Thursday, April 30, 2015

Martin House now selling Cellarman's IPA and Gateway Blonde in cans

Image credit: Martin House Brewing Company

Rolling out to retail this week, two Martin House favorites are now available in 6-packs of 12-ounce cans.

The first of these, Gateway Blonde, is the brewery's "go-to session ale" named after Fort Worth's Gateway Park Trail and is brewed with corn (ergo the cornhole recommended activity) and acidulated malt. The latter, while sounding somewhat technical, is a type of malted barley that contains a small amount of lactic acid. Its use can result in a sour-like character in the finish of a beer and is why the brewery says Gateway has a "unique but subtle kick on the finish."

As for the second of the two releases, Cellarman's Reserve IPA is the brewery's single-hop IPA brewed with a basic malt bill in order to put the emphasis on the hop addition. Of course, fans of Martin House know that the hops rotate in this beer, and the brewery says the exact variety for any given release will denoted by a sticker placed on the six-pack carrier. According to co-founder David Wedemeier, initial shipments were brewed with Cascade hops, and he expects the variety to change on monthly or bi-monthly basis going forward.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stone's newest Bastard bears forth

Images the property of Stone Brewing Company (click to enlarge).

I don't normally do a write-up on new release from Stone because, well, everybody and their mother usually just does a copy and paste of the press release and goes on about their day. But this time, I'll make an exception because the press release in this case, if you can even call it that, calls out this very practice in saying "...this release does not do your work for you. I understand you are overworked and underpaid, but you will have to write this one up yourself. It’s called 'journalism,' not 'copy and paste-ism.' For better or worse, I trust in you. I truly hope you share that trust in yourself."

It's no surprise to find out that Stone is the brewery behind such arrogance, and it's even less surprising (not to mention completely appropriate) that such dialog is offered in association with the newest incarnation of the, yes, legendary Arrogant Bastard Ale.

So, without further adieu, know that a new breed of liquid arrogance is coming your way in the form of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard. Referred to as "an oak-matured cohort" of the original, the new beer asks that you make the pleasure of its acquaintance so you might find not only "enlightenment and sensual glory," but also an "an opportunity for significant self-improvement." If, however, you are not "brave and astute enough to appreciate the onslaught of flavor," the beer goes on to suggest that there may literally be something wrong with you.

"Aspire to free your mind. Use a crowbar if you must." Seek out the Bastard's truth in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, set to arrive at retail forthwith.

Firkin Fest makes for a fine afternoon

Image credits: All images/logos the property of their respective owners.

After what's seemed like an endless string of rainy days, the skies cleared this past Saturday, just in time for the inaugural North Texas Firkin Fest. Put on by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the event was held at Fanatics Pavilion on the picnic grounds just south of Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Fifteen breweries poured thirty different beers, most (but not all) of which were cask-conditioned rarities that may or may not see the light of day again. Among the varied tastes were a multitude of dry-hopped delicacies, as well as beers featuring all manner of herb, spice and fruit infusions. Personal favorites included Danko Colada from Cedar Creek, Capt'n Fantastic from Deep Ellum and Ethiopian Rapture from Rabbit Hole, as well as the two sour concoctions from the Collective Brewing Project (American Sour Red, Petite Golden Sour with Blueberries).

A standard ticket went for $35, but in my view if you were planning to attend, VIP was the way to go. The jump from $35 to $70 included a t-shirt, 32-ounce growler and early entry to the event. The latter being especially valuable since servers didn't start collecting drink tickets until after the gates opened for general admission. In other words, samples were unlimited for the first full hour.

Regarding the venue, in light of recent rainfall totals, the pavilion was an ideal spot to set up given its concrete foundation. Walking in, I couldn't help remembering an instance at another local festival a few years back, where the rain-soaked ground gave way and sent a table of firkins crashing to the ground. Beyond that, though, the space was covered (shade), there were actual restrooms (i.e. no porta-potties) and there was even a picnic table or two should you wish to sit for a spell out away from the crowd.

Considering any negatives, at least for me complaints were few. Casks were kept cool with bags of ice, which was fine considering the mild temperature, but something that could have been an issue on a warmer day. Beer and restroom lines were short thanks to the limited ticket sales, and there was more than enough parking to go around. In fact, while the website claimed there would be a $5 charge for parking, the attendant didn't ask me for single cent, simply pointing me in the right direction and sending me on my way.

