Friday, May 17, 2019

Deep Ellum draws praise down under at 2019 Australian International Beer Awards

Image: Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has drawn praise down under after winning three awards at the 2019 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA).

Held in Melbourne and put on by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, the 2019 edition of the AIBA drew 2594 entries from 402 breweries (submissions were accepted in draught and packaged form). Just over half of the brewers who presented beers were from Australia, with the rest hailing from around the world. Judges evaluated beers in 83 different categories, with multiple gold, silver and bronze awards possible in each division.

As for Deep Ellum, the brewery's four award-winning brews are listed below. A complete list of winners can be found in the 2019 AIBA Catalogue of Results.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co.
  • Silver for Play Date (packaged) in the Other Specialty Beer category.
  • Bronze for Local Legend (packaged) in the Sweet Stout category.
  • Bronze for Neato Bandito (packaged) in the Other International Style Lager category.

Cheers and congratulations to Deep Ellum!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Lakewood revives Raspberry Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

After being retired for over 18 months, Raspberry Temptress is back as a member of the Seduction Series at Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) of Garland.

Raspberry Temptress debuted as the initial offering in Lakewood's Seduction Series in 2014. A year later, it became the first beer in that line to be sold at retail in 22-ounce bottles. Seasonal releases continued around Valentine's Day through 2017, but fans of the beer were forced to seek solace in other variants once Raspberry Temptress was left off the 2018 production schedule.

So, what prompted the return?

“We like to keep our Seduction Series lineup ever-changing," says Wim Bens, president and founder of LBC. "Temptress is such a great beer to add layers of flavor to that we don’t want to release the same four versions every year. That means that some of our favorites will take a break from time to time in order for us to bring new ideas and exciting flavors to our fans. So this year Coconut Temptress is taking a break and Raspberry, usually released for Valentine’s Day, comes back in for the summer.”

As has been the case in the past, Raspberry Temptress starts with The Temptress as the base beer, and is then infused with what the brewery describes as a "ridiculous amount of fresh raspberry puree."

“This year’s batch took over 1,000 pounds of fresh Oregon raspberry puree to get the flavor just right," adds Bens. "The result is a big, decadent stout with a subtle fruit acidity and a chocolate covered raspberry aroma.”

According to a press release, Raspberry Temptress is now available for a limited time in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles at liquor stores and gourmet grocery stores, as well as on draft at craft beer-centric bars and restaurants.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Lakewood garners gold for BBT at 2019 San Diego International Beer Competition

Image credit: San Diego International Beer Festival.

Results from the 2019 San Diego International Beer Competition have been revealed, with Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland landing on the list of winners.

Over 1500 beers were entered in this year's competition, with submissions coming from breweries in 5 countries. In the U.S. alone, 26 states were represented at the event, where prizes were awarded in 60 different style categories.

As for Lakewood's winning brew, that would be none other than Bourbon Barrel Temptress (BBT), arguably one of the most popular beers made in North Texas.

Lakewood Brewing Co.
  • Gold for Bourbon Barrel Temptress in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category.

Cheers and congratulations to Lakewood!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - April 30, 2019 edition

Image credits: Trinity Forest Brewing Co., Howling Mutt Brewing Co., Dirty Job Brewing, Wild Acre Brewing Co., Four Walls Brewing Co.

An end of April edition of the Conspectus brings news on permitting activity, a satellite location for a Fort Worth brewery, and fundraising efforts by a newly-announced entity to the north.


Dirty Job opts for brewpub license, now selling beer to go

Dirty Job Brewing of Mansfield has changed its permit type and is now operating under a retail/brewpub license. This allows the brewery to sell beer to go, which is something it began doing earlier this month. Growler fills are available for most house brews, with Dirty Job currently filling 32 and 64-ounce receptacles.

Wild Acre opening second location

As first reported by Fort Worth Weekly, a second location for Wild Acre Brewing Co. is in the works. Construction has begun on an existing structure at 6479 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth, with plans including a kitchen and an in-house brewing operation. Once open, the new spot will serve customers seven days a week.

Permits approved for three North Texas newbies

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has issued permits for a trio of North Texas breweries in development.

Howling Mutt Brewing Co. (retail/brewpub license) is working to acquire and assemble equipment while its space is under construction at 205 N. Cedar St. in Denton.

Trinity Forest Brewing Co. (manufacturing permit) is a Dallas-based firm that is still awaiting federal approval from the TTB. Once that is received, the group will produce beer under an alternating proprietorship agreement with Hop & Sting at Grapevine Craft Brewery.

Information is scarce on 111 Brewing (manufacturing permit), but a public notice indicates the brewery will be established at 111 S. Fannin Ave. in Denison.

