Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nuggetzilla and a new eisbier in the Haus, Nov. 12 at Franconia

Image credit: Franconia Brewing Company (click to enlarge).

Considering it was named Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket's official beer of North Texas Beer Week in 2014, it's no surprise to learn that Franconia Brewing Co. of McKinney is bringing back Bordeaux Tripel Dunkel in time for this year's round of festivities. What may be a surprise, however, are plans the brewery has for two additional beers it's brewing especially for the occasion.

The first is Pineapple Kölsch, a beer which takes the recipe for Franconia's year-round kölsch and adds an experimental hop known as Nuggetzilla. According to founder Dennis Wehrmann, the brewery whipped up a test batch a few weeks back and tapped it by surprise during a Saturday tour. "We only had enough to fill a single keg," says Wehrmann, "but everyone loved it and it didn't last the day." Judging by a separate test batch I sampled based on Franconia Amber, Nuggetzilla should add a distinctive pineapple tone to the beer, along with a strong resiny element and some bitterness. These latter characteristics are the result of the hop's high oil and alpha acid content (15-17%).

Nuggets of Nuggetzilla (Brian Brown / Beer in Big D).

Regarding the other new beer, an eisbier to be called IPA Ice Bock is in the works as well. Wehrmann says he and head brewer Cam Horn haven't made this particular beer before, but it will be done in a similar manner to previous versions created using Winter Wheat and Tripel Dunkel. Like those beers, after Franconia Double IPA spends time in the deep freeze, the ice crystals will be removed leaving a beer more concentrated in both flavor and aroma. Less water means the finished beer will have more alcohol as well, likely at or above 10% based on the value of the brewery's standard DIPA.

Both beers will be tapped, along with Bordeaux Tripel Dunkel, during the annual Open Haus Franconia hosts as a part of North Texas Beer Week. Happening Thursday, November 12 from 6-9 p.m., the event will feature food trucks, a live bottling line run and an appearance by Donnie Nelson, the general manager and president of basketball operations for the Dallas Mavericks.

Bordeaux Tripel Dunkel will also be available throughout North Texas Beer Week during events going on at the following locations:

Saturday, November 7:
  • Dallas Untapped Festival at Dallas Fair Park, 2:30 p.m. (click here for tickets).
  • Kelly's at the Village in Allen, 6 p.m.
Tuesday November 10:
  • Cold Beer Company in Dallas, 6 p.m.
  • Ginger Man Lakewood/Plano/Southlake, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, November 11:
  • Fillmore Pub in Plano, 6 p.m.
  • Ginger Man Dallas/Fort Worth, 6 p.m.
Friday, November 13.
  • Brewer's Ball in the Dallas Renaissance Hotel, 7 p.m. (click here for tickets).

Click to enlarge menu.
Other items of note:
  • Franconia is the second-to-last stop of the 2015 Brew HaHa Comedy Series. The event occurs on Friday, November 6 at 7 p.m. (click here for tickets).
  • The brewery has partnered with Kent Rathbun for a beer dinner at Hickory in Plano on Wednesday, November 11 at 6:30 p.m. See the image to the right for a rundown of the menu and call 972-712-0777 to make reservations. Note that beer pairings (not listed) will feature Franconia's regular lineup: Amber, Dunkel, Kölsch, Lager and Fallin' Bock.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Rahr & Sons and Lakewood team up again for DFW

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co., Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Building on a successful partnership started last year, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company of Fort Worth and Lakewood Brewing Company of Garland have joined together again to create the 2015 edition of DFW: A Collaboration of Two Breweries.

Brewed on site at Lakewood's facility (last year's version was crafted at Rahr & Sons), this year's beer is a rum oak-aged Cherry Baltic Porter that finished out with an ABV of 9.5%. And, as before, DFW's release will be timed to coincide with North Texas Beer Week, which runs from November 6-15.

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co.

Last year's recipe, a Belgian-inspired dubbel, sold out at distribution and marked the first time two Texas production breweries had collaborated on a beer. As for the 2015 release, Rahr & Sons co-founder and CEO Fritz Rahr says, "We're excited to collaborate again with our friends at Lakewood on such a unique beer. Our special partnership represents the impressive growth of the North Texas craft beer community in recent years."

Lakewood founder Wim Bens expressed a similar sentiment in saying, "Rahr and Lakewood have a shared history and a shared love of creating brews that are unique in North Texas. With DFW, we've done it again. This collaboration allows us to showcase the best of both breweries in one amazing brew."

DFW will be available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles at local retailers beginning the week of November 2.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: A past and present look at the old Dallas Brewery

Since Throwback Thursday seems to be a thing these days, I thought it might be interesting to play along while looking at some images of the old Dallas Brewery. The business, which originated at the hands of Anton Wagenhauser in 1885, was the largest pre-Prohibition brewing operation in the city, and it was located on the site currently occupied by the present-day Dallas Brewery Building at 703 McKinney Avenue.