As for whether I would attend another Firkin Fest, the simple answer is yes. It was an enjoyable small-scale gathering which featured a variety of unique tastes in a setting designed to celebrate Texas beer. Sure we'd like to see more breweries and more beer, but that's something we say in association with most any first-time festival. Assuming the event will continue, it's assumed growth will come in time, and when it does perhaps more North Texas breweries will participate. Either way, I for one hope there are more Firkin Fests in our future.

Beer and brewery breakdown:

     Brewery Attendance
     North Texas - 12
     Austin/Blanco - 2
     Houston - 1

        Top Firkin Flavors
Dry-hopped - 9
Fruit infusions - 7
Coffee - 3

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rahr & Sons celebrates first can-iversary with limited edition photo cans

Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Fresh off the inaugural release of their seasonal Bucking Bock in cans, Rahr & Sons is planning special limited edition packaging to mark its first can-iversary — the one year anniversary of the launch of its first ever canned beer.

Just in time for summer, Rahr's Blonde will be hitting shelves in cans featuring the image and signature of owner Fritz Rahr's mother, Jodell. For those that aren't familiar, Jodell was a model in the 1940s and 50s, as well as the second runner up in the 1952 Miss Universe pageant.

Rahr's Blonde was the first beer the brewery produced commercially, and like other products in the Rahr portfolio, it was packaged only in bottles up until its debut in cans last June. Commenting on the news, Rahr said, "The Blonde labels have always featured an illustration of my mother, and these new cans are another way to pay homage to her."

Only 4,000 cases of the limited edition can will be made available, with six-packs expected to arrive at retail just before Memorial Day. In the future, can-iversary cans will feature different images of Jodell, making for a series that will be collectible for years to come.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Señor Viejo from Twisted X is a true "Tex Mex Beer"

Image credit: Twisted X Brewing Company

Although it's a bit of a cliché, the phrase "a new twist on an old classic" is something that surely applies to Señor Viejo from the Twisted X Brewing Company of Dripping Springs.

You see, Señor Viejo translates to English as "very old man" or "the old one" according to the brewery's website, though Google Translate seems to think it means "Mr. Old." In any case, what's old about Señor Viejo is that it's based on a German schwarzbier, a style of beer that dates back to at least the 1500s. As for what's new, that has to do with a little something we know today as barrel aging.

Señor Viejo has been around since 2011, but the summer of 2014 was the first time it saw the light of day in bottles. Classified as an imperial black lager, the current incarnation of this beer spends time in 10-gallon barrels that once house not only Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, but also Dulce Vida Lone Star Edition Añejo Tequila. The combination of Texas-made spirits, couple with tequila's origins in Mexico, means Señor Viejo is nothing if not the embodiment of the brewery's slogan, "Tex Mex Beer."

So, how does it taste? In a word, good, though for those whose ears might perk up at the very thought of this being a bourbon barrel beer, that aspect of Señor Viejo is decidedly less forward than the rest. For me, the real draw is the tequila element and how the agave interacts with the qualities of the base beer. In fact, my tasting notes nearly mirror the words of the brewery in talking about how the sweetness of the agave counterbalances the slightly bitter tones of the roasted malt. Twisted X calls it softening, whereas I describe it as taking the edge off, but in my mind we're saying essentially the same thing.

Back to the bourbon, it sneaks out more as the beer comes up in temperature, as does a hint of dark chocolate. Neither tries to steal the show, however, with both simply contributing to the overall complexity. The bourbon might add a bit of booze to the back end, but that's the only real evidence of the beer's boosted ABV. Other than that, flavors tend to stay true throughout both flavor and aroma. As for the finish, it's a mix a drying oak tannins and a roasty flourish that lingers well into the aftertaste. That last part being perhaps a subtle reminder of the seemingly solid foundation this beer is built upon. Given that, one wonders if the brewery would ever consider releasing Señor Viejo as a non-barrel aged brew.