Four Walls launches crowdfunding campaign

Four Walls Brewing Co. has launched a campaign to raise funds on Indiegogo. Those behind the project have set a flexible goal of $10,000, with the money earmarked for outfitting a brewery to be located in Downtown Celina.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Rahr & Sons takes trio of awards at 2019 Los Angeles International Beer Competition

Image credit: Fairplex.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. has made a habit of winning at the annual Los Angeles International Beer Competition. After winning over a dozen medals from 2015-2018, the Fort Worth brewery has scored once again with three additional awards bestowed at the 2019 event.

Taking place April 13-14, this year's competition accepted beers in 100 different style categories, with entries evaluated against the 2018 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines.

See below for the rundown of recognized brews from Rahr & Sons, or click here for a complete list of winners.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.
  • Gold for Iron Joe in the Coffee Beer category.
  • Bronze for Pumpkin Ale in the Pumpkin Spice Beer category.
  • Bronze for Rahr's Blonde in the American-Style or German-Style Light Lager category.

Cheers and congratulations to Rahr & Sons!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Diversity, growth among topics discussed at 2019 CBC

The 2019 Craft Brewers Conference was held at The Colorado Convention
Center in Denver, Colorado (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Arriving for the 2019 Craft Brewer's Conference (CBC), held last week in Denver, Colorado, immediate concerns went beyond the state of the brewing industry to that of an impending blizzard. Luckily the blizzard lacked bluster, at least in and around the city, allowing attendees to move about freely between conference seminars and downtown Denver breweries.

Naturally, one of the gathering's main draws was the Brewers Association's annual State of the Industry address given by Paul Gatza, senior vice president of the professional brewing division, and Bart Watson, chief economist.

According to data presented, over 7000 breweries operated all or part of 2018, with 1049 openings and 219 closures occurring (an all-time high).

That translates to a national closure rate of around 3%. Comparatively, the closure rate in North Texas was 2.67% for 2018, with 2 closures among 75 breweries operating all or part of last year.

Looking further at the chart above, the total number of breweries in the U.S. has nearly doubled in just four years. And, more are on the horizon. The federal government has issued over 10,000 active TTB permits, which means there are least 2500 or more breweries in planning across the country.

Locally, the brewery count in North Texas stands at 75 (breweries, brewpubs), with well over 30 others in development.

Regarding growth, craft beer grew only 4% overall for 2018, essentially remaining flat compared to 2017.

Looking at individual segments, breweries saw 16% growth, with brewpubs (restaurants with brewing operations) landing at 13%, and regional breweries staying stagnant at 0%.

Commenting on the results, Watson said he believes growth numbers in the mid-single digits aren't likely to change much unless brewers work to attract new drinkers. Along those lines, he and Gatza suggested breweries could try and appeal to other types of consumers by exploring things like beer hybridization (beer/wine hybrids, beer mixers, more barrel-aged options), adding distilling operations, and the use of cannabis.

Expanding craft beer's demographic* was another avenue discussed, with the topic of diversity being center stage during the conference. A panel led by Brewers Association diversity ambassador, Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, focused on strategies aimed at adding fresh faces and voices to the craft beer conversation, whether that be through brewery partnerships with community organizations or by sourcing new talent into the industry's workforce.

A key point brought up in those proceedings was that founders and brewers (i.e. those invested in the company) should endeavor to engage groups they seek to draw into their business. Not only that, it should be done in such a way that it's not just about checking a box to say you've reached out. Sponsoring a group's philanthropic effort is one thing, but actually participating and working together sends a stronger message of community and inclusion.

As for other items of interest, additional data specific to Texas was presented in two side seminars:
  • While going over broader numbers related to pricing and promotion, Nielsen shared data on how displays in Texas are affecting sales. In this case, a retailer having a display presence with lower price discount incentives (as opposed to having no display with a higher discount) resulted in more volume sales. The smaller discount also allowed for improved margin.
  • An analysis done by Audra Gaiziunas, owner of Brewed for her Ledger - an accounting/finance/strategy firm for the beer industry, tracked the impact of working with a tour operator on a Texas brewery's bottom line. The tour operator paid the brewery $5 per head for a tasting and tour, while also providing attendees with a free beer token for use on a later visit. Data showed guests returning to redeem the token bought an additional 1.2 beers on average, resulting in a gross margin increase through the taproom of 2%.

* The typical craft beer drinker is a white male, 21-34 years old, with an average household income of $87,000 per year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Future breweries featured at LUCKapalooza V

Image credit: LUCK.

Simply put, drinking local is how things are done at LUCK in Trinity Groves. Yet, the approach there doesn't just involve supporting those breweries that supply the restaurant's everyday beer lineup. Indeed, it's also about helping to get the word out on up-and-coming brewing companies yet to join the professional ranks.

