Sunday, July 14, 2019

Last remaining Humperdinks locations to close

Image credit: Humperdinks Restaurant and Brewpub.

Following a bankruptcy filing in February, the Arlington Voice is reporting that the remaining Arlington and Dallas (W. Northwest Highway) locations of Humperdinks Restaurant and Brewpub are set to close.

Humperdinks opened its first Dallas pub on Greenville Ave. in 1976. Locations were added in later years, with brewing operations going online at various sites beginning in 1995. For those projects, Humperdinks partnered with Ram International/Big Horn Brewing Co. of Washington to develop brewpubs in Arlington (1995), Dallas - at W. Northwest Highway (1997) and Greenville Ave. (remodeled, 1997), and Addison (1998).

In the time since, Humperdinks beers won numerous awards at the Great American Beer Festival. Eleven medals (four gold, five silver, two bronze) were bestowed on the company between 2001 and 2012, with the best performance coming in 2001. On that occasion, the combined entity Big Horn Brewing Co./Humperdinks of Dallas was named Large Brewpub of the Year.

As for the here and now, the Arlington Humperdinks had been the longest running brewing operation in North Texas. The Addison brewpub stopped making beer in 2005 (closing in 2017), while the Greenville Ave. locale shuttered just this past February. Other, non-brewing restaurants once existed in Irving and Richardson as well.

Operations will cease at close of business Sunday, July 14, at both the Arlington and W. Northwest Highway restaurants.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Walking Beam balancing beer and food in Bridgeport

Flights at Walking Beam consist of four rather generous
five-ounce pours ( Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Craft beer's sphere of influence continues to reach untapped regions of North Texas, with a recent western expansion resulting in the addition of Walking Beam Brewing Co. to the ever-growing roster of local breweries.

Located near the confluence of US-380 and TX-114 in Bridgeport, Walking Beam is that city's first brewing operation, and the first in Wise County as a whole. The spot opened in late February, after owner John Townsend built out a 4,000 square foot space at 1019 Halsell St. in Bridgeport's downtown district.

Come to find out, though, Walking Beam isn't Townsend's first foray into the beer business. In the late 1980s, Townsend contracted with Jones Brewing Co. of Smithton, Pennsylvania, to produce a recipe he developed for Olde Town Ocean City Beer. The brand's namesake was the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, where Townsend's grandfather was a physician for 40 years.

As for Townsend's current venture, Walking Beam is a brewpub in the traditional sense. House beers are brewed on a one-barrel system behind the bar, while a full-service kitchen serves a menu of appetizers, gourmet pizzas and salad bowls to round out the offerings. In fact, maintaining a balance between the beer and food side of things is what gives rise to the "Walking Beam" name. It's a reference to the Texas oil industry, where a "walking beam" is the pivoting arm of a pumpjack's counterbalance mechanism.

In that vein, oilfield lingo is attached to many of the beers at Walking Beam, with options like Bell Nipple Triple, Roughneck Red and Wildcatter Wheat being part of the brewpub's rotating portfolio. Others with seemingly separate citations include She Bang Saison, Candeed Belgian Ale and Chocolate Rocks, the latter being a nitro chocolate stout that was probably the best beer on tap the day of my visit.

Should you be considering a trip yourself, know that available selections may be had in flights (four, five-ounce tasters) or full pours at Walking Beam. That goes for guest beers and ciders as well. Beertenders will also fill growlers for prospecting patrons seeking new tastes to take home.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Lakewood joins with Jack on new summer collab

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co

Following the success of two collaborations in 2018, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is again joining with Jack Daniel's Distillery to produce a unique barrel-aged beer.

Last year, the brewery teamed up with Jack Daniel's for Jack'd Up Lemonale and Tennessee Temptress. A new vintage of Tennessee Temptress is coming this fall, but Lakewood has something new and different in mind for summer.

“When Jack came knockin’ after our successful beer collabs last year, we jumped at the chance to continue creating new and fun beers,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “This year we decided to continue to draw inspiration from Jack’s Country Cocktails line to make Jack’d Up Punch. It’s a blonde ale aged in freshly emptied and hand-delivered Jack barrels -- and then refermented with a silly amount tangerines, peaches and cherries. At 6.3% ABV it’s the perfect barrel-aged summer beer.”

