Monday, October 9, 2017

Pigs, pints, prizes and pulp: A look back at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival

(Photo © Brewers Association)

The 2017 edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) concluded this past weekend in Denver, Colorado and once again a handful of North Texas breweries were recognized for their beers. It's clear, though, that the competition for medals is getting tougher, as breweries continue to open around the country and more beers are entered in the event. This year, 7,923 entries from 2,217 breweries were submitted for judging, which represents a roughly ten percent increase over the number of beers entered in 2016.

Up against that field, three local brewers brought home medals (depicted in the official event photos below), with that group being part of larger contingent of Texas breweries that landed a whopping 21 medals combined.

Armadillo Ale Works, Denton: Bronze for Honey Please in the
Honey Beer category (Photo © 2017 Jason E. Kaplan).

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Silver for Oktoberfest in the
German-Style Maerzen category (Photo © 2017 Jason E. Kaplan).

Peticolas Brewing Co., Dallas: Silver for It's Always Something in the
Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale category (Photo © 2017 Jason E. Kaplan).

Surveying the 2017 competition results, there were no first-timers from North Texas (something which hasn't happened since 2011), meaning all of the local medalists were repeat winners. Armadillo Ale Works scored it's second GABF prize, while Peticolas and Rahr & Sons earned their third and fifth overall medals, respectively.

As for other items worth mentioning from the 2017 festival (and beyond), I've broken things down into the snippets below - within which you'll find thoughts on a few beers that debuted during the event, not to mention a couple of others that came out of left field. There are also segments on the jumble of juicy IPAs that were available, and a type of beer not named New England IPA (NEIPA) that I'd like to see produced by a North Texas brewery. After all of that, I'll finish up with comments from the latest stops on my seemingly never-ending tour of Colorado breweries.


On the lookout for a Lichtenhainer

Given the abundance of flavor on the festival floor, I generally like to go in with a plan of attack centered around a lesser-known style. One year it was roggenbiers...another time, smoked beers. For this year's tasting trip,  I opted to locate all the Lichtenhainers. Originating in Lichtenhain, Germany, Lichtenhainers are lightly tart, low gravity wheat beers made with smoked barley malt. In some ways, the style is a cross between a gose (minus the salt), a Grodsiske and a Berliner weisse, but it's the combination of smoke and sour that makes a Lichtenhainer unique. And, after trying versions made by Fair State Brewing Cooperative of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Pikes Peak Brewing Co. of Monument, Colorado, and Texas' own Live Oak Brewing Co. of Austin (the best of the bunch), I can't help but wish a few breweries in North Texas would take a stab at the style.

Press Pours (a.k.a. new brew debuts)

With the stage offered by GABF, it's only natural to see a few breweries trot out new tastes as a way to get the word out to the masses. Along those lines, pre-release press notes were delivered to my inbox regarding the debuts of Alaskan Husky IPA, Great Divide Chai Yeti, Ska BHC Double IPA and New Belgium 1969 Lager. Of those, the latter was a clean and well-made golden lager that is slated to become the signature beer at Red Robin restaurants around the country (presumably including Texas, since label approval has been obtained from the TABC). My favorite of the four mentioned, however, was the new Yeti incarnation, which seemed to do a good job of balancing the added spice (cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla) with the beast within.

A pandemonium of pulp

It seems appropriate that one of the first New England IPAs I tried at this year's GABF was called Wheez the Juice (by Drekker Brewing Co. of Fargo, North Dakota), since it didn't take much to sniff out samples of this popular type of beer. Whether it be on the festival floor or in a taproom around town, it seemed like NEIPAs were nothing if not omnipresent. That said, results varied, which makes me think that North Texas isn't the only region of the country still trying to get a handle on what these beers should taste like. In fact, I wonder if the lack of a discernible definition is what inspired the name of What the @$%& is Juice IPA from Pinthouse Pizza in Austin. In any case, the best I tried was probably Extra Extra Juicy Bits from Weldworks Brewing Co. of Greeley, Colorado.

The creativity of craft

As I tweeted almost immediately after taking a sip, the "what the ....? beer of the festival for me was Adam's Turkey Beer from 3 Freaks Brewery of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. This beer was straight up Stove Top Stuffing, which if the brewery's Twitter feed is to be believed, is exactly what was used in crafting the concoction. At the same time, I imagine more than a few people turned their noses up at Right Brain Brewery's Mangalitsa Pig Porter, seeing as how it was brewed with pig parts and all. But, like Wynkoop's Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (the bull testicle beer) from a few years ago, if you didn't know ahead of time that the recipe for Pig Porter included whole smoked pig heads, I doubt you'd notice anything unusual while drinking it.

Taproom trips

Located in the Golden Triangle neighborhood of Denver, Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen offers just what the name implies, beer and food. I sampled and enjoyed both aspects of the place, which gets bonus points for having a few of it's own dedicated downtown parking spots. House beers are supplemented by guest taps, which during my visit included a swath of selections from Iowa's Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. Best beer: Otay, an oatmeal stout aged in rye whiskey barrels (Photos © 2017 Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Pike's Peak literally peeks out over the top of a mountain range sitting directly between it and Pike's Peak Brewing Co. in Monument, Colorado. And, while the majesty of the mountain doesn't quite translate based on the locale, the brewery does offer a welcoming patio with views of other surrounding elevations. The beer and light bites are worthwhile as well, made all the better if enjoyed out in the open air. Best beer: Hot Shot Green Chile Ale (Photos © 2017 Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Speaking of patios, it doesn't get much better than the one to be found at New Terrain Brewing Co. of Golden, Colorado (image above left). The brewery itself is set off in a quiet part of town, which makes it a great place to relax and get away from it all. Plus, if you're lucky, you might even run into the now-famous brewery cat, whose co-owner just happens to man the taps at New Terrain on occasion. Best beer: Floodland 2X IPA (Photo © 2017 Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The last stop on my itinerary this year was the Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery in Glendale, Colorado (image above right). Around since 1971, this traditional English pub housed in a medieval-style building boasts a diverse selection of over 40 house beers on tap. I only stopped in long enough for lunch, but I hope to return someday to partake in a few more of the spot's easy-drinking English styles (Photo © 2017 Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New brewpub bringing circus to G Town

Image credit: G Town Brewery.

If all goes as planned for a Greenville couple, circus acts may soon be added to the list of event options to consider when choosing what North Texas brewery to visit on weekends.

G Town Brewery is the dream of Laura Dunn and Visan España. Their journey began when Dunn, a London-born dancer, decided to come to the United States and run away with the circus in 2014. There, she met and became engaged to España, a fourth-generation circus performer who was born in Mexico and raised in Greenville.

