Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coney Island Hard Root Beer coming to North Texas

Image credit: Coney Island Brewing Company.

Andrews Distributing is adding yet another hard root beer to its stable of offerings with today's announcement of a new agreement with the Coney Island Brewing Company.

Jeremy Cowan of Shmaltz Brewing Company founded Coney Island in 2007, making a name for the brand by crafting award-winning lagers with artwork featuring the "spirit and iconic imagery of Coney Island in New York." In 2013, the brewery was acquired by Alchemy & Science, a subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company operated by Alan Newman and Stacey Steinmetz. Newman was one of the principals behind the Magic Hat Brewing Company, while Steinmetz was that brewery's first employee.

Under the new leadership, Coney Island "continues to create world-class products that capture the fun and happiness of Coney Island." The company's Hard Root Beer (5.8% ABV) is a new twist on an old favorite, bringing together elements of vanilla, licorice and birch in a product "designed to take your mind and taste buds to the boardwalk."

Chris Adams, brewery operations manager for Coney Island, said the team is looking forward to sharing Coney Island with the Texas audience. “We would be remiss not to explore any opportunity to invite people to discover our Coney Island family,” Adams said. “We are proud of these world-class beers, and we’re excited to find a new audience with our Hard Root Beer!”

Blythe Lee, Andrews brand manager for Coney Island, said Coney Island is a unique and enjoyable brand. “The Coney Island team has combined great, entertaining artwork with an even better product that we look forward to sharing in Texas,” Lee said. “We are eager to begin distribution of their Hard Root Beer in DFW and Corpus Christi as it continues to grow in popularity.”

According to a press release, Andrews will begin distributing Coney Island’s Hard Root Beer in Dallas-Fort Worth and Corpus Christi in August. It will first arrive in 6-packs of 12-ounce bottles, with limited availability on draft. Plans are also to offer 12-pack cans at a later time.

For additional information about Coney Island Brewing Company, please visit

Monday, July 27, 2015

More on Lakewood's latest Lion's Share

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Company.

Ahead of its third anniversary, Lakewood Brewing Company has revealed additional details on Lion's Share III, the beer the brewery has crafted especially for the occasion.

Providing some background on the release, founder Wim Bens explains, "Every year we have an employee competition to choose the new batch of Lion's Share. It's an employee-wide open call to create a unique recipe, which is voted on by employees. The beer that wins is what we brew."

According to a press release, this year's recipe is described as "a well-rounded Old Ale that has been aged for months in premium Napa Valley red wine barrels." The beer's foundation is made up of 100% Maris Otter, an English 'winter' variety of malted barley that adds distinctive bready and nutty flavors that are ideal for this type of beer. On top of that, a combination of UK hop varieties, including Target, Challenger and East Kent Goldings adds a floral, slightly fruity aroma and bitterness that compliments the malt backbone nicely.

"We want Lion's Share to be a unique or under-represented beer style," added Bens. "We like to age Lion's Share in barrels and we've used bourbon and white wine barrels in the past. This year we picked red wine and the results are amazing."

As for the forthcoming celebration, Bens says, "This is a very special year for us at Lakewood. Every success we've had so far come with its own set of challenges, which makes this year even more special for the entire team. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our hard work than with the folks of DFW who enjoy our beer and have made it possible to do what we do."

On that note, if you're not already aware, Lakewood will mark its third year in the brewing business with back-to-back events this weekend. The first is an exclusive, ticket-only event that will occur at the brewery's Taproom on Saturday, to be followed by an event open to the public at Goodfriend on Sunday. For full details on each, click the links below:

Day One:

Day Two:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oak Highlands to begin deliveries week of July 20

Image credit: Oak Highlands Brewery.

Just ahead of the company's official debut this weekend, Oak Highlands Brewery has received word from the TABC that five of their beers have received label approval. That means consumers can expect to find Allgood, Derelict IPA, DfDub, Freaky Deaky and Golden Mustache at bars and restaurants in and around Dallas beginning next week.

