Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cedar Creek opts for brewpub license

Coming up on their second anniversary, the Cedar Creek Brewery in Seven Points is making changes to the way it does business. Looking to leverage recent revisions to laws regulating breweries in the State of Texas, Cedar Creek announced today that they have switched to a brewpub license, which will allow them to sell packaged beer to the public from this point forward.

From the press release:

"In its early days, visitors to Cedar Creek Brewery paid for a tour that included a souvenir glass and free beer samples. As Texas law prohibited breweries from directly taking money for beer to be consumed on-premise, this was common practice in many Texas breweries.

In 2013, changes to Texas legislation allowed manufacturing breweries to begin selling beer for on-site consumption, a change that Cedar Creek Brewery took advantage of. A climate-controlled taproom was built that has become a popular hangout for locals and weekenders alike, and has helped foster a real sense of community.

Owner Jim Elliott made the decision to change to a brewpub license in early 2014 after numerous requests from customers to buy packaged goods at the brewery.

'This licensing change allows us to sell beer 'to go' directly from our brewery,' said Elliott. 'This makes it so much more convenient for customers, and with margins being tight in some markets, this certainly does help our bottom line.'

The brewery is currently selling four-packs of its year-round and special release products, with plans to add refillable Party Pigs to the lineup in coming months. With the brewery being so close to Cedar Creek Lake, a popular weekend destination for Dallasites, Elliott anticipates this addition will be a popular, eco-friendly option for craft beer lovers in the lake area." 

Those looking to pick up Cedar Creek brews to take home can do so this weekend while attending the brewery's 2nd Anniversary Bash.  The two-day event, happening Friday and Saturday (July 4-5), will feature food, live music and the return of Cedar Creek's summer seasonal witbier, Repartee.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Best Little Brewfest not so little anymore

Image credit: Cloud 9 Charities

If we're going by crowd numbers alone, the Best Little Brewfest in Texas may be in line for a name change. Put on by Cloud 9 Charities, co-founders Kim Cloud and Daynor Stinson estimate this past Saturday's event in Old Town Lewisville drew upwards of 4000 people (including volunteers), up from around 1200 in 2013.

As for breweries, by my count the total number in attendance and pouring beer was roughly the same as last year. Among those not sampling (per TABC regulations) were no fewer than four breweries in development, each hoping to be up and running within the next year. That list of names included Audacity Brew House, Four Bullets Brewery, Frisco City Grainworks and the Little Elm Brewing Company.  Combine them with a roster of brewers which included over two dozen others from Texas, and you couldn't help but notice a distinct local/regional focus, which was just fine by me. It wasn't just breweries, either, as winemakers and distillers hailing from the Lone Star State were on hand sampling their wares as well.

Soon-to-be brewers definitely drew some attention, as did those recently licensed and serving beer for only the first or second time. Crowds formed around the Collective Brewing Project's tap-ready delivery van, as well as booths manned by Shannon Brewing and the Texas Ale Project. While Collective is already making deliveries in Fort Worth, Shannon Carter indicated his eponymous brewery is just weeks away from debuting, with the Texas Ale Project expected to follow in Dallas sometime late summer.

For me, as always, the focus was on the new and unfamiliar. So, as you might imagine, I was more a less a fixture at the booths of the three brewers mentioned above. Between them, they brought along a total of ten new tastes, and while I won't give you a beer-by-beer account of all of them, I will comment on those I found to be notable.

Shannon Irish Red:  The one thing I've been most curious about regarding the brewery under construction in Keller is the fire-brewed process they were planning to install. If this beer is any indication of what it can do, I'm already a fan. Shannon's Irish Red is appropriately malty, but what's distinctive about it is the deep, lingering caramel flavor that lasts well into the finish. This kettle caramelization is just the sort of thing Carter said I should expect when he first described his approach to me earlier this year.

