Monday, February 29, 2016

Andrews bringing The Bruery and Bruery Terreux to North Texas

Image credit: The Bruery, Bruery Terreux.

With the intent to deliver a brand that North Texans have been eyeing for years, Andrews Distributing has entered into an agreement with The Bruery® and Bruery Terreux® of Orange, California.

The Bruery gets its name from founder Patrick Rue, who started the business in 2008. Since then, the company has gone on to make a name for itself by specializing in barrel-aged and experimental ales. Just last year, The Bruery launched a co-brand, known as Bruery Terreux, which focuses on sour and wild ale production in a separate facility with dedicated staff and equipment. Together, the two entities capture the excitement Rue felt in his first years as a homebrewer, and with specialized equipment recently added to both facilities, The Bruery and Bruery Terreux are prepared now, more than ever before, to enter the Texas market.

Mike Machul, brand manager for Andrews, said The Bruery and Bruery Terreux team is extremely dedicated to their craft and everything they produce. “We are really excited to partner with The Bruery and Bruery Terreux team,” Machul said. “The extraordinary attention to detail and unwavering emphasis on quality are evident in everything they do. Having been a fan of this brewery for years, I can hardly contain my excitement about enjoying these beers on a regular basis. We are truly fortunate to have been trusted with the final leg of The Bruery and Bruery Terreux’s journey to retail in North Texas.”

Intial shipments to North Texas will include the beers above, see below for a description of each.

Jonas Nemura, senior director of operations and distribution for The Bruery and Bruery Terreux, said Andrews is the perfect partner to help bring their beer to anxious North Texas beer lovers. “We’ve had people asking us to distribute to Texas for years,” Nemura said. “We’re happy to have found a great partner like Andrews at an appropriate time for our brewery to enter the rapidly-growing North Texas market. Andrews clearly demonstrates their focus on education through their extensive partnership with the Certified Cicerone® Program, and their focus on operational excellence through innovative craft beer programs.”

According to a press release, Andrews plans to launch The Bruery and Bruery Terreux portfolio in North Texas this April. Locals will see both every day and special release beers from The Bruery and Bruery Terreux upon the launch. The Bruery team will also hold release events in the area, with additional details becoming available as the launch date approaches.

Initial shipments are expected to include:

From The Bruery:
  • Mischief® - year-round, hoppy Belgian-style golden strong ale.
  • Or Xata® - spring seasonal, horchata-inspired blonde ale with cinnamon, vanilla, rice and lactose.
  • White Oak - annual release, bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine-style and golden ale blend.
From Bruery Terreux:
  • Saison Rue® - year-round, farmhouse-style ale brewed with rye and fermented with brettanomyces.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Andrews signs local distribution deal with Shannon Brewing

Image credit: Shannon Brewing Co.

Adding what will be the third North Texas-based brewery to its portfolio, today Andrews Distributing has announced a partnership with Shannon Brewing Co. of Keller.

Shannon Brewing first appeared on the local scene in July 2013, after owner Shannon Carter revealed he was working to secure a site for the brewery in the Mid-Cities. A little over a year later, in September 2014, Shannon Brewing made its debut and began production of its brand of fire-brewed Irish ales. Today, the brewery produces a full line of fire-brewed beers using all-natural ingredients and the purest water possible.

Commenting on the brewery's approach and the subsequent pairing with Andrews, Carter said, "We start our process with pure spring water from Samantha Springs in Keller, followed by the use of only non-GMO two-row malted barley and whole flower hops. Our fire-brewed process produces a caramelization in our sugars that cannot be reproduced on other systems. The resulting beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized and awesome! The Andrews team took the time to get to know us and our beers. We know their team is truly invested in our brand, and we are thrilled to begin this partnership."

Kelli Hopson, Shannon brand manager for Andrews, noted that the brewery offers a great mix of heritage, culture and unique brewing practices. In addition to that, she said, "Their relentless commitment to quality is reflected in their award-winning portfolio of beers and we look forward to sharing them with our North Texas Community."

According to a press release, Andrews will launch the Shannon brand within their North Texas territories, but excluding Denton County, with deliveries to draft accounts beginning on February 29. Package distribution will follow starting on April 4.

3 Nations joins forces with FullClip for D-FW distribution

Image credits: FullClip Craft Distributors, 3 Nations Brewing

Looking to extend its reach beyond areas it has serviced on its own since opening last July, relative newcomer 3 Nations Brewing Co. has signed-on with FullClip Craft Distributors for the delivery of its products in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

From a joint statement:

"FullClip Craft Distributors and 3 Nations Brewing are happy to announce a new partnership to distribute the brewery's craft offerings to Dallas-Fort Worth and the surrounding counties. FullClip has become the leading craft beer-only distributor in North Texas by developing and maintaining relationships with all leading retailers and on-premise craft beer establishments, restaurants and pubs. Based in Farmers Branch, 3 Nations introduced several year-round premium craft beers in 2015 including its German Pale Ale (GPA), American Wit and Bull's English Brown Ale. This partnership pairs North Texas' premier craft beer distributor with an exciting new local brewery for the purpose of getting flavorful craft beers into the hands of craft beer enthusiasts across the area."