LUCK goes about the latter by way of events like LUCKapalooza. Billed as a celebration of beer and music, the gathering differs from homebrew competitions that bring together both strict hobbyists and aspiring professionals. Instead, LUCKapalooza strives to offer patrons a taste of what's to come from companies actively working to open their doors in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The festivities were first held in 2015, and since then, over a dozen breweries have appeared at LUCKapalooza prior to going on to pour professionally (two others are opening soon). For 2019, eight more would-be wort wranglers attended the fifth annual event, each looking to add their name to the crop of contenders vying for the crown of next great North Texas craft brewery. Regarding where things stand on these projects, status updates are provided below.

  • Soul Fire Brewing Co. is currently under construction in Roanoke, with the brewery going into an existing structure that will house a food hall.
  • Also set to occupy existing structures, construction starts are pending at False Idol Brewing of North Richland Hills (currently making beer under license at Oak Cliff Brewing Co.) and Vector Brewing of Dallas.
  • Siren Rock Brewing Co. is being built from the ground up in Rockwall, with those behind the operation hoping to begin moving dirt within the next few weeks. Perhaps the most ambitious undertaking listed here, plans call for a 13,000 square foot space to be situated on a 1.25-acre site.
  • Groups scouting locations: 2nd Hand Cerveceria (South Fort Worth), Murphy's Law Brew Co. (Johnson County), Village Creek Brewing Co. (Arlington), Bleshoux Brewing Co. (Dallas County).

As for a few notable beers from among the day's offerings, Bleshoux created a bit of buzz with a blue Berliner weisse called Cove Theory. Others rating highly among attendees were False Idol's Train to Valhalla English Barleywine and the beer that ended up being my personal favorite, Duotone Fruited Smoothie Sour from Vector Brewing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

My 2019 Big Texas tasting card

Image credits: Brewvolution, Ingenious Brewing Co., Tupps Brewery, Manhattan Project Beer Co., 903 Brewers, Hemisphere Brewing Co.,
Hop & Sting Brewing Co., 3 Nations Brewing Co., Rabbit Hole Brewing, Peticolas Brewing Co., Oak Cliff Brewing Co.

Amidst Mother Nature's apparent struggle to keep the seasons straight, a beer festival broke out this past weekend in the form of the eighth annual Big Texas Beer Fest (BTBF). The meandering mercury had attendees reaching for a cold one on a warm Friday night, while Saturday's climate called for a barrel-aged stout to help stave off the chill.

Naturally, it being a beer fest, there were options aplenty for both extremes and everything in between. You could even indulge in other types of refreshment, with a variety of ciders, hard seltzers and kombucha available, not to mention the appearance of a non-alcoholic beer hustler looking to show off its new Heine.

Regarding the featured beverage, the event boasted more than 400 beers from over 90 breweries. Nearly two-thirds of those brewing companies hailed from the Lone Star State, with 50 coming from North Texas. Indeed, whereas early editions of BTBF had to lean on national brands to populate the beer list, it's now Texas brews taking center stage.

Of course, that's a function of the market more than anything else. There's no getting around the fact that changes in demand have lead to changes in the portfolios of both breweries and distributors. Many breweries aren't making the same beers compared to when they first opened, and there are fewer national brands being shipped to the local market.

As for what's popular from year to year, one need only track the trails of consumer taste. And, what better place to do that than BTBF? For, while the event has proven to be a grand showcase for products offered by the local industry, it has also served as a platform from which to witness the evolution of the local craft beer scene.

So, with that in mind, this year's collection of festival favorites is presented in a slightly different format, with a bit of background on what's behind the beers you're imbibing.


Haze forays

Once upon a time, the West Coast IPA was the belle of the craft beer ball. However, its popularity has waned recently in favor of the juicy and hazy IPA stylings of New England. Lines forming to sample such beers at BTBF were a testament to the shifting IPA dynamic, with breweries like Celestial Beer Works, Ingenious Brewing Co., Manhattan Project Beer Co., Turning Point Beer and Tupps Brewery serving up a variety of NEIPAs to sustained crowds around their booths.

Notable pours: Ingenious Mango Creamsicle Double FroYo, Manhattan Project 10 Nanoseconds, Tupps DDH Series 9.

Variations on a theme

At some point, rotating ingredients into a standard stout recipe became a popular thing. Stout variants help breweries keep things fresh for consumers always on the lookout for something new, and for a while Lakewood Brewing Co. cornered the market on this approach by way of The Temptress. Lately, though, other breweries have thrown their hats into the ring, with product lines being built around beers like 3 Nations Devout, 903 Sasquatch, Oak Cliff Sombre and Tupps Full Grown Man - all of which were served in one form or another at this year's BTBF.

Notable pours: 3 Nations Devout Bananas Foster, Oak Cliff Sombre - Canadian Tuxedo.

'Bung'ee jumping

Judging by options poured at BTBF, bourbon barrels are still the vessel of choice when it comes to barrel aging beers, but there were other treatments to be found on the festival floor. This year, fest-goers were able to sample beers aged in Bordeaux, clean oak, rum, tequila, white wine and (my personal favorite) brandy barrels.