Jack’d Up Punch will be a draft-only release available starting in mid-July.

Honors pour in for North Texas at the 2019 U.S. Open Beer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Beer Championship.

In recent times, North Texas has made a habit of winning at the U.S. Open Beer Championship, and the local industry has done it again with 13 awards at this year's competition. Combine that with numbers from 2017 and 2018, and North Texas breweries have brought home 40 medals from the U.S. Open over the past three years.

As for the 2019 event, over 7000 entries were received from breweries around the world, with beers broken down and judged across more than 130 categories. Emerging from that group, eight North Texas breweries were honored. Among them, five represent repeat winners, while three collected wins for the first time (Armadillo Ale Works, Bitter Sisters Brewery, White Rock Alehouse & Brewery).

Below is a rundown of recognized beers from North Texas. For others, click here for a complete list of winners.

903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Gold for Sasquatch Reserve in the Aged Beer category.
  • Silver for Greenbelt in the American Specialty Wheat category.
  • Bronze for Sisters Quad in the Belgian Quadrupel category.
  • Gold for Bourbon Barrel Temptress in the Barrel-Aged Strong Stout/Porter category.
  • Silver for Sin Mint Temptress in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Gold for Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vanilla Porter with Tart Cherries in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Fruit Beer category. 
  • Silver for Charity in the German Altbier category.
  • Gold for Great Scot! in the Scottish Ale category.
  • Bronze for Royal Scandal in the English Pale Ale category.
  • Bronze for Same Time Next Year in the Märzen/Oktoberfest category.
  • Bronze for Velvet Hammer in the Imperial Red Ale category. 
  • Bronze for Paleta de Mango in the Chili Pepper Beer category.
  • Silver for IPO IPA in the New England/Juicy/Hazy IPA category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Brutal Beerworks a new Mid-Cities stop for hops

Brutal Beerworks' week three taplist included Mother Heffer, a milk stout,
and Collider, a hazy Pineapple IPA (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

North Richland Hills is the latest North Texas city to welcome its first-ever brewing operation, as Brutal Beerworks is now up and running at 8447 Boulevard 26, in the southeastern section of the Fort Worth suburb.

Founders Eric Johnson, Sallie McIntyre and Jason Perez form the team behind Brutal Beerworks, a name which has been a mainstay on the homebrew competition circuit for a number of years. The group converted a 3400 square foot retail end cap in order to make the business a reality, opening the space to a standing-room only crowd on June 16.

Early visitors lined up to try inaugural offerings which included a half-dozen IPAs, two flavored stouts and a German-style kölsch thrown in for good measure. A similar array of selections was found when I stopped in for a few beers (and crowlers to-go) this past weekend, but a Belgian amber brewed with boysenberries was added to the mix as well. That beer, called Valkyrie, was the preferred pour for me among those I tried, with Electric Haze Machine being the favored hazy IPA.

The brewery's location in North Richland Hills features an open layout that helps
maximize available elbow room (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D, click for a larger version).

Regarding the location itself, Brutal Beerworks is the second brewery to pop up near the Mid Cities region of North Texas, following Turning Point Beer's debut in Bedford last year. Eventually, they'll both be joined by False Idol Brewing Co. (also in North Richland Hills) to form a triad along the TX-183/TX-121 corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth. Once they all are established, a mere five miles will separate the three breweries.

Getting back to the here and now, though, look for Brutal Beerworks to rotate its lineup regularly while pouring upwards of 16 beers on a weekly basis. And based on early returns (not to mention the group's history at amateur events in the past), expect hops to continue to play a big role in the brewery's portfolio.

As for when to visit, Brutal Beerworks is currently set up as a late-week destination, with hours Thursday through Sunday.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A look at 2018 North Texas production numbers

(Click image to view a larger version).

Each year the Brewers Association releases production data in the May/June issue of The New Brewer. The above chart compiles that information for breweries operating in North Texas, breaking it down into subgroups based on size.

Note that not all breweries publish their production numbers and some only share estimates, so the actual breakdown above may vary slightly compared to what is shown.

