Friday, October 19, 2018

Deep Ellum bringing back Barrel-Aged Four Swords, October 26

The 2017 edition of Barrel-Aged Four Swords
Belgian Style Quad (CANarchy/Deep Ellum Brewing Co.).

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the return of Barrel-Aged Four Swords Belgian-Style Quad, with initial deliveries expected to begin October 26.

Four Swords was originally added to Deep Ellum's portfolio in late 2013, with a barrel-aged version rolling out a year later. Past editions of Barrel-Aged Four Swords have utilized Cabernet and whiskey barrels, but Deep Ellum chose to age Four Swords in new oak barrels for this latest release.

"The charred oak compliments the roasted malts, while dark fruit esters add a layer of complexity to the beer," says Ty McDonnough, lead brewer at Deep Ellum. "Four Swords has a strong fruity aroma with a sweet oaky finish, which pairs well with rich foods such as smoked ribs and delicate desserts."

According to a press release, dried cherries and figs mingle with notes of toffee, rustic oak, marshmallow and vanilla in the finished beer, with the combination resulting in a "delicately balanced and complex specialty brew that clocks in at 10.5% ABV."

Look for Barrel-Aged Four Swords to be available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Get pours for the posse at Cowtown in Fort Worth

(Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Among the more than 20 brewery or brewpub openings to happen in North Texas over the last two years, only one occurred in Fort Worth. That drought was relieved a bit this weekend, however, with the debut of Cowtown Brewing Co. in the northern section of the city.

Founded on the idea that "great beer deserves equally great barbecue," the barbecue aspect of the business may still be a few days away, but Cowtown's beer began flowing on Friday night. A mix of German classics, IPAs, and off-the-menu stouts made up the opening day menu, providing patrons with a mix of modern and traditional styles.

Large batch selections included Rhinestone Cowboy (German kölsch), Sim City IPA (DDH IPA brewed with Simcoe hops), The Last Kaiser (imperial märzen Oktoberfest) and my personal favorite, Spalt Bier (German altbier brewed with Spalt hops). Two additional double dry-hopped IPAs made up the small batch section of the menu, with Amarillo On My Mind (DDH IPA brewed with Amarillo hops) said to be a best seller.

Beyond those beers, co-founder and head brewer, Shawn Kidwell, says he's got a double IPA and a doppelbock currently fermenting in the tanks. Naturally, those fall into the company's short-term plan, while things like fruited sour beers (targeted to pair with barbecue desserts) and barrel-aged offerings are items in the works for further down the road.

With beer on the inside and barbecue on the outside, Cowtown looks to offer the
best of both to folks in Fort Worth (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
"We're kind of figuring out how to work within our space right now, but long-term we'll get into sour beers and barrel-aging," says Kidwell. "For sour beers, I want to be careful and make sure we keep things isolated, and for our barrel program to work we'll probably have to make the barrels part of the decor."

Cowtown's beers are draft-only for now, but the brewpub's setup provides it with the ability to offer up to twelve beers on tap from the bar. A can seamer is also installed on site, allowing customers to grab beer to-go in the form of 32-ounce crowlers.

Regarding an official welcoming event, that's likely to take place a few weeks after Cowtown gets the smoker out back fully up and running.

"We wanted to get open as soon as we could, just to work out the kinks and get everything in order," says Kidwell. "Once we're settled on both the beer and barbecue side, we'll schedule the grand opening party. So, come in now for the beer, but come back for the barbecue!"

Going forward, Cowtown will be closed for brewing operations on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open for business during the latter part of the week. Posted hours are Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Otherworldly art and offerings on tap at Celestial Beerworks

A large external mural greets visitors as they enter the brewery's taproom
at 2530 Butler Street (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D). 

Should you feel a slight tug as you drive through the northwestern section of Dallas, don't be alarmed. It's just a cosmic force telling you the time has come to visit Celestial Beerworks, as the brewery is now open in the city's Medical District.

Matt and Molly Reynolds founded Celestial on the premise of bringing together the couple's three favorite things - art, science and beer. It's appropriate, then, that the company's space sets up as a sort of out this world escape, with cosmic renderings setting the stage for a brewery universe where beers are "Celestial" bodies.

Stop in and sip on space-themed selections like Kepler (IPA), One Small Step (pale ale) and One Giant Leap (DIPA), while spotting constellations depicted on the walls. Those beers are just a preview of what's to come, though, as the brewery is operating on a soft basis while working to build up its portfolio.

"Now that we're open, I can finally turn my brewing brain back on and start to think about recipes," says Reynolds. "We plan to have up to seven or eight beers ready for the grand opening. There will be IPAs, but we've also got an imperial stout and a pale wheat session beer in the tanks right now."

Looks can be deceiving from the outside, but inside Celestial has ample elbow
room with seating options inside and out (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

On that note, Reynolds admits he's a fan of hoppy beers (he built a following brewing them during his first stint in the industry at Malai Kitchen), but consumers can expect Celestial to serve up a variety of styles. Reynolds also mentioned that the brewery will do some barrel-aging, with the first foray into that territory being a coffee stout that's set to spend six months resting in a Maker's Mark vessel.

Regarding availability, early indications are that the taproom will be the primary place to purchase and enjoy Celestial's products, at least for the time being.

"Starting out, we're going to focus on sales here at the brewery," say Reynolds. "Once things get settled, we may look into mobile canning and some limited distribution, but for now we'll pour beer in the taproom and offer crowlers to-go."

As for the official debut, a grand opening celebration will happen on Halloween. After that, Celestial will begin regular taproom hours, with the brewery likely to be open later in the week and on weekends.

Soft opening hours:
Friday, October 12: 4-10 p.m.
Thursday-Friday, October 18-19: 4-8 p.m.
Saturday, October 20: 2-8 p.m.