Notable pours: 903 Dracarys Oak-Aged Imperial Mexican Style Stout, Hemisphere Bourbon Barrel-Aged Black Sacrament, Hop & Sting Barrel-Aged Frigid Underworld, Rabbit Hole Hatter's Revenge - Brandy Barrel-Aged Golden Strong Ale.

What's new is old again

While it almost certainly won't always be the case, it was ironic to see Peticolas Brewing Co. choose something old - a märzen - as its first "What's New" beer. A märzen is a German beer that's been around for nearly 500 years and, believe it or not, some still seek out classic styles. Perhaps what they say is true...the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Notable pour: Peticolas What's New #1: Märzen.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Four North Texas breweries earn medals at 2019 Aro Rojo

Image credit: Competencia Internacional de Cerveza Aro Rojo.

Four area breweries and a local gypsy brewer have been recognized south of the border at the 2019 Aro Rojo International Beer Competition.

Held March 26-28 in Tampico, Mexico, the Aro Rojo event aims to be an international platform for recognition of beers from around the world. In addition to those sent in from the competition's home country of Mexico, beers were submitted from South and Central America, South Korea and the United States. Entries were evaluated according to the 2015 Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines.

As for North Texas, a total of five medals were awarded to local breweries, with an additional medal of note bestowed upon a beer Dallas-based BlackMan Brewing created in collaboration with Costa Rican brewer Treintaycinco - Fabrica de Cervezas. Each of these honorees is listed below, while a complete list of winners may be found by clicking here (image at link expands to a slideshow).

Bankhead Brewing Co., Rowlett
  • Silver for Whoopee! in the Czech Premium Pale Lager category.
  • Bronze for Devil Wagon in the Munich Helles category.
  • Silver for Smoking Lit in the Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer category.
Cowtown Brewing Co., Fort Worth
  • Silver for Everybody's Doing It in the American IPA category.
HopFusion Ale Works, Fort Worth
  • Gold for Coco Anejo in the Winter Seasonal Beer category.
  • Bronze for Friday IPA in the American IPA category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Noble Rey closing Dallas brewery and taproom

Image credit: Noble Rey Brewing Co.

Following a late December bankruptcy filing aimed at restructuring its debt, Noble Rey Brewing Co. has announced it will close both of its Dallas locations as of April 1.

Noble Rey debuted on the local scene nearly four years ago, opening a production facility on Farrington St. in July 2015. The company then went on the become the first area brewery to open a satellite taproom, after establishing a presence in the Dallas Farmers Market in November 2016.

More recently, Noble Rey had begun marketing its brand to European markets via a partnership formed with Neodif of France in January 2018. Through that arrangement, recipes for Vertigo Double IPA and Sex in a Canoe American Light Lager were licensed for production and distribution overseas.

According to a press release, the business is being sold to new ownership by way of the bankruptcy court, with the buyers expected to take over by mid-April.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

False Idol now brewing under license at Oak Cliff

Image credit: False Idol Brewing.

False Idol Brewing will introduce its brand to the North Texas market this week, after entering into an agreement to have its products brewed under license at Oak Cliff Brewing Co. of Dallas.

According to founder Dominique Van Ausdall, the decision to license the brand was was made to get False Idol beers into the glasses of consumers sooner rather than later. And, while beers will be brewed at Oak Cliff for the time being, all recipe formulation will be handled by the team behind False Idol.

This approach is meant to be short term while details are being squared away on the company's facility at 7924 Maplewood Ave. in North Richland Hills. Progress is being made, though, as a TTB permit is already in hand and equipment has been secured from recently-closed Good Neighbor Brews of Wylie.

As for False Idol's first offering, the group will debut with Side Hustlin' New England IPA. The beer is set to premier this Friday, March 15, during at event at Oak Cliff's taproom in Tyler Station. From there, kegs from a full-size, 30-barrel batch will be distributed to select growler shops around the Metroplex.

Further out, False Idol also expects to have beer available on tap during LUCKapalooza V, the annual music and beer celebration hosted by LUCK. Those festivities take place on April 14 at Trinity Groves in Dallas.

Deep Ellum launches Oklahoma distribution

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Making its first foray outside the State of Texas, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced it will begin shipping products to Oklahoma.

Set to occur this month, Deep Ellum's expansion into the Sooner State is made possible by new partnerships with Capital Distributing of Oklahoma City and LDF Sales & Distributing of Tulsa.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of Deep Ellum’s first brand launch outside of Texas,” says Gordon Green, general manager of Capital Distributing. “Their brand portfolio performs very well and Oklahoma consumers will enjoy these great beers.”