After getting together, the two talked of opening their own bar and restaurant. Eventually, though, those thoughts turned to starting a brewery, thanks to a fateful stop between performances.

"We always visit breweries while on the road," says Dunn. "During a tour stop in Virginia during 2015, we went to a homebrew store and ended up brewing our first batch of beer in our RV. We called it Trailer Ale (as it was made on the road), and the clowns in our show designed the beer label for us. Everybody loved it so much that we continued to make more."

Beer has since become a passion, and it's something the pair hopes to combine with other interests in establishing their brewpub.

"Visan is in love with all aspects of beer," explains Dunn. "I'm in love with the craft, with the creation. We feel the same way about food, and are often disappointed when we eat out knowing we could make something better at home. We have been spoiled during our travels and have visited hundreds of breweries, restaurants and bars. The variety and trends we have experienced from around the world are things we have included in our concept, which is to make recipes from all over the world, but in our own backyard and using local ingredients."

Of course, as was alluded to above, it won't just be talents in the kitchen and brewhouse that are on display at G Town.

"Our lifestyle isn't ordinary, so our brewpub won't be either," says Dunn. "We intend to host cirque shows every weekend, with live music and entertainment. We want to hold lots of exciting events for the community and create a fun environment for children of all ages."

On that note, future patrons can expect G Town to serve a variety of beverage types. House brews will pour from 10 taps, with styles varying from the everyday (blonde, IPA, Irish red, stout, porter, etc.) to the experimental. Wine and spirits will also be offered, as will real cane sugar sodas for kids and others who prefer a non-alcoholic option.

As for when North Texans can expect the show to start, so to speak, Dunn and España have signed a lease on a downtown location at 2826 Lee Street in Greenville. They are currently working out of the country while the city reviews their plans, but once a building permit is secured, they'll return with the hope of getting G Town open within six months.

And from the sound of things, they are eager to get to work making their dream a reality.

"We began saving money while we continued working in the circus and touring," says Dunn. "Now, we are ready to come home and start a new adventure."

Stay up-to-date on G Town's progress by following the brewpub on Facebook.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gordon Biersch closing Park Lane location in Dallas

Image credit: CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries.

The Park Lane location of Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Dallas will close this coming Sunday, October 1.

Situated in the Shops at Park Lane development, the Dallas outpost opened in November 2009 and was the second Gordon Biersch franchise to be established in North Texas - following the Plano restaurant, which debuted in 2008.

A statement regarding the closure was issued by the brand's parent company, CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries:

"Since Gordon Biersch in the Park Lane development in Dallas, Texas, opened nearly 8 years ago, the community has welcomed us with open arms, and continued to embrace us in the years that followed. Our last day of operation will be October 1, but we’ll always be grateful for the opportunity we had to serve our guests each day. We sincerely appreciate the overwhelming support we’ve received from the community throughout the years.  The Park Lane location will always hold a special place in our hearts and the area will continue to be one we monitor should viable locations come on the market. All of our employees will be provided with severance based on position and tenure with the restaurant or a transfer to any CraftWorks Restaurant & Breweries, Inc.-operated restaurants. In fact, we are pleased to announce that most of our employees have chosen to stay with us and transfer to various locations."

CraftWorks also confirmed that the Plano location will continue to operate as usual.

Sipping on 777, Shiner's new oak-aged IPL

Image courtesy of Gambrinus Co.

Released as the 12th offering in the Brewer's Pride series, samples of Shiner 777 IPL showed up at my door this week, along with the declaration that it "just might be the boldest Shiner you've ever put to your lips." Not only that, the brewery's new India pale lager was said to be "tripled-down delicious" as well.

Now, the tripled-down part is primarily in reference to the triple-7s in the beer's name. The origin of which comes from the fact that 777 is brewed with 7 varieties of hops, has 70 IBUs and it finishes out with an ABV of 7.0%. Of course, I'm sure those at the Spoetzl Brewery think the beer is delicious, too, so I suppose it's a bonus that the word "delicious" helps add a bit of alliterative flair to the adspeak.

On the topic of whether 777 is Shiner's boldest beer ever, that's more of a subjective statement. What can be said is that 777 is the strongest beer the brewery has produced - topping Wicked Ram's 6.0% ABV by a full percentage point. That, and 777 is a beer with some complexity, thanks to the mix of hops and time spent slumbering on southern oak staves.

The hops, in this case, cause 777 to exude more of an English influence, based on the beer's floral, earthy and herbal elements. So, don't read IPL and start thinking in terms of an American IPA.  There might be a faint pint note in the aroma, but I don't get a sense of citrus in 777. Really, if there's any fruit at all, it's more along the lines of an elderberry essence.

As for how it drinks, 777 is hop-forward, though a hint of caramel malt remains ever-present. It's a clean, medium-bodied beer that gets more herbal and woody as it warms, with the oak adding a tannic touch that serves to dry out the palate on the finish. There's some bitterness on the back end as well, but not enough that you'll be scrunching up your face like that old codger in the Keystone commercials.

Really, my only quibble with 777 has to do with a statement on the sell sheet suggesting the beer has a flavor "as big and fresh as a Texas pine" tree. If you ask me, 777 is more oaky than anything. But, either way, it makes for an enjoyable experience. Is it Shiner's boldest beer yet? I don't know if I'd say that, but 777 is certainly another good example of a continuing effort by the brewery to go beyond the ubiquity of its bock. And, boldest or not, it's one of Shiner's more interesting efforts to date.

Shiner 777 IPL will only be available for a limited time. Look for it on tap, in 24-ounce bombers, and in 12-ounce bottles as part of the brewery's Family Reunion six pack.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Unlawful Assembly unveils its initial offerings

Image courtesy of Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co.

Set to open in October as part of Legacy Hall in Plano, Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co. (UABC) has announced its opening day lineup of craft beers.

From a press release:
  • Idol Time: Passion Fruit Pineapple Wheat – In this unfiltered wheat ale, fermented with tart tropical fruits, we celebrate the times we can’t remember and the friends we won’t forget.
  • Peacemonger: Pilsner – You can defuse any tense situation with a little diplomacy and the right beer, especially one as agreeable as this European-style pilsner. It’s a crisp and slightly malty beer with a spicy, noble hop finish.
  • Rebel Faction: Farmhouse Ale – Rise up! This saison’s floral aroma, fruity and earthy flavors and subtle tartness will be the antidote for conformity.
  • Public Dissent: Pale Ale – This refreshingly crisp grapefruit and piney hop-flavored pale ale with caramel undertones stands up against the mainstream.
  • The Antagonist: Amber Lager – With a medium body, balanced caramel-like flavor and a dry finish, this beer is one that everyone will enjoy.
  • Blind Justice: IPA – West Coast meets Texas. A blend of six different hops makes this beer an amber slice of heaven. The mouthwatering IPA gets its flavor from a heavy helping of Mosaic, Citra, Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo and Magnum hops, balanced by a perfect level of malt body.