Hoppy Halloween Grand Opening Celebration:
Wednesday, October 31: 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Friday, September 28, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - September 28, 2018 edition

A bevy of beverage types appear in this edition of the Conspectus, yet seeing as how it's National Drink Beer Day, perhaps it would be appropriate to drink a beer while reading this latest round of updates.


Black Man Brewing introduces "First Cello" series

Nomadic brewer Barrett Tillman of Blackman Brewing has produced a concerto of beer he has dubbed the "First Cello" series. The arrangement consists of a draft-only base beer, First Cello Tart Ale, and a series of movements to be released in bottles. The movements represent deviations from the original beer, each featuring different ingredients infused with liquid taken from the early or late stages of fermentation. First Cello is available on tap now at Small Brewpub, while bottle variants may be purchased online for pickup on Tuesday nights in October.

Breaking Brew Meadery opening in Dallas

Emerging somewhat quietly on the North Texas scene, Breaking Brew Meadery opens its doors to the public for the first time on Friday, September 28. Located at 14438 Midway Rd. in Dallas, the company's initial operating hours will be Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 1-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

Trinity Cider makes Dallas debut on October 5

Production is underway at Trinity Cider in Dallas, with the company's grand opening now set for Friday, October 12. The business, which has set up shop at 2656 Main Street in Deep Ellum, occupies the same space as a 1990s-era brewing operation that was known as Main Street Brewing Co.

Special use permit approved for Siren Rock

After successfully navigating a number of roadblocks, a special use permit was approved by the Rockwall City Council for Siren Rock Brewing Co. in August. This will allow the venture to continue to move forward in the development process, with the submission of site plans, architectural drawings and the like being next on the agenda.

Image credits (top to bottom): Blackman Brewing, Breaking Brew Meadery, Trinity Cider, Siren Rock Brewing Co.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Oskar Blues now brewing Dale's Pale Ale with Texas-made malt

Tim Matthews, Brandon Ade and Michael Harris
at Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas (Oskar Blues Brewery).

Oskar Blues Brewery in Austin, Texas, has announced a change to the company's flagship beer, Dale's Pale Ale. The beer is now being brewed with locally-crafted malt developed by Leander-based Blacklands Malt.

Up until now, Dale's had been brewed with commercial Munich malt, but a move to Blacklands allows the brewery to incorporate sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, while supporting the community and calling attention to the art of craft malting. As for how the change came about, the idea started germinating when Tim Mathews, Oskar Blues' head of brewing operations, met Blacklands' founder, Brandon Ade, in 2016.

After that, Ade and Michael Harris, Oskar Blues’ head brewer in Austin and malt enthusiast, started working together by incorporating Blacklands malt into specialty beers. Then, in the fall of 2017, they started talking about a larger project.

“I approached Tim and Michael and asked, ‘how can we get this malt out there and capture something unique and authentic going on in Austin?,'" says Ade. "The conversation evolved and we started looking at the Munich malts used in Dale’s.”

What followed were months of research, development and collaboration between the two teams, including the Oskar Blues’ lab headed by Brian Roye. Eventually the kiln schedule and recipe were dialed in to develop Brown Field 10 Texas Munich, which meets the color and toasty flavor profile required to brew Dale’s Pale Ale.

“I don’t know of any other iconic flagships doing something like this,” says Matthews. “We hope people will start coming into the taproom and saying, ‘I want something with Texas malt in it.’ It’s sustainable, and contributing back to a sustainable world is definitely important to us. This is a major way we can illustrate that.”

Harris has an equally compelling reason for pursuing craft malt – it’s part of supporting the community.

“I’ve been interested in where ingredients come from since I started professionally brewing," says Harris. "It’s important to use local ingredients and to be involved in the community.”

Ade also makes the point that it’s important to raise awareness around the connection between the consumer and the supply chain, and to call attention to the farmers that grow the barley that ends up in beer. Blacklands has worked with Texas A&M University since 2012 on research that aims to empower farmers to grow barley.

"It’s about supporting farm families outside of hops - hops get a lot of limelight," says Ade. "Malting is equally important."

According to a press release, Dale’s Pale Ale brewed with Blackland's Brown Field 10 Texas Munich is now available in Texas and surrounding states.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

North Texas notches four medals: That and more from the 2018 GABF

Thursday night at the Great American Beer Festival (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

This year, the official coming of fall brought with it the conclusion of the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Held, as always, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, the competition portion of the program involved the evaluation of over 8500 beers spread across 102 different categories. In other words, many beers were consumed and many medals were awarded (306 to be exact) at this annual celebration of great American beer.

A total of 18 medals found their way into the hands of brewers from the Lone Star State, with four of those going to breweries from North Texas. Locals landing on the winners list were 903 Brewers, Bankhead Brewing Co., Oak Highlands Brewery and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. Within that group, Bankhead and Oak Highlands snagged GABF medals for the first time, while 903 Brewers scored its second overall prize. And Rahr & Sons? That brewery now has six notches on its GABF belt, with the brewery's seasonal Oktoberfest receiving accolades for the third time in four years (priors: 2015 - gold, 2017 - silver).

903 Brewers, Sherman: Bronze for Kilt Switch in the
Scotch Ale category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Bankhead Brewing Co., Rowlett: Silver for Hoofer's Hef in the
South German-Style Hefeweizen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas: Bronze for Oktoberfest in the
German-Style Maerzen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Gold for Oktoberfest in the
German-Style Maerzen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

As for other notable topics from this year's event and beyond, an additional note or two on the competition is provided below, along with my usual roundup of visits to breweries in and around the Denver area.


Haze craze not just a phase

Much has been made of the seemingly meteoric rise in popularity of hazy and/or juicy IPAs, and the subject was front and center at the beginning of this year's awards ceremony. Competition Director, Chris Swersey, opened the show with the previously-revealed news that "Juicy or India Pale Ale" was the most-entered category of the competition, having knocked "American-Style India Pale Ale" from the top spot for the first time since 2002. This, Swersey suggested, was proof positive that haze isn't just a phase, and that perhaps its time for detractors to stop dissing the style.