According to a press release, beer drinkers in Oklahoma will soon be able to purchase Deep Ellum's core offerings on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. That lineup consists of Dallas Blonde, Deep Ellum IPA, Neato Bandito and Easy Peasy IPA. Those four beers will also sold together in the brewery's Mixed Tape 12-pack.

In addition, select specialty beers will be available on draft during the launch, including Local Legend, Deep Ellum Lager, Play Date Sour Blonde Ale and Dreamcrusher Double IPA.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - March 7, 2019 edition

Image credits: Parker County Brewing Co., Deep Ellum Brewing Co., BlackMan Brewing,
Walking Beam Brewing Co., Brutal Beerworks.

This edition of the Conspectus features a fresh set of updates related to new and future brewing operations, as well as news on national and international recognition received by local brewers.


Parker County takes prize at New York competition

Parker County Brewing Co. of Willow Park was honored last month at the 2019 New York International Beer Competition. The event, which took place February 10 in New York City, drew over 600 submissions from 14 different countries.

Fawn, the brewpub's barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout (released in January), won Double Gold in the American Style Stout category. Only five beers entered in the competition received the Double Gold designation, a prize level awarded based on a unanimous decision by the judges.

BlackMan Brewing wins additional awards in Central America

Following up recent wins in Costa Rica, Barrett Tillman of BlackMan Brewing has garnered additional recognition for Smoking Lit, a lichtenhainer he brewed in collaboration with Treintaycinco - Fabrica de Cervezas of Costa Rica. In addition to winning gold in the Sour Styles category, the beer was named Best of Show at Barrilito de Oro 2019 - Micro Brew Fest Panama.

Deep Ellum, Walking Beam debut operations out west

Two new entities have opened in the western portion of the Metroplex, with Deep Ellum Brewing Co. introducing its Funkytown Fermatorium to Fort Worth on March 1, and Walking Beam Brewing Co. opening its doors in Bridgeport on February 23.

As of now, Walking Beam is serving house brews, while the Fermatorium is pouring Deep Ellum standards as it works to develop a portfolio of Fort Worth exclusives. On the culinary side, each provides on-site food service, with hand-crafted pizzas being the primary offering at both locales.

Brutal Beerworks now TABC-approved

Set to become the first brewery in North Richland Hills (NRH), Brutal Beerworks obtained its permit from the TABC on March 1. The company's location is currently under construction at 8446 Boulevard 26 in NRH, with an opening targeted for May. Once up and running, Brutal will operate under a brewpub license, which allows for the sale of beer-to-go.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Toasty Bros. debuts brand with Damage Dealer

A pour of Damage Dealer from Toasty Bros. (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

Fresh off a late February label approval, Toasty Bros. released its first beer this past weekend, tapping Damage Dealer Double Stout at Denton County Brewing Co. on Friday.

Toasty Bros. is a Denton-based firm currently brewing its products under an alternating proprietorship agreement with Hop & Sting at Grapevine Craft Brewery. Brian "Toast" Tiensvold is the man behind the beer, with local pride being a guiding light for the business.

"The plan is to brew one small batch at a time and sell the beer primarily in Denton," says Tiensvold. "There may be a few exceptions, but we want to grow a local following. The idea is to become what I call a 'community-supported mom and pop brewing company.' My wife and I love this city...we live here, work here, and play here, and we want to open up a taproom here in the city someday."
Image credit: Toasty Bros.
As for Tiensvold himself, he's not new to the North Texas scene. Most recently working as a brewer at Denton County, Tiensvold also spent time at Whistle Post Brewing Co. of Pilot Point. In addition, he's an alumnus of the Home Brewers League at Barley & Board, having tapped his take on a French-style saison (called Maison Saison) last July.

For Toasty Bros.' initial offering, Tiensvold chose an imperial stout brewed with six different malt varieties. The result is a complex brew featuring layers of dark roast, coffee, and baker's chocolate that finishes dry and chewy with an abundance of black patent bitterness. In other words, it's a beer that harkens back to a time not so long ago when stouts tended to be big and bitter, rather than sweet and, perhaps both literally and figuratively, half-baked.

Next up, Tiensvold has a pair of IPAs in the works, as well as an "easy drinking ale" called Long Tacky Old Slacks (with both original and dark versions). Expected release dates for those and other beers to come can found on the company's website, located at

In the meantime, another keg of Damage Dealer will be tapped on Friday, March 8, at The Bearded Monk. Billed as a meet the brewer-type event, Tiensvold will be on hand to talk all things Toasty Bros., while raising a toast to the area's newest brand of beer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Grab a beer 'By the Horns' in Mansfield

By the Horns occupies a building with Tacos & Avocados in anchoring
The Backyard development in Mansfield (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

In terms of operations bringing together so-called classic pairings of food and beer, North Texas boasts brewpubs built around pizza and beer, along with others that lean a little more Texan in being a one-stop shop for barbecue and beer. Now, though, area residents can add the combination of tacos and beer to their list of local options, thanks to the arrival of By the Horns Brewing in Mansfield.

