Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Uncle Buck's gets back to brewing in Grapevine

Uncle Buck's brewing system, which is visible from the restaurant's front elevation,
consists of a 15-barrel brewhouse and three 30-barrel fermenters (© Brian Brown/Beer In Big D).

After a hiatus that lasted nearly two full years, Uncle Buck's Brewery & Steakhouse has resumed brewing operations at its location in Grapevine.

Open since the year 2000, when it was known as Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse, Uncle Buck's is one of the oldest brewing entities in North Texas. In fact, only three area Humperdinks locales have been active longer. Over the course of its history, the restaurant had brewed continuously up until the stoppage, which according to general manager Jeff Landress was simply a result of other aspects of the business taking priority after a change in personnel.

"Once the last brewer left and the rest of the in-house beer sold out, the decision was made to just stock kegs from other brewers," says Landress. "When I came on board in May of 2015, though, I made it a priority to find a brewmaster and to get this thing up and going again."

To that end, Uncle Buck's looked to its past as a way to move forward by hiring someone already familiar with the existing setup. That person ended up being Raymond Plasek, who actually began his brewing career at Big Buck on the day it opened in 2000. Plasek spent nearly a decade with the restaurant before departing in 2009 to pursue opportunities as a brewer at Gordon Biersch in Dallas and later Revolver Brewing in Granbury.

Since returning to the fold, Plasek has been tasked with getting the brewhouse back in order and getting Uncle Buck's beer back in the glasses of North Texans. As for his plans going forward, Plasek indicated he'll mostly stick to a traditional approach when it comes to his portfolio of beers.

"We'll have a good mix, but I tend to be a 'to-style' brewer," says Plasek. "I'm not one that goes with the fad beers, because once they hit the scene everybody makes one, and then just like that they're gone. Here, we'll keep to a lineup of 10 year-round standards while switching out two seasonals."

Along those lines, the first beers to emerge as part of Uncle Buck's new lineup look like this:
  • Old Angler's Amber (4.6% ABV, 15 IBU)
  • Morning Pint - Oatmeal Stout (5.4% ABV, 10 IBU)
  • Belfast Resistance - Red Ale (5.6% ABV, 25 IBU)
  • Four Stroke 60 - American IPA (6.2% ABV, 80 IBU)
  • Caber Tossing Wee Heavy (7.5% ABV, 20 IBU)

One variation patrons will see in the above list has to do with the stout. Plasek intends to vary the specialty ingredient in that beer, likely rotating between oatmeal, coffee and chocolate. Beyond that, he'll brew an ESB, a hefeweizen, a k├Âlsch, a brown ale and an American-style pale to round out his set of 10 staples. Seasonals will be introduced over time, one of which is likely to be a wheat wine Plasek would like to make if he can secure the right ingredients.

As for when Uncle Buck's will be fully stocked, Plasek thinks he'll have his to-do list complete in about two weeks. After that, Landress says the restaurant will hold a grand re-opening party to celebrate the return of house-brewed beer, with that likely occurring sometime during the first week of August.

Keep an eye on Uncle Buck's newly-created Facebook page for details on the event as they become available, as well as for updates on new beers headed to the tapwall.

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