  • Smaller breweries dominate the North Texas landscape, with the majority producing less than 1000 barrels per year. On top of that, the number of breweries producing more than 1000 barrels has not changed significantly over the past three years.
  • Current and soon-to-be adopted legislation caps taproom sales, including beer sold to-go, at 5000 barrels per year. Only 10 local breweries open during all or part of 2018 made more than 5000 barrels, meaning most could have sold their entire output on-site without being up against the cap.
  • Three of the five largest breweries in North Texas are owned by other entities: Revolver Brewing (MillerCoors), Deep Ellum Brewing Co. (CANarchy Craft Beer Collective), Four Corners Brewing Co. (Constellation Brands).

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A-tisket, a-tasket, a 15-beer basket: Funky Picnic now open in Fort Worth

Funny Accent, an English ESB, is one of many classic styles
on tap at Funky Picnic (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Currently in the midst of a soft opening event, Funky Picnic Brewery & Café is now serving up its brand of beer and bites in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth.

The first day of operations was on Wednesday, June 26, but judging by the full house seated at the brewpub on Saturday, many are getting their first taste of what Funky Picnic has to offer this weekend. Naturally, house-made beer and food are the main attractions, but Funky Picnic's location on Bryan Ave. has an added benefit.

Indeed, one aspect many will find appealing is Funky Picnic's proximity to three other breweries: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., HopFusion Ale Works and The Collective Brewing Project. Couple that with its full-service food aspect, and Funky Picnic could well be viewed as ground zero for a Fort Worth family beer gathering. Imagine fueling up at Funky Picnic prior to spending the day on a self-guided tour of its brewery brethren.

A family-friendly lounge just off the front entrance of Funky Picnic is stocked with a variety of toys, book and games (left).
Fermenters in the brewhouse feature names of former Texas Rangers like Nolan 'Ryan', 'Pudge' Rodriquez and Rusty 'Greer' (right).
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D, click images to enlarge).

Of course, you'll want to have a beer at Funky Picnic first, where upwards of 15 rotating selections will be on tap once the brewpub is at full capacity. Expect a mix of classic and creative styles to be the norm, with tasters, half-pours and full pints being available.

Should you go the taster route, choose a standard flight of four or, better yet, opt for "The Whole Picnic." The latter is appropriately served in a 15-slot wooden taster tray fashioned in the shape of a picnic basket. This accoutrement, like other wood furnishings found at Funky Picnic, was crafted by a Forth Worth design and woodworking company called Brother Sister Design.

As for what's on tap at the moment, spot-on standards include Vibes (German kölsch-style lager), You Wanted a Wit (Belgian witbier) and Funny Accent (English ESB). Though, if you're looking for something slightly more whimsical, you can't go wrong with the tasty Belgian Waffle (Belgian tripel with maple syrup).

Still to come, head brewer Michael Harper has a pilsner and a Mexican-style lager on deck, and he's also working to restock two IPAs that sold out early on. From there, new recipes will appear as Funky Picnic preps its portfolio for grand opening festivities on July 20.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Twin Peaks debuts new Mexican-style lager

Image courtesy of Twin Peaks Brewing Co.

Twin Peaks Brewing Co. of Irving is "fueling its own fiesta" with the introduction of a cool new beer created for the hottest days of the year.

La Güera, which translates as "the blonde,"  is a Mexican-style lager brewed with high end corn for "a touch of sweetness and depth of color." It's billed as a satisfying refresher, best enjoyed when dressed with a slice of lime.

“I’d been wanting to create a Mexican-style lager for a long time and we figured it would be perfect if it could make its debut just in time for summer,” says Coty Bell, brew master for Twin Peaks. “We brewed the pilot batch back in November and started tweaking it to create the perfect brew. After much experimentation, we’re ready for it to make its debut! We’re confident that La Güera will be a successful addition to the Twin Peaks menu and we can’t wait for our guests to try it out.”

Look for La Güera on tap at Twin Peaks locations in Texas. According to a press release, it and other selections are available now at select restaurants for a special price - enjoy 22-ounce drafts for just $3.50 through July 7.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Krootz Brewing Co. holds grand opening in Gainesville

BT Justice, a vanilla porter, is one of seven beers
on tap at Krootz (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Cooke County's first brewery has been up and running for a few weeks, but Krootz Brewing Co. made its official debut with a grand opening event this past Saturday in Gainesville.