In addition, it was revealed that a new year-round beer will be added to the 3 Nations portfolio in April. Artwork and an official name are are still in the works, but owner Gavin Secchi describes the beer as a cross between a German kölsch and an English-style cream ale (in fact, for now he's referring to the beer as 3 Nations English Cream Ale).

"There is a big American influence in this beer." says Secchi, "with the addition of tangerine peel and a strong Mandarin orange hop aroma which comes from the dry hops. This beer is light gold in color, with an ABV of just 4.5%. The finish is dry, with a creamy mouthfeel that comes from special wheat and oak flakes used in the brewing process. With this and an IBU rating of just over 20, the beer is sure to be sessionable to the masses."

Look for it on tap and in cans this spring.

More on Flix Brewhouse and its future location in Little Elm

The Little Elm tapwall will look similar to the one currently in use at the
Flix location in Carmel, Indiana (courtesy of Flix Brewhouse).

With Friday's announcement that Flix Brewhouse will be opening an outpost in Little Elm, North Texans may be wondering what the new place will have to offer in terms of its beer program. So, in order to find out, I got in touch with Greg Johnson, director of sales and marketing for the firm, who provided a rundown of what to expect.

Naturally, given that Flix will have four other locations1 by the time the Little Elm theater opens in spring 2017, the primary question on many people's minds has to do with how unique the beer offerings might be here locally. While the company does have a standard set of year-round and seasonal recipes that are made at each location, Johnson indicated that each brewpub still has a personality all its own.

Many design elements shown in this rendering of a future Flix Brewhouse in Chicago, Illinois,
will be incorporated in the exterior of the Little Elm location (courtesy of Flix Brewhouse).

"We have six core beers that each location brews and carries 365 days a year," Johnson says, "along with six national seasonals that all locations produce annually. One of those seasonals is Saison de Walt, which honors the memory of co-founder Walt Powell, who had been working to help push the Flix brand forward prior to his untimely passing in 2013. We also have what we call our 'Gentleman Series,' which consists of four-to-six hop forward beers (i.e. The Imperial Gentleman IPA) that we brew and tap at each location."

As can be seen in this image from the brewpub in Carmel, Indiana, Flix designs each location's lobby in a
way that allows patrons to observe work going on in the physical brewery (courtesy of Flix Brewhouse).

"After that," he explains, "each local brewer has the freedom to create in their market, so this means they concept and create as many as 18-20 full batch brews annually with the guidance of our brewery council. Of course, each brewer also has their own style when it comes to their barrel aging program. In Round Rock, we do lots of barrel-aged sour beers, since that's our Round Rock brewer's passion. In Iowa, we see more aging with rum, bourbon and cognac barrels. As for Little Elm, we won't know how that plays out until we have 'our guy' in North Texas, but whatever it is we will support their passion."

On that note, being as it's still early in the development process (with a lease signed, Flix is now involved in designing the architecture of the space), a local head brewer for Little Elm has yet to be hired. Based on current timelines, Johnson believes Flix will begin the search to fill that position sometime in the fall. Once hired, the plan is for the Little Elm locale to be up and running with a full slate of the brewpub's core beers and national seasonals on opening day.

For more information on Flix Brewhouse, visit the brewpub's website at:

Details on Flix's lineup of year-round brews can be found at:

1. Flix currently operates theatres in Carmel, Indiana, and Des Moines, Iowa, in addition to the original in Round Rock, Texas. A location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is expected to open later in 2016.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eight years and an array of eisbiers, February 27 at Franconia

Image courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.

It all started back in the winter of 2014. That's when North Texas experienced its 20th-coldest winter on record, along the way seeing more freezes than at any other time in the past 30 years. Long-time locals might not have been thrilled with the extended cold snap, but it was something that gave Franconia Brewing Co. owner Dennis Wehrmann an idea. Drawing on his German roots, he decided to leave a couple of kegs out in the cold in an effort to create an eisbock.

Just to review, eisbocks (or ice bocks) are a German regional specialty made by exposing a beer to freezing temperatures. Since water freezes before alcohol, any ice that forms during the cool down period can be removed, leaving a beer more concentrated in both flavor and alcohol. To get a sense of what that means, just think about it like this...what would a watered-down beer (like say most anything produced by the big three) taste like if you could just take out the water?

