Monday, June 27, 2016

Whistle Post opens first brewery in Pilot Point

All images © Brian Brown/Beer In Big D.

If the name of the place doesn't answer the questions of where and why regarding the Whistle Post Brewing Co, perhaps the passing of a train will help you connect the dots. For the area's newest brewery is named for a sign that surely sits somewhere along tracks running past Whistle Post's northern elevation. And, while a "whistle post" advises an engineer to blow a train's horn as it approaches the nearby street crossing, a separate sign suggests the honking is to signal a love of Whistle Post beer (ergo the image above).

Located in Pilot Point, Whistle Post is owned by those behind the city's Western Son Distillery. In fact, the two businesses sit next door to each other, which makes it convenient for owners Evan Batt and John Straits to oversee the operations of what amounts to a small-town neighborhood drinking destination. The pair relocated Western Son (originally known as JEM Beverage, Co.) to Pilot Point from Carrollton in the middle of 2015, but this past weekend was the official grand opening for their Whistle Post project.

In terms of brewery particulars, the 5000 square foot building that houses Whistle Post was built from the ground up. A climate-controlled taproom occupies less than half of the area allotment, with production space taking up the rest of the available room. It's there that brewery's beers are currently being made on a pilot system, though a 20-barrel brewhouse is said to be on the way.

Left: Whistle Post's outdoor amenities include a deck, picnic table seating and frequent train fly-bys (look above the fence).
Right: The brewery's pilot system will supply the taproom until a new 20-barrel brewhouse is delivered.

Running things on the brewery side is Blake Morrison, who formerly worked as an assistant brewer at Cedar Creek in Seven Points. His opening day lineup consisted of 10 beers, each derived from one of four different baseline recipes. Starting from his Texas Pale Ale, Morrison prepped both a grapefruit and peach version of that beer, while variations on his Shoofly Golden Ale included one with lime and toasted coconut. Caboose Rider, a traditional saison, was presented as-is and in a dry-hopped variety, with apricot and blueberry renditions of a wheat beer rounding things out.

Surveying the added ingredients, it's probably not a coincidence that many of the flavors used in Western Son's vodka line were also to be found in Whistle Post's initial set of offerings, but whether or not those brews or others will served on an everyday basis is still to be determined. Either way, I found the available beers to be clean, fairly well-balanced and not overly sweet as a result of the fruit infusions. Moreover, considering the heat bearing down outside, it was hard not to appreciate that each was lighter in body and easy to drink, with none boasting an ABV of more than 5.1%.

As for how you can sample what Whistle Post has to offer for yourself, at least for now the brewery's beers will be available in the taproom only. That means it'll take a trip to Pilot Point to get a hold of a pint of Whistle Post beer, where the brewery plans to be open on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.


Whistle Post Brewing Company
219 W. Division
Pilot Point


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Good Neighbor leases location in Wylie

Image courtesy of Good Neighbor Brews.

Looking to supply local residents with "the beer next door," Good Neighbor Brews has let it be known that it plans to open the first-ever brewery in Wylie.

Jill Bresnan and Darin Peterson make up the husband-and-wife team behind Good Neighbor, a name that brings to mind the idea of people coming together over a beer. And, in the case of the founding couple, it extends to how two people came together over a love of not only drinking, but also making good beer.

"Ours is a second marriage/blended family with three kids," said Bresnan. "We were both hombrewers as single parents, and it was our mutual interest in beer that initially attracted us to each other."

In fact, both have been homebrewing for upwards of 20 years, so it's not surprising to learn that the community aspect of that pursuit will be a big part of what Good Neighbor is all about.

"The name Good Neighbor started out as a joke," explained Bresnan. "Darin is that guy on the block that you ask to help move a couch, but the name stuck when we realized that we wanted our vibe to capture the spirit of what got us into homebrewing."

What Bresnan is referring to is a scene that's familiar to many homebrewers. It's watching over a pot of boiling wort out in the garage, with that "baking bread smell" filling the surrounding air. Next thing you know, friends and neighbors are walking over to see what's brewing, which then leads to everyone hanging out and enjoying a few beers.

"Above all else, we want our beer to be welcoming," adds Bresnan. "We imagine our beer being consumed while sitting in lawn chairs on the driveway, or any place where everyone's invited." She says it's the last part of that statement, especially, that they want people to associate with Good Neighbor's beer, because opening their doors to others is a reflection of who they are as people.


As for where the company will do business, Good Neighbor has signed a lease on a 6400 square foot building situated on the western edge of Wylie. Located at 211 Regency Drive, the address is part of an industrial park that sits just off FM 544. Though currently occupied, the existing tenant is expected to vacate in time for the brewery to get things ready for a spring 2017 opening. Once Good Neighbor takes possession, plans call for installation of a 10-barrel brewhouse and associated fermenters, with a taproom filling out the remainder of the indoor space, and a patio area to be set up outside.

In terms of brewery offerings and where you'll be able to get them, Good Neighbor's lineup will include standards like a blonde ale, a double IPA and a stout, though a recipe for an agave wheat is also in the works, as is another featuring a rye infusion. Products will be self-distributed to start, with coverage areas to be determined based on what demand dictates. The brewery also intends to operate using the taproom model, likely being open later in the week and on Saturdays at the outset, with daily hours following sometime down the road.


Good Neighbor Brews
211 Regency Drive
Wylie


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My 2016 Fort Worth Untapped tasting card.