Now, I can imagine a barrel head drinking this beer and saying it doesn't have enough booze. Imperialized or not, though, this is still a schwarzbier, and too much bourbon (or agave for that matter) would easily overwhelm the underlying lager. Rather than that, Twisted X has created a system of checks and balances in letting the sweetness of the agave play off the roasted malt. In doing so, I think they've created a rather unique taste experience, but whether or not you agree may come down to how you feel about the flavor of tequila. As for myself, while a bottle of tequila isn't the fist thing I would reach for at a bar, in this beer it works.

* Originally published on

Monday, April 20, 2015

Menu released for Prairie Artisan Ales Beer Supper at the Meddlesome Moth, April 26

Image credits: Meddlesome Moth, Prairie Artisan Ales

Representing the final installment in their series of anniversary pairdinés, the Meddlesome Moth has released the menu and beer list for their upcoming Prairie Artisan Ales Beer Supper.

Hosted by brewery founder Chase Healey, the event occurs this Sunday, April 26 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $70pp, including gratuity, and can be purchased on Eventbrite or by calling the Moth directly at 214-629-7900.

Meet and Greet

Prairie Standard - hoppy farmhouse ale.

First Course

Funky Gold Amarillo - dry-hopped sour ale.

HFC yellowtail kingfish, seaweed snap pea salad and yuzu passion fruit emulsion.

Second Course

Christmas Bomb! - imperial stout brewed with spices.

Cardamom cinnamon-spiced duck confit, smoked duck bacon hash and pickled ramp vinaigrette.

Third Course

Cherry Funk - sour ale aged on cherries.

Mycella blue cheese, peppercorn shortbread and fennel cranberry.

Fourth Course

Brimstone Bomb! - imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels.

Espresso cheesecake mousse, black tea poached pear and caramel rice cracker.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Inaugural North Texas Firkin Fest releases preliminary beer list

Image credit: Texas Craft Brewers Guild

Marked by the return of Big Texas Beer Fest this past weekend, beer festival season is upon us here in the Metroplex. And, while you're no doubt familiar with names like BTBF, Untapped and the Best Little Brewfest in Texas, a new sort of event is on the horizon.

Coming to the Picnic Grounds adjacent to Globe Life Park in Arlington on Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m., the North Texas Firkin Fest will offer up just what its name implies, an all-cask event featuring rare and one-off tappings from breweries located around the Lone Star State. Produced by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the same organization behind the Texas Craft Brewers Festival in Austin, Firkin Fest follows a similar affair in Houston put on by the Guild in March. It's also the first time the group will host an event in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Currently fifteen breweries are expected to be in attendance, a full list of which can be found on the official festival website, Ticket prices range from $35 for general admission, to $70 for VIP privileges. The latter includes early entrance, a commemorative T-shirt and growler. Designated driver tickets are also available for $10, with all options on sale now at Ticketfly.

Attendees will receive a tasting cup with eight sample tickets, each good for a 3-ounce pour (additional samples may be purchased on site). The beer list is included below, with the full list to be released later this week (note, in some case descriptions are adapted from those found on the respective brewery's website).

Cedar Creek Brewery

Danko Colada (6.8% ABV | 70 IBU): Dankosaurus with grilled pineapple and toasted coconut.

Baja Patio Pounder (5.5% ABV | 35 IBU): Patio Pounder Pale Lager with lime and coconut.

Chimera Brewing Company

Citra Dry Hopped Shields Up! (5% ABV | 45 IBU): American-style pale ale brewed with Blacklands malt, along with Cascade, Crystal and Zythos hops for a citrus and floral punch with a clean, crisp finish.

Roman Empire (6% ABV | 35 IBU): English-style pale ale with added Myrtle leaves to create a spicy, herbaceous and balanced spin on a classic style.

Collective Brewing Project

Funkytown Series - Petite Golden Sour (4.5% ABV | 1 IBU): Brewed with Brettanomyces bruxelensis var. Drie and lacto delbruckeii, Brett lambicus was added to the firkin and the beer was dry-hopped with Citra.

Funkytown Series - American Sour Red (6.6% ABV | 16 IBU): Brewed with Brettanomyces bruxelensis var. Drie and lacto brevis, this beer has a Flanders Red malt bill and was aged in Icaria Winery Cabernet barrels. In addition, Brett lambicus was added to the firkin.

Community Beer Company

Public Ale ESB with EKG Hops (5.5% ABV | 38 IBU): Public Ale dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings to produce a slightly hoppier finish highlighting earthy, spicy, herbal and piney notes.

