Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tasty to-go options for your holiday beer run

Image credits: Brewers Association, HopFusion Ale Works, Peticolas Brewing Co., Division Brewing, Brutal Beerworks.

Given the current state of affairs due to Covid-19, the 2020 edition of National Independent Beer Run Day couldn't be happening at a more appropriate time. Set for July 3, National Independent Beer Run Day was created by the Brewers Association to encourage consumers to purchase craft beers produced by small and independent brewers ahead of their Independence Day celebrations.

In North Texas alone, products from over 80 local and independent brewing operations are sold at bars and breweries across the area. Many outlets are temporarily closed under orders of the state, meaning beer to-go is the only way to go for these businesses literally fighting to stay afloat.

With that in mind, I've compiled a short list of favorites I've enjoyed over the last few months, each of which was purchased during a local brewery visit for beer to-go. All are still available, should you plan on making a pre-Independence Day beer run for celebratory supplies.

Brutal Beerworks - Hop Drop (New England IPA, 8.0% ABV)
  • A single hop hazy IPA brewed with only Mosaic hops, Hop Drop features a full spectrum of fruit flavors, with elements of berry, citrus, stone and tropical fruit.
  • Available in single 16-ounce cans.

Division Brewing - Macaroon Morning (Coconut Porter, 6.8% ABV)
  • Inspired by a chocolate coconut candy, this is a case where the added flavors actually add to the base beer, as opposed to overpowering it. The balanced interplay of the coconut and underlying porter works to create a coconut macaroon in a can.
  • Available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.

HopFusion Ale Works - Port Wine Barrel-Aged Fur Slipper (Imperial Milk Stout, 10% ABV)
  • I've said it before, but for me bourbon barrel beers have become a bit ubiquitous, so finding this available curbside was a treat. As for my overall impression, this slipper is a sipper with ample strength and a noticeable port presence.
  • Available in single 16-ounce cans.

Peticolas Brewing Co. - The Duke (Barley Wine, 12.0% ABV)
  • The Duke isn't new, but the onset of Covid-19 was a catalyst for putting it in cans. It's fruity and boozy, thanks to a balanced mix of of alcohol and esters, but also entirely too easy to drink considering the ABV of 12%. Plus, it's hard to beat the availability of a barley wine on a daily basis.
  • Available in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hop & Sting expanding product range and reach

Image courtesy of Hop & Sting Brewing Co.

Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine, an entity striving to be one of the most diverse craft breweries around, is now available all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 9000-square-mile economic and cultural hub of North Texas is rich with community and generational diversity, and the brewery is a welcoming atmosphere to all who want to drink and learn about the refreshing complexity and science of craft beer. However, D-FW stretches for nearly 100 miles end-to-end, making it a trek for many.

Recognizing that fact, Hop & Sting has been building relationships in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Garland, Irving, McKinney, Frisco, Denton and Rockwall to ensure their beers reach the diverse audiences they celebrate.

For craft beer fans from baby boomers to Gen Z, Hop & Sting puts out beers of tradition and trend to quench the thirst of those craving new styles as they discover and engage in the diversity of craft beer. The production schedule and expertly-conducted canning days support the brewery’s ability to maintain a variety of brew styles locally-owned shops and growler bars need to keep customers coming back for more.

“We have enough core beers to keep tap lines stocked with a new brew monthly throughout the year.” states co-owner Brian Burton. “It comes down to being deliberate about brewing beers that are approachable by all and enjoyable to people from all walks of life.”

In addition, Hop & Sting's products support various charities providing assistance to those in need ranging from children to animals, public servants to education. It’s important to the brewery team to get their product out as far as possible to support the livelihood of businesses and nonprofits affected by their work.

One Hop & Sting beer produced to that end is Miracle Wheat. This American-style wheat beer benefits The Miracle League of Southlake, an organization which removes barriers keeping children with mental and physical disabilities off the baseball field and lets them experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime.

As for other current and future offerings, available now is the brewery's latest limited release, Weisser Time (5.4% ABV), a beer described as a "clove and banana-balanced hefeweizen." Then later this month, look for Hop & Sting to unveil its version of Black is Beautiful. Created in collaboration with Weathered Souls Brewing Co. of San Antonio, proceeds from the sale of Black is Beautiful will go to Beersgiving, a North Texas group advocating for diversity in the brewing industry.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

House beers now pouring at Craft and Growler

Craft & Growler's debut house beer, One and a Half Years Later,
is available on tap and in crowlers (
© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The name of the beer says it all. Craft and Growler's initial offering, One and a Half Years Later, is an IPA that recalls the length of time it took for the Dallas growler shop to get its in-house brewing project underway.

Equipment for the initiative has been onsite since May 2019, but the first production brew day didn't occur until late last month. Craft and Growler's brewer, Brendan Smith, fired up the kettle on May 23, with the startup recipe chosen to be a SMaSH IPA. Brewed with two-row pale malt and Cascade hops, the resulting beer is nicely balanced, with a flowery aroma, citrus flavors and a mildly bitter bite.

One and a Half Years Later is also crystal clear, its clarity appearing as a stark contrast to the current wave of hazy IPAs. And while hazy beers are surely a hot commodity, choosing to do a SMaSH IPA was more about differentiating from another type of beer commonly produced when breweries are starting out.

"I didn't want to do just a blonde as a test batch as many seem to do," says Smith. "So, I figured why not spend a bit more on hops and make it a SMaSH?"

As for future style selections, Smith is working on a hefeweizen, with a hazy pale ale, gose and fruited Berliner weisse in the plans as well. In addition, Craft and Growler's SMaSH IPA is set to return, with subsequent hop varieties chosen by way of customer feedback. The overall goal, of course, is to build up a stable of originals to supplement the shop's everyday product mix.

"Eventually, as we get the system dialed in and perfect our process, we'd like to have four-to-six house beers on at any one time," says Smith.

Another notable aspect of Craft and Growler's journey to this point is how it was able to lean on industry relationships built since opening in 2012. Smith singled out no fewer than nine local brewers who provided advice and encouragement during the process of getting the shop's brewhouse ready for use.

Along those lines, it's no surprise to learn that collaborations with area brewers are also on the agenda at Craft and Growler.

"We are in talks to do collabs with Celestial Beerworks and 903 Brewers," adds Smith, "but others have expressed interest in working with us and we'll be happy to work with anyone."

With that, Craft and Growler takes its place as an active North Texas brewing operation. It may have taken one and a half years to get here, but those pitching in to help proved once again the community of craft beer is alive and well.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Deep Ellum closes Funkytown Fermatorium

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas, a member of the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective,  has announced the permanent closure of its Funkytown Fermatorium in Fort Worth.

The company's Funkytown Fermatorium opened in March 2019, providing Deep Ellum with a westside Metroplex location apart from its original facility near Downtown Dallas. The outpost featured a full onsite kitchen, along with a small-batch brewhouse producing exclusive recipes for local Panther City patrons.

In a Facebook post, Deep Ellum cited "the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," as well as its "inability to serve beer to-go due to Texas House Bill 3287," as factors in the decision.