Unlawful Assembly will make the aforementioned six beers available year-round, supplementing that slate with a constantly rotating selection of seasonal and specialty brews.

“Whether you’re a craft connoisseur or you’re just fine with a light brew, UABC has got you covered,” says Tim Timbs, senior vice president of brewery stuff. “A lot of blood, sweat and … well, not really tears – but you get the point – have gone into creating these first six beers and we couldn’t be more proud of the result. Unlawful Assembly is about to turn heads in North Texas, and we can’t wait to start sharing these creative, collaborative and bold flavors with everyone – in just a matter of weeks.”

The company's beers are designed to pair with the diverse flavors to be showcased in Legacy Hall. And, like the chefs expected to occupy stalls in the artisanal food mecca, the brewers at Unlawful Assembly intend to infuse their creations with ingredients from around the globe.

“We’re bringing a rebellious spirit to this venture, so we won’t hesitate to use non-traditional ingredients in our beers, and we’ll be constantly pushing the envelope to explore unique flavor combinations,” says Tom Janik, brewmaster for UABC. “And because we’ll be rotating our taps on a regular basis, there will always be something new for our guests to discover.”

TKO Libations set to enter the ring in Lewisville

Image credit: TKO Libations.

The address might say Lewisville, but based on where the soon-to-be brewery is located, it's clear that TKO Libations is looking to carve out its own corner of the Metroplex.

One reason for that is because TKO is set up in the community of Castle Hills, a development more in proximity to the town of Hebron than what words on a mailbox might have you believe. Almost like its own little world, the neighborhood is a place with enough workspace and amenities that one imagines some residents never have to leave.

Given that, it's an ideal setting for a brewery looking to separate itself from the crowd, which founders Cory Kuchinsky, Kam Maude and Ty Sefton hope to do by way of an experimental approach to making beer.

"Our goal is to cater to those consumers who tend to jump from beer to beer," says Sefton. "We'll be doing all kinds of small varieties, and we plan to change things up a lot. Since we'll only be brewing with a seven-barrel system, we can shoot recipes off into separate holding tanks to create different flavor combinations."

That doesn't mean TKO won't have staples, but indications are that consumers should expect to try something new virtually every time they visit. In fact, insight into how the brewery will go about using the 20 taps it has available can be found in the beers being considered for opening day.

"Our initial lineup will include a blonde, a porter, a wheat beer and an IPA," reveals Sefton. "We may split each of those to make flavor variants as well, like a blueberry blonde and a seasonal porter (either a gingerbread or pumpkin coconut version). We also hope to brew a few British styles soon, like an ESB, a brown ale or a regular bitter, so we can use the beer engine we've acquired to provide hand-pulled cask ales!"

On top of everyday beers created in its seven-barrel brewhouse, TKO plans to experiment with sour beer production and
barrel-aging. For the latter, the founders intend to source various types of port, wine and whiskey barrels (TKO Libations).

At least to start, no matter what beers are being poured, you'll only be able to get TKO's libations at the brewery.

"We're not going to be distributing when we open," says Sefton. "We'll sell in-house at first, and then change things up based on support. If we grow to a certain point, they we'll probably start canning."

Patrons will have the option of getting beer to go, since the company will operate with a brewpub license. Growler fills will be available, and a crowler machine is already on site. Plus, Sefton has hinted that a few barrel-aged offerings may eventually make their way into bottles.

As for what TKO will serve besides beer, the brewery will make and sell its own craft soda, with coffee, tea and wine being on the menu as well. Food won't be made in-house, but consumers can grab a bite from roughly a half-dozen restaurants situated in the same retail center.

So, when will TKO hold its first main event? Final inspections are underway as we speak, meaning the inaugural brew day is imminent. Once that happens, Sefton says it's a matter of working through their brew schedule to prepare for the debut. At this point, a grand opening is still a few weeks away, but expect an official announcement on that topic to occur in mid-to-late October.

Track brewery developments by following TKO Libations on its social media channels:  FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pegasus City trots out Texican in cans

Pegasus City uses a unique yeast blend to create a mix of Mexican
and German lager flavors in Texican (Pegasus City Brewery).

Fans of Pegasus City Brewery in Dallas can now enjoy #porchapproved products on their own porch, now that the company has begun canning its year-round offerings.

Earlier this week, Armadillo Mobile Canning was on-site at Pegasus City to package Texican Black Lager. That's just first beer that will roll out in the new format, though, according to Adrian Cotten, co-founder and creative director at the brewery.

"Texican is the first to be canned, with Highpoint Porch Ale coming next in mid-to-late October," says Cotten. "Eventually, we want to can all five of our core beers (including Cannoneer Bold Amber, Sixth Floor Easy Porter and Nine Volt D.P.L. Tripel), and we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign to help us do so in the next few weeks."

As for where you can pick up cans of Texican today, six-packs are on shelves at a number of accounts in Dallas.

"We wanted to make sure we got into some local stores first, so we are already at North Oak Cliff Beer & Wine in the Bishop Arts District, as well as River Cut Rate Liquor and Last Stop/Stop-N-Save in The Cedars," says Cotten. "We will be delivering cans to Total Wine, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's locations very soon."

Details on future shipments, along with particulars related to the aforementioned crowdfunding campaign, will be posted on Pegasus City's social media channels as they become available.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Go beerserk with Rabbit Hole's newest brew

Graphics for Shield Biter recall the rooks of the the Lewis chessmen - a set of game pieces
discovered on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland during the year 1836 (Rabbit Hole Brewing).

Are you ready to go beerserk? If so, then you'll want to reach for the latest offering from Rabbit Hole Brewing of Justin.

Shield Biter is a strong Scotch ale (otherwise known as a wee heavy) that's described as an animalistic 8% ABV brew, with notes of lightly-toasted bread and biscuity malt complimenting ruthlessly rich caramel and dark fruit flavors.

Signature Shield Biter glassware will be available while supplies last at
launch events occurring on Thursday, September 14 (Rabbit Hole Brewing).

According to a pre-release note, the inspiration for the beer is drawn from the Viking Age - a period that dates from the late 8th century to the mid-11th century in Northern European and Scandinavian history.

