Monday, October 25, 2021

Lakewood, Oak Highlands recognized at 2021 San Diego International Beer Competition

Image credit: San Diego International Beer Competition.

Two area breweries are among the winners at the 2021 San Diego International Beer Competition.

Judging for this year's event took place in late September, with submissions broken down in to 61 different style categories. Winning breweries from North Texas included Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland and Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas. Both companies have been honored at this competition before, with Lakewood earning medals in 2017 and 2019, and Oak Highlands being recognized in 2018.

Winning beers from North Texas are listed below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland
  • Gold for Temptress in the Bold Stout category.
  • Bronze for Double Chocolate Temptress in the Chocolate and Chili Beer category.
Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas
  • Gold for Tipsy Goat in the German-Style Bock category.
  • Gold for Freaky Deaky in the Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale category.

Cheers and congratulations to Lakewood and Oak Highlands!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Fort Brewery debuts new digs, fresh new vibe in Fort Worth

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

A year after announcing plans to move the brewpub from its original location on Magnolia Ave., Fort Brewery & Pizza is now open and operating within its new space at 2737 Tillar St. in Fort Worth.

It's the latest step in the evolution of an enterprise under the guidance of owners Will Churchill and Corrie Watson. In early 2018, the two purchased and retooled what was then known as Chimera Brewing Co., itself a rebrand of Zio Carlo Magnolia Brewpub started in 2011.

As for what this particular transition entails, it's a case of out with the old, in with the new. Fort Brewery & Pizza has traded the small, 1920s-era brick building on Magnolia for a remodeled 25,000 square foot facility once home to a candy factory. And, while partially-exposed brick and reused shipping containers fit the reality of what is a repurposed structure, a clean and modern feel best describes the presentation at the new place. This translates to a different vibe compared to experiences had dating back to the very beginnings of the business.

Change may be a good thing, though, considering Fort Brewery & Pizza's added amenities. Public areas comprise an indoor taproom with a requisite array of wide-screen TVs, along with an expansive outdoor patio covered with a retractable roof. The latter includes features like a stage setup for live music, and a play area outfitted with artificial turf.

Oh, and anyone who ever had to park and walk on Magnolia will surely not want to discount the benefits of the brewpub's dedicated parking lot.

There's also the promise of expanded offerings on Fort Brewery & Pizza's beer and food menus. With regards to the liquid, upwards of 20 different house brews will be available, with core styles, seasonals, sour beers and seltzers expected to be a part of the everyday portfolio (click here to view the current lineup).

Food-wise, pizza pies still take center stage at the brewpub, with burgers, brats, sandwiches and salads supplementing the culinary side of things. Then there's this note on the opening menu calling attention to a "Detroit style pizza experience coming soon!"

It all amounts to fresh start for the Fort Worth firm, as the legacies of Chimera and Zio Carlo are now safely left to rest with memories on Magnolia. Indeed, with new digs in a new neighborhood, Fort Brewery & Pizza can now look to leave its own mark on the local craft beer scene.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Flying Saucer to host 15th annual BeerFeast in Fort Worth

Image credit: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.

Beerknurds rejoice, as the beer-tasting extravaganza known as BeerFeast is set to return for its 15th annual installment at the Fort Worth Flying Saucer on Saturday, October 23 from 1-7 p.m.

Attendees to this year's event will be able to choose from beer samples provided by 50 local, national and international breweries. Offerings will consist of limited releases and hard-to-find brews, such as the following:

  • Boulevard Stuff of Legend - barrel-aged stout with vanilla and cocoa.
  • Brooklyn Black Ops 2020 - bourbon barrel-aged imperial Russian stout.
  • Firestone Walker Cinnamon Dolce Imperial Milk Stout.
  • Firestone Walker XXV Anniversary.
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout with Cinnamon, Vanilla and Cocoa.
  • Rahr & Sons Rumpy - rum barrel-aged pumpkin Ale.
  • Odell Sippin' Tropical - wild ale with passion fruit, pineapple and tangerine.
  • Saint Arnold Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pumpkinator.
  • Turning Point Mazdarati - imperial stout with macadamia nut.

Tickets to BeerFeast 2021 are $45 per person, or $40 for Beerknurds. Included in the price, guests will receive a BeerFeast 2021 t-shirt, tasting glass and 12 two-ounce beer tastings. For more details, or to secure your admission, visit the official event website at

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Craft beer industry reconvenes for 2021 CBC, GABF awards in Denver

Photos © Brewers Association.

