Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shannon Brewing to call Keller home

Image credit:  Shannon Brewing Company
Just two months ago to the day, I reported here that the soon-to-be Shannon Brewing Company was scouting locations in the Mid-Cities.  Today, news has arrived that they will be putting down roots in Keller, a city which was recognized by CNN Money Magazine as one of the "Best Places to Live" in 3 of the last 5 years.


Per an advance copy of their pending newsletter:

They will construct "a new brewery building on an existing slab at 818 North Main Street, Keller, TX 76248. This also happens to be the address of Samantha Springs, a natural source of exceptional drinking water. Shannon Brewing Company has secured the rights to brew our beer with pure Samantha Springs water straight from the spring, through our filtering system [and] right into our brewing tanks."


The water will be chlorine and fluoride free and will undergo no further treatments, ensuring that all of Shannon's beers will be brewed with pure spring water.

Regarding the site, owner Shannon Carter notes that the brewery will share 20 acres of land with Samantha Springs, providing ample room for events and parking, as well as for expansion down the road.  On the topic of events, the brewery will incorporate an indoor tasting room along with a 2,500 square foot outdoor beer garden. The outdoor space will also feature a "green area" where a supply of fresh hops will be grown for use in seasonal brews throughout the year.

As to the timeline, Carter expects to complete construction and occupy the building before year's end.

Follow the brewery's progress through their newsletter, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

For some brewers, all is not equal when it comes to the equinox

Too early for a beer by the fire?

Image credit:  Gavin Mills, SXC
It seems a simple concept. Craft a beer around on the moods and flavors of a particular time of year, design an appropriately themed packaging motif and release it to the public as a seasonal beer. In colder months focus on darker, heavier brews with a touch more strength, while adding bit of spice to some for a more holiday feel. As the frost fades, turn to something lighter, easy to drink and more refreshing.

There are plentiful examples of how this ideology is well-executed it comes to the beers themselves, as many are certainly in tune with the seasons they represent. However, the timing of such releases is getting more and more puzzling. For me, something gets lost when I can buy a fall fest beer in July, a pumpkin beer in August, or a Christmas ale on the way home from my local Oktoberfest celebration (many of which happen in September). Worse yet, what are we to think of "harvest" ales that come out before the current year's actual harvest?

Call me crazy, but in my mind there is an inherent disconnect in releasing a beer in July and referring to it as a "fall seasonal". The last time I checked the autumnal equinox doesn't even happen until the end of September. How am I expected to enjoy a fall brew in the spirit in which it was created with the thermometer hovering about the century mark?

It is understandable to give consumers a bit of lead time, but making seasonals available as much as three months beforehand seems a bit much. We are inundated with the idea that we should enjoy our craft beers at the peak of freshness, but what happens if I purchase a spring ale in early January only to hold off on enjoying it until shortly after the first day of spring? Suddenly, April Fool's Day has a whole new meaning.

Keep in mind that although this commentary references fall, similar anomalies occur throughout the year. In this case, autumn's pending arrival (in a mere 53 days) just represents a convenient foundation on which to bring about the point. Perhaps, like most North Texans, I'm just exhausted from the heat and am simply in need of appropriate refreshment. August is only a day away, which means the first batch of winter brews are probably just around the corner. Sounds like just the thing for a relaxing afternoon of backyard sun worship, at least until what's left of my lawn spontaneously combusts.

*Originally published on Examiner.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lakewood announces First Anniversary Bash

Image credit:  Lakewood Brewing Company
On Sunday, August 4th, the Lakewood Brewing Company returns to where it all began as they celebrate the anniversary of their launch at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House.  The First Anniversary Bash will run from 1 p.m. to close, and according to Sales and Marketing guy Craig Bradley they'll tap just about every beer they've brewed since they opened.