Brought to you by Brain Storm Shelter, By the Horns opened in late January. In doing so, it joined entities like Twisted Root Burger Co., Tacos & Avocados and Truck Yard on the group's restaurant management roster. And, as it applies to Mansfield, three of those names come together to help form The Backyard, a concept by M.R. Development designed to give visitors the impression of hanging out in an extension of their own backyard.

It's an idea to be taken literally, considering By the Horns, Tacos & Avocados and Twisted Root front a development that features a well-appointed, open-air space out back that's both family-friendly and self-contained. What's more, the setup allows patrons to enjoy beverages throughout the complex, since a single liquor license governs the three commonly-owned restaurants.

Within the grounds, By the Horns shares a building with Tacos & Avocados, ergo the tacos and beer part of this whole equation. The food is focused on fresh Tex-Mex, with a By the Horns Beer-Braised Brisket Taco to be had for those looking for a beer-based infusion. And sides? Well, adventurous diners will surely want to get a taste of the Oaxacan Grasshopper Tostada topped with real, dried grasshoppers.

Tap handles at By the Horns take the shape of longhorn horns, while beer to-go
from the brewpub comes in 19.2-ounce crowlers (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

On the topic of beverages, while liquor and cocktails are also available, pours of the barley and hop-based variety are the work of head brewer Justin Meyers. His lineup has a tinge of German influence, thanks in part to time spent working with Paulaner, which up until last year had a stateside outpost called Paulaner on Bowery in New York City.

Now, it should be noted that the "German influence" aspect of Meyers' approach is just that...influence. German brewing traditions may date back over 400 years, but the Reinheitsgebot (a.k.a. the German Beer Purity Law) will not govern operations at By the Horns. That evidenced, at the very least, by the presence of an Agave IPA on the menu.

German standards do appear, however, in the form of a helles and a hefeweizen (both of which are quite popular judging by the amount of orders overheard at the bar). These beers slot in alongside an IPA, a pale and a brown ale on a tapwall expected to contain upwards of nine everyday offerings. Brews currently on tap are virtually spot on to style, which suggests recipes will go mostly by the book at By the Horns.

As for accessibility, By the Horns is now open seven days a week, with service starting at 11 a.m. House beers may be enjoyed on-site, or you can grab a few beers by the horns to-go by way of 19.2-ounce crowlers.

By the Horns is the first brewing concept to be developed by Brain Storm Shelter. Another, called Beard Science, is set to be part of Truck Yard The Colony, currently under construction in Denton County.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Stakeholders reach agreement on beer-to-go

Image credit: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

A landmark agreement has been reached between the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG) and the Beer Alliance of Texas (BAT) on SB 312 and HB 672, the bipartisan beer-to-go bills currently filed in the Texas Legislature.

Soon-to-be-filed committee substitutes of both bills, authored by State Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), would give craft brewers rights they have sought during legislative sessions dating back to 2007. If passed, the resolutions will allow patrons to purchase up to 576 ounces (two cases) of beer per calendar day from a craft brewery tasting room for take-home consumption. This would impact over 30 production breweries currently operating in North Texas.

“I am proud to be part of a win-win agreement for every level of the three-tier system,” says Sen. Buckingham. “This is a big step forward for small Texas breweries and the consumers who enjoy their products. I am grateful to both the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild for their willingness to reach a fair agreement for both sides of this important issue.”

Brewer-wholesaler unity on the bill is bolstered by support from both sides of the aisle. At their 2018 conventions, both Texas Republicans and Democrats included support for Beer-To-Go in their respective party platforms.

"Allowing ‘beer-to-go’ sales is a common-sense issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree on because it’s good for small business and has come to be expected by consumers,” says Rep. Rodriguez. “Texans are incredibly excited about ‘beer-to-go’ as the public support for HB 672/SB 312 has shown, and I am glad that the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and the Beer Alliance of Texas have come to the table.”

Seeking to foster regulatory stability for the industry, the TCBG and the BAT have also agreed to refrain from lobbying to raise or lower allowable Texas malt beverage barrelage caps for a period of 12 years.

“The Beer Alliance of Texas has always worked to ensure a strong malt beverage market in Texas,” says Rick Donley, president of the BAT. “We have committed to working with our friends in the craft-manufacturing segment on sensible regulations that provide for a stable and predictable three tier market in Texas that continues to be recognized as the gold standard for regulatory structures across the country.”

In a press release announcing the news, the TCBG and BAT applauded Sen. Buckingham and Rep. Rodriguez’s commitment to setting craft brewers on a more equal playing field with Texas wineries, distilleries, and brewpubs which are all permitted to engage in to-go sales as a brand-building, tourism-boosting opportunity.

