Monday, June 29, 2015

Caramel 'meats' beer during Summer Sampler at Franconia, July 18

Image credit: Piebird Services.

Not week goes by, it seems, that there's not some sort of beer and food pairing event going on somewhere here in the Metroplex. Beer dinners, in particular, are a virtual staple in weekly event listings, with cheese pairings not following too far behind. Lately, we've even seen donuts thrown into the mix, perhaps being a sign that consumers are open to a little something different when it comes to enjoying their favorite craft beers with food.

Along those lines, three local business are coming together for an event they're calling the Summer Sampler. Born of an idea they came up with in March while participating in the NARI Home and Garden Show in Plano, the owners of Franconia Brewing Company, Local Yocal Farm to Market and Dallas Caramel Company thought consumers might enjoy their fresh, quality offerings even more if they could enjoy them together.

Happening Saturday, July 18 at 5 p.m., brewery owner Dennis Wehrmann and crew will be your hosts for the Summer Sampler to be held at Franconia in McKinney. The event will feature six sampling stations bringing together hand-cut meats, hand-crafted all natural caramels and, of course, locally-made beer. Examples of the pairings include:

Franconia Kölsch
 Beefy grass-fed hanger steak and a creamy orange caramel.

Franconia Dunkel
Krautwurst sausage and a Texas-style caramel turtle called the Armadillo.

In addition to Wehrmann, Matt Hamilton of Local Yocal and Rain McDermott of the Dallas Caramel Company will also be on hand to answer questions and provide insight into their product offerings. 

Tickets for the Summer Sampler are $40 per person (all-inclusive, no fees), and can be purchased on Eventbrite by way of the following link:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Evil Twin and Stillwater Artisanal headed to Texas

Image credits: Evil Twin Brewing, Stillwater Artisanal.

After entering into an agreement with 12 Percent Imports, Favorite Brands has revealed that they are in the process of bringing the products of Evil Twin Brewing and Stillwater Artisanal to Texas.

Evil Twin and Stillwater make for a rather unique pair, in that each company's founder is a gypsy brewer. Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø founded Evil Twin in 2010 and since then he's released over 100 beers commercially. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, he's conjured up recipes that have been brewed both in the United States and abroad. Texans have been privy to some of his work in the form of Bible Belt, a collaborative brew created with Prairie Artisan Ales, yet another brewery in the Favorite Brands portfolio.

As for Stillwater, Brian Strumke is the mastermind behind the Baltimore, Maryland-based outfit that began operations in 2009. He too has traveled the world seeking inspiration in order to craft beverages that meet the brewery's goal of representing "living art." Together the two breweries should add a new level of depth to the roster of craft beers available to local consumers.

According to John Maestas, who oversees National Chain Accounts for Favorite Brands, the firm's parent company L&F Distributors will handle deliveries to the Rio Grande Valley, while Favorite Brands will supply other areas throughout Texas. There's no word yet on what might be included in initial shipments, as the ink is just now dry on the contracts and both brewery's are still awaiting TABC label approvals.

For more on Evil Twin Brewing, visit, and for Stillwater Artisanal, visit

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Andrews to deliver Small Town root beer beginning July 6

Images the property of Small Town Brewery.

Continuing to add to its ever-growing portfolio of craft brewers, Andrews Distributing has announced a partnership with Small Town Brewery of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Founder Tim Kovac began mapping out his plan to start Small Town Brewery, which began operations in 2011, prior to learning his family had a history in the business. As legend has it, the family's brewing heritage got started after a long-ago grandfather of Kovac won a brewery during a high-stakes card game. Today, the brewery "operates with the goal to honor [the] family's beer making tradition by creating brews with unique and flavorful ingredients." Small Town's logo would seem to honor this tradition as well, seeing as how this particular ancestor was also a ship's captain in England during the 1600s.

Look for six-packs of Not Your Father's Root Beer at
retail locations beginning July 6.
According to a press release, Andrews will launch Small Town's Not Your Father's Root Beer in North Texas and Corpus Christi on July 6. The beer, which is brewed with a variety of spices and has an ABV of 5.9%, will be made available in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

Mike Machul, Andrews brand manager for Small Town Brewery, said the Andrews team looks forward to sharing a beverage that is so reminiscent of a drink many grew up loving. “Root beer is a great nostalgic beverage, and Not Your Father’s Root Beer brings back memories of the beloved drink,” Machul said. “We look forward to sharing it with both beer lovers and those who are still searching for a unique craft beverage to enjoy.”

For more information on Small Town Brewery, visit the company's website at

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pouring Glory to fill more than growlers in Fort Worth

Image credit: Pouring Glory.

With dedicated growler fill stations popping up here and there on the eastern side of the Metroplex, it was just a matter of time before one got started out west. Though, in this case, Fort Worth's new Pouring Glory will bring something else to the table besides just beer. We're talking food for hungry patrons prepared by chefs in an onsite kitchen, making the concept the first to add elements of a quick-service restaurant to a growler shop offering beer-to-go.