"Old Norse literature paints the picture of a Berserker, a near mythical warrior, as wild and fierce as an animal. So resilient, their skin was said to be able to resist fire and iron, and so savage, they are traditionally depicted as gnawing on their own shields!"

Look for Shield Biter to be available on tap for a limited time beginning Thursday, September 14. Launch parties are scheduled at a number of establishments on Thursday as well, with festivities set to occur at Dallas Craft Co. Keller, East Side Denton and LUCK.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Eno's to host inaugural TEXtoberfest, September 24

Image Credit: Eno's Pizza Tavern.

Known for its involvement in the annual Brew Riot Homebrew Competition, Eno's Pizza Tavern is introducing a new event this fall to be held at its location in the Bishop Arts District.

TEXtoberfest is being billed as a festival that will celebrate Oktoberfest season in true Texas style. In preparation for the affair, Eno's will transform its back lot into a festive biergarten, where local breweries will sample their wares to the tune of live local music.

Those attending the celebration will receive a commemorative mug and sampling card, allowing them to enjoy brews from Peticolas, Deep Ellum, Four Corners, Oak Highlands, Community, Bishop Cider, Tupps and The Manhattan Project. Each guest will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite seasonal brews, with the winning beer in each category to be named a TEXtoberfest Peoples' Choice winner.

As for other attractions, Eno’s plans to expand on its regular menu of pizzas and pastas for the event, with a sausage and charcuterie-inspired popup serving treats to pair with the craft beer offerings. In addition, TEXtoberfest will feature a best boots competition, as well as stein-hoisting and pretzel-eating contests.

Tickets for TEXtoberfest are on sale now at Advance tickets are $25 per person, with the amount increasing to $35 if purchased at the door.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Visit local breweries to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

For those seeking a way to assist families affected by Hurricane Harvey, look no further than your local brewery for ways to help. A list of breweries known to be either accepting donations or hosting events to benefit victims of the storm is given below.

If you have questions on what to bring to certain locations, please contact the brewery/brewpub directly.


3 Nations Brewing, Farmers Branch
  • Collecting donations, Monday-Friday at the brewery (refer to the list in the image above).
Audacity Brew House, Denton
  • Collecting donations at the brewery through Thursday, September 7 (refer to the list in the image above).
Bitter Sisters Brewery, Addison
  • Thursday-Friday, September 1-2: The brewery will donate 10% of taproom sales to the American Red Cross.
Chimera Brewing Co. Fort Worth
  • Collecting donations, daily at the brewpub (non-perishable foods, clothes, shoes, diapers and personal hygiene products).
Community Beer Co., Dallas
  • Donate time, money or tools through the brewery's The Greater Good initiative (click here to help).
Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Buy a ticket to Sunday's Labor of Love event, and DEBC will donate an amount equivalent to the cost to relief funds for those affected by the storm (click here to purchase tickets).
Denton County Brewing Co., Denton
  • Friday, September 1: The brewery will donate 20% of taproom sales to Hurricane Harvey relief funds.
Good Neighbor Brews, Wylie
  • Friday-Sunday, September 1-3: The brewery will match all donations made to the Houston SPCA.
Grapevine Craft Brewery, Grapevine
  • Collecting donations at the brewery through Saturday, September 2 (personal hygiene, baby items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo).
HopFusion Ale Works, Fort Worth
  • Collecting donations at the brewery for the next two weeks (non-perishable foods, diapers, water, flashlights, batteries, pet food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, toilet paper, baby wipes).
Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland
  • Sundays in September: Proceeds from every pint sold will go to a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
Legal Draft Beer Co., Arlington
  • Saturday, September 16: Collecting donations and setting aside 20% of beer sales to support relief funds for those affected by the storm.
Noble Rey Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Now through Monday, September 11: The brewery will donate a portion of the proceeds from all package sales, plus $1 from every pint of Sex in a Canoe and Tactical Combat Firefighter sold in the taproom to Hurricane Harvey relief funds.
Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas
  • Friday, September 29: The brewery will donate 10% of the sales, plus all tips, from its monthly Family Night event to Hurricane Harvey relief funds.
Panther Island Brewing Co., Fort Worth
  • Friday-Sunday, September 1-3: The brewery will donate $10 from every tour package to J.J. Watt's Houston Flood Relief Fund.
Pegasus City Brewery, Dallas
  • Saturday-Sunday, September 2-3: The brewery will donate all proceeds from the sale of its Beer Floats to Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts.
Peticolas Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Friday-Saturday, September 1-2: The brewery will be collecting donations (water, non-perishable foods, toiletries, baby items and pet food).
Rabbit Hole Brewing, Justin
  • Friday-Saturday, September 1-2: The brewery will be collecting donations (diapers (both children and adult), wipes, formula, paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, flashlights, batteries, body soap, shampoo and conditioner, dish soap, cleaning supplies, canned goods, non-perishable foods, water, towels, clothes, tampons and pads, medicine (pain reliever, fever reducer, antacid, etc.), toys, first aid kits, shoes, chainsaws, trash bags, gloves, rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, brooms, baby items, blankets and cots).
Revolver Brewing, Granbury
  • The brewery is working to create a special beer to benefit victims of the storm, with 100% of the proceeds from sales to be donated to the American Red Cross and select Houston charities.
Shannon Brewing Co., Keller
  • Collecting donations daily for the next two weeks.
Small Brewpub, Dallas
  • The brewpub is donating 100% of sales from Oak Cliff Ale to help victims of the storm.
Texas Ale Project, Dallas
  • Saturday, September 2nd: The brewery will be collecting donations (new clothes, shoes, pillows, pillow cases, towels, blankets, toiletries, diapers, pack n’ plays and other baby items).
Wild Acre Brewing Co., Fort Worth
  • Now through Wednesday, September 13. The brewery will be collecting donations (non-perishable food, diapers, water, flashlights, batteries, pet food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, toilet paper, baby wipes, baby formula, and hand sanitizer).

Note: A number of breweries ( Braindead - via Bowls & Tacos, Collective, Martin House, Tupps) have already collected and passed along donations.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvest and Franconia partner to support The Seed Project

Image Credits: Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, Franconia Brewing Co.

Earlier this year, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen announced its intention to begin brewing beer in house at its location in McKinney. Since then, the restaurant has introduced a few limited offerings, but an upcoming event will give patrons a chance to experience how Harvest's craft beer vision is coming into focus.

Working together with Dennis Wehrmann and his nearby Franconia Brewing Co., Harvest will host its first ever beer dinner on Thursday, September 21. The evening will begin with appetizers and opening remarks at Franconia's facility, with festivities shifting to Harvest after that for the presentation of a six-course menu.