Not a banner day for Blue Ribbon and its ilk

As far as I can tell, no "big" beers won a medal for the first time ever. There was no Miller, no Coors (or MillerCoors), no Anheuser Busch, and no Pabst to be found among winners in the Light Lager/Malt Liquor or Cream Ale categories. Pabst Blue Ribbon won medals in 2016 and 2017 for "American-Style Lager or Malt Liquor," but this year's honorees were all independent American brewers. One was even unsung, literally, as Unsung Brewing Co. of Tustin, Ca., nabbed a bronze for a lager called Lumino.

The ABGB is a shining star in Austin

If you're like me, and have yet to check out Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., it might be time to put "The ABGB" at the top of your to-visit list. The Austin brewpub and its crew have now been named "Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year" for the third year in a row, an accomplishment that has to be among the most impressive feats ever achieved by a Texas-based brewing operation.

Taproom Trips

Left: Enjoy views of Jefferson Park while sipping on brews at Briar Common.
Right: Steps away from Mile High Stadium, Little Machine is the perfect place for a pregame pint.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Just north of Mile High Stadium, the Jefferson Park neighborhood in Denver is home to Briar Common Eatery + Brewery and Little Machine Beer. Briar Common is a brewpub with ten beers on tap and a full kitchen serving lunch and dinner, while Little Machine is a robot-themed brewery with great variety that sits little more than a stone's throw from the stadium parking lot.

Left: WeldWerks' taproom boasts over 30 taps, with popular styles balanced by the occasional classic.
Right: Custom cars and craft beer combine to create virtual man cave at Mash Lab Brewing.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Many make the pilgrimage to WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley for its array of hazy IPAs,  sour beers and flavorful stouts. And, while I would encourage fans of those types of beers to make the trip, I might also suggest a stop at Mash Lab Brewing in nearby Windsor. The selection is straightforward, but the beer is good and you can't beat the atmosphere, considering Mash Lab shares space with a nationally-recognized hot rod shop. Only a glass wall separates the two businesses, which means you can enjoy a beer while ogling over custom cars being crafted next door.

Left: Besides being a shrine to diminutive spirits, The Grateful Gnome is a place for beer and house-made sandwiches.
Right: Enter the alley behind Grateful Gnome to find the entrance to De Steeg / Blind Faith Brewing.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
I tend to seek out brewery clusters when traveling, and the Berkeley neighborhood in northwest Denver is a section of town that offers exactly that. Three brewing operations representing four different brands inhabit the area, with the total walking distance between them being roughly a block.

The name tells the story at The Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shoppe & Brewery, a spot which exists on the same alley as the dual-branded operation, De Steeg/Blind Faith Brewing. Diversity of style is what you'll find at the Gnome and De Steeg, while Blind Faith focuses on beers brewed in the Belgian monastic tradition.

Just down the way, food options are also in play at Call to Arms Brewing Co. (not pictured), thanks to Mas Kaos Pizzeria + Taqueria being located in the same building. As for the brewery's taproom, it's a vibrant and inviting space reminiscent of an old English pub.

Left: Beer and books are brought together at Fiction Beer Company.
Right: Dry Dock - North Dock is the brewery/taproom closest to Denver International Airport.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Literary references are omnipresent at Fiction Beer Co., where bound volumes surround patrons seated in the taproom. Offerings of "liquid literature" are broken down by genre on the brewery's menu, with beers falling into the categories of Classics, Adventure and Fantasy.

Located one exit east of the entrance to Denver International Aiprort, Dry Dock Brewing Co. - North Dock is the place to go for one last beer before catching a flight back home. North Dock is a secondary production facility for the Aurora-based company, with a bit of contract brewing done in house as well.

For more on the 2018 GABF and the historical performance of breweries from North Texas, click the links below:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Deep Ellum releasing No Way Rosé at State Fair of Texas

Image courtesy of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the release of a new beer conceived to celebrate its recent coupling with the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective - a group of breweries that includes Deep Ellum, Oskar Blues Brewery, Cigar City Brewing and Perrin Brewing.

No Way Rosé (5.8% ABV), an offspring of that union if you will, is a tart Southwest-styled rosé ale that packs a prickly pear punch. It's described as "juicy, tart and floral, with just enough honey sweetness to balance."

“Born out of a conversation between new coworkers, No Way Rosé is a brew that has thrown out the book on conventional beer styles,” says Kyle Wilborn, head brewer for Deep Ellum. “With the goal of brewing a unique, but approachable beer featuring a heavy dose of organic prickly pear juice, Texas wildflower honey, rhubarb and hibiscus, this sessionable brew can best be described as a southwestern rosé ale.”

According to a press release, No Way Rosé will debut on draft at the State Fair of Texas, which takes place in Dallas from September 28 through October 21. Statewide distribution will follow, with the beer being packaged in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. It will also be available at the Deep Ellum's taproom in Dallas, as well as at the Oskar Blues facility in Austin.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Harvest launching growler program and new seasonal beer, September 20

Brewers Toby Thomason and Bob Lang inspect hop vines
at Water Boy Farms (Harvest Seasonal Kitchen).

Harvest Seasonal Kitchen is embracing fall with the introduction of a new seasonal beer next week, an event that will coincide with the debut of a beer-to-go option at the restaurant in Historic Downtown McKinney.

Brewing operations got underway at Harvest in early 2017. Since then, brewers Toby Thomason and Bob Lang have released a couple of limited small-batch offerings in addition to a regular brew called Farmer's Daughter (a honey blonde ale). That beer, like the new one to come, features Texas-grown ingredients, some of which are produced on the company's farm, Water Boy Farms.