The Capitol Pub in Uptown is one of those slated to be among the initial spots to carry the brewery's beers, as they plan to stock both Golden Mustache and Derelict IPA (keep an eye on social media as to when they'll be tapped). As for others, once accounts have been finalized you'll be able to find a list by clicking the following link on the brewery's website:

Regarding grand opening festivities, the celebration starts on Saturday, July 18 at noon. Admission to the event is $15, which gets you a pint glass, koozie and three beer tickets. Food and other beverages will be sold by the Easy Slider and OinknMoo food trucks, while live music will be provided by Charley Sullivan (noon), Ole G (3 p.m.) and Shotgun Friday (6 p.m.). Plus, for those wanting to stay out of the heat, it's worth mentioning that Oak Highlands is home to a fully air-conditioned taproom. Tickets are still available and can be purchased on Eventbrite:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Checking out Shiner's new Strawberry Blonde

Image credit: The Gambrinus Company

Arriving on my doorstep this week, samples of the newest beer from the Spoetzl Brewery came labeled with a promise to deliver "a little something special from the little brewery in Shiner."

Strawberry Blonde is beer No. 7 in Shiner's Brewer's Pride Series, following Haymaker Extra Pale Ale which debuted earlier in 2015. It's a lager brewed with fresh strawberries from Poteet, Texas, a little town about 40 miles south of San Antonio. Poteet, in case you didn't know, is known as "The Strawberry Capital of Texas," and the city hosts a festival dedicated to that particular fruit during harvest time each year (

The beer, you might say, is a celebration of strawberries as well. To be sure, the berries are the dominant player, but the flavor of the fruit is balanced in and of itself. The taste is lightly tart and not too sweet, which keeps the beer from being too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Then again, no one would ever accuse Shiner of going way over the top with any of their beers, so maybe this is exactly what one should expect.

Going beyond the fruit, the list of ingredients includes a mix of pale and wheat malts, which to me gives the beer a little bit of a biscuity character. It doesn't quite make for biscuits and jam in a bottle (though, the neck label does suggest you "jam out" with this beer), but the grain bill does provide what I'd call a pastry-like impression.

On the tongue, Strawberry Blonde is light and refreshing, though it's perhaps somewhat overly effervescent. The carbonation is intense, to say the least, and while it's not all that evident based on the quickly dissolving head, as your drinking the beer the bubbles don't exactly dance across your palate.

Despite that, at least in terms of flavor and the ability to slake your thirst on a hot summer day, Strawberry Blonde is a pretty decent beer. Of course, I'm not suggesting beer geeks are going to cast aside, say, New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb in favor this brew, since it should be understood that the two breweries don't have the same target audience. Still, for someone looking to make their first foray into a fruit beer, I can't help but see Strawberry Blonde as a perfectly reasonable option.

Strawberry Blonde will be released in 12-ounce bottles as part of Shiner's Family Reunion variety pack. It will also be available on tap and in 24-ounce bombers. Look for it wherever Shiner is sold.

Strawberry Blonde
Style: Fruit beer
ABV: 4.3%
IBU: 11

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Andrews bringing Ninkasi to North Texas

Image credit: Ninkasi Brewing

Andrews Distributing is again adding to its list of clients, after today announcing a partnership with Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon.

Ninkasi, one of the top 50 craft breweries of 2014 according to the Brewers Association, was founded in 2006 by Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd after the two met through mutual friends. They brewed their first batch in June of that year and since then have grown the brewery's portfolio to more than 30 products. Not only that, as a further testament to the company's growth, Ninkasi has expanded four times since 2007.

Jill Newman, Andrews craft brand director, said partnering with Ninkasi and sharing their great beers with DFW beer lovers was an easy decision. “They have an amazing team at Ninkasi,” Newman said. “From the first visit, we knew they would be great partners. Both teams have strong, values-based cultures and believe in sharing great craft beer experiences with retailers, consumers and our communities.”