"Dennis and I sat down when we obtained our brewpub license and talked about ways the two of us could work together," says Toby Thomason, general manager of Harvest. "I wanted to do a nice, charity event, but also something that was educational. What we decided to do was to take inspiration from what Dennis does well, and then shake things up to show people how differences are introduced."

In addition to a number of brews created exclusively by Harvest, the list of beers expected to be served at the dinner includes Franconia's popular Triple Dunkel, and its seasonal Oktoberfest. The featured fermentation, however, will be a beer created by way of a collaboration between the two companies.

"We brewed a spelt beer at Franconia with Dennis that uses local honey and base grain from TexMalt in Fort Worth," explains Thomason. "It's a beer that uses locally-sourced ingredients with some German heirloom wheat, so that kind of ties in our two concepts really well. The beer pays tribute to the brewing heritage Dennis brings, and also to our passion for local farmers and the local farming community - which is the whole reason we decided to get into brewing to begin with."

Franconia dabbled with spelt in a beer early in its history, but Wehrmann went with a different approach this time around.

"It's similar to the spelt beer we made before, except we changed the yeast and used grain from TexMalt," says Wehrmann. "And there's honey in it, which is something that wasn't in the original. That first spelt beer was brewed with a 100% German approach, but this one is done more in the American way."

Left: Honey Spelt is made with Ireks spelt malt and honey from N&P Farm & Dairy in Farmersville.
Right: Grain from TexMalt will be featured in all beers offered at the dinner, with locally-grown
Cascade hops providing the punch in a pale ale designed for the event (click to enlarge).

The result, Wehrmann believes, is a beer with a flavor profile that should fit right in with the coming shift in seasons.

"I think it tastes like fall," states Wehrmann. "The beer is a little sweet upfront with a hint of honey, but it finishes dry. It's really earthy, with a lot of really, ripe apples in the beginning. To me, the aroma is like that of a bunch of apples sitting in a wooden box at grandma's house."

Of course, the use of honey goes against Franconia's tradition of brewing to the Reinheitsgebot, which allows only for the use of water, hops, malt and yeast in the production of beer. But, that's one of the ways the differences Thomason wants to showcase come into play. Another way can be seen in a series of altbiers he's working on for the event.

"We did a base altbier where we tried to emulate some of the processes Dennis would use," says Thomason. "Then we brewed two more batches and did things to change them up. We added local blackberries to one, and aged another in a Balcones Baby Blue barrel. Neither gets too crazy, but the changes are just enough to show you what differences there can be in the beer."

Something else Harvest will highlight during the dinner is the progress its made towards a goal of producing a beer using all Texas ingredients.

"We've developed a couple of different yeast strains on our farm," says Thomason. "One was propagated from the blackberries used in the altbier, so we fermented that beer with a mix of the culture from the fruit and our brewer's yeast. The other strain comes from our wildflowers. We're using that one in a pale ale we're doing, which will also incorporate the first crop of Cascade hops yielded from the farm. So, really, the pale ale will be our first truly Texas beer."

As for the event itself, tickets are on sale now at a cost of $125 per person and quantities are extremely limited (click here to see the menu and purchase tickets). It should be noted, though, that all proceeds will be donated to charity.

"The entire ticket price is going to The Seed Project Foundation," says Thomason. "It's a company that we started to assist groups that promote sustainability and community. This year we're supporting Community Garden Kitchen, an organization that serves meals to food insecure families in Collin County."

In addition, the collaboration beer - simply called Honey Spelt, will remain available after the close of the dinner for a limited time at both Harvest and Rick's Chophouse (the two entities share the same ownership). Revenues from the sale of the beer will also benefit The Seed Project.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Turning Point turns the corner, lands location in Bedford

Image credit: Turning Point Beer.

Slightly over seven months after first introducing itself to the North Texas craft beer community, Turning Point Beer has signed a lease on a location in Bedford.

Getting to this point has been a battle for founders Joshua Davis, Jon Paul Goytia, Alex Knight and James Peery. Attempts to obtain financing to fund their venture were a challenge early on, which led the group to go on a barnstorming tour during the first quarter of 2017 as a way to attract investors. That effort proved fruitful, but then there were issues with the site of their chosen location. A contentious hearing in front of the Bedford City Council followed, but Turning Point persevered and is now armed with a plan of action.

"Literally for all of us, getting to this point has been the biggest obstacle we've ever tried to overcome," says Knight, who will serve as head brewer for the company. "Where we are now is not only incredibly unreal, but none of us were really sure this would ever happen."

Goytia echoes that statement, but is quick to point out that they believe the struggle has been worth it.

"The general consensus amongst the four of us is excitement," adds Goytia. "We all know that this is a big step forward to truly getting the chance to open our doors, but also to finally get the opportunity for DFW craft beer enthusiasts to try our beers."

Part of the plan going forward, of course, involves renovating and equipping the brewery's new home at 1307 Brown Trail. There, the group will be working with around 6000 square feet of usable area. Naturally, a portion of that will be set aside for a taproom, with the rest reserved for production. Prep work on the space has already begun, but there's still the matter of lining up contractors, planning the build-out, and taking delivery of equipment obtained from a defunct operation in San Antonio.

Artwork for the brewery's Pulp Series of East Coast hoppy beers (Turning Point Beer).

"We are starting with a two-vessel, 10-barrel brewhouse, five 20-barrel fermenters and a 20-barrel brite tank," says Goytia. "This set up is exactly the size we felt was ideal for us to be able to rotate beers often, while continuing to have fun with art of brewing."

Utilizing that system, Turning Point plans to launch with 8-10 beers.

"Our main focus will be our Pulp Series, which consists of Some Pulp NE-style Pale Ale, Extra Pulp NE-Style IPA and Heavy Pulp NE-style Double IPA," reveals Goytia. "We are still deciding on others, but Cup of Excellence imperial coffee stout should be one of the draft options for sure. Maybe the public can give us some great feedback to help with other beers we are deciding on!"

As of now, the goal is to have Turning Point open by the end of the year. Whether that happens will likely depend on construction schedules and the permitting process. Either way, once the company starts serving its products, what consumers should expect in terms of commitment can best be summed up with the following statement:

"Our Goal with Turning Point Beer from day one has been to contribute to the local craft beer scene we know and love, and that focus has never wavered," states Goytia. "We want to be known for some of the highest quality craft beer in this great state, as well as having an exciting fresh take on trending, unrepresented styles. We also want to exist as the forerunners of consistent innovation. At the end of the day, we want people to relate not only to our product, but also to us as four guys that love craft beer and love to talk about it. That is why Turning Point beer will exist."