"In the kitchen at Harvest, we are dedicated to using as many local ingredients as possible, so our beer is no different using Texas grains, hops and honey from our farm," says Thomason.

Regarding the newest addition to Harvest's portfolio, Red River Rye is a red ale brewed with Texas grains and rye. The beer is dry-hopped, then naturally-conditioned with local wildflower honey to produce the finished product.

As for availability, Red River Rye and Farmer's Daughter will be on tap and ready to take home in signature 64-ounce growlers beginning Thursday, September 20. That evening, a launch party will take place at the brewpub from 5-8 p.m., during which attendees can try the brews and meet the team behind the beer.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Oak Highlands Oktoberfest helping to build The Bridge

Image courtesy of Oak Highlands Brewery.

Renewing an annual pledge to partner with a local breast cancer charity, Oak Highlands Brewery will raise funds for The Bridge Breast Network (The Bridge) during a campaign set to correspond with the release of its seasonal Oktoberfest beer.

The Bridge is a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides access to diagnostic screenings and treatment services for breast cancer to low income, uninsured and under-insured individuals in North Texas.

"Breast cancer has touched many lives close to the Oak Highlands family, and since the traditional Oktoberfest season and Breast Cancer Awareness Month loosely coincide, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to raise funds for others affected by breast cancer," says Lauren Barnes, marketing director for the brewery.

To help support The Bridge, Oak Highlands will donate 10% of sales from the 2018 edition of its Oktoberfest beer to the organization. In addition, Oak Highlands will host its fourth annual Oktoberfest Celebration on Saturday, September 15, with 10% of the proceeds from the event going to The Bridge. Representatives from the group will be in attendance during the festivities to raise awareness and to answer questions about The Bridge and its mission.

Admission to the 2018 Oktoberfest Celebration at Oak Highlands is free. Beer will be sold by the glass, with food, live music and games rounding out the attractions.

For more information on The Bridge Breast Network, visit

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The ruckus is ready: Civil Pour set to start service in Dallas

Coffee and beer come together at Civil Pour (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

A ruckus is about to be raised, as the specialty coffee shop/craft beer bar known as Civil Pour prepares to open this week in North Dallas.

Conceived by Chad and Nellie Montgomery, Civil Pour is the latest venture for a couple most well-known for its work with Big Texas Beer Fest. Billed as "a coffee and beer ruckus," the idea behind the new place is rooted in a play off of the Civil War, where North and South combatants are replaced by coffee and beer. At issue, it seems, is an argument over what makes for a better beverage.

To that end, options for coffee lovers at Civil Pour include the signature drip (served by way of the Commuter Cup), shots of espresso and cold-brewed coffee, while beer fanatics can pick from 30 taps containing only the finest in draft-only selections produced by local and national breweries.

With multiple windows and two see-through garage doors, Civil Pour's front elevation serves
as a virtual picture window to the outside world (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

So, which is your beverage of choice? Take sides if you must, but who's to say you can't alter your allegiance over the course of a day. Why not grab some coffee on the way to work, and then a beer on the way home? Or vice versa, I suppose, if you're the type that enjoys beer for breakfast.

Regardless of whether you stop in to kick-start the day, or unwind after a long one, Civil Pour's carefully-curated selections will be delivered to you within the confines of a bright and welcoming atmosphere. You can even add a pastry pairing to round out a morning snack, or a panini sandwich to make it a meal.

Either way, Civil Pour seeks to satisfy all coffee and beer cravings by offering the best of both under one roof. Think of it as a way to ease potential hostilities. Order what you like at Civil Pour...and raise a drink to detente.

Civil Pour
8061 Walnut Hill Ln., Suite 924

Social Media:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hop and Sting launching beer to benefit Dallas Pets Alive

When not taking time to admire his namesake beer, Dixon enjoys meeting new friends, giving
friends his toys and carrying around blankets, especially blue ones (Hop & Sting Brewing Co.)

Created in honor of a dog adopted from Dallas Pets Alive, Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine has announced the release of Dixon's Pale Ale, with a launch event set to occur on National Beer Lovers Day.

Hop & Sting co-owner, Brian Burton, rescued Dixon "the brewery dog" from Dallas Pets Alive on October 20, 2014. The next day, Dixon accompanied Burton to work at a local brewery, and he has continued to do so almost every day for the first two years of his life.

As for the beer, Dixon's Pale Ale is described as "an American pale ale with intense hop flavor and aroma, balanced with a light caramel finish. It is hoppy enough for hopheads to enjoy, while approachable enough for everyone else. It is a great all-around beer to drink alongside a great all-around dog like Dixon."

Dixon's Pale Ale is on tap now in Hop & Sting's taproom at Grapevine Craft Brewery, and it's also available in kegs for delivery to draft accounts. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the beer will benefit Dallas Pets Alive, with fifty cents from each taproom sale and five percent of all off-site sales going directly to the rescue organization.

Festivities celebrating the debut of the beer will take place at the brewery on Friday, September 7. After that, look for Dixon's Pale Ale to be packaged in cans for sale this fall at independent beer stores around North Texas, as well as at area locations of Total Wine and Whole Foods Market.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A new Outfit debuts in Dallas

A close-up of IPhaaaaaaay, a.k.a. Outfit's New-England-style IPA (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Emerging somewhat quietly on the North Texas scene, Outfit Brewing opened its doors this past weekend with a low-key, two-day event at its facility in Northwest Dallas.

There was no glitz or glamour leading up to the debut, just a simple social media post saying, in effect, "we're open." But, the lack of a big build up makes sense once you meet founder Jordan Young. His story mirrors that of many, in that he's trying to take his passion for brewing to the next level. Yet, he's not looking to make a big splash with designs on taking over the world. Instead, Young is starting small and staying within his means, hoping to learn and grow organically as a member of the craft beer community.