Founded by Chad Sykora, Krootz is set up with easy access to I-35 at 315 W. Elm St in Gainesville's downtown district. The company's facility comprises around 3600 square feet, split between production area, a taproom, and an additional public space with a second bar and stage.

The larger common area opens up to the city's recently-revamped Farmers Market, a community gathering spot that has among its amenities a food truck lot accessible through the brewery's back door. There, snack seekers are afforded the added convenience of being free to roam the market and an outdoor gaming area with beer in hand.

And speaking of beer, the initial approach at Krootz involves getting back to the basics of making the barley and hop-based beverage. When I first contacted Sykora last year, he spoke about the brewing industry's focus on the chase for the next big thing. In his mind the seemingly endless experimentation has created a gap in the market, with consumers left with a lack of options in the realm of go-to beers.

Along those lines, the starting lineup at Krootz features a number of traditional styles. Standards like a blonde, a pale and an IPA are supplemented with a shandy, a vanilla porter and an imperial milk stout. A juicy hazy pale ale also makes the list, but that's the only beer on the current menu that hits on one of the highly sought-after styles of today.

Of course, Krootz is just getting started, and the beertender was quick to point out that more brews are in the works. For now, though, the brewery is sporting a straightforward and sessionable range of beers with only one reaching an ABV of over 6.6%.

As for how to grab a taste, those interested will have to get up to Gainesville, as Krootz is presently only selling its beers in house. Distribution is also said to be in the plans, but once that happens deliveries may be limited to local businesses.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Oak & Eden Whiskey taps Rahr & Sons for small-batch spirits collaboration

Image credit: Oak & Eden Whiskey.

Dallas-based spirits maker Oak & Eden Whiskey has announced the pending release of a new small-batch series of whiskies crafted in collaboration with Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth.

The Ale Series will comprise spirits made using Oak & Eden's unique process of finishing its fully-aged whiskey on a patented five-inch-long spiral cut of wood (or "spire") in the bottle.

Rahr Soaked Malted Oak takes Oak & Eden's bourbon whiskey and infuses it with a heavily-toasted American Oak spire soaked in Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle Scottish Ale, while Rahr Soaked Hopped Oak consists of the company's rye whiskey infused with a lightly-toasted American Oak spire soaked in Rahr & Sons Dadgum IPA.

“This has been a collaboration like no other,” says Joe Gillidenzopf, CEO of Oak & Eden. “Most people wouldn’t think beer and whiskey would go hand-in-hand, but the unique combination of sweet, oaky notes coming from our whiskey, mixed with the depth and character of Rahr & Sons' beers produces a rich sensation of whiskey on the palate with beer on the finish.”

Look for The Ale Series to debut in June, with bottles expected to be on shelves in Texas and Oklahoma by early July.

For more information on The Ale Series, visit

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

HopFusion medals at 2019 NABA International Beer Awards

Image credit: North American Brewers Association.

HopFusion Ale Works of Fort Worth has won an award for the second year in a row at the 2019 NABA International Beer Awards.

Sanctioned by the North American Brewers Association (NABA), the event has at times been referred to as simply the North American Beer Awards. Now it its twenty-third year, the competition was held once again in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Entries were judged against the 2019 North American Beer Awards Style Guide, with medals doled out in 96 different categories.

As for HopFusion, the company landed a silver medal for Bailiwick, a British pub ale currently available at the brewery as a taproom-only offering. For information on other top beers, click here to see a complete list of winners.

HopFusion Ale Works
  • Silver for Bailiwick in the Ordinary Bitter/Best Bitter (ESB) category.

Cheers and congratulations to HopFusion!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Nine Band signs with Sipp Industries to produce Major Hemp HIPA

Image credit: Sipp Industries, Inc.

Nine Band Brewing Co. of Allen has signed an agreement with California-based Sipp Industries, Inc. for the production and national distribution of the West Coast company's Major Hemp HIPA.