Stay up to date on the brewery's progress by following Turning Point on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Session Beers now available from Brewers Publications

Image courtesy of Brewers Publications.

In her new book, Session Beers: Brewing for Flavor and Balance, author Jennifer Talley points out that session beers have been brewed for hundreds of years. In other words, session beers are not a trend. It may seem that way given the recent uptick in popularity of these types of beers, but even the term "session beer" pre-dates all of the modern mega beer madness. You know, back before the bugs, the barrels and all things high-ABV took hold of everyone's senses.

Of course, history lessons are just a jumping off point into a subject, not mention a beer type, that has much more depth than the "session beer" moniker might imply. Indeed, session beers aren't just about lower alcohol content. Things like bitterness, body, carbonation, finish and sweetness can also impact a beer's drinkability. It's up to the brewer to find the right balance of these and other factors in creating a beer that keeps you coming back for more.

And, Talley would know just how to do that, considering she spent over 20 years brewing in Utah, where state-imposed restrictions require beer to contain to less than 4% ABV. It's that experience Talley brings to bear in Session Beers, where she discusses not only the definition and design of session beers, but also how best to go about drinking them.

Naturally, there are an abundance of recipes as well (nearly half of the book is devoted to them), with breakdowns provided for both commercial (in the form of an outline) and five-gallon batches. Recipes appear for popular beers from the likes of Bell's, Firestone Walker, Stone and others. There's even one from Lone Star State, with guidelines given on how to make Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Ale.

The recurring theme throughout, though, centers on the idea that a session beer should be a beer that encourages extended enjoyment. Talley explains that such a thing is good for the consumer in that it allows for more time with friends, while also helping in the area of responsible drinking. Not surprisingly, the increased consumption is good for business owners as well, and Talley takes the time to show how offering session beers to patrons can be a boost to the bottom line.

Session Beers is published by Brewers Publications (pre-release copy provided for review). It is available now, exclusively to members of the Brewers Association and the American Homebrewers Association. Public sales of the book will begin on August 31.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lakewood now shipping Coconut Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

There's a new temptation on the North Texas scene, as Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has added a new beer to its Seduction Series. Coconut Temptress is the fifth entry in the Seduction line, which features different takes on Lakewood's year-round imperial milk stout, The Temptress.

“We’re excited to release this new variant in the Seduction Series lineup,” says Wim Bens, founder of the brewery. “We’re always looking for ways to keep the Seduction Series fresh, while incorporating enticing flavors that people want."

The new beer is infused with the equivalent over five pounds of toasted coconut per barrel. The flavor addition blends with the base beer to provide a rich hint of coconut on top of the delectable, chocolate notes that Temptress fans love.

“In the brewery world, this seems to be the ‘Year of the Coconut,’ as many breweries are releasing coconut beers,” adds Bens. “We think our unique take on the style does the beer proud.”

Look for Coconut Temptress on tap and in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Texas Ale Project adds retailers, begins distribution to Tyler

Image credit: Texas Ale Project.

Now midway through its third year in business, Texas Ale Project of Dallas has announced a two-pronged expansion that includes supplying a variety of new retailers across the Lone Star State, as well as the delivery of its products to the City of Tyler.

According to a press release, the brewery's sales are up over 45% compared to last year, giving Texas Ale Project the capability to increase its distribution footprint to a total of 64 counties in Texas.

“We’re so pleased with the continued growth of our brand," says Kat Thompson, CEO of Texas Ale Project. "The initiative of retailers to expand their Texas craft beer offerings, paired with the high demand for our product, presented a unique opportunity for us as a local, family-owned business to work with well-established retailers. We’re honored to start developing these relationships so early on in our business, and I welcome them to our family!”

Texas Ale Project recently began shipments to Tom Thumb and Albertson's locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. With this latest move, though, fans of the brewery can expect to find its beers throughout Texas at retailers like Fresh by Brookshire's, Lowe's Markets and Doc's Liquors.

In addition, Sam's Club locations in North Texas, Wichita Falls and San Angelo are now carrying six-packs of Texas Ale Project's flagship beers, Fire Ant Funeral Amber Ale and 50 FT Jackrabbit IPA. Consumers can also look for a new variety case, featuring a mix of Fire Ant Funeral and one of the brewery's rotating brews, at the Costco on 8055 Churchill Way in Dallas.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lakewood Lion's Share V now available in North Texas

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lion's Share V, the fifth installment of Lakewood Brewing Co.'s annual anniversary beer, is now on sale throughout North Texas.

As has been the case with prior anniversary offerings, Lion's Share V is a unique beer with a recipe that differs from its predecessors. The 2017 edition of Lion's Share is billed as a full-bodied, Scottish-style brew that features a subtle peat smoke aroma, along with notes of sweet caramel, candied-fruit and honeycomb.

“This year’s release is a special one,” says Wim Bens, founder & president of Lakewood. “We wanted to honor year five with a beer that we’ve been talking about making for over three years now. As fans of all things malt and fermentation, a few of us around here are also big fans of whisky, especially Scotch whisky.”

In creating Lion's Share V, the brewery has taken the elements of a Scotch barrel and added that unique, smoky touch to this beer. Knowing that Scotch can be a bit overwhelming, Lakewood chose to age Lion’s Share V using a combination of barrels. Some of the barrels once housed bourbon, while others were used to age 26 year-old Speyside single malt Scotch.

“By blending the two together, we were able to create a harmonious marriage of flavors that work nicely together,” explains Bens. “It’s a great beer to enjoy now, or let mellow at cellar temps for months to come.”

Look for Lion's Share V on draft and in 22-ounce bottles. The beer is currently only available in the North Texas market.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Oak Highlands pairs with AiRS to support breast cancer survivors

Purchase Oak Highlands Oktoberfest and drink craft beer for a cause (Oak Highlands Brewery).

Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas has announced a new partnership with the AiRS Foundation to help raise funds for breast cancer survivors.

The AiRS Foundation is a group dedicated to assisting women with the costs associated with restorative breast surgery, while connecting them with doctors that can help. Beginning August 1, and running through October 31, Oak Highlands will supplement this effort by donating 10% of all sales of its Oktoberfest beer to the cause.

“Oak Highlands Brewery gives 10% of the proceeds from the sales of its Oktoberfest beer to a different local breast cancer awareness charity every year," says Erica Connolly, marketing director at Oak Highlands. "Breast cancer has touched many lives, including those closely connected with Oak Highlands Brewery, and because the traditional Oktoberfest season and Breast Cancer Awareness Month loosely coincide, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and money to help find a cure."