"This is very much a grass roots effort, with a lot of family and friends helping out," says Young. "We're slowly working on getting our name out there, and we're still making decisions on how we want to do things."

One decision was easy, considering the availability of an unused warehouse his family has owned since the late 1970s. The family deals in insurance, so the front part of the structure still houses one of its offices, but Young renovated about 4000 square feet of space to locate the brewery and taproom out back. There, the production and public areas exist as an integrated unit, with seating options provided both inside and out.

The taproom at Outfit has indoor and outdoor seating, two bars, two wide-screen TVs and a Golden Tee arcade game (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

As for why Young chose the name "Outfit" for the company, that story goes back to his grandfather.

"My grandfather used the word 'outfit' for everything," explains Young. "He was a real character...a good guy...a funny guy. He started the insurance agency here years ago, and this was his building, so it's all just kind of an homage and to honor him."

On the topic of Outfit's product portfolio, the initial lineup consisted of six different beers. Two IPAs were among the offerings, as was a cream ale, a Belgian blonde, a saison and a kölsch. According to Young, the kölsch - which sold out - and a New England-style IPA were the most popular, while I would count the hoppy, Brett-influenced saison as my own personal favorite.

Those recipes, and others in the works, are produced on a small-batch, five-barrel system. Given that, Young doesn't intend to distribute on a large scale (incidentally, self-distribution is the plan for now). Once operations ramp up, a few beers will be offered to draft accounts, but most of the brewery's stock will be made available in the taproom, either as a draft pour or by way of growler fills.

What that means is, you should head to the brewery if you're looking to try the area's newest Outfit on for size. Set times for taproom hours are still to be determined, though, so be sure to follow Outfit's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) for announcements on when those will occur.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Grab a pie and a pint at Parker County

Standards, seasonals and cask offerings are all part of the program
at Parker County. (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.)

Turn back the clock on beer production in Parker County, and you'll find the name William F. Both attached to an entity that existed in Weatherford during the late 1800s. His firm, known as W.F. Both & Co., produced less than 50 barrels in 1878, making it the smallest licensed brewery in Texas at the time.

Both's death in 1879 brought an end to that operation, and effectively put a cap on Parker County beer production for the next 139 years. Local brews started flowing again in March, though, with the opening of Parker County Brewing Co. (PCBC) in Willow Park.

Ryan Stewart and Joshua Tarbay have partnered on the modern-day project, which they've designed with a simple and straightforward approach, letting tradition take precedence in the creation of offerings centered around the classic combination of pizza and beer.

PCBC's production setup is anchored by a 10-barrel brewhouse (left).
Hand-pulled pours, like this cask brown ale, are a popular attraction at PCBC (right).
Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

With regards to the latter, the brewpub's recipes tend towards the stylistic, with an everyday lineup including a blonde, a hefeweizen, an IPA and a stout. The best of the bunch, though, might be PCBC's 1879 Prohibition-Era Ale, an agreeable amber brew that recalls the end date of Both's enterprise mentioned above.

Beyond those beers, options extend to a chocolate hazelnut porter and a just-tapped double IPA, not to mention seasonals like the current rotator, Peach Blonde. The brewpub also features a set of cask engines, a rarity for North Texas, with both hoppy and malty varieties available for hand-pulled pours.

As for the food aspect of PCBC, Neapolitan pizzas are the primary output of a house kitchen. Couple that with a growler fill from the bar, or the purchase of 16-ounce cans seamed onsite, and it would appear to make PCBC a convenient stop for locals craving a pie and a pint to-go.

Of course, that works for wanderers as well, especially those seeking out a craft beer destination west of Fort Worth.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Oak Cliff Brewing on verge of opening in Dallas

Image credit: Oak Cliff Brewing Co.

Completing a journey that began in 2015, Oak Cliff Brewing Co. has started production in Dallas, with eyes on opening its taproom to the public by the end of August.

Furniture, finishing touches, and the matter of a final inspection - these are the items remaining on founder Joel Denton's to-do list. Once checked off, the company will unveil a 14,000 foot space housed inside Tyler Station. It's a venue that's set up as a co-working village, with current tenants including a charity, a church, various artisans and a bakery, in addition to the brewery.

"It's a cool spot, and a pretty unique destination as far as breweries are concerned," says Denton. "We're part of a multi-purpose concept, where Tyler Station is this industrial pocket in the middle of all these Oak Cliff neighborhoods."

For a little perspective, simply pull up a map to see how Tyler Station is centered among the communities of Elmwood, Wynnewood and Winnetka Heights. Given the surroundings, the taproom would seem to represent a refreshment oasis for Oak Cliff residents, some of which travel in and out of the area by way of a DART station adjacent to the building.

Signs point to fresh beer being made in Oak Cliff (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Regarding the beer, brewing operations are headed up by Todd Holder, who joins Oak Cliff Brewing after stints at locales in Texas, Oklahoma and abroad. Naturally, his job will be to keep up with the brewery's everyday lineup, not to mention its seasonal and specialty offerings.

"We'll start with a core four, which for now consists of our Black Lager, Export Lager, Farmhouse Saison and Oak Cliff IPA," reveals Denton. "Those go into the big tanks, but Todd has some smaller batch beers he's working on as well. Right now we've got a Caramel Stout, a Brut IPA and, yes, a Hazy IPA, too."

Oak Cliff's products will start hitting the market next week ahead of the taproom's opening. Launch events are planned at select draft accounts around Dallas, the details of which can be found below.

As for the taproom debut, Denton says that could happen at a moment's notice. In other words, it's probably best to keep an eye on the brewery's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) for any late-breaking updates.

Schedule of launch events:

Tuesday, August 14: Parker Barrow's, Dallas - 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 15: BrainDead Brewing, Dallas - 7 p.m.

Thursday, August 16: Craft Beer Cellar, Dallas - 6 p.m.

Thursday, August 23: Dallas Beer Kitchen, Dallas - 6 p.m.