Sipp Industries is notable in that it's the first publicly-traded firm in the U.S. to focus primarily on production and sales of hemp-infused beer. By way of established partnerships, it currently markets Major Hemp HIPA in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois, but with the Nine Band accord, Sipp Industries has set its sights on Texas and beyond.

"We're ecstatic to be working with owner Keith Ashley and his team at Nine Band," says Ted Jorgenson, president of Major Hemp - a wholly owned subsidiary of Sipp Industries. "The Texas market is enormous and Nine Band has relationships with some of the largest distributors in the state.  We now possess the capabilities to expand nationally and are currently speaking with distributors in major markets about Major Hemp HIPA.”

The formulation for Major Hemp HIPA was developed by Sipp Industries and launched in November 2018. Like similar beers recently released in Texas (New Belgium The Hemperor, Noble Rey Certified Dank), Major Hemp HIPA utilizes the hemp seed, which is free of both THC and CBD.

According to a press release, Nine Band intends to begin production this month, with plans to deliver Major Hemp HIPA to California and other large markets across the country. Presently, the brewery is working together with Sipp Industries to gain necessary label and recipe approvals from the appropriate governing bodies.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Armadillo finds path to TRVE enlightenment

Image credit: Armadillo Ale Works.

If you need help summoning a Serpent, who better to call upon than Colorado's most metal brewery? Indeed, Armadillo Ale Works of Denton has done just that in collaborating on a new beer with Denver-based TRVE Brewing Co.

TRVE, for those that don't know, is a small brewery located south of Downtown Denver. Inside it's dark (in more ways than one) and generally crowded, with most patrons attired in obsidian tones. This, of course, all set to a soundtrack of brutal beats streaming from the sound system.

Then, there's the beer. With selections like Seitan, Scorn, Cursed and Exhumation, TRVE's lineup reads like a dark passage delivered from the depths of hell.

Not exactly a natural fit next to Armadillo-named brews like Brunch Money, Honey Please and Quakertown, but that didn't stand in the way of co-founders Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins when the opportunity arose for Armadillo to explore a different direction.

So, how did such a night and day coupling come together?

"I met TRVE's head brewer and Denton native Zach Coleman in the early days of Armadillo," says Mullins. "We recently reconnected while Zach was in town visiting family and agreed to do a collaboration."

Enter the Serpent. Seven Serpent, that is, a golden ale brewed with 700 pounds of corn tortillas, lemon and lime peel, and salt. On top of that, the beer is fermented with a Scandinavian kveik yeast - because, Mullins declares, it's metal AF. And while the metal pedigree might be a bit off-brand, Seven Serpent stays true to Armadillo's longstanding commitment to the use of new and innovative ingredients.

"This beer highlights masa, which originates back to the Aztecs," explains Arestis. "They worshiped corn and thought it to be the source of life (they believed man was created from corn). Based on that, we are calling the beer 'Seven Serpent,' which is the English translation for Chicomecōātl, the Aztec goddess of corn, food, and drink."

With respect to the beer's sensory experience, Arestis describes it as sessionable with the flavor of corn tortillas backed by a little salt and lime. As for the aroma...

"When we were making Seven Serpent, the brewery smelled like tacos and beer," adds Arestis. "It was the best-smelling brew day ever!"

Seven Serpent will debut on Saturday, June 1, as part of Armadillo's Brewery and Taproom One Year Anniversary Party. After that, look for the beer to be available at retail in six-packs of 12-ounce cans.

The two parties also brewed a beer at TRVE using Colorado corn (instead of tortillas). That version is currently undergoing a mixed fermentation in oak barrels with kveik yeast and TRVE's house strain. It will be available in Denver later this year.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Funky Picnic set to open in Fort Worth, June 26

Image credit: Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.
Initial batches are underway and a date has been set at Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, as the company prepares to open its doors in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth.

A labor of love for homebrewers turned co-founders Samantha Glenn, Collin Zreet, Jenni Hanley and John Koch, the project has been in the works since the group first came together as The Fort Brewing Co. prior to 2014. Now realized as Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, what they've developed is a beer and food destination "built upon a shared love of beer, bread and the great outdoors."

