Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grapevine Craft Brewery set for pre-turkey day debut

Image credit: Grapevine Craft Brewery
It's been nearly six months since a new craft brewery opened in North Texas which, believe it or not, is the longest drought since November of 2011. In that time, almost a dozen breweries have sprung up around the Metroplex, though we've yet to see one open in Grapevine. Founder and CEO Gary Humble intends to change that, though it will be a while before the Grapevine Craft Brewery calls its namesake city home.

If you've followed the brewery's updates, you know that their original plans have taken a detour. Construction delays on what will be their permanent home at 924 Jean Street in Grapevine have forced them to set up shop for the time being in Farmers Branch. As Humble explained when I met with him and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jeff Jones, the move was necessitated by a desire to maintain a pledge he made after the close of Grapevine's record-setting Fundable campaign. Back then, he said his goal was to have beer in the hands of North Texans by the end of the year. Taking the extraordinary step of moving to a temporary space was what had to be done in order to make that happen.

Now with beer in hand, Humble and Jones are hitting the bricks and lining up bars and restaurants to carry Grapevine's brews. They've decided to delay a grand opening celebration at the brewery until they are able to re-locate to Grapevine. In the meantime, they'll hold a series of regional launch events as a way to introduce locals to the area's newest brand of beer. Dallas will be up first, with multiple accounts tapping kegs on Wednesday, November 27. The official debut will occur that evening at Craft and Growler, during that establishment's regular mid-week Keep the Glass Night. Other places expected to start pouring beer that day can be found on Grapevine's website. Just choose "On Tap" from the menu along the right side of the page, then click "Beer Finder."

As for what they'll be serving, the first two beers off the line will be Lakefire Rye Pale Ale and a filtered American wheat called Monarch. Humble provided a sample of the first of these, and when I commented on the overall balance he pointed to that as the core of Grapevine's brewing philosophy. Recipes won't focus too much on any one ingredient, with sessionability being another key element. Lakefire has an ABV of only 5.2% and is actually the strongest of the first three beers the brewery will produce Sir William, an English-style brown ale (5.0% ABV), is to follow soon.

Offerings will be draught-only for now, and will be brewed on Grapevine's 30 bbl production setup. Some might have expected them to roll out using a pilot system given the short-term nature of their current location, but Humble says they were committed to moving forward with their full installation. This, despite having to move it at some point down the road.

Really, the only downside of establishing the brewery in Farmers Branch involves the subject of tours. The Dallas suburb is seemingly one of the few areas left that is still "dry". This doesn't mean you can't manufacture alcoholic beverages, only that you can't sell them within the city limits. Whether or not you can consume them is a sort of gray area, and is something Humble may or may not work with the city to resolve in the future.

Retail sales will also come later. Humble is on the fence as to whether to go with bottles or cans, but where they are in terms of location won't impact when packaging might start. It's more a function of building the brand and seeing how the market develops, something he and Jones will be concentrating on in the days ahead.

Track the latest developments at the brewery by following them on Facebook and Twitter, or by subscribing to their newsletter here.

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