Monday, July 23, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - July 23, 2018 edition

Updates on new and renewed brewing operations in Dallas and Denton headline this edition of the Conspectus, with a look at upcoming operations out west on the agenda as well.


Barley & Board back to brewing in Denton

Idle since early 2016, brewing operations have re-started at Barley & Board of Denton. House beers will be tapped monthly as part of the brewpub's Home Brewers League, an initiative that gives local homebrewers the chance to brew a commercial batch. Barley & Board supplies ingredients for the collaborative effort, while local hobbyists are charged with making the beer. The beer for August is a French saison by Brian Tiensvold. It follows Cole Haley's black IPA, which kicked things off in July.

Steam Theory debuts in Trinity Groves

After roughly four years in development, Steam Theory Brewing Co. is now up and running in Trinity Groves. The brewpub is currently serving culinary offerings from a summer dinner menu alongside a selection of guest beers. House brews are said to be in the works, presumably ready in time for Steam Theory's official grand opening on August 25.

Cans coming from Manhattan Project

Packaged products are on the way from Manhattan Project Beer Co. of Dallas. Set to arrive at retail in September, the brewery will can its three core beers - Half-Life, Hoppenheimer and Plutonium-239, and a seasonal pilsner - Necessary Evil. As for when Manhattan Project's taproom will open at 215 Sulphur St., look for that to occur sometime in Q1 2019.

Celestial receives TABC approval, introduces Space Camp

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has issued a brewpub license for Celestial Beerworks of Dallas. Currently under construction at 2530 Butler St., owner Matt Reynolds is targeting an early fall opening. The company has also introduced Space Camp, a membership program that provides consumers with one free crowler of beer per month, along with swag, taproom discounts and first access to special releases (click here for more information).

Edgewise Wight launches crowdfunding campaign

Looking to raise funds for a brewpub to be located in Weatherford, Edgewise Eight Brewing has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The company has set an open-ended goal of $5000, with funds earmarked for amenities and other items that will help make Edgewise Eight "the most inviting place to go in Weatherford."

Soul Fire begins work on building in Roanoke

Demolition has begun on a space to be occupied by Soul Fire Brewing Co. in Roanoke. In addition to housing the brewery's production equipment and a taproom, plans for the building at 206 N. Oak St. include facilities for live music and a food hall.

Image credits (top to bottom): Barley & Board, Steam Theory Brewing Co., Manhattan Project Beer Co., Celestial Beerworks, Edgewise Eight Brewing, Soul Fire Brewing Co.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shannon Brewing to be featured on History Channel series - Blood Money

Image credit: The History Channel.

Shannon Brewing Co. of Keller has been chosen as one of businesses to be featured on Blood Money, a new series set to debut on The History Channel.

From a press release:

"America is at a crossroads. This country was built on the backs of industrious men and women who started their own businesses. And while family businesses have moved wealth and the value of hard work from one generation to the next, many fear that millennials of today don’t have the kind of work ethic that will take their family business through this century. Chris Parvin, a family estate planner, has seen it all. So, he’s headed out across this nation to help see if the kids of today have what it takes to take over the family business tomorrow. With money, promotions, and stakes in the company on the line, this is no game. Chris will help these business owners put their children to the test and see if they have what it takes to earn their family’s Blood Money."

The episode filmed at Shannon focuses on Trevor Ritcheson, whose father Craig owns a beer distribution business. In order to learn about the industry from a brewer's perspective, Trevor works at the brewery during the summer. He is tasked with helping to get beer brewed and out to market and is personally involved in every step of the process, from brewing and fermentation to packaging and final delivery.

Does Trevor have what it takes to take over his father’s beer distribution business? Find out on Blood Money with Shannon Brewing, airing Monday, August 6 at 9 p.m.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Peticolas named top brewery as North Texas shines at 2018 U.S. Open

Image credit: 2018 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

Winners from the 2018 U.S. Open Beer Championship were announced last night, with North Texas brewers literally one-upping last year's performance at the event. This year locals landed 14 medals, which represents a gain of one compared to the 13 prizes awarded to area breweries in 2017.

More than 6300 beers were judged at the 2018 competition, with entries split into 117 different categories. From that pool, eight local breweries were recognized for their beers, including one which garnered the U.S. Open's top overall prize. That accolade went to Peticolas Brewing Co. of Dallas, who brought home the title of Grand National Champion, a.k.a. Top Brewery of 2018, after winning a total of five medals (three gold, two silver).

A summary of all North Texas honorees is provided below, with a complete list of medalists to be found by clicking here.

903 Brewers
  • Silver for Sasquatch in the American Imperial Stout Non-Traditional (coffee, maple, chocolate, etc.) category.
  • Silver for Feisty Blonde in the Specialty/Anything Goes category.
Lakewood Brewing Co.
  • Silver for Sin Mint Temptress in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Bronze for Lion's Share IV in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Quad category.
Martin House Brewing Co.
  • Bronze for True Love in the Fruit Gose category.
  • Gold for Tejano Pecano in the Specialty/Anything Goes category.
  • Silver for Freaky Deaky in the Belgian Tripel category.
  • Gold for Black Curtains in the American Imperial Stout category.
  • Gold for Great Scot in the Scottish Ale category.
  • Gold for Velvet Hammer in the Imperial Red Ale category.
  • Silver for Royal Scandal in the English Pale Ale category.
  • Silver for Sledge Hammer in the American Barley Wine category.
  • Bronze for 10/6 in the English Pale Ale category. 
  • Gold for Iron Joe in the Coffee Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Monday, July 2, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - July 2, 2018 edition

Image credits: Siren Rock Brewing Co., False Idol Brewing, Pathfinder Brewery.

This edition of the Conspectus features updates on a number of new names to the North Texas scene, including two that readers may be hearing about for the first time.