Legion with Blackberries (9.9% ABV | 70 IBU): Legion aged on organic blackberries to increase the depth of flavor and add a sweeter, fruity component complimenting the roasted chocolate and coffee flavors of the base beer.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company

Capt'n Fantastic (6% ABV | 35 IBU): Oatmeal Pale Ale dry-hopped with El Dorado and Simcoe.

Boombox (6.6% ABV | 32 IBU): Oak Cliff Coffee Ale with added coffee and cinnamon sticks infused with rum from the Witherspoon Distillery in Lewisville.

Four Corners Brewing Company

El Chingón with Guava & Ancho (8% ABV | 76 IBU): El Chingón dry-hopped for an intense fresh hop aroma, then infused with guava and ancho.

Local Buzz with Sorachi Ace (5.2% ABV | 22 IBU): Local Buzz dry-hopped with Sorachi Ace, which is known for its high-alpha aroma and intense lemon character.

Grapevine Craft Brewery

Citrus Hibiscus Monarch (4.3% ABV | 21 IBU): Classic American wheat ale with hibiscus, orange peel, sage and lavender tea blend added for a tart, refreshing finish.

Root Beer Sir William's (4.9% ABV | 21 IBU): English brown ale steeped with sassafras, sarsaparilla and vanilla beans for a flavor reminiscent of an old fashioned cask brewed beer.

Independence Brewing Company

Power & Light Pale with Raspberries (5.5% ABV | 42 IBU): Crisp, hoppy and refreshing session pale ale with added raspberries.

Busted for Possession (7.5% ABV | 95 IBU): Blend of Stash IPA and Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout dry-hopped with whole leaf Columbus hops.

Lakewood Brewing Company

Ancho Lager (4.6% ABV): Lakewood Lager with ancho chilies.

Piña Colada Rock Ryder (4.8% ABV): Rock Ryder rye wheat with pineapple and coconut.

Martin House Brewing Company

Pretzel Stout with Butterfingers (6.5% ABV | 43 IBU): Pretzel Stout with Butterfinger candy for an added bit of peanut butter and chocolatey goodness.

Cellarman's reserve IPA with Honeydew Melon (7% ABV | 65 IBU): Single-hop IPA with German Hull Melon hops infused with the complimentary flavors of raw honeydew melon.

Peticolas Brewing Company

Sledge Hammer (11.5% ABV): Previously only available at the brewery, this triple imperial red ale has been described as Velvet Hammer on steroids.

Operation Collaboration (8% ABV | 75 IBU): The brewery's IPA collaboration with Green Flash dry-hopped with the same experimental hop varieties used to brew the beer (#07270 and #06277).

Rabbit Hole Brewing Company

Ethiopian Rapture (5.7% ABV | 33 IBU): Rapture Fusion Brown Ale cask-conditioned with Ethiopian coffee from Mystical Coffee to add rich, complex coffee flavors.

Simcoe and Six (6% ABV | 69 IBU): 10/6 English Pale Ale cask-conditioned with Simcoe to add distinctive grapefruit and pine notes typical of American-style pale ales to the aroma of this traditional English brew.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Oak Aged Regulator (8.5% ABV | 30 IBU): The brewery's limited-release doppelbock aged on toasted American oak spirals.

Iron Joe (8% ABV | 35 IBU): Iron Thistle infused with Noir cold brew coffee from Fort Worth's Avoca Coffee Roasters.

Real Ale Brewing Company

19th Anniversary Baltic Porter (7.7% ABV | 34 IBU): Malt-forward with the focus on dark malt character, this porter is a heartier brew like the inspirational beers of the Baltic region.

Citra Dry-Hopped Full Moon Rye IPA (6.2% ABV | 50 IBU): A new take on Real Ale's original flagship, this edition is dry-hopped with Citra for a bright orange and tropical hop flavor and aroma.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Divine Reserve 15 (10.1% ABV | 46 IBU): Originally brewed as Divine Reserve 5, DR15 has a rich, malty body full of coffee and chocolate flavors and a spiciness derived from the combination of hops and high alcohol.