Members of the brewing industry came together for the first time since early 2020 last weekend in Denver, Colorado, for the 38th Annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) presented by the Brewers Association.

Normally held in the spring, the gathering was a hybrid event of sorts due to the pandemic, as this year's edition took place around the time of year the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is typically held. Since that event was cancelled once again, the competition portion of GABF and subsequent awards ceremony took place in conjunction with CBC.

As expected, the pandemic was a topic front and center, especially in relation to its effects on the industry over the past 18 months. Also of great importance, however, was the call for an industry awakening, as countless incidents of racism, sexism, discrimination and harassment have come to light within its ranks.

Below, you'll find a recap of key points raised on these matters during CBC discussions. A rundown of local GABF winners follows, along with notes on taproom (and other) trips made to discover items of interest outside the 2021 event.

State of the Industry

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about dire predictions as to the fate of small and independent breweries, with some fearing the coming of mass closures. Thankfully, this didn't come to pass, but production numbers did decline in 2020 for the first time since the 1980s. Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, cited a reduction in keg beer consumption (i.e., bars being closed due to the pandemic) as a contributing factor.

Data courtesy of the Brewers Association.

As for the annual "Brewery Count" update, there are now 8,848 active breweries in the U.S., which represents an increase of 439 breweries over last year. While this is the smallest year-to-year gain of late, it's still a pleasant surprise considering the alternative.

More surprising is data showing the rate of brewery closings did not accelerate during the pandemic, which raises the question of how breweries are surviving. Watson noted Americans still drink the same amount of beer as before, just at different places. For breweries able to quickly pivot operations to focus on packaging beer to-go, this resulted in "at the brewery" sales numbers remaining relatively strong. Beyond that, he pointed to federal aid programs (for those who were approved for such things), and credited the tenacity and resilience of brewers.

A charge to bring about change

In response to a callout regarding a disturbing number of cases involving racism, sexism, discrimination and harassment occurring in the craft beer industry, initiatives seeking to promote diversity, equity and inclusion were introduced at CBC.

Images courtesy of the Brewers Association.

Attendees had access to a conference roadmap of seminars and workshops, entitled THRIVE, designed to empower "craft brewing community members to build safe, inclusive, and equitable cultures where everyone who makes, sells, and enjoys craft beer can thrive."

Industry groups joined together to create the BRU Coalition, with the "objective to leverage the combined reach of the organizations to drive industry-wide adoption of evidence-based best practices for preventing discrimination, harassment, and violence within the brewing industry." Members include the Brewers Association, Cicerone Certification Program, Master Brewers Association of the Americas, Pink Boots Society, and the American Society of Brewing Chemists.

Two area breweries among GABF medalists

Overall, a total of 9,680 beers from 2,192 breweries were evaluated at this year's GABF, with 290 medals awarded across 97 categories covering 175 different beer styles. And, as per usual, the most-entered categories were associated with IPAs. The largest number of submissions were in the "Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale" category with 427 entries, followed by "American-Style India Pale Ale" with 404.

Two local breweries were awarded medals, both garnering GABF recognition for the first time. Congratulations are in order for Westlake Brewing Co. of Dallas and Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth (click here for a full competition summary).

Westlake Brewing Co., Dallas: Gold for Peter Porter in the
Brown Porter category (Photo © Brewers Association).

Cowtown Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Silver for High Brau in the Dortmunder
or German-Style Oktoberfest category (Photo © Brewers Association).

Taproom (and other) trips

  • I generally have a theme in mind when deciding on what breweries to visit while attending events out-of-state. Oftentimes, it's a simple as finding a group of breweries I haven't experienced in proximity to each other. On this occasion, though, I decided to find a brewery with a view. A quick search led me to Cabin Creek Brewing in Georgetown, Colorado, a small-town spot set up on the shores of Georgetown Lake. For best results, grab a flight and head up to the second-floor balcony.
Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.
  • We'll call this a case of curious consumption. Here at home, when a new brewery opens, the first keg to kick is almost always some kind of IPA. Well, at Smash Face Brewing in Denver, a different story was being told, as the only beer available at this month-old brewery was an IPA. This, after the house lager, pilsner and session beers had all run out.
Photo © Enstrom Toffee & Confectionery.