Outfit obtains TABC approval, targeting late summer opening

In late May, a brewpub license was issued for Outfit Brewing by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). Set to be located at 7135 John Carpenter Freeway in Dallas, owner Jordan Young is targeting mid-August for the brewery's debut. Upwards of eight beers will be on tap for the event, with a Belgian-style blonde ale, a saison, a citra-forward IPA and a red IPA expected to be part of the lineup. Also being considered for opening day are recipes for an additional IPA (or two), a lager and a kölsch.

Krootz Brewing under construction in Gainesville

Residents in Cooke County should take note that an entity to be known as Krootz Brewing Co. has filed an application for a brewpub license with the TABC. Currently under construction at 315 W. Elm St. in Gainesville, CEO Chad Sykora hopes to open the doors of the brewpub-to-be in a few months. Due diligence and the build-out are the primary focus of the company right now (social media and a website are pending), according to Sykora, who says Krootz will serve food from a limited menu alongside a portfolio of small-batch brews.

False Idol scouting locations, plans to contract brew

A name just recently appearing on the scene, False Idol Brewing is a new project in development for North Texas. The group is still looking to nail down a location, preferably in a city that doesn't already have a brewery, which means the opening of a brick and mortar location is probably a year away. That said, founder Dominique Van Ausdall intends to pursue a contract agreement with a local brewery in order to get False Idol products on the market by the end of the year.

Pathfinder breaks ground in Hudson Oaks

It's been over a year since Pathfinder Brewery first announced its intention to build a facility from the ground up in the Parker County community of Hudson Oaks. Progress has been slow, but it appears things are moving along now that ground has been broken on the project's site off Cinema Dr., just north of City Lights Theatre. For a look at how things are shaping up so far, cllick here to see a short video showing the current state of construction.

Siren Rock moving forward in Rockwall

Earlier this month, the Rockwall City Council voted to amend its municipal code to allow a brewery to exist in the city's downtown district. That means Siren Rock Brewing Co. can advance to the next step in the development process, which involves getting a special use permit approved. Along those lines, founders Cory and Eva Cannon are working with the city on a site plan specific to their location off S. Goliad St. near Rockwall's Historic Downtown Square.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Shannon signs with Hops and Vines, sets sights on San Antonio

Image courtesy of Shannon Brewing Co.

Starting July 1, Shannon Brewing Co. of Keller will begin distributing its fire-brewed beers to San Antonio and other South Texas markets after signing an agreement with Hops and Vines Distributing.

“We are excited about our partnership with Hops and Vines Distributing," says Shannon Carter, founder of the brewery. "They are dedicated to ensuring our beer reaches the market at its peak of freshness, and product quality is paramount to our brewery.”

Founded in 2015, Hops and Vines is billed as San Antonio's first and only independent craft beer, wine and spirits distributor. According to its website, the company's mission is to "assist small brewers and winemakers with developing their footprint, cultivating their brand recognition, and driving volume."

To that end, the following Shannon products will be included in initial shipments to Hops and Vines, with additional labels to be announced soon:  Shannon Irish Red, Shannon Mór IPA, Shannon Blackberry Crystal Wheat and Shannon Pussy Willow Pilsner.

"We are excited to bring Shannon Brewing's award-winning portfolio to San Antonio," says Tristan Maldonado, CEO of Hops and Vines. "The Hops and Vines team is very impressed with Shannon’s beer and the brewery’s dedication to using pure Texas spring water, natural ingredients, and a unique brewing process. Shannon’s beer is perfect for our market.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Brewers Association releases new insights on craft demographics

Photo: © Brewers Association.

This week, the Brewers Association released new data on the demographics of craft beer lovers, with results presented from a top down view, as well as from the perspectives of race and gender. A portion of that report is summarized here, along with additional data shared by the BA in an addendum breaking things down into defined market areas.

Beginning with the broader view, specifically the number of people in the U.S. drinking craft beer "at least several times a year," it was found that around 40% of legal drinking age adults - i.e. the 21 and up population - are occasional craft beer drinkers (68.5% male, 31.5% female). That number, sourced from a Neilsen - Harris on Demand poll, has increased slightly over the past few years, rising from a value of 35% in 2015.

If the focus is shifted to regular craft beer drinkers, though, the numbers are lower. According to Scarborough (a separate division of Nielsen), only 7.3% of adults polled in 2017 had consumed a craft beer in the last 30 days. That places roughly 17.5 million Americans into the category of what the Brewers Association calls "craft's core" consumer (68.9% male, 31.1% female).

As for how things stack up locally, supplemental data provides insight into those considered to be regular craft beer drinkers in Dallas-Fort Worth. Based on responses taken between June 2016 and November 2017, it was estimated that just over 280,000 people in D-FW had consumed a craft beer within 30 days. Of those, 68.7% were men, while 31.3% were female.

At least in terms of gender, that means the local market appears to be right in line with the national average. North Texas lags, however, when it comes to those reaching for a craft beer on a regular basis, since less than 4% of a population near 7.1 million fits that description.

Translation? There's still work to be done in getting more people on the path to drinking better beer in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Click here for more on the BA's look at the "Shifting Demographics of Craft Beer," including changes in demographics with respect to race/ethnicity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Whistle Post closes in Pilot Point

Image credit: Whistle Post Brewing Co.

Effective as of the end of May, Whistle Post Brewing Co. of Pilot Point has ceased production and is now closed.

Founded by those behind Western Son Distillery, the brewery opened during the summer of 2016 in a building adjacent to the spirit maker. It remained a draft only business until early 2017, after which Whistle Post began distribution of Shoofly Texas Golden Ale and Rooster Shooter Texas Lager in bottles.

Those beers, along with products like Lizard Scorcher IPA, Shoofly Coconut Lime Ale and others, maintained a focus on easy-drinking, low ABV offerings, with strengths hovering just above and below 5%.