Present day Dallas Brewery Building (left: Google Maps, right: Brian Brown/Beer In Big D, click to enlarge).

One reason to bring up the topic is because co-author Paul Hightower and I weren't able to locate any images of the original structure or brewery advertising for inclusion in our book on local beer history, entitled North Texas Beer. The search didn't end with the book's publication, however, and I'm happy to say I've since found a few usable images in the public domain.

Ad from the 1894-5 Dallas City Directory showing the brewery's Texas flag-inspired trademark.
The flag appeared in promotional materials and on glassware available at the time (click to enlarge).

Another reason to look more into the history of the building is to perhaps set record straight on the origins of the Brewery Building as it stands today. While there are remnants of the old Dallas Brewery on the site in question, despite what you may read in area newspapers or real estate ads, the four-story structure at the intersection of Woodall Rogers and I-35E wasn't built in 1890.

To start, no four story structure other than a portion of the brewery itself is shown on Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps up to the year 1905 (the number of stories is indicated in the upper right corner of each rectangular section of the buildings in the map below).

1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Dallas (University of Texas Libraries, click to enlarge).

While the physical plant reaches upwards of four stories at different points (not counting smokestacks and/or flagpoles), no support building nearby rises higher than two stories tall. This can be seen more clearly in a rendering of the full site from the 1906 Dallas City Directory.

Image of the Dallas Brewery site from the 1906 Dallas City Directory
(rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise to compare to Sanborn map, click to enlarge).

Okay, so when was the Dallas Brewery Building actually built?

Evidence to answer that question can be found in accounts from the Dallas Morning News, which tell us that the site was cleared "for the construction of a four-story and basement warehouse building for the Morgan Warehouse and Industrial Company" in March 1925. Morgan Warehouse was a distribution business run by those behind the Dallas Brewery after Prohibition shut down the brewing industry in 1920 (the group failed to stay afloat as a soft drink manufacturer prior to 1925). Anything remaining after the initial demolition was removed in 1930, also according to the News, with other refurbishments over the years leading to building we see today. Regarding the basement mentioned in 1925, it just so happens that two modern-day breweries operated in that space during the 1990s (these were the Dallas Brewing Company and the St. Andrew's Brewing Company).

As for what's left from around 1890, that's limited to a 50-foot artesian well that was uncovered by workers in 1983. Up until 2011, visitors to the building could actually see the well, which was left exposed inside Newport's Seafood Restaurant. It must have created some level of intrigue, since a 1999 story in the Dallas Observer says that waiters would actually dive into the murky waters during the summer in order to explore the well's depths. Alas, once Newport's closed and Draft Picks Sports Bar moved in at the end of 2011, the well was capped for liability reasons, essentially locking away one of the last bits of history from the city's bygone brewing era.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

From Shiner, something Wicked this way comes

Image credit: Spoetzl Brewery.

I'm always curious to find out what's in a certain little white box that shows up on my doorstep every now and again. It's always the same size and shape, and it always has a Shiner stamp of approval somewhere on the outside. The curiosity is natural, I suppose, since I know there's some sort of beer inside, but given the brewery's history and how they've taken a few steps outside the "bocks" over the past few years, lately when I see the package I start to ask myself, "What have they gone and done this time?"

In this case, at least, it turns out that the "little brewery" has gone and done something wicked. It's a new year-round offering called Wicked Ram IPA, and it's the first India pale ale Shiner has brewed in its 106-year history.

Wicked Ram arrived at my door packaged in box full
of hop cones (click to enlarge, © Brian Brown/Beer In Big D)

Now, first off, I think it's important to note that when Shiner makes a statement saying Wicked Ram is "the wickedest brew we've ever made", the word "wicked" is a relative term. Remember, Shiner has focused on lagers for most of its 106 years, and only over the past few has the brewery tried to do some things differently. Even then, Wicked Ram represents a departure compared to other recent releases, in that it's probably the first relatively hop-forward beer in Shiner's portfolio and it's got the highest ABV (6.0%) of any beer the brewery is currently producing.

With that in mind, you can probably gather that Wicked Ram isn't going to have you putting aside your favorite West Coast IPA. Shiner's IPA may be hop-forward, but there's nothing tongue-buckling about it in terms of either intensity or bitterness. The hop character in Wicked Ram is mild-to-moderate (at best), with the hop additions geared towards flavor and aroma much more so than bitterness. As far as the flavors go, Wicked Ram is grassy and floral on the nose, with a bready feel and a touch of caramel malt forming the beer's foundation. There's also some citrus in the finish, though it's more lightly lemony in nature and not like the orange or grapefruit notes that are typical in many American IPAs.