On the brewery side, Funky Picnic promises to offer "craft beer for every taste." Led by Michael Harper (formerly of Oak Highlands Brewery and Texas Ale Project), the company's portfolio will mix classic styles with creative and unexpected combinations. Recipes will range from a crisp, refreshing pilsner, to a saison-tripel hybrid brewed with prickly pear cactus, agave nectar and pink peppercorns.

Regarding the culinary aspect, Chef Josh Rangel will serve artisan sandwiches, along with a selection of appetizers, salads and desserts (vegan options will also be available). Naturally, customers can expect beer to be incorporated into many menu items, some of which include beer cheese fondue, beer bacon jam, and house-made pickles dilled in pale ale.

As for when this all comes together, Funky Picnic will debut its spot at 401 Bryan Ave., Suite 117, on Wednesday, June 26. Following that, look for an official grand opening event to take place in July.

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - May 29, 2019 edition

Image credits: Krootz Brewing Co., HopFusion Ale Works,
Craft and Growler, Siren Rock Brewing Co., Trinity Forest Brewing Co.

In addition to the regular rundown of development activities, this edition of the Conspectus includes a license change for a Fort Worth brewery, the opening of a new brewery to the north, and the planned start of brewing operations at the area's original growler shop.


HopFusion changes license type, to begin selling beer to go June 4

HopFusion Ale Works of Fort Worth is the latest local firm to switch from a manufacturer's permit to a retail/brewpub license, a move which enables the brewery to sell beer to go under current law. Look for HopFusion to begin selling six-packs, crowlers, growlers and kegs for off-premise consumption on June 4.

Krootz Brewing Co. now open in Gainesville

Established as the first business of its kind in Cooke County, Krootz Brewing Co. opened its doors to the public on April 26. The company is currently serving a menu of small bites with its beers while preparations are made for an official grand opening event slated for June 15.

Craft and Growler adding brewing operations

According to a Facebook post on May 20, Craft and Growler has purchased equipment with the intention of brewing house beers at its location in Dallas. Craft and Growler was the first growler shop to open in North Texas, but it will the second such entity to add brewing operations after Bluffview Growler did so earlier this year.

An article posted by the Dallas Observer indicates Craft and Growler hopes to begin brewing by late summer.

Future Fermentations

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has approved a manufacturing permit for Siren Rock Brewing Co. of Rockwall. At last report, the start of construction was pending on the project, which is set to be located at 310 S. Goliad St.

Trinity Forest Brewing Co. of Dallas obtained its TTB (federal) approval this month. With a TABC permit already in hand, the group plans to brew its first production batch at Hop & Sting Brewing Co. on June 7.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Rahr & Sons scores silver for Ugly Pug at 2019 NorCal Brew Competition

Image credit: NorCal Brew Fest.

Accolades are in order for Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., as the Fort Worth brewery has followed up recent wins in Southern California with an award at the 2019 NorCal Brew Competition.

Put on in association with the Sonoma County Fair, the NorCal Brew Competition is a relatively new event, having only been in existence since 2017. The competition accepts entries from across the U.S., with submissions broken down into 16 consolidated categories.

Rahr & Sons received recognition for Ugly Pug, a German-style schwarzbier the brewery has produced since the year it opened in 2004. As for other winners, click here for a complete rundown of competition results.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.
  • Silver for Ugly Pug in the European Amber, Dark and Strong category.

Cheers and congratulations to Rahr & Sons!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tap takeovers go next level at The 2nd Tap

Think of The 2nd Tap as a pop-up shop for your
local brewery (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

A concept looking to push tap takeovers to the next level has taken root at the Dallas Farmers Market (DFM), as The 2nd Tap is now open and serving craft sodas as it awaits a permit to sell beer from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).

The brainchild of David Herrera and Charles Nelson, The 2nd Tap has slotted into the DFM booth formerly occupied by now-closed Noble Rey Brewing Co. of Dallas. And, while there will be cosmetic changes to the bar area the brewery used as a satellite taproom, its original function will remain the same - only different.

"While trying to decide what we wanted to do with the space, we thought it would be cool to continue what Noble Rey was doing," says Nelson. "We liked the idea of using the spot as a secondary taproom, but instead of having it be for just one brewery, we wanted to rotate it."