Image credits: CrowdSource, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Grapevine Craft Brewery,
3 Nations Brewing Co., Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., The Collective Brewing Project.

Read any recap of Saturday's Untapped Festival in Fort Worth, and within the first few sentences there's probably going to be some mention of the weather. It was hot. It was humid. It was sticky. Hell, it was Houston (I grew up there, so don't go getting all offended if you're a current resident)!

Thankfully, though, there was beer...and while beer can't solve all the world's problems, a cold one or two can certainly help take the edge off a hefty dose of heat-induced delirium. Which reminds me, was I really involved in a conversation about drinking Delirium "Tree"-mens under the gathering point that became the big tree?

Anyway, by now you surely know all there is to know about Untapped and what it has to offer, so we'll stick to the routine here and just cover a handful of beers that helped beat the heat. And, of course, the standard disclaimer applies...these are non-whale, new to me beers that I found to be noteworthy.

Cheers!

  • 3 Nations Bull's English Brown with Coffee & Cinnamon: This was almost certainly the first specialty beer I've had from 3 Nations, and it was a good one. I always approach spiced beers with more than a little trepidation, but this one displayed great balance between the added ingredients and the underlying beer.
  • Collective Brewing Project Funky Thunder: A take on the brewery's Tropic Thunder fermented with Brett, this is a beer that pretty much matches right up with the dry and lightly funky description given on Collective's website.
  • Grapevine Prickly Pear Wheat: I've had three or four versions of this beer over the course of its existence, first as a homebrew recipe prior to when head brewer Jonny Daylett joined the team at Grapevine, and now as a commercial product. I've always felt like each incarnation was better than the last, and it appears the production batch is no exception.
  • Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Snowmageddon: I've been wondering what happened to this beer since it was first said to be in the works back in January. Now that I've finally had a chance to try this slightly boozy barrel-aged offering, I can't help but think maybe those at the brewery are just trying to keep it for themselves.
  • Saint Arnold Boiler Room Brett Raspberry: Big on the berries, with just a hint of funk from the secondary fermentation, this was probably the most refreshing beer I had all day. And, at only 3.7% ABV, it's a beer you could probably drink all day as well.

Also notable: Four Corners Santana Ray Equinox Lager, Rabbit Hole Wonderlust with Tart Cherries, Tupps For Ella Double IPA.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lakewood releasing Troll Toll, June 13


Images courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

It's been fully one year since the last Legendary beer was put out by Lakewood Brewing Co., but the longest drought in the history of the series will end with the release of the brewery's first double IPA, Troll Toll.

Set to be delivered to retailers beginning on Monday, June 13, Troll Toll is a beer that features seven different hop varieties, including Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, Chinook, Lemondrop and more. It's a combination that gives Troll Toll "a juicy, fruity, piney taste with a resinous bitter finish that hangs on the palate."

As the legend goes, "one sunny day, a beautiful princess fell for a boy, but their love would prove to be difficult. You
see, a greedy troll owned the boy's soul. And for anyone willing to pay his "Troll Toll," the boy's soul would be theirs.
An evil, cat-eyed man paid the toll, but the boy fought back with karate and prevailed over darkness, transforming
himself into the Champion of the Sun. Sadly, his bizarre coming of age took so long, the princess lost interest."

"We're super stoked Troll Toll is finally here," exclaimed Wim Bens, founder and president of the brewery. "We've had a lot of requests for a big IPA and we've been chomping at the bit to make one for all our fans. With 116 IBUs and an ABV of around 9.6%, the beer is a beast with all the big west coast hop flavors and aromas you'd expect from a double IPA. We took extra care to get it out of our tanks and on the shelf and into bars as quickly as possible, so that everyone can have the freshest IPA around."

According to a press release, Troll Toll will be offered both on draft and in 22-ounce bottles. And, as is the case with all Legendary brews, it's a one-off release that will only be available for a limited time.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2016 Texas Craft Brewers Festival tickets now on sale

Image credit: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Tickets may now be purchased for the 2016 Texas Craft Brewers Festival. Put on by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the festival which represents the largest event in the state focused exclusively on Texas-brewed beer will be held on September 24, 2016, at Fiesta Gardens in East Austin.

"Once again we are excited to bring Texas craft brewers and Texas craft beer fans together in Austin for our unique celebration," said Charles Vallhonrat, the Guild's executive director. "The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is one of a kind because it really is the brewers' festival. With nearly 200 operating and in-planning brewery members, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild is the leading advocate for Texas craft beer, and we are excited to have our members come together with the people who love craft beer for this great celebration."

This year, the event will feature over 65 Texas breweries in attendance, with upwards of 200 brews available for sampling. A complete list of participating brewers, including over 15 from North Texas, is provided at the following link:

http://texascraftbrewersfestival.org/brewers.

In addition, for the second straight year, a portion of the proceeds will benefit The House that Beer Built, a collaborative effort between Austin breweries and Austin Habitat for Humanity. This initiative seeks to raise $85,000 in order to build a new home for a deserving Austin family. For more information on The House that Beer Built, as well as a list of Texas breweries and beer partners who have signed on as sponsors for the project, visit

http://www.austinhabitat.org/the-house-that-beer-built.

Tickets prices for the Texas Craft Brewers Festival range from $30 for general admission (early bird rate valid up until July 15, 2016) to $75 for VIP privileges. Complete details on ticketing options, including information on discounted passes for designated drivers, can be found on Eventbrite.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-texas-craft-brewers-festival-tickets-25720799604.