wheat): packaged January 3, pending TABC approval.

Image credits (top to bottom): Cellarman's Pub & Brewery, Old Town Brewhouse, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., 3 Nations Brewing Co., 903 Brewers, Martin House Brewing Co., Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Spelt gets spent for Franconia's new spring seasonal

Honey Spelt is a collaborative effort between Franconia, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen
and The Seed Project Foundation (Franconia Brewing Co.)

A new year means new beer for many of today's breweries, and the story is no different for Franconia Brewing Co. of McKinney. Of course, the introduction of new products isn't the only thing that's new at Franconia these days, as the company enters 2018 with a new head brewer. Derrick Rima took over the reins of the brewhouse in June, after having spent time in similar roles at Four Corners Brewing Co., Texas Ale Project and Witherspoon Distillery.

One of Rima's projects for the coming year will be the introduction of a new spring seasonal beer called Honey Spelt (7.8% ABV), though it's a brew that's not completely unfamiliar. Honey Spelt first debuted late last summer on a limited basis, it being the result of a collaboration between Franconia and its McKinney neighbor, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen.

Like the original batch, the version of Honey Spelt to be brewed for wide release will be made with German spelt malt, along with a mix of locally-sourced ingredients. Some of the grain used will come from Fort Worth-based TexMalt, with the honey provided by Bare Naked Bee Co. of Allen.

Also continuing is the brewery's relationship with The Seed Project Foundation. This organization works to fund initiatives supporting sustainability, which is a mission that goes hand-in-hand with the ideals of Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann.

"In the past, we've kept our charitable activities mostly quiet," says Wehrmann. "This time, though, we decided to give it more exposure because The Seed Project is focused on sustainability, and that's something that has been an important part of how we've done things at Franconia since we started."

To that end, a portion of the proceeds from sales of Honey Spelt will go to help the Foundation's efforts. Consumers can do their part by seeking out the beer, which will be available on tap and in 6-packs of 12-ounce bottles beginning in February.

In addition, be on the lookout for details related to Franconia's upcoming 10th Anniversary. Naturally, a line of anniversary beers is in the offing, but that's not Wehrmann has promised there's an even bigger surprise to come.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lakewood unveils 2018 release calendar

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co. (click to see full-size version).

Now entering its sixth year in business, Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) has announced a number of modifications to its craft beer lineup. The turnover includes the departure of a number of local favorites, including at least one of Lakewood's original brews.

“2018 brings some big changes with it to LBC, with some exciting new releases and a few favorites being retired,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of the company. “We’ve been hard at work preparing for this all year, and we’re excited to finally announce our 2018 releases.”

Retired beers include the year-round offerings Hop Trapp, Hopochondria, and Goatman, as well as seasonal beers Punkel and Holiday Bonus. In their place, Lakewood IPA (7% ABV) joins the year-round lineup, while Artsy Tartsy with Black Currants and Cold Front IPA will being added as late summer/fall and winter seasonals, respectively.

As for the Seduction Series, three beers from that line are being retired (for now) – Raspberry Temptress, Mole Temptress, & Sin Mint Temptress. Two new variants will be introduced later this year, the names and ingredients of which are currently being kept under wraps.

Among other things to come, Grim Shearer, the third and final beer in the Three Fates mini-series, is a unique rye wine aged in rye whiskey barrels that will arrive in late January. Then further into 2018, consumers can look forward to Lion’s Share VI, a blended, barrel-aged strong ale slated for summer, and the next Bourbon Barrel Temptress vintage, which is on tap for winter.

On top of all that, two collaborations with Jack Daniel's Distillery will debut this summer in the form of Tennessee Temptress and Jack’d Up Lemonale, both of which will be draft only.

“Rest assured, many of these ‘retirees’ will still be featured from time-to-time in our Taproom at the brewery,” Bens adds. “It’s always hard to say farewell to a beer, especially one you’ve enjoyed for so long. But a little change is always good. Innovation is crucial in this industry. We keep listening to our fans and our brewers keep creating delicious new beers. I’m very excited to share these with our fans locally and across the state.”

For a complete summary of what's in and what's out for 2018, click here to visit the blog on Lakewood's website.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Union Bear wakes from hibernation, opens new suburban beer den

Union Bear joins Taverna Rossa, Cadillac Pizza Pub and Heritage Pizza 
as part of the 33 Restaurant Group (Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The opening of Union Bear Brewing Co. presents those in the know with a case of "what's old is new again," as the once Dallas-based brewpub has established new roots in Plano.

Originally a concept developed by The Spillers Group (Eno's Pizza Tavern, Oddfellows), the first incarnation of Union Bear opened in 2012 as part of the West Village development in East Dallas. At the time, the idea was to operate a small-batch brewpub making recipes in collaboration with local homebrewers. Things never really got going in that respect, however, with in-house brewing eventually being halted in early 2013.

The restaurant side of the business carried on until August 2014, when it was announced that the brand had been sold to 33 Restaurant Group - the company behind Taverna Rossa, Cadillac Pizza Pub and, most recently, Heritage Pizza. A three-year hibernation ensued, after which Union Bear has re-surfaced in a new and stylish suburban beer den.

Today, Union Bear resides in a 7250 square foot space located on The Boardwalk at Granite Park. And, while the area set aside for making beer only takes up about 700 square feet, the pilot system of the brewpub's past has been replaced with a more production-worthy setup. It's something that catches the eye upon entering the place, as a gaze through its glass-paned enclosure reveals an equipment cache consisting of a 10-barrel brewhouse, along with an array of 10 to 20-barrel fermenters and brite tanks.

The brewhouse and finishing tanks line the entryway at Union Bear (Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

As for who's behind the beer, Brian Burton (Grapevine Craft Brewery, Four Corners Brewing Co., Texas Ale Project) and Jon Powell (Grapevine, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.) have been tasked with developing Union Bear's initial lineup, not to mention what brews will be offered in the immediate future. A blonde and a red ale are among the house beers currently being poured, as is a white IPA.

Most popular among those is likely to be the latter, but don't read white IPA and assume it's a beer that brings together elements of an IPA and a Belgian-style witbier. Union Bear's white IPA is fermented with an American yeast strain, as opposed to one of Belgian origin, and "white" simply means it was brewed with wheat. In terms of tasting notes, the beer is resinous, with a prominent citrus tone, hints of tropical fruit and a moderate finishing bitterness. What that means is, it's a sort of "no coast beer" (as the brewpub calls it), in that it doesn't fit directly into a West Coast or East Coast definition of the IPA style.

Beyond that group of beers, Burton and Powell say the sky is the limit with regards to what comes next. Expanded offerings are expected to include an oatmeal stout (tapping by the end of the week), a bock and a double rye IPA. Barrel-aged beers are also in the plans, with an imperial stout to be among the first styles to get such a treatment. A bumped-up batch of the aforementioned double rye IPA may find its way into barrels as well, with bitters, cherries, orange peel and Benedictine added to create a beer-based version of one of Union Bear's house cocktails, the Speakeasy.

Of course, it should be also noted that there's more to North Texas' newest brewpub than just house beers. The restaurant aspect of Union Bear serves a menu of "chef-driven takes on American classics," while the bar stocks a comprehensive selection of wine and spirits. Guest brews are also available, with the brewpub's 33 taps split between house beers, full-time taps (roughly a dozen) and featured rotators.

Union Bear Brewing Co.  (Web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
5880 State Highway 121, Suite 101