Women who have undergone a mastectomy are often unaware of their options for reconstructive surgery, which is a key part of the physical and emotional healing for breast cancer survivors. It is estimated that 70% of women do not have options discussed with them or they are unable to pay for the surgery – that is where the AiRS Foundation steps in.

“We are so honored and excited that Oak Highlands Brewery has chosen the AiRS Foundation to support this October in timing with Breast Cancer Awareness Month," adds Morgan Hare, co-founder of the AiRS Foundation. "We have high hopes for our partnership with Oak Highlands Brewery, that together we will raise money and awareness for this important cause.”

The brewery will host an event in late September to kick-off the partnership, with 10% of the proceeds going to the AiRS Foundation. Plans are still being finalized, so be sure to follow Oak Highlands on social media (Facebook, Twitter) for the most up-to-date details.

Find out where to purchase Oak Highlands Oktoberfest at:

For more information about the AiRS Foundation, visit

Thursday, August 3, 2017

IPA Day: A North Eastern influence is invading North Texas

Left: Shazam (credit: Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery).
Center: Cambodian Tiger (credit: Malai Kitchen)
Right: Underdog V2.0 (credit: Small Brewpub)

The arrival of August means it's time once again for IPA Day - the international celebration of the India Pale Ale. Last year, in honor of the occasion, I put together a piece entitled "Yesterday and today with North Texas IPAs," which discussed the past and present with regards to craft beer's most popular style. This time around, though, I'll put the spotlight solely on where things stand today, and how things have changed in the local IPA arena over the course of the last 12 months.

To start, I'll go back to something I said in last year's article that still remains true. Nearly all North Texas brewing operations, whether they be new or well-established, have produced at least one IPA to this point. Holdouts from a year ago included 3 Nations, Armadillo Ale Works and Wild Acre, but as of the start of the summer, all three of those entities had entered the local IPA fray. Those aren't the only new IPAs on the market, though, since nearly every brewery that's opened in 2017 has 'hop'ped on the bandwagon as well (Denton County, Good Neighbor, Hemisphere, HopFusion, The Manhattan Project, Thirsty Bro).

The biggest change in the local IPA landscape, however, has been the market introduction of IPAs with an East Coast influence. Originating at breweries like The Alchemist, Trillium and Tree House in New England, these cloudy beers feature bright tropical fruit notes, a fuller body and minimal bitterness. The haze and hop tones have led some to say they look and taste like juice, which has resulted in the term “juicy” becoming synonymous with New England Style IPAs (NEIPAs).

Yet, many wonder if NEIPAs are really a style all their own. That is, as opposed to just being a hybrid of a single or double IPA. Naturally, opinions vary, but perhaps the best attempt to define the style (or at least lay down a foundation on which to build on) was offered by Gordon Strong in the May/June issue of Brew Your Own Magazine (click here to read the article). He's certainly the right man for the job, in light of his list of qualifications. In addition to being the technical editor and commercial calibration specialist for Zymurgy Magazine, Strong is also the president of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and the principal author of the latest edition of the BJCP style guidelines.

Of course, guidelines are just...well, guidelines, and if we've learned anything about the craft beer industry over the years, it's that style guidelines are open to interpretation. And, when it comes to NEIPAs, the story is no different in North Texas. Just consider the range of NEIPAs that have hit the local market in the past year. It's a given that they've all been hoppy (to varying degrees), but some have been malty, while others have been bone dry. Bitterness has been all over the map, with beers having anywhere from a somewhat thick to an ultra-thin body.

What that says to me is, when Strong suggests that the NEIPA is an evolving style, he's not kidding. At least based on what has been served locally, what does or does not represent a NEIPA is still a matter of debate. In any case, judging by the style's popularity, it appears as if NEIPAs will continue to draw interest for some time to come.

As for what there is to drink along these lines in North Texas, a list of NE-inspired IPAs is given below. Keep in mind that many, if not all, of these beers are released on a periodic basis with extremely limited availability. My advice? Find one...drink one...and see what your tastebuds think of this developing style.

North Texas takes:
A Louisiana adaptation:
Of future focus (i.e. recipes to come from North Texas breweries in development):

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rahr & Sons extends its reach to Kansas and Nebraska

Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Nearly a year and a half after first shipping its beer outside of Texas to Oklahoma, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth has announced it will expand its distribution footprint to include the states of Kansas and Nebraska.

According to a press release, Rahr & Sons' beers are available in Kansas as of today, while the company's products are expected to hit shelves in Nebraska around early August.

“Rahr & Sons is proud to be an independent craft brewery focused on making great beer,” says Fritz Rahr, founder of the company. “We are excited to break into these new markets and get to know the many craft beer fans in Kansas and Nebraska.”

Initial deliveries to both states will include the following beers: Rahr’s Blonde Helles Lager, Dadgum IPA, Ugly Pug Schwarzbier,  Bucking Bock, Oktoberfest Märzen Lager and Mr. Wiggles Double Dank IPA. These and future releases, including seasonal brews, will be available for purchase on draft and in cans.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rabbit Hole ready to release "The Rabbit"

Image credit:
Rabbit Hole Brewing
This week, fans of Rabbit Hole Brewing will begin a quest to "snare the hare," as the Justin-based brewery releases it's newest creation, El Conejo (4.6% ABC, 25 IBU).

Translating from Spanish to English as "The Rabbit," El Conejo is a pale Mexican-style lager that derives most of its flavor from a recipe designed with a mix of German ingredients. And, while some may wonder about how a taste of Germany makes its way into a Mexican beer, it should be noted the development of Mexico's brewing industry can be tied to an influx of German settlers that arrived in the country during the late 19th century. In other words, many of today's Mexican lagers are borne of either German or Bohemian influence.

As for El Conejo, the beer is fermented for an extended time with a traditional lager yeast. According to a pre-release notice from the brewery, this is said to give the beer a crisp, dry finish, which coupled with the beer's clean flavor profile, makes El Conejo perfect for drinking during hot summer days and nights in Texas.

Look for El Conejo to be available on tap beginning Wednesday, July 26. A release party for the beer has been scheduled as well, with that occurring on Thursday, July 27, at Dallas Craft Co. in Keller.

Monday, July 10, 2017

North Texas breweries land 13 medals at 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship

Image credit:
U.S. Open Beer Championship
Winners were announced today for the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship, with the results showing seven North Texas breweries to be among those earning recognition.