"The Texas Craft Brewers Guild is proud to promote a sensible alcohol regulatory framework that encourages competition, consumer choice and access to market for brewers in our great state,” says Josh Hare, board chair for the TCBG. “We are excited to be working with the Beer Alliance of Texas to promote common sense regulations that ensure the beer industry in Texas will continue to thrive. We look forward to the opportunity to provide consumers with greater access to Texas made beer while ensuring a predictable and effective three-tier system.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

Deep Ellum, HopFusion among winners at 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards

Image credit: Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Judging for the 2019 edition of the Best of Craft Beer Awards has been completed, with two area breweries landing medals at the competition.

A total of 262 medals were awarded by a panel of 96 judges at the event, with winning breweries hailing from 33 different states. Over 2000 entries were logged and separated into 90 categories, then evaluated against the 2018 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines.

Regarding North Texas medalists, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas was a repeat winner for Deep Ellum Lager (the beer took bronze in 2018), while HopFusion Ale Works brought home a Best of Craft Beer award for the first time. As for other winners, a complete list of 2019 medalists can be found by clicking here.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Silver for Deep Ellum Lager in the Other Lager category.
HopFusion Ale Works, Fort Worth
  • Silver for Feisty Redhead in the Specialty Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to Deep Ellum and HopFusion!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Good Neighbor closing Wylie brewery

Image credit: Good Neighbor Brews.

After two years in business, Good Neighbor Brews has announced the closure of its Wylie brewery.

Good Neighbor debuted in February 2017, starting out as a draft-only operation before eventually packaging beers like Slim Sweetness Blonde Ale and O'Carroll's Irish Red in cans. The brewery also had a hand in helping Landon Winery of Greenville get its own brewing operation up and running later that summer.

According to a Facebook post, those behind the company are embarking on a new restaurant venture in Wylie. Plans for what that entails are still in the works, but those interested can click here to be placed on a mailing list that promises to reveal all details in due time.

As for the brewery, it will remain open on weekends through the end of February, with special pricing available for remaining beer on draft and in cans.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Humperdinks' original Greenville location closing Sunday, February 3

Humperdinks' original location on Greenville Ave. in Dallas (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The Lake Highlands Advocate reports that Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewpub on Greenville Ave. in Dallas will close after the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 3.

The Greenville spot was the first for the local chain, originally opening in 1976. Brewing operations were added in early 1997 - coming online after brewpubs were legalized in Texas during the 1993 legislative session. For a number of years, house beers were crafted under the Big Horn Brewing Co. label, based on a partnership with Washington-based Ram International. That coupling resulted in Big Horn Brewing Co./Humperdinks of Dallas being named Large Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in 2001.

As for other locations, brewing operations continue at Humperdinks on Six Flags Drive in Arlington (open since 1995) and W. Northwest Highway in Dallas (open since 1997). An additional site in Addison ceased brewing in 2005, before eventually shuttering in 2017.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - January 29, 2019 edition

Representing just the sort of news that's expected in the Conspectus, this round of updates includes items on new beers, new and future breweries, and international recognition for a local brand.


Bluffview Growler now brewing in Dallas

Adding its name to the roster of active North Texas brewing operations, Bluffview Growler introduced its first house brew during the pub's second anniversary party in mid-January. Billed as Bluffview's Unfiltered Pale Ale, the small-batch beer was an American-style pale ale that finished out with an ABV of 7.0%. Available for a limited time, it tapped out shortly after the celebration.

Lakewood releases 2019 production calendar

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has revealed its 2019 production plans, with a number of notable changes in store for the coming year. In addition to a new Small Batch Series and special Barrel Works selections, the brewery will introduce a new year-round beer called Lemonale and a new Seduction Series offering in the form of Salted Caramel Temptress. As for beers not making the cut, Dry-Hopped Zomer Pils and Till & Toil will not be included in the 2019 seasonal lineup. Details on that and more can be found by clicking here.

BlackMan Brewing honored at Pura Vida Indie International Beer Cup

Gypsy Brewer Barret Tillman has landed multiple awards from the 2019 Pura Vida Indie International Beer Cup. Tillman was recognized for Smoking Lit, a collaborative effort between his BlackMan Brewing label and Treintaycinco - Fabrica de Cervezas of Costa Rica. The beer, a lichtenhainer by design, was named Best Beer from Costa Rica, Best Beer from Central America, and Best Beer of the Cup.

Two future brewing companies obtain TABC approval

Earlier this month, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) issued permits for Toasty Bros. of Denton and Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth.

Toasty Bros. is set to begin brewing this month under an alternating proprietorship with Hop & Sting at Grapevine Craft Brewery. The first beer to hit the fermenter will be a double stout called Damage Dealer, which looks to debut in March.

Funky Picnic is currently under construction in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth, with current targets eyeing late spring for an opening date.