Nikos Ridge, CEO and co-founder of Ninkasi, said his team is looking forward to entering a growing craft beer market with a team who is ready to fuel that growth. “Andrews Distributing has a world-class craft beer operation and a team who is incredibly helpful in developing strategies to build a successful roll out and presence in the market,” Ridge said. “North Texas is a rapidly expanding market with a huge population and an ever-growing thirst for craft beer. We look forward to sharing Ninkasi with this region!”

According to a press release, Andrews plans to launch the Ninkasi portfolio in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on September 14. Initial shipments are expected to include Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops IPA, Dawn of the Red and additional seasonal and special release beers. Products will be made available both on draft and at retail locations.

Along with their brews, Ninkasi will also bring its Beer is Love donations program to the DFW area, helping local organizations raise funds and awareness to achieve their goals.

For additional information about Ninkasi, visit

Friday, July 10, 2015

Grapevine Craft Brewery unveils new facility

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

It wasn't long ago that Grapevine Craft Brewery was celebrating the success of a record-setting Fundable campaign meant to help the business get off the ground. Now, just two years later, the brewery is ready to open the doors on a new 11,000 square foot facility in its namesake city.

By now you know the story as to how the original plans got derailed, and how owner Gary Humble made the decision to operate temporarily in Farmers Branch in order to make good on a promise to have beer in the hands of his supporters by the end of 2013. They say that all's well that ends well, though, and I imagine after taking in the new facility at a private event last night that Humble is more than happy with how things turned out.

Visitors may overlook the coming soon-style sign out along E. Dallas Road, but the big blue building with gray stripes is hard to miss as you approach the site located at 906 Jean Street in Grapevine. Parking is available on the south side of the structure, and is adjacent to the main entrance which you reach by passing through the beer garden.

Bar and picnic table seating are available in the Beer Garden.

Inside, there's a two-level taproom with expansive views of the brewhouse thanks to walls of windows which exist both upstairs and down. Naturally, the bar features an array of Grapevine beers on tap for your drinking pleasure, one of which will be the brewery's new year-round offering, HopFest United IPA. Brewed with 10 different hop varieties, this bright and flavorful brew was being packaged in six-packs of 12-ounce cans during the event, presumably in preparation for deliveries to retail locations in the coming days.

Birds-eye views of the taproom.

As for the production space, a thirty-barrel brewhouse sits nestled in the corner of the main area next to a group of 60 and 90-barrel fermenters, with an empty row being reserved for a set of 120-barrel tanks yet to be delivered. Packaging occurs in a separate room towards the rear of the building using an advanced rotary canning line Grapevine acquired back in January. Current estimates put the brewery's annual capacity at 16,000 barrels, though Humble says they'll produce less than half of that in 2015.

The brewhouse (left) is adjacent to the taproom, while the canning line (right) is seated in the back of the building.

All in all, it's an impressive step forward for a brewery that hasn't even reached its two-year anniversary. You, as a consumer, can check it out this weekend during the brewery's grand opening celebration. It's happening today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday), July 10-11, from 3-10 p.m. each day. Festivities will include live music, food trucks and a slew of special releases tapped especially for the occasion.

906 Jean Street

Taproom hours: Daily, 3-10 p.m.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rahr & Sons releasing two new beers in August

Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Rahr & Sons has announced it will release two new beers in the month of August, one named after a member of the family, and the other inspired by a ship named after the Fort.

The first of these will be Drahthaar, a double IPA "with a bold, malty flavor and a crisp aroma that includes notes of citrus, pine and grapefruit." Referencing a certain breed of German hunting dog, this beer is named in honor of the family's own drahthaar, Schnapps. To be sold on draft and in 22-ounce bombers, Drahthaar will begin appearing at draft and retail accounts during the first week of August.

Later in the month, Rahr & Sons will debut U.S.S. Fort Worth. This American session ale is dedicated to the crew of the U.S.S. Fort Worth, a Freedom class littoral (close to shore) combat ship that was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in August 2012. Described as "crisp and clean with a medium body and a mild citrus finish," a portion of the proceeds from sales of the beer will be donated to the U.S.S. Fort Worth Support Committee. This organization provides moral support and appreciation for the ship's crew and families. Available on draft and in 12-ounce cans, U.S.S. Fort Worth will be released during the last week of August leading up to Labor Day.