That list will be made up of year-round offerings and seasonals, as well as a few casks and other surprises too. Just a few of the temptations to whet your appetite include 2012 Bourbon Barrel Temptress, Red Wine Barrel Till & Toil and a 2012 vintage of Punkel.  Not only that, but this event will feature the debut of the brewery's anniversary beer Lion's Share I.  It'll be an oak-aged Belgian-style DIPA brewed with Brettanomyces yeast.  Say that ten times fast.

Better yet don't, just head to Goodfriend in two weeks for a little fun and funk in recognition of Lakewood's first year in the brewery biz.  Oh, and if you happen to encounter La Dame du Lac walking along the side of the road, tell her to hop in and bring her along for the ride. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Craft beer is all up in this 'Kitchen'

Image credit:  Dallas Beer Kitchen
Were it the secret location of an underground dice game, the newly opened Dallas Beer Kitchen (DBK) would have all the makings of a prohibition-era bootlegger's den.  Well, except for the fact that the sale of alcoholic beverages is no longer, you know, prohibited.  As one reviewer put it, DBK exudes a kind of "speakeasy swiftness", and after taking in the monochrome color scheme and stenciled lettering of the exterior, it's hard not to imagine finding an ad for this place in a 1930s newspaper.  It's an appropriate theme given the pub's location, seeing as how that's right around the time the Greenville Avenue district got its start.

As for what's on the inside, were you to characterize what you see along the street as unique and minimalist, such descriptors would likely follow you on through the door.   The decor is simple and practical with a fitting array of grayscale images depicting the city in early times, the centerpiece of which is a rendering of the original Dallas Brewery (first built in 1885).   There's also a flat screen TV for those needing a touch of something modern, but even that's about as unobtrusive as you can get.

The minimalist tag, however, does not apply so much to what you'll find on the menu.  That's a good thing, especially considering that the uniqueness aspect still applies.  Where else are you going to find pop tarts, or fried biscuits and ice cream served alongside a set of movie-themed burgers and bites?  For me, The Goodfella was just about "As Good as it Gets", and I could certainly see myself kicking back with it and a brew while watching The Big Lebowski (read the menu, you'll understand).

World-class beer is also the order of the day, with 4 out of every 5 brews among 30 taps scoring a 95 (out of 100) or better according to reviewers on Ratebeer.  There's a good mix of local and national brands as well, and while some might see the offerings as a little IPA heavy, there may be no better place to do a blind tasting of craft beer's most popular style.  As to the prices, the average cost of a pour during my visit was right at $6.  Taps rotate perpetually, and they fill growlers too.

Going on first impressions, DBK comes across as a casual, craft-beer focused endeavor that seeks to be something different than your run-of-the-mill gastropub. At least so far, they seem to be going in the right direction.  Of course, I imagine the owners are hoping you'll come in and find it to be one of the "Best Damn Things."  One piece of advice, though.  If you're the type that likes to bury your nose in the aromas of your glass, sit as far away from the popcorn machine as possible.  Hey, no place is perfect.


Dallas Beer Kitchen
1802 Greenville Avenue
Dallas
*Originally published on Examiner.com.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cobra Brewing signs lease in Lewisville

Image credit:  Cobra Brewing Company
The Cobra Brewing Company is the latest entry into the North Texas craft beer scene after securing a lease on a property in Lewisville.  The brewery is a family partnership between Neil MacCuish, his wife Danielle and father-in-law Bill Shaw, and will be located at 146 Whatley Avenue in Old Town Lewisville, an area the city has tapped for urban renewal.

MacCuish is targeting a fall opening, a timeline that will depend mostly on how quickly they are able to navigate the licensing process.  A start-up brewing system has already been assembled, leaving site preparation as the only other key hurdle. Along those lines, MacCuish says that other than needing to install drainage lines, it's really just a matter of tidying up the 4200 square foot space.

With the other two partners handling sales and marketing, brewing duties will fall to MacCuish on a setup designed to brew 5 bbl batches using modified dairy tanks.  Both year-round and seasonal selections will be produced, with Hoppy Dazed IPA and AntiVenom Amber Ale being part of the launch plan.  Offerings will be draft-only to start, but they'll be looking to package in bottles and/or cans sometime down the road.