Image credits (top-to-bottom): Bluffview Growler, Lakewood Brewing Co., Pura Vida Indie International Beer Cup, Toasty Bros., Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Lakewood helping to raise funds for startup Vector Brewing

Images courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Last week, the Dallas Observer  reported on the plight of Vector Brewing, a local brewery in development fighting to keep its dream alive in the face of the government shutdown. In response to the company's struggles, Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) is "doing what the beer industry does best and is helping out a brewer in need."

“Community spirit is one of our core values and it guides us to help out our fellow brewers whenever we can," says Wim Bens, founder and president of LBC. "Starting a family business is difficult enough without the headache of the government shutdown. Even if it’s resolved today, the backlog will keep them without their funding for a while.”

Bradley and Bens at LBC.
Vector Brewing, started by Lakewood's former creative director Craig Bradley and his wife Veronica, is doing its best to navigate through the government shutdown. Their Small Business Administration (SBA) loan has been held in limbo while the cost of construction has been ongoing.

“The past few weeks have been tough, as the shutdown has effectively stalled us at the moment we were expecting to get started,” says Bradley. “The amount of support from our community and fellow breweries has been amazing to see and we can’t thank our LBC family enough for helping us out while we get through this, and believe me, we will get through this.”

Lakewood will be holding a “Brewing Good Sunday” fundraiser on Sunday, January 27th, at the brewery's taproom in Garland. A dollar from each pint served on Sunday will go directly to Vector Brewing, and representatives of the company will also be on site to sell shirts and talk about the business.

Click here to learn more about Vector Brewing and to donate directly to the cause.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Noble Rey eyes strategic restructuring with Ch. 11 filing

Image: Noble Rey Brewing Co.

Noble Rey Brewing Co. of Dallas has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code, according to a filing with the Texas Northern Bankruptcy Court dated December 19, 2018.

Chris Rigoulot, founder of Noble Rey, released a statement on the matter, indicating the company has no plans to close, with the move being made primarily to help Noble Rey organize existing debt.

"Chapter 11 is part of a strategic restructuring that allows companies time to become profitable again while restructuring any debt," says Rigoulot. "We are making the necessary changes to be in this industry for the long haul!"

"Noble Rey is going through a strategic restructuring, and we couldn’t feel better about that decision," adds Rigoulot. "We feel the excitement of creative enterprise again, and Noble Rey will begin to push the envelope and reaffirm ourselves as a source of innovation, and with no compromise to our existing product or image. We simply got caught up in the rat race, and the realization of the support we have received from the local community has brought us back to what we wanted this thing to be in the beginning."

The brewery began operations in July 2015, and in the years since has established itself as one of the area's more recognizable brands. Noble Rey was the first to introduce label graphics designed around full-body characters that come together when viewed across stacked cans.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bipartisan beer-to-go bills filed ahead of 2019 legislative session

Image credit: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Ahead of the 86th legislative session, bipartisan bills (SB 312HB 672) proposing the legalization of beer-to-go sales from Texas craft breweries have been introduced by State Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin).

The Texas Craft Brewers Guild and its political action committee arm, CraftPAC, have strongly advocated for off-premise sales as a means of supporting small businesses, increasing consumer choice, and creating more quality manufacturing jobs for Texans.

Currently, Texas is the only state in America that doesn't allow beer-to-go sales. The move by Senator Buckingham and Representative Rodriguez looks to bring Texas into line with the rest of the nation by setting craft brewers on a more equal playing field with the state's other alcoholic beverage producers.

“HB 672 corrects a glaring disparity in the state’s alcohol laws and gives Texans the freedom to purchase beer-to-go when they visit a local brewery…just like they can when they visit a Texas winery, distillery, or brewpub,” says Rep. Rodriguez. “The fact is, 49 other states already allow consumers to purchase beer-to-go when they visit a local brewery…Texas should be a leader when it comes to supporting small businesses, not the last horse to cross the finish line.”

Current law states that Texas manufacturing brewers who produce less than 225,000 barrels of beer annually can sell up to 5,000 barrels of that beer to tasting room visitors for on-premises consumption. The proposed bills would amend the current law to allow for on-premises “or for off-premises consumption” of these products. This change would not impact the overall quantity of beer brewers can sell from their tasting rooms, but would give patrons more freedom to enjoy that beer either in the tasting room setting or back at their homes.

"As a promoter of a fiscally responsibly limited government, I believe Texas craft brewers should have the right to sell beer and ale to consumers for off-premise consumption — a privilege the state already provides to wineries, distilleries and brewpubs in Texas,” says Sen. Buckingham. "Senate District 24 is home to many craft breweries, and with Texas being the only state in the country that does not permit off-premise sales at production breweries, I have filed SB 312 to encourage further economic development in my Senate District and to eliminate this unnecessary government overreach."

Click here to support the efforts of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and CraftPAC by making a contribution or signing the Beer-to-go Sales Petition.