Thus, the idea of a "taproom takeover" was born. The setup: one brewery, eight taps, and a three-week residency. Then, literally, rinse and repeat.

In terms of motivation, establishing The 2nd Tap allows the partners to support the local brewing industry beyond work both are doing as part of Herrera's draft maintenance venture, Texas Draft Services (TDS).

"When cleaning lines as part of TDS we're helping breweries behind the scenes," explains Herrera. "But, we wanted to get out front and do more by showcasing breweries and helping them build their brands. Especially now with so many out there, some don't have the capital to go out and do a ton of marketing."

As for how they'll go about implementing their plan, Herrera and Nelson want to celebrate all facets of the breweries they'll feature. That goes for the beers in a company's portfolio, as well as the brand image a brewery seeks to convey.

"We want to work with the personality of a brewery," says Herrera. "We feel like we can bring attention to a brand by coming up with fun events where people are engaged and they develop an emotional tie to the beer. If that happens, it creates a following for the brewery."

Events could involve showing a scientific exhibit while a space-themed brewery is on tap, or setting up a mechanical bull while working with a brewery from Fort Worth. Anything goes, especially if it means getting away from the standard pint night. The goal is to identify what constitutes the norm in terms of industry events and to then do the opposite.

"Another big thing is how the name of the game now is what's new or what's limited with regard to beer," adds Nelson. "That sometimes makes it hard to find a brewery's core beers on tap. There's this idea that it's easier to sell new beers, so core beers don't get a lot of rotation. By tapping both core and seasonal beers, we get the added benefit of reminding customers about beers they may have forgotten."

Ultimately, though, The 2nd Tap is about putting an ounce or 16 of enjoyment back into the beer scene.

"We're just two guys trying to have a good time in this industry, like anyone else," says Herrera. "We want to make beer fun again, so you can expect silly and quirky events from us (think back-to-school parties were milk stouts are served in mini milk cartons). We'll play some good music and we'll drink some good beer, all while giving back to our local breweries."

Or taken another way, they're getting back to the whole idea of craft beer and community.

Beer-to-go passes Texas Senate as part of TABC Sunset Bill

Image: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Bringing years of legislative posturing to a successful end, substantial modernizations to Texas beer laws, including the ability for manufacturing craft breweries to sell beer-to-go, passed the Texas Senate Wednesday evening with a unanimous vote. Contingent upon the House concurring and the Governor’s signature on the bill, beer-to-go sales are expected to begin September 1, 2019.

“This legislation represents the most comprehensive and positive reform of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) in a generation, while serving the entire industry from the manufacturer down to the consumer,” says Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. “Brewers will see reduced regulation, the elimination of redundant licensing, and the ability to get product to market faster. Distributors and retailers will see a stronger market with even greater brand choice. And most importantly, consumers will enjoy the fruit of these improvements, including the ability to buy beer-to-go from their favorite brewery.”

Texas is currently the only state in the entire country to prohibit manufacturing breweries from selling beer-to-go. State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and State Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) set out to change that this session by authoring companion bills HB 672 and SB 312, respectively. After both bills stalled in committee without being granted a hearing, the authors successfully attached beer-to-go amendments to the broader reforms of the TABC Sunset Bill, narrowly passing the House on April 25 before yesterday’s passage in the Senate.

Unanimous passage of both the beer-to-go amendment and the overall Sunset Bill in the Senate came after a stakeholder agreement was reached between the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the Beer Alliance of Texas (BAT), and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT) compromising to reduce the per person beer-to-go limit from two cases to one case per day. Texas craft brewers owe a debt of gratitude to Sen. Brian Birdwell, Sen. Dawn Buckingham, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, and Rep. Chris Paddie for their work bringing the industry, and in turn, the legislature, to consensus behind beer-to-go and other key aspects of the larger Sunset bill.

“For the first time in Texas, you will be able to take a little bit of your favorite craft beer home from a brewery to share with friends,” says Sen. Buckingham. “This is a huge win for craft beer enthusiasts and also for the tourism it brings. This legislation will help Texans celebrate our great products and share them with the world!”

While not codified in the bill itself, the three trade groups also agreed in writing to a 12-year moratorium on lobbying to raise or lower the allowable malt beverage barrelage caps currently in code to ensure stability in the market and security in business models.