Something else worth mentioning, in case the thought crossed your mind, is that Wicked Ram doesn't really fit the mold of a session IPA. For one thing, the beer's ABV puts it firmly outside the sessionable range. Beyond that, though, Wicked Ram just has more body than I've come to expect from that particular (made-up) craft beer category. In fact, I would argue it has more body than a lot of Shiner beers. That said, we're talking "medium" in that respect, as opposed to something lighter.

So, what's the verdict? I'd say the above more or less speaks for itself. Wicked Ram is an easy-drinking, milder version of an IPA. There's not a lot of bitterness to it, which may appeal to someone looking for an introduction to the style, but there is a reasonable amount of flavor. It's just that it's a little atypical in being florally-based and not having the citrus or pine elements more often associated with today's most popular IPAs. Some will enjoy it...others won't. Like anything else, it all comes down to personal taste.

Wicked Ram
Style: India Pale Ale
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Wheat
Hops: Bravo and Crystal in the boil, with Centennial used for dry-hopping.
ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 55
Availability: Year-round in 12-ounce bottles and cans, as well as in 24-ounce bottles and on tap.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bird Café to host The Avery Experience

Image credit: Bird Café.

You may or may not remember, but back in 2011 the Meddlesome Moth put on The Avery Experience, a five-course dinner led by Adam Avery himself. Well, here we are four years later and it seems that the Moth's sister restaurant in Fort Worth is looking to do that event one better.

Coming up Wednesday, November 11 at 6:30 p.m., Bird Café will host a new incarnation of The Avery Experience, once again led by Avery, but this time with an even more impressive lineup of rare brews paired with courses crafted by Chef David McMillan. Cost is set at $85 per person, an amount which includes tax and gratuity. For more information or to make reservations, visit www.birdinthe.net or call 817-332-2471.

Meet the Brewer

Liliko'i Kepolo (Belgian witbier with passion fruit and spices added - 5.6% ABV).

First Course

Insula Multos Collibus (sour ale aged in bourbon barrels with cherries added - 9.7% ABV).

Roast antelope toast, fig preserves, Boursin and onion pickle on Boston brown bread.

Second Course

Fortuna (sour ale aged in tequila barrels with lime zest and salt added - 8.1% ABV).

Hamachi crudo, yuzi ice, bourbon barrel soy, charred shishito and taro chips.

Third Course

Tectum et Elix (sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels - 6.5% ABV) and
Raspberry Sour (sour ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries added - 5.5% ABV).

Savory latte de goat cheese, beet and raspberry panna cotta and Thai basil.

Fourth Course

Tweak (stout aged in bourbon barrels with coffee added - 17.81% ABV) and
The Beast (grand cru - 15% ABV).

Whole roasted and carved smoked bacon slab, anadama pain perdue and warm "A" Vermont maple syrup.

Fifth Course

Rumpkin (ale brewed with pumpkin and spices aged in rum barrels - 16.73% ABV) and
Pump[Ky]n (porter brewed with pumpkin and spices aged in bourbon barrels - 17.22% ABV).

Malted pavlova, milk chocolate mousse, anglaise, pumpkin juice caramel and toasted pumpkin seed brittle and oil.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ways North Texans can raise a pint in the fight against breast cancer

Image credits: Dallas Brew Scene/Uber, Susan G. Komen/Shannon Brewing Co.,
Oak Highlands Brewing Co., 903 Brewers (click to enlarge).

If you've seen the pink ribbons around town or on social media, or if you noticed the show of pink by the players during NFL games this past weekend, you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month all across the country. Should you be looking for a way to help, the North Texas craft beer community is doing its part to help raise funds and awareness for this disease in the following ways:

Shannon Brewing Company - First Annual Susan G. Komen Happy Hour

Fresh off celebrating the brewery's first anniversary, Keller's Shannon Brewing Company will host its First Annual Susan G. Komen Happy Hour on Friday, October 9 from 4 to 9 p.m. Stop in for a pint of fire-brewed Irish ale and pick up one of the pink Shannon koozies the brewery will be selling all month long in an effort to raise funds for the cure.

Donate directly: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Oak Highlands Brewery goes pink for Oktoberfest

Oak Highlands Brewery in Dallas will hold its inaugural Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oak Highlands will donate 10% of the sales from its seasonal Oktoberfest beer, as well as 10% of ticket sales to their Oktoberfest event to the North Texas Bridge Breast Network. Tickets are $20 online, or $25 at the door, with attendees receiving tokens for three beers and a commemorative Oktoberfest pint glass.

Donate directly: North Texas Bridge Breast Network

Dallas Brew Bus / Uber - Brew Crawl for Breast Cancer

The Dallas Brew Bus has teamed up with Uber to take riders on a trip to visit five local breweries on Saturday, October 17 from 12 to 5 p.m., with 100% of the net proceeds going to Bradie James' Foundation 56. Your ticket price of $50 gets you a pink brew crawl t-shirt, a branded sample glass and four 4-ounce samples at the following breweries: Community Beer Company, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Four Corners Brewing Company, Noble Rey Brewing Company and Texas Ale Project.

Tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/dallas-brew-scene-brew-crawl-for-breast-cancer-tickets-18865458093

Donate directly: Bradie James' Foundation 56

Flying Saucer on the Lake - Brews for Boobs

This is the third year for the Lake Saucer's annual Brews for Boobs event benefiting the Save the Ta-Tas Foundation. Happening Saturday, October 24 at 11 a.m., in addition to offering an array of special tappings and bottle releases, the pub will hold hourly raffles and a silent auction.

Donate directly: Save the Ta-Tas Foundation

Grapevine Craft Brewery - Drink Pink, Save Lives

Visit Grapevine Craft Brewery on Wednesday, October 28 at 6 p.m., for a special tapping of Prickly Pear Wheat. The beer is part of the brewery's Taproom Series, and it's color just so happens to coordinate with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Donate directly: National Breast Cancer Foundation

903 Brewers Blonde is now permanently pink

Hoping to inspire breast cancer awareness every day of the year, 903 Brewers in Sherman announced plans in July to offer the brewery's 903 Blonde Ale in year-round pink packaging. Now available at retail outlets around North Texas, a portion of the proceeds from each case sold goes to Women Rock, Inc.

Donate directly: Women Rock, Inc.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Linden leads in Lakewood's Legendary Saint Dymphna

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Company.

In the two-plus years since it instituted the Legendary Series, Lakewood Brewing Co. has played upon the inspiration of various apparitions and mythological characters, but the most recent release is devoted to a saint.

As reported here prior to the beer's release, Saint Dymphna, the person, was a seventh-century Christian martyr who devoted her life to the mentally ill. She's the patron saint of Geel, Belgium and it is there that the Chapel of Saint Dymphna sits next to a 500-year old linden tree. Lakewood founder and Belgian native Wim Bens played near that tree as a child, with the recollection of those days influencing the creation of this modern-day brew.

A Belgian-style tripel by design, Saint Dymphna is brewed with Belgian candi sugar and linden tree flowers. The resulting beer is clear with golden amber hues and an aroma which gives off a distinctive floral essence. Taking that one step further, while linden is a species of lime tree, if anything the blossom gives Saint Dymphna a subtle and tempered lemon character.
Image the property of Tenemu.com/Brian Brown.

Considering other flavors, the beer is malty with notes of dried fruit, bread yeast, spice and a light herbal element. There's a sweetness that lingers throughout the experience as well, balanced somewhat by a fairly firm bitterness in the finish. On the topic of feel, Saint Dymphna is medium-bodied and well-carbonated, though, the beer drinks lighter and with a softer palate than those descriptors, and an original gravity reading of 1.085, might imply. It's moderate in terms of strength, having a mid-range ABV of 8.6%, with little or no evidence of alcohol in either the aroma or taste.

As for an overall impression, from an objective point of view Saint Dymphna is exactly what you'd expect out of a tripel. It's a beer with a complex mix of fruit and spice built upon a sturdy malt foundation, and it has more than a little strength. For my own taste, I'd probably like the sweetness to be toned just a bit, and for the florals to be a little less forward, but it's understood the latter is a featured element of the beer based on its inspiration.

* Originally published on Tenemu.com.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Twelve Beers to try at the 10th Annual Flying Saucer BeerFeast

Image credit: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Considering how the craft beer boom here in North Texas has been going on for only about four years, it may seem strange to think that BeerFeast is now in its tenth year at the Flying Saucer. Yet, in that time, what was once known as the Flying Saucer Fall Beer Festival in Fort Worth (the city where the first Flying Saucer was founded) has grown into one of the premier craft beer events in the South.

Nowadays, the BeerFeast experience is spread across the State of Texas with festivals happening in Sugar Land, Austin and Fort Worth. Regarding the latter, this year the North Texas stop on this craft beer tour is scheduled for October 10 in Sundance Square.

As in year's past, BeerFeast will feature some of the country's best craft beers, including upwards of 80 selections hand-picked from more than 50 breweries. A full beer list will be released closer to the event, but the Saucer has released a teaser list of a dozen brews expected to be tapped on the big day. The lineup includes (click the links attached to each beer to read full brewery descriptions):

Tickets for the Saucer's 10th Annual BeerFeast in Fort Worth are on sale now at the following link:


General admission is $35, which includes a BeerFeast glass and a tasting card good for twelve samples of festival beers. Advance-only VIP tickets are also available for $65, with the added benefits of early entry, a VIP commemorative taster glass, a food voucher and a 2015 BeerFeast T-shirt. In addition, VIP ticket holders will have access to a VIP-only line for rare beer tappings staged hourly throughout the day.