According to a press release, breweries from Vermont to Vietnam sent in more than 6,000 beers representing over 100 different styles for evaluation in this year's competition. Just like in prior years, the event was open to both professional brewers and award-winning homebrewers.

As far as the 2017 performance of North Texas breweries goes, first-time winners at this year's competition include Bankhead Brewing Co. of Rowlett and HopFusion Ale Works of Fort Worth. Their wins are included in the list below, along with other local breweries, each of which has brought home at least one medal from the U.S. Open in the past (a complete list of winners may be found by clicking here).

903 Brewers
  • Bronze for Sasquatch in the American Stout category
  • Silver for Highway 1 in the Bohemian Pilsner category.
  • Silver for Fur Slipper in the Cream Stout category.
  • Silver for Feisty Blonde in the Honey Beer category.
  • Bronze for Hairpin in the Rye/Roggen Beer category.
  • Silver for All Call in the English Summer Ale category.
  • Silver for Sin Mint Temptress in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Silver for Sledgehammer in the American Barley Wine category.
  • Silver for Velvet Hammer in the Imperial Red Ale category.
  • Bronze for Irish Goodbye in the Irish Red Ale category.
  • Gold for 10/6 in the English Pale Ale category.
  • Gold for Off With Your Red in the Imperial Red Ale category.
  • Gold for The Regulator in the Doppel/Strong Bock category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Grapevine resumes canning ahead of return to retail

Image credit: Grapevine Craft Brewery.

Nearly one year ago, Grapevine Craft Brewery made the decision to cease distribution of its products throughout the State of Texas. Now, however, the company has regained the right to self-distribute its brands in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, which means a return to local retail shelves is at hand.

According to a press release, the brewery will continue to operate its contract brewing subsidy, North Texas Brewing Co., but plans are to reinstate shipments of house brands to area grocers and craft beer retailers. At this time, though, only cans will be sent to outside accounts, as draft beer will continue to be served exclusively in Grapevine's taproom.

"It's because of great industry partners and friends that contract brewing has provided a platform for a sustainable business," says Gary Humble, CEO of Grapevine Craft Brewery. "Beyond that, we continue to see great success on the local level in our taproom and beer garden, and fans have continued to support our small business. We love people and we love our community. We could not be more excited to have the opportunity to once again make our beers available to our friends in stores across DFW.”

Six-packs of Lakefire Rye Pale Ale and Sir William's English Brown Ale will hit shelves across the region beginning the third week of July. After that, keep an eye out for the new Railcar Double IPA (ABV 8.5%). Originally marketed as Grapevine's highly-regarded Brewers' Reserve Double IPA, Railcar is set to make its debut in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Two new breweries on tap for Parker County

Craft beer continues to expand its reach across North Texas, as news comes of a two new breweries planned for Parker County. The opening of either would represent the first new brewery to operate in the county since before Prohibition, when W.F. Both & Co. was producing beer in Weatherford up until it closed in 1879.
Image credit: Parker County Brewing Co.

The first of these is Parker County Brewing Co., a venture in Willow Park headed up by Ryan Stewart and Joshua Tarbay. Currently under construction at 225 Shops Blvd., in a development called the Shops at Willow Park, the brewpub-to-be will offer beer, wine and cider on tap alongside food prepared in its full-service pizza kitchen. According to Tarbay, cask ale will also be on the menu at Parker County Brewing once it opens in the fall of this year.

Image credit: Pathfinder Brewery, LLC.

Also in the works, though a little further out on the development calendar, is Pathfinder Brewery. Eric Addison is leading that project after moving to Texas from California, where he spent time running his own homebrew shop. Currently, Addison is working to develop plans for Pathfinder's building, which will be built from the ground up on a site off Cinema Dr. in Hudson Oaks. Branding is still in the early stages as well, says Addison, who hopes to be open by the summer of 2018.

Stat up-to-date on the progress of the two breweries mentioned herein by following each company's Facebook page (Parker County Brewing Co., Pathfinder Brewery).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

All aboard for Armadillo's new Land Yacht IPA

Image courtesty of Armadillo Ale Works.

After more than four years of being one of the few North Texas brewing operations to eschew the IPA, Armadillo Ale Works of Denton has altered course to produce a version of craft beer's most popular style.

Land Yacht IPA (7.3% ABV, 75 IBU) is set to embark on an introductory tour of the Metroplex, after which it will join Armadillo's core lineup alongside Honey Please, Royal Champ and Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat. The beer is an American IPA that's been brewed to style, featuring a copious amount of Azacca, Mosaic, Citra, Columbus, and Centennial hops.

But why, you may ask, would a company that's known for its uniqueness decide to release a stylistic IPA at this point in its evolution? According to co-founder Yianni Arestis, it's all about doing the unexpected, which up to now has been a hallmark of Armadillo's approach.

"Normally, we cross style boundaries and use special ingredients in our beers to offer the consumer something tasty, interesting and truly different," says Arestis. "After coming out with seven beers like that, though, we felt it would be cool to show people we can brew to style with the best of them."

Special Land Yacht IPA glassware will be available at launch events occurring this weekend (Armadillo Ale Works).

Along those lines, you won't find any additives in Land Yacht IPA. With so many different takes on the IPA in the market these days, many falling in line with the current trend of adding fruit infusions, Arestis and co-founder Bobby Mullins chose to go against the grain in sticking to style. Accordingly, their first IPA foray is all about the hops, a characteristic that's been subtly built into the Land Yacht name.

"We wanted a name that hinted at the beer using 'a boatload of hops,' as well as something that alluded to going on a 'tropical flavor trip,'" says Arestis. "Since it's an American IPA, we figured a big, classic American car, a land yacht if you will, would make sense. Plus, the longhorns on the hood are an obvious tie-in to our Texas roots."

As for how it turned out, an early sample of Land Yacht IPA shows it to be a beer that gives off notes of sharp citrus and pine initially, with a ripe pineapple and tropical fruit character developing as it opens up. It's a little dank and a little musky with not a lot of bitterness, the latter meaning more emphasis was put on highlighting hop flavor and aroma. The beer is neither east coast or west in terms of a regional designation, but rather something that falls somewhere in the middle. Given that, instead of trying to pin it down, maybe just call Land Yacht IPA what it is...a really good, easy-drinking Armadillo-style IPA.

Land Yacht IPA will be available as a draft-only offering. Look for it on tap beginning this weekend at launch parties planned at the following locations.

Friday, June 30
  • East Side, Denton: 7-10 p.m.
Saturday, July 1
  • Lakewood Growler, Dallas: 4-7 p.m.
  • Brewed, Fort Worth: 6-9 p.m.