Collective Pale Galaxy: Up until Saturday, if you had offered me anything along the lines of "session IPA," I probably would suggest you just go water the plants with it. Why? Because, to me, most of them are so lacking in body, they taste like nothing more than a glass of hop water. Then again, if you want to lower the alcohol, you need less fermentable sugars...which means less malt...which means less balance, and so on. Well, if first impressions mean anything, Pale Galaxy might be an exception to the rule. This brew was bright and fresh, with notes of tropical fruit and citrus to go along with what for others has been unattainable for the style...that being an ample body.

Texas Ale Kaiser Wilhelm: It seems this has been the summer of the Berliner Weisse, with a number of Texas breweries trotting out the somewhat forgotten style over the past few months. Being the latest to throw their hat in the ring, Texas Ale offered up an "imperialized" version of the German specialty. While it did have some added heft, there was no other indication of the beer's strength. In fact, had brewmaster Jan Matysiak not pointed out the ABV, I might have never known. In any case, the beer's upfront notes of wheat grain were coupled with a more subtle than sharp sour character, which I found to be quite enjoyable. Matysiak and brewery co-founder Brent Thompson suggested this and other beers they served were one-offs created just for the festival. At least in this case, let's hope they reconsider.

Rounding out the event was the Professional Brewer's Competition which pitted 88 entries up against each other in a variety of BJCP-inspired categories.  Among those, the Best in Show prize went to Grapevine Craft Brewery for Sir William's English Brown Ale. As for other winners, check the Best Little website or Facebook page for a complete list once it's posted.

Finally, seeing as how all of the proceeds of this event benefit the Alzheimer's association and teen suicide prevention, it's worth noting that if you weren't able to attend you can still contribute to the cause. Visit the Cloud 9 Charities website and hit the "Donate Now" tab at the top of the page to help make a difference.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Favorite Brands set to deliver Wild Beer, along with classics from De Glazen Toren

Image credit (banner and product): Wild Beer Co., Brouwerij De Glazen Toren

News comes today that Favorite Brands is prepping the release of two new brands to the North Texas market. Coming by way a B. United's world class portfolio of ales and lagers are brews from the Wild Beer Company and Brouwerij De Glazen Toren.

The beers listed below are in stock at distribution and expected to begin arriving at retail this week.

"Drink WILDLY Different" is the slogan of the Wild Beer Co., based in Somerset, United Kingdom. Described as "spectacularly and utterly unique", the brewery produces a range of beers brewed with various fruits and spices, some of which are barrel aged and/or fermented with wild yeasts.

  • Bliss: Belgian-style saison brewed with roasted apricots and spices, then fermented with Brettanomyces yeast.
  • Iduna Cru: Belgian-style saison brewed with Somerset apples and New Zealand hops. It's initially fermented with a wild yeast, but then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle with champagne yeast.
  • Modus Vivendi: English-style old ale aged in single-use whiskey barrels with Brettanomyces.
  • Somerset Saison: Farmhouse ale brewed with Sorachi Ace hops.
  • Somerset Wild: Sour English-style ale fermented with wild yeast and bacteria from local orchards.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Brouwerij De Glazen Toren is a Belgian brewery focused primarily on brewing classic styles in a time-honored, traditional manner. Though located in Erpe-Mere, Belgium, many of their beers take their names from historical references related to the neighboring city of Aalst.

  • Canaster Winter Scotch:  A modern-day revival of a beer produced centuries ago in the Carmelite convent of Aalst, this ale is brewed with locally-grown Hallertau hops.
  • Jan De Lichte: Imperial witbier brewed with barley, wheat, oats and buckwheat.  It's named after the leader of an infamous gang of robbers in Aalst.
  • Ondineke: Classic tripel brewed with all natural ingredients and no spices. The name Ondineke comes from the main character of De Kapellekensbaan (Chapel Road is the English translation), a book written by Aalst native Louis Paul Boon.
  • Saison de Erpe-Mere: Classic saison brewed according to the traditional methods of the province of Hainaut.
  • Cuvee Angelique (coming soon): A stronger (dubbel) version of an beer known as "Spéciale Belge", a style created for a contest in 1904 organized to help improve the quality of Belgian beer.