Divine Reserve 14 (10% ABV | 30 IBU): A Belgian Strong Golden Ale brewed with the goal of making a Belgian/American hybrid using west coast American hops and rye malt to emulate the fruit and spices often found in Belgian beers.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Holland partners with Andrews for North Texas distribution

Image credit: New Holland Brewing

Bringing yet another long-standing rumor to fruition, Andrews Distributing today announced it has entered into a partnership to deliver the products of New Holland Brewing to North Texas.

Based in Holland, Michigan, New Holland Brewing was founded in 1997 by Brett VanderKamp. Joined by partners Dave White and Fred Bueltmann, they and the rest of the New Holland team work to produce "beers and spirits that are works of art" that they hope will "inspire consumers in their own lives."

Regarding their entry into the Lone Star State, Adam Lambert, vice president of sales for New Holland, said the brewery looks forward to expanding to the large craft beer market Texas has to offer. As for their decision to sign on with Andrews, he goes on to say, "Andrews is a great cultural fit with New Holland, and we know their team will execute this next step in our growth strategy with great care and attention to detail. We look forward to sharing New Holland's 'Stop and Taste' way of life with Texas beer lovers."

Mike Machul, Andrews brand manager for the brewery, echoed similar sentiments in expressing his company's eagerness to expand their craft portfolio with this well-known brand. "We are very excited to bring the good people of North Texas the world class brands New Holland produces. We anticipate a great response and look forward to years of success together."

Andrews will launch the New Holland portfolio in North Texas on May 4, 2015. Initial shipments are expected to include the following beers from the brewery's year-round lineup: Dragon's Milk (barrel-aged stout), Mad Hatter IPA, Monkey King Saison and Full Circle (kölsch-style beer). Seasonal beers will be made available as well, starting with White Hatter, a Belgian-style white pale ale.

Brewery representatives will be in the Metroplex during the week of launch to attend events and help introduce the brand to local consumers. A full list of events will be posted online at Until then, you can learn more about New Holland by visiting their website at

Friday, April 3, 2015

Franconia and Beeler Farms headline Pork & Pint Night at Ten 50 BBQ, April 9

Image credits: Ten50 BBQ, Franconia Brewing Co., Beeler's Pure Pork

Having been in the restaurant business for roughly 40 years, there probably isn't a whole lot that Larry Lavine hasn't seen when it comes to the field of food and drink. He founded Chili's back in 1975, but nowadays he's in the barbecue business as the man behind Ten 50 BBQ in Richardson.

Ten 50 opened in August 2014, something I reported on here during opening day as I offered up a quick synopsis of the new venture's craft beer offerings. Having an array of better beer, as you might imagine, is something Lavine hopes people will take notice of and see as an added feature. "We'll always be a restaurant first," he says, "but we've got twenty-four taps, which is more than a lot of similar places have, and when people come in I want them to know that they can get a good beer."

With that in mind, Ten 50 has begun taking steps in an effort to get its craft beer program a little more notice. A weekly pint night/glassware giveaway was instituted in December, which currently runs on Thursdays, starting at 4 p.m. As for what there is to drink, while Lavine admits he sells a fair number of macros, the availability of brands like Deep Ellum, Real Ale, Franconia and Rahr & Sons, insure customers have the option of pairing a pint of Texas beer with true Texas barbecue.

Along those lines, Ten 50 is hosting a special beer and barbecue event featuring brews from Franconia and meat from Beeler's Pure Pork. What will make the evening unique is the fact that the two companies have quite a few things in common. Both Franconia and Beeler Farms are built on long-standing family traditions. Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann traces his brewing heritage to his great, great grandfather's brewery in the early 1800s, while it was Tim Beeler's great, great grandfather that started raising pigs on the family farmstead in 1846. Not only that, both men are descended from German ancestry.

Now, the companies will come together for Pork and Pint Night at Ten 50, which happens Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m. Beeler and Franconia Brand Manager Bobby Brown will be on hand to tell the stories of each company, while attendees enjoy dinner and a flight of four Franconia beers. The meal will include slow-smoked pork, St. Louis ribs, Mac 'n Cheese, pinto beans and house-made banana pudding, with flights consisting of Franconia Amber, Wheat, Lemondrop Pilsner and Tripel Dunkel.

Cost is $25 per person and seating is limited. Call 972-234-1050 to make reservations.