Commenting on U.S.S. Fort Worth, brewery owner Fritz Rahr said, "I am proud to live and work in the City of Fort Worth, and it is an honor to have our city's name on such a prestigious naval ship with a first-class crew. We wanted to recognize the brave men and women of the U.S.S. Fort Worth, as well as the other armed forces members with this special brew."

Both beers will be a part of special tastings at Rahr & Sons during the month of August. Details for each event are as follows:

  • Drahthaar will be featured during the brewery's Wednesday tour on August 5, from 5-7:30 p.m.
  • U.S.S. Fort Worth will be featured during the brewery's Saturday tour on September 5, from 1-3 p.m. Members of the U.S. Navy will be on hand to help celebrate the occasion.

Admission is $10 per person, and all who attend will receive a commemorative pint glass.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Woodcreek Brewing nearly ready in Rockwall

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

Head east over the bridge that spans Lake Ray Hubbard between Garland and Rockwall and within moments you might find your gaze locked on a rock-faced building set off to the south. A sign over the door there may seem simple and unassuming, but in a single word it tells you all you need to know..."Brewery."

Located right off I-30 in Rockwall, the brewery in this case is Woodcreek Brewing Company, and it's the work of partners Noah Cutshall and Brad Bramblett. Both are Texas transplants who've made their home in the city, Cutshall having grown up in St. Louis and Bramblett in the Pacific Northwest. As for the name Woodcreek, it's a nod to the neighborhood where they spent two years perfecting their recipes in Cutshall's garage. Originally the company was called Longhorn Brewing, but Woodcreek was chosen for a more personal touch, since it was the place where the brewery got its start. In the end, while the word "longhorn" is iconic and synonymous with Texas, its ubiquity as a business name suggested it just wasn't the right fit.

Now, with permits in hand and construction entering the final phase, Woodcreek has set its sights on becoming the first brewing operation of any kind in Rockwall. The company's two-vessel, fifteen barrel brewhouse is up and running and the taproom is taking shape. The 3800 square foot facility is almost ready to welcome visitors, it's just a matter of a few finishing touches and waiting for the first round of fermentations to complete.

Woodcreek's easily identifiable entrance (left) and already operational brewhouse (right).

Upon opening, one of Woodcreek's beers will appropriately be called New Horizon. It fits because it's the slogan for the City of Rockwall and it speaks to the founders' approach. Rockwall is a fast-growing community, and Woodcreek hopes to grow along with it while working to develop the local craft beer culture. Rockwall may be a suburb of Dallas, but Bramblett makes the point that many who commute for work look to find entertainment near home. That's especially true for Rockwall, he says, because once people cross the bridge on Friday afternoon, they have no intention of turning back until Monday morning. Bars are somewhat scarce in the city due to its 50-50 food-to-alcohol sales ratio, so while they had to fight to get city approval for a taproom, there's a great opportunity to become a local destination.

If you're wondering what they'll serve, the area's warm temperatures and proximity to the lake will drive a focus towards more sessionable styles. It makes sense, especially if you take into account their goals for expanding local palates, as they hope to steer more lakeside Coors-light drinkers towards a better brand of beer. The aforementioned New Horizon (a hoppy wheat beer) is designed to help with that effort, as is the kölsch-inspired Lakeside Blonde.

Those brews, along with others like Texas Star Bock, Rockwall Red and Hwy 66 IPA will be draft only for the time being, and plans are to be highly adaptable when it comes to the brewery's portfolio. While they've got a stable of recipes ready to go, as of now there are no plans to identify any year-round beers. Basically, whether or not a beer gets brewed again will depend strictly on the market.

So, when will Woodcreek open? Cutshall says they are no more than a few weeks away. He and Bramblett just want to make sure they've got all their bases covered before setting an official date. Stay tuned to the brewery's social media accounts (click the buttons below) for updates on that, as well as details on weekday taproom hours and the start of Saturday tours.

