Monday, September 26, 2022

903 Brewers snags gold, silver at 2022 U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship.

The 2022 edition of the U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship is now complete, with 903 Brewers of Sherman upgrading from a pair of bronze medals awarded in the 2021 competition to a gold and silver this year.

Held at the U.S. Open Event Center in Oxford, Ohio (also home to the U.S. Open Beer Championship), the 2022 festivities attracted nearly 250 submissions sent in by more than 75 hard seltzer-makers hailing from the U.S. and Canada. Entries were then broken down and judged across 32 different categories, a number which increased compared to last year, when only 18 categories were available.

Winning seltzers from 903 Brewers are listed below. You can also click here for a full competition summary.


903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Gold for Zombie Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Mixed Fruit category.
  • Silver for Blackberry Cheesecake Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Cake & Pie category.

Cheers and congratulations to 903 Brewers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Funky Picnic unveils speakeasy vibe in The Back Room

Images courtesy of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth has taken steps to expand its offerings and customer base, as the company has built upon its existing restaurant with a new speakeasy bar and pizza kitchen branded as The Back Room at Funky Picnic.

Joining the busy nightlife scene in the city's Near Southside and South Main Village neighborhoods, The Back Room is an adults-only lounge specializing in craft cocktails and beer. Located directly next door to the original brewpub, The Back Room will feature Funky Picnic's house brews as well as shareable bottles of Lambic and mixed fermentation beers from breweries around the world.

“When the opportunity to expand into a connecting space became available, we wanted to focus on creating a unique, yet complimentary experience for our Funky Picnic customers,” says co-founder and general manager Samantha Glenn. “This led us to creating The Back Room with a more sophisticated speakeasy vibe, along with later operating hours for the 21 and older crowd.”

Funky Picnic has also unveiled new menu options from Chef Josh Rangel and Sous Chef Parker Gordon, including specialty pizzas and Back Room-exclusive appetizers. The new 10” pizzas, available in both the restaurant and speakeasy space, range from a classic Margherita to a Steak Pizza featuring an olive oil base, bleu cheese, mozzarella, grilled steak, mixed greens, and a balsamic drizzle.

“The Back Room will be an intimate space within the overall Funky Picnic concept where we can focus more on unique and experimental beer and cocktail experiences,” says co-founder and Certified Cicerone Collin Zreet. “In addition to limited single keg releases from head brewer Michael Harper, The Back Room will be the only place in Fort Worth to enjoy authentic Belgian Lambic on-site, alongside other mixed fermentation beers from breweries like Jester King Brewery in Austin to give customers a unique and enjoyable new experience at Funky Picnic.”

The Back Room opens Friday, September 23rd at 3p.m., with regular operating hours going forward set for Friday - Sunday from 3- 11 p.m.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Rickhouse is first brewery to make beer in Mineral Wells

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

You could say things are a little "Crazy" in the City of Mineral Wells. It's the home of Crazy Water, after all, a mineral water company that's been hydrating Texans since 1881. Driving through town, signs and "Crazy" business names call attention to this fact, as does the presence of the Crazy Water Hotel.

It's in the aforementioned hotel that Rickhouse Brewing has set up shop in a prime corner spot on the ground floor. Open since April, Rickhouse is the work of Brian Miller and Alan Clarke. It's the first known brewery to exist in Mineral Wells, a place where the primary attractions - at least according to one local - are eating, drinking and shopping.

If that's indeed the case, then Rickhouse should make for a good fit, considering it identifies as a drinking destination. It may be a brewery first and foremost (with production equipment in full view), but Rickhouse also offers other beverages, including a selection of wines and non-alcoholic sodas for those seeking to sip on something other than beer.

As for the main draw, if you will, Rickhouse beers pour from upwards of 20 taps installed behind the bar. During my visit, eight standards and two rotators were available, with everyday options consisting of a lager, blonde ale, kölsch, two IPAs, an Irish red, a German hefeweizen and an oatmeal stout. A seasonal märzen was among the rotators, as was my favorite beer on the board, a Cascadian dark called Ghost Riders Black IPA.

Rickhouse Brewing is located at 401 N. Oak Ave. in Mineral Wells, occupying a corner spot on the ground floor of the Crazy Water Hotel.

Visitors to Rickhouse should also know beer and other consumables (snack offerings, beverages, etc.) may be enjoyed in the taproom, or alternatively in an adjacent public area which connects to other boutiques and small businesses making up the "Shops at the Crazy" section of the hotel. Either way, the digs are well-polished, casual and comfortable no matter where you decide to stop and sit a spell.

And, if you're wondering about the Rickhouse name, it actually references the distilling industry and the warehouses used to store and age whiskey. Given that, one would assume a barrel-aged beer or two might make an appearance at some point. As it stands now, though, the portfolio presents as a stylistic slate...which is to say there's nothing too crazy going on in terms of the recipes at Rickhouse just yet. 

Well, besides maybe using Crazy Water as an ingredient.

Rickhouse Brewing has operating hours seven days a week. Check it out if you find yourself in Mineral Wells and looking to partake the imbibing aspect of the city's favored pastimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Bourbon -n- Branch taps first house beer in Hudson Oaks

Top image: Bourbon -n - Branch Brewing Co.
Bottom (left-to-right): Exterior, Bourbon Drip Rye Pale Ale, The Goat, Interior Bar (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Head to the newly-minted Bourbon -n- Branch Brewing Co. in Hudson Oaks, and you'll likely notice a certain theme. It's a Dallas sort of thing, but it's not about the city itself, but rather a lead character in the popular television series of the same name which premiered in 1978.

Founded by Brian Lixey and Joshua Tarbay (the latter formerly of Parker County Brewing Co.), Bourbon -n- Branch gets its name from a favored cocktail of J.R. Ewing. Naturally, the drink is served here, along with a number of other infusions from a full bar featuring...what else...whiskey varieties from Kentucky, Texas and beyond.

House beers will also occasionally be dipped with bourbon, so to speak, as evidenced by the debut offering, Bourbon Drip Rye Pale Ale (9.0% ABV). More IPA-ish than the moniker implies, the beer was fermented with Hungarian oak chips soaked in TX Whiskey from Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. of Fort Worth. The bourbon is somewhat hidden in the resulting beer, but it's still a tasty opener featuring notes of rye and citrus peel upfront, with wood tannins and an ever-so-slight bourbony burn in the finish.

And while we're on the topic, beer recipes at Bourbon -n- Branch are brewed on a one-barrel system, and as such they are very limited. Given that, patrons thirsty for a beer should know house selections are supplemented by upwards of 25 guest taps pouring local and national craft brews, along with a few domestic macros as well.

As for what there is to eat, Bourbon -n- Branch serves up a menu of appetizers, Akaushi Wagyu burgers, flatbread pizzas and boneless wings. House specialties like The Goat (a pizza with white crème sauce, smoked sausage, black figs, feta cheese and rosemary) are labeled as J.R.'s Favorite, while a burger selection called Who Shot J.R. harkens back to the famous cliffhanger episode which concluded season three of Dallas.

Beer, bourbon and a taste of Texas-inspired television history...that's the draw at Bourbon -n- Branch Brewing Co., a place perhaps best described as a modern brewpub with a bit of a western vibe. Urban cowboys are surely welcome, so maybe don your best Stetson, slip on a pair of boots and mosey on in seven days a week. Bourbon -n- Branch opens daily at 11 a.m.