Deep Ellum joins CANarchy collective

Image credit: CANarchy.

Seeking to secure a fresh infusion of resources for increased production and distribution, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has joined the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective.

Founded in 2011 by John Reardon, Deep Ellum has grown into the third largest independent craft brewery in Texas. Led by its flagship brews, Dallas Blonde and Deep Ellum IPA, the company grew 37% in 2017 while producing more than 45,000 barrels. Deep Ellum's products are currently only available in Texas, with the vast majority being consumed within 20 miles of the brewery.

“It’s been a hell of a ride for all of us at Deep Ellum and I believe this is just the beginning,” says Reardon. “We’ve been looking for the right partner to grow the Deep Ellum brand and I believe we’ve found that with CANarchy. They’re a group of like-minded people that have not conformed to the status-quo and have hit critical mass on the path of coming together and remaining independent. We’re all in.”

CANarchy got its start in 2015, led by Oskar Blues Brewery founder, Dale Katechis. The group provides a platform from which rapidly growing craft breweries seeking high level resources can expand and compete in the increasingly competitive craft beer segment, while maintaining independence. The platform is driven by individual brewery culture, giving brewers control of their businesses and brands, while providing resources and support to scale their respective operations.

“CANarchy’s culture thrives on collaboration among craft breweries blazing their own path and doing things their own way," says Katechis. "John and the Deep Ellum crew light the fire of craft beer in Dallas-Fort Worth and they will bring that same fire to our collective."

In addition to Oskar Blues, Deep Ellum joins a roster of brands whose current membership includes Cigar City Brewing, Perrin Brewing Co., Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers. Using Cigar City as an example of CANarchy's impact, the Florida-based brewery entered the collective in June of 2016. After immediately addressing capacity issues, CANarchy was able to help Cigar City expand distribution and increase shipments 43% from 65,000 to 92,000 barrels in 2017.

“Deep Ellum Brewing has created a strong community and now they’re facing next-level challenges that we’ve seen before," says Joey Redner, founder of Cigar City. "Within CANarchy, we can solve those problems in our own way."

As for Deep Ellum, it's currently undergoing a large expansion, including the installation of a 60-barrel brewhouse at the company’s primary facility that is expected to come online within the next few months. The brewery is operating at maximum capacity and is projecting 55,000 barrels of production in 2018. Deep Ellum is also constructing a taproom in Fort Worth that will incorporate a five-barrel system and retail space that is scheduled to open in late fall of 2018.

“During my time at the University of Colorado I specifically remember my first can of Dale’s Pale Ale, and that experience is part of the reason I’m in this business," adds Reardon. "Joining a collective of such irreverent and disruptive founders and leaders is exactly what Deep Ellum has been looking for."

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lakewood getting Jack'd up for summer

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Last summer, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland was one of a handful of local breweries invited to collaborate with iconic whiskey-maker, Jack Daniel's. Barrels for the initiative were hand-delivered to each brewery, with Lakewood using theirs to create a pair of special brews.

“We experimented and came up with Jack’d Up Lemonale and Tennessee Temptress, paying homage to the Jack Daniel's cocktail favorites, Lynchburg Lemonade and Jack & Cola,” says Wim Bens, owner of Lakewood. “We wanted to create two amazing and unique beers for this project, so we took our flagship Temptress and put a new twist on it, and built Lemonale from the ground up.”

Described as a refreshing take on a southern favorite, Jack’d Up Lemonale is a kettle-soured wheat beer brewed with a mix of Citra and Lemondrop hops. The beer was aged for six months in the aforementioned barrels, then enhanced with an infusion of 120 pounds of freshly-squeezed Meyer lemons.

As for Tennessee Temptress, that beer is based off of Lakewood's popular imperial milk stout, The Temptress. Also aged for six months, this Temptress variety was refermented on over 500 pounds of sweet cherry puree. The added treatment is said to have provided a touch of sweetness, while also helping to round out the beer's edges.

Both offerings are draft only and available now in the brewery's taproom, with deliveries to select accounts scheduled to begin next week.

In addition, representatives from Jack Daniel's and Lakewood will be hosting a beer dinner at The Libertine Bar on Wednesday, June 27. The event will feature the two collaboration beers, as well as a selection of Jack Daniel’s top-shelf whiskeys.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Funky Picnic joining Fort Worth's Near Southside neighborhood

Image credit: Funky Picnic Brewery & Café

With four breweries already in its midst and one just outside its boundary, the Near Southside area of Fort Worth easily fits the description of a craft beer destination. The district's appeal will only get greater come next year, though, with the arrival of yet another addition in the form of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Stalwarts of the North Texas homebrewing scene over the last few years (having competed and won awards at Brew Riot and Martin House Brewing Co.'s Riverside Shootout), Funky Picnic is a collaborative effort between Samantha Glenn, Collin Zreet, Jenni Hanley and John Koch. The quartet was originally known as The Fort Brewing Co., but an existing trademark forced a name change before the founders could push forward with the project.

Now set to be established in Near Southside, Funky Picnic will be nestled near three of its neighbors once it opens the doors at 401 Bryan Ave. HopFusion Ale Works, The Collective Brewing Project and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. are all within walking distance of the aspiring brewpub's location, while Fort Brewery & Pizza and Wild Acre Brewing Co. are just over a mile away.

Regarding the space itself, Funky Picnic will occupy the southern end of the structure on Bryan Ave., giving them more than 4,000 square feet of usable space to work with. That allotment will be divided between production area (anchored by a seven-barrel brewhouse) and a café, with the latter featuring a full menu allowing patrons to partake in a casual meal while enjoying their beer.

As far as timelines go, permitting and construction on the site are the first items on the group's agenda. Should all go as planned, North Texans should expect to see Funky Picnic debut in the spring of 2019.

For more on Funky Picnic, follow the brewpub on Facebook, or visit its website at