“This enshrines some of our most important rights and lets brewers plan their businesses without the fear of capricious policy change at the hands of other industry stakeholders,” says Adam DeBower, legislative committee chair for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and co-founder of Austin Beerworks.

Some of the modernizations to Texas beer laws in the TABC Sunset Bill include:

  • Harmonization of “Beer” (currently specified in the code as a malt beverage under 5% ABV) and “Ale” (over 5% ABV) into the single category of Malt Beverage. Eliminating this old-fashioned distinction allows for permit consolidation for manufacturers and one set of rules for marketing practices, storage, taxation, reporting, etc. rather than today’s disparate rules for the two categories.
  • Adoption of the lower, “Beer” excise tax for all malt beverages. This harmonization will result in an excise tax reduction for craft brewers currently paying the “Ale” excise tax on beers in their portfolios over 5%.
  • Self-distributing breweries gain the right to have out-of-county warehouses for malt beverages which will allow them to serve greater areas of the state. Prior to this change, out-of-county warehousing of Ale (over 5%) has been prohibited.
  • Comprehensive label approval reform so the federal COLA (Certificate of Label Approval) is accepted on the state level (as is currently allowed for wine and spirits in Texas, but not malt beverages). This streamlining will allow brewers to get fresh beer to market faster by reducing long wait times.

These reforms are poised to go into effect between 2019 and 2021. Texas craft brewers have been advocating for beer-to-go and other reforms contained in the Sunset Bill for over a decade. The movement to #FixTexasBeerLaws gained steam in the run up to the 86th Legislature with the formation of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild’s political action committee, CraftPAC. Overwhelming grassroots advocacy led to over 15,000 petition signatures in favor of beer-to-go and thousands of Texans reaching out to their legislators directly via calls, emails, and social media to demand progress on this critical issue. This victory belongs to the thousands of Texans who have fought so hard for this moment.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Take a break from beer at Breaking Brew Meadery

Enjoy pints and flights in house, or grab crowlers or a growler
to go at Breaking Brew (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Until recently, the field of fermented beverages being made in North Texas consisted of various forms of beer, cider and spirits. Missing from that lineup was mead, but now honey wines have joined the ranks thanks to the arrival of Breaking Brew Meadery.

Breaking Brew debuted in September of last year, and in doing so it became only the second business of its kind to exist in North Texas. Its predecessor, Golden Grail Meadery, had a spot on Main Street in Deep Ellum, where it began operations in late 1996.

As for the modern day meadery, it's doing business off Midway Road in Farmers Branch. The hive, if you will, is contained in an industrial space occupying just under 1900 square feet. There, Breaking Brew is primarily a weekend destination, with taproom hours Thursday through Sunday.

Offerings at Breaking Brew are referred to as "session meads," but that seems to be a relative term referencing the idea that traditional meads have ABVs reaching as high as 20%. The company's present portfolio ranges from 5.9-7.8% ABV, which is probably a tick or two higher than what's generally associated with session beers.

Summing up the taste experience, the honey wines at Breaking Brew certainly aren't the sweet, syrupy grog some might expect (and no, there aren't any Viking horns from which to imbibe either). Instead, these meads are dry and drinkable with a relatively light body. Not only that, like some honey beers, much of the actual honey flavor appears to ferment out. What's left, then, is a subtly-flavored honey beverage that's ripe for enhancement.

Along those lines, Breaking Brew infuses various fruits, herbs and spices into its meads, with hops even showing up in one recipe. Flavor additions of cherry, blackberry, ruby red grapefruit and more are delicately-dosed, which makes for an array of balanced and enjoyable blends.

So, what's the best of the bunch?

Bee Sting, featuring jalapenos without the heat, was a popular choice with patrons on the day of my visit. For me, though, the favorite was Ginger Bear, a semi-sweet mead that's Breaking Brew's interpretation of a ginger beer.

Regardless of which you choose, all of Breaking Brew's meads represent a refreshing respite from the current landscape of craft beer concoctions. Indeed, if you're new to mead or simply curious, Breaking Brew is nothing if not a great place to take a break from beer.

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 three 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.