Pouring Glory's ownership group consists of Kevin and Julia von Ehrenfried, along with Scott and JoAnn Glover. The two men each bring well over 25 years of food industry experience to the project, and they are both chefs in their own right. Von Ehrenfried began his career in 1986 and has spent the last nine years as Director of Operations for Humperdinks, while Glover got his start roughly a decade sooner, eventually going on to oversee the West Coast expansion of the Dallas-based Chili's restaurant chain during the mid-1980s.

As for their new venture, Pouring Glory will be located at 1001 Bryan Avenue in the Near Southside neighborhood of Fort Worth. The spot is a mere four blocks away from Rahr & Sons and less than a mile from the Collective Brewing Project and soon-to-be HopFusion Ale Works. Commenting on the site selection, von Ehrenfried indicated that the choice had as much to do with being close to local breweries as it did "being able to be a big part of the revitalization of the area."

The structure that exists on the site was originally built in 1943, though it was most recently home to a nightclub. Once renovations are complete, the building "will have an industrial motif consisting of exposed brick, gears, gauges and pipes," or the look of "Steam Punk," according to von Ehrenfried. The 2100 square foot space will house a bar serving fresh craft beer and wine, for on or off-premise consumption, as well as a display kitchen cooking up house-smoked barbecue, gastro pub-style fare and daily chef specials.

Naturally, given the culinary aspect of the business, they'll hold the occasional beer and food pairing, but as far as onsite gatherings go, von Ehrenfried says they'll strive to become an integral part of the Fort Worth community by hosting events for charity as well. In addition, they hope to get out and meet neighbors, if you will, by offering catering services for offsite functions nearby.

Regarding beer selection, upwards of 50 beers will be on tap at any given time, and while Pouring Glory will highlight local breweries whenever possible, their focus will be on trying to stock the best beers available, whether they be from North Texas or other parts of the country. "Southside Fort Worth is quickly becoming a hub for craft beer," notes von Ehrenfried, and the excitement it generates is something he and his partners want to be a part of.

Overall, those behind Pouring Glory hope that they've developed something that will be well-received by craft beer consumers. They recognize that growlers are a growing trend, but they believe the addition of food service will help to set them apart from the rest. In the end, it's all about creating "the perfect concept to deliver great craft beer and food to the community in a fun and casual atmosphere."

Currently, construction is still ongoing, so there's still a bit of work to do before they can open. Until they do, stay up-to-date on Pouring Glory's progress by way of updates to their Facebook page as they target a late August or early September debut.

Pouring Glory
1001 Bryan Avenue
Fort Worth

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ivanhoe Ale Works makes its debut in Denison

Image credit: Ivanhoe Ale Works.

Despite a vague 1896 reference to one being within its borders, there's nothing to suggest that the City of Denison has ever been home to a brewery. In the late 19th century, local beer depots were commonly referred to as breweries, even though most did little more than serve as a warehouse and distribution point for out-of-town beer companies. Denison had two such entities in the late 1890s, one owned by the Texas Brewing Company of Fort Worth and another owned by Anheuser Busch.

Taking the above in the proper context, it seems safe to say that Denison's first production brewery now exists in the form of Ivanhoe Ale Works, which opened in late May and is situated in the city's downtown. Almost literally carved out of a 6000+ square foot building dating back to the late 1800s, the brewery's location at 220 W. Main Street was formerly a movie house known as the Star (1913) and later the State Theater (1948). It's got a new roof and a new floor, but the exposed brick, beams and more are a reminder that this is a place with some history.

Gabe Parker and Johnny Wells are partners in the venture, which shares space with a tasting room for customers of Parker's Homestead Winery next door. Taken together and billed as a brewinery, it's the first business of its kind in the State of Texas. As for the brewery's name, Ivanhoe refers to Parker's Texas hometown. It's there that he lives on his 100 year-old family farm, where he also operates the main production facility for his Homestead wines.

The marquee, fermenters and a view from the hospitality area at
Ivanhoe Ale Works in Denison (Brian Brown, click to enlarge).
Wells serves as Ivanhoe's brewmaster, utilizing tools of the trade manufactured by The Criveller Group. His startup system consists of a ten-barrel brewhouse, backed by a set of three twenty-barrel fermenters. He's also running a twenty-gallon pilot system off to the side, which he uses to do a fair amount of experimentation. Test batches typically get split equally into four five-gallon carboys, where Wells tries out different yeasts and souring cultures. Once fermentation is complete, he'll sample each finished beer on its own, then mix them all together to see if the sum ends up being better the parts.

Thus far, though, Ivanhoe has stuck to serving up relatively classic styles. During my visit, the featured beers were Dizzy Blonde, Red River Ale, Knight's Latte Stout and Ivanhoppa IPA. The red was probably the best of the bunch, being malty and full-flavored with a bright, bitter hop finish. As for the IPA, Wells says he's still tinkering with the recipe, and he may rotate the hop varieties on a regular basis. And the stout? It's a beer with a flavor profile perhaps best described as "hop chocolate," and one that might eventually spend time in sherry barrels the brewery has stacked behind the bar.