Once open, the current taproom model calls for visitors to get a glass and three samples at a cost of $10. Additional pours will be available for $5, a price that will extend to those who bring in previously purchased Cobra glassware.  Flights will also be on the menu, allowing you to taste a range of brewery fresh beer for around $8.

When asked about naming the business, MacCuish mentioned that Shaw once owned a karate school which used a cobra as its logo.  They wanted to use a similar theme for the brewery, but he chose to go with a snake with a little more "tooth" in its appearance. The end result seems to have also inspired the slogan "beer with a bite", something they hope you'll be enjoying soon at accounts throughout the Metroplex. 

Follow the brewery's progress on Facebook and Twitter, or check out their website at www.cobrabrewingco.com.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books on beer: The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery

Image credit:  Brewers Publications
Don't look now, but odds are there either is or will be a brewery operating within a few miles of where you currently live.  In fact, according to the Brewers Association, 2360 craft breweries were operating in the U.S. at the end of March 2013.  That may sound like a lot, but judging from the number of breweries in development (over 1500 as of last month) it may just be the tip of the iceberg.  Looking at those numbers, contemplating such a venture may seem like a daunting task, but according to author Dick Cantwell, there's "never been a better time to open a brewery."
 
That quote comes near the beginning of The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery, and anyone entertaining thoughts of doing so should probably commit this book to memory.  That's not to say it's definitive, but then again it's not supposed to be.  Cantwell himself points out that no single book can tell you everything you need to know when undertaking an endeavor such as this.  His goal is simply to get you thinking, and to give you a framework to work from based on his over 25 years of experience with things you're likely to face on the journey ahead.
 
He does this by essentially asking the five W's and one H (who, what, when, where, why, how) as he covers all the bases and then some.  Decisions related to planning, start-up and growth, branding, equipment and brewing are only the beginning, as he breaks each topic down into a virtual laundry list of things to watch out for and/or keep in mind.  As they say, the devil is in the details.
 
On that note, it would be easy to turn such a guide into one big checklist, but Cantwell goes the extra mile by trying to place the reader in scenarios meant to mimic the process.  Granted, you can jump to the end of chapter summaries and get the gist of the discussion, but you'll gain far more insight by following the narrative and imagining yourself in situations where you have to try to find a way to jam the proverbial square peg into a round hole.
 
Starting a brewery is serious business, and in that light the book's $95 MSRP should be looked upon as an investment.  This isn't some stroll down memory lane, but more a practical look into the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur in one of the fastest growing industries in the country.  The rewards don't come without a healthy dose of risk, and reading this book will give you a sense of what you're in for.
 
The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery is available in paperback from Brewers Publications.  It can also be found online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
 
 
Review copy furnished courtesy of Brewers Publications.
 
* Originally published on Examiner.com.
 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Addison Saucer to tap Texas-sized fun at 3rd Annual BeerBQ

Image credit:  Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Texas beer and BBQ will be the order of the day at the 3rd Annual BeerBQ, being put on by the Flying Saucer in Addison on Sunday, July 21.

Regarding the beer, "some of the Addison Saucer's favorite local breweries were handpicked for this event". Brews from Deep Ellum, Lakewood, Rahr & Sons, Jester King, and (512) will be featured, as will casks of Divine Reserve 12 and 13 from Saint Arnold.  Not only that, but the Saucer will release four different beers from Real Ale's Mysterium Verum series.  Two of these rare brews will be tapped at 2 p.m., with the others going on at 2:30 p.m.  Once beer is flowing from all four kegs, provided something still remains of the initial twosome, flights of the four brews will be available for purchase while supplies last.

Thematic dining options will include a smoked sausage plate, BBQ Brisket Bratzel, and a Deep Fried Bratzel Dog, along with a beer-centric dessert item in the form of Lakewood Temptress Ice Cream.

Festivities get started at 1 p.m., with live music provided by J.D. Monson from 2:30 - 5 p.m.

Cheers!