Woodcreek Brewing Company 
1400 E. Interstate 30, Suite A

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hyatt Regency partners with area brewers for Craft Brewery Package

Image credits: Hyatt Regency Dallas,
Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Texas Ale Project.

The Hyatt Regency Dallas, home to the iconic Reunion Tower, has announced a new partnership with local breweries to "provide visitors with an authentic Dallas craft beer experience."

According to a press release, Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Texas Ale Project have signed on to be a part of the program which seeks to make it easier for out-of-town guests to enjoy one of the city's fastest growing trends. As a vacation option, it makes for a fun, responsible way to explore two of the area's popular breweries.

"Texans are no stranger to good beer," said Fred Euler, general manager of the Hyatt. "Dallas' craft brewery scene has really boomed over the past few years and we are proud to be the first in the city to offer our guests a hassle-free way to try some of the state's best."

Guests who book the package will enjoy overnight accommodations, beer tastings at both breweries and a tour of Texas Ale Project. Complimentary round-trip shuttle service will be provided, and participants will receive commemorative pint glasses to take home from each brewery.

Reservations can be made now by way the following link, where you'll also find full details as to the number of samples available at each brewery and a rundown of the trip schedule:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Noble Rey now open in Dallas

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

After more than three years in development, the Noble Rey Brewing Company can finally claim the title of being the newest craft brewery in North Texas. Owner Chris Rigoulot and his team began welcoming consumers during a series of soft opening events last week before the official debut this past Saturday.

First appearing on the scene in early 2012, Noble Rey would be forced to scrap plans to open in Grapevine and Oak Cliff before winding up at its permanent location in the Dallas Design District. Now settled at 2636 Farrington Street, the brewery sets up as the northern bookend to a two mile stretch of the city which includes neighboring brewers Peticolas, Community and the Texas Ale Project. Cross the Trinity River and Four Corners is in the vicinity as well, which if you ask me means there's an opportunity for a rather epic brewery crawl for anyone willing to take up the challenge.

The entrance (left) and brewhouse (right) at Noble Rey Brewing Company.

The building Noble Rey occupies takes up a total of 8400 square feet. An eyeball estimate suggests a little less than half of that is devoted to production, with the rest set aside for the taproom. The work space contains a two-vessel, fifteen-barrel brewhouse flanked by a wall of thirty-barrel fermenters, while the public area has two bars, couch and table seating options, arcade games and a TV equipped with a gaming console.

Taproom offerings on opening day featured an array of mostly Texas taps, including beers from Noble Rey's Pilot Series. Thanks to a brewpub license, upwards of twenty guest beers will pour from the larger of the two bars on days the taproom is open, with as many as four house beers being served at the other. While only select Noble Rey products were on tap this weekend, a larger selection of the brewery's beers will be made available once operations ramp up later this week. That's when Rigoulot and brewer Justin Krey will begin crafting commercial batches on the brewery's production system. Not that you would have noticed, necessarily, but all of the beers served in the taproom up to now have been produced on Noble Rey's pilot rig.

Guest beers are on tap at Noble Rey Brewing Company.

One of those I sampled was Clockwork Orange, billed as the brewery's standard Steam Punk brewed with blood oranges, Himalayan pink sea salt and a French saison yeast. Here, the bitterness from the fruit addition provided a nice balance to the somewhat sweet, grainy malt making up the foundation for this beer. At least to my taste I thought the salt and yeast influence was fairly subtle, but Clockwork Orange is a beer I'd gladly come back to again in order to do some additional research.

As for the rest, once in-house stock gets built up, patrons will have the option of taking home Noble Rey beers in both glass growlers and aluminum crowlers. Further out, cans will be another take-home option, though Rigoulot mentioned during an impromptu tour he gave that canning would happen a few months down the road. For now, you'll have to get your fill on bottles and cans from local and national breweries which are on sale to-go in the taproom.

Noble Rey Brewing Company
2636 Farrington Street

Taproom hours: Wednesday-Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-10 p.m.