Regarding distribution, for now you can only get Ivanhoe's ales at the brewery. That said, Wells indicated they do intend to deliver kegs to the northern reaches of the Metroplex at some point in time. Retail outlets they're likely to service include Choice Beverage in McKinney, Lone Star Taps & Caps in Lewisville, and S&K Beverage in Plano. Others, as well as draft accounts, are still to be determined once they brew enough stock to share. Until then, you'll have to make the trip to Denison, where Ivanhoe is open every Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

Ivanhoe Ale Works 
220 W. Main Street

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Four Bullets up and running in Richardson

All images the property of Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Within the first minute of his guided tour, brewmaster and co-founder Andrew Smeeton states what may already be obvious to anyone walking through the door; Richardson's new Four Bullets Brewery is the smallest production operation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Now, had Four Bullets opened a couple of years ago that might not have been the case, at least if the comparison was based on the size of its brewhouse. Square footage-wise, though, it's certainly got the tightest quarters of any new brewery that's opened since 2011. So, how small is small? The five-barrel brewing system and adjoining taproom take up less than 1400 square feet.

Being little isn't a bad thing, by any means, and some will tell you they prefer a more intimate atmosphere like that being offered at what is Richardson's first production brewery (Kirin Court, a dim sum restaurant in the city, produces their own house beers as a brewpub). For one thing, tours are a small-scale affair, which generally affords you more of an opportunity to interact with the person actually brewing your beer. On top of that, you're also likely to experience a little more depth in terms of the discussion as to how that beer gets brewed.

In any case, the brewery does have more room to work with, given there's a slightly smaller adjacent area that is not currently being used, but for now patrons can hang out inside and drink by the fake fireplace (and the TV), or head outdoors where picnic tables are available for you to sit and partake of your pint. Out back is also your best bet for parking, incidentally, since it's an easier in-and-out than the parallel options on the street.

The entrance, brewhouse and bar at Four Bullets Brewery (click to enlarge).

As for the name Four Bullets, if you're not already aware, it's derived from a poker hand of four aces, with the gaming theme extending not only to the miniature playing cards used as drink tickets on tour days (Saturdays 12-6 p.m.), but also to the beer. Along those lines, the brewery's opening hand of three beers consists of Black Jack Brown, Two Pairs Pale Ale and Royal Flush Red. All are easy drinkers brewed with an English flair, a nod to Smeeton's home country, and if I had to pick a favorite I'd probably go with Royal Flush Red. It's a light, smooth beer with a bready malt backbone and just a hint of bitterness in the finish.

Other brews rotate week-to-week in the taproom, with beers like Big Slick ESB, Beer Hand Bitter and Snake Eyes Oatmeal Stout all making appearances over the past few weeks. Another, All In IPA, is also on the way, something co-founder Jeff Douglas said wasn't necessarily in the brewery's initial plan. He and Smeeton started the venture favoring malt-forward recipes, but over time they've both grown to appreciate hoppier beers. Of course, they also know the style is a crowd-pleaser.

In terms of distribution, being small they'll naturally handle the job themselves. For now, they're primarily servicing accounts right around their neighborhood (The Line Bar & Grill, Tavern on Main Street), but they have branched out for launch events outside the city. More than anything, though, they want to be known as Richardson's hometown brewery, so it's assumed they'll continue to play their cards close to the vest for the foreseeable future.

Four Bullets Brewery
640 N. Interurban Street

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Deep Ellum expands Ben E. Keith deal to include Dallas and Collin counties

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Company.

After previously partnering with Ben E. Keith Beverages for distribution of their products in Austin (since 2013), Fort Worth and Denton (since late 2014), the Deep Ellum Brewing Company (DEBC) has announced they've extended their pact to include select locations throughout both Dallas and Collin County.

In a press release, DEBC founder and chief evangelist John Reardon writes, "I've always been drawn to Ben. E. Keith by the service they provide, their attention to the details, and the family feel of their culture. This is just the latest evolution of a relationship that lets us focus on making exceptional beer, while they focus on distributing that beer to more of the people who are looking for our brands. We're grateful to bar owners, restaurants and shopkeepers who were already with us before the announcement, and we're looking forward to providing even greater service to our longtime accounts as we grow."

With this new agreement, Ben E. Keith will now handle DEBC deliveries to arenas, stadiums, festivals and convenience stores in the two counties. The hope is that Ben E. Keith's position as the third largest independent beer wholesaler in the country will open doors to accounts like RaceTrac and 7-Eleven, which are traditionally difficult for a small brewery to service on its own. Not only that, the company has existing relationships with the American Airlines Center and the State Fair of Texas, which should provide DEBC with access to a whole new range of opportunities.

The news is the latest move by a brewery that recently signed a lease on a 16,000 square foot space that effectively doubled its current footprint. According to Reardon, not only will the added space help DEBC expand its barrel and sour programs, it along with recent equipment upgrades means the brewery will have the capacity to produce over 40,000 barrels annually. For consumers, the first fruits of that labor will be made available this month in the form of Easy Peasy IPA, a year-round session IPA brewed with lemon and tangerine peel, along with Simcoe, Citra and Ahtanhum hops.