For what would be the first Texas Ice Bock, Wehrmann and head brewer Cam Horn decided to start with Winter Wheat, Franconia's existing cold-weather seasonal. It was the logical choice, seeing as how the beer itself is a weizenbock, one of two styles (the other being a doppelbock) traditionally used as starters when making of this type of beer. Kegs were filled and left out overnight to chill, with the extraction of ice taking place the next morning. The result was a stronger, richer version of the original beer, which saw an ABV jump from 9% to somewhere in the teens.

Since then, Wehrmann and head brewer Cam Horn have gone on to produce two other varieties of eisbier. Neither would be considered traditional, since neither uses a bock recipe as the base beer, but come on...when has Franconia ever stuck to tradition (ba dum tss)?!

All jokes aside, the first of these was released in January 2015 and based off the brewery's "amazing" Tripel Dunkel. That choice was driven by a desire to produce one the strongest beers ever sold in Texas (the TABC measured the ABV at 17.02%). Another version, based off Franconia's Double IPA, was produced this past November for North Texas Beer Week. The inspiration for that one? To see what happens when you freeze craft beer's most popular style.

Of course, you may be wondering how the brewery has gone about creating its eisbiers considering that North Texas hasn't had much in the way of a cold spell since 2014. Well, thanks to modern refrigeration that hasn't been a problem. If anything, the use of technology has allowed Wehrmann and Horn to exercise more control in the process, since they can experiment with different temperatures on different batches to see how it affects the strength and flavor concentration in the finished beers.

The result of that work comes to fruition later this month, when Franconia celebrates its eighth anniversary with a party on Saturday, February 27. New batches of all three incarnations of Texas Ice Bock are expected to be served, along with the brewery's year-round beers, its Irish Red and the inaugural offering in the new World Tour series, English Stout. Food will also be available in the form of a crawfish boil provided by Backyard Bayou Co. of Fort Worth, and a beer and beef jerky pairing featuring the products of Van Cleave Dry Goods. Tickets for the event are $30, and are on sale now on Eventbrite at the following link:

In the meantime, just to provide a taste of what's in store for those looking to take the eisbock challenge, here are a few tasting notes from samples provided by the brewery. Cheers and remember to drink responsibly!

Ice Bock incarnations (left-to-right): Winter Wheat, Tripel Dunkel, Double IPA (Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Winter Wheat: Made for the first time since the original Texas Ice Bock in 2014, this new batch shows the least amount of ice-induced alteration among the three renditions. The beer is sweeter, with a little more fruit and spice than it had going in, but overall it's not a drastically different beer. Still, to provide a means for comparison in what follows, let's attach the phrase "sweet and boozy" to this particular variety.

Tripel Dunkel: Considering I referred to the 2015 batch as beer everclear, I think "boozy and boozy" is probably the right way to describe Tripel Dunkel after being iced down. While the beer's chocolate and roasted malt flavors are noticeably more intense, what's most prevalent is the presence of alcohol. There's a certain rawness to it that Horn thinks makes the beer seem like it's barrel-aged. As for other complexities that have emerged, Wehrmann noted the beer now has a more concentrated malt sugar character, while I felt like I was picking up a smoky component beyond anything I've ever noticed in the standard beer.

Double IPA: In almost perfect contrast to the flavor profile of the Winter Wheat version, the phrase that best fits Double IPA Ice Bock is "bitter and boozy." In a world that's gone from single, to double, to now triple IPAs, this beer might qualify as something along the lines of a quintuple. Still, even with its burly build, strangely enough the beer comes across a little bit like a fresh hop IPA. Though, that's not because the beer seems brighter, but more how the earthy and resinous hop notes are nudged firmly into the foreground.

Grapevine Craft Brewery making Monarch a pilsner

In parallel with a recipe change, Monarch cans have been completely re-designed
(image courtesy of Grapevine Craft Brewery).

Once marketed as "a wheat beer that drinks like a pilsner," Grapevine Craft Brewery has announced that from this point on, the company's Monarch brand will be brewed to match that traditional German style.

Monarch debuted along with the brewery in late 2014 as one of Grapevine's year-round brews, but being a filtered wheat beer, research suggested it caused confusion for consumers who expected something more along the lines of a German hefeweizen (a style characterized by its banana and clove flavors, cloudy appearance and fuller body) . In addition, despite being billed as the brewery's lighter, more sessionable option among its core lineup, some tended to shy away from the beer because it was brewed with wheat.

With that in mind, Grapevine decided it was time to make a change to the beer's recipe, while still maintaining the brand identity it had built around Monarch. Thus, a pilsner was born.

As brewery owner Gary Humble explains, "We've been asked why we are still calling the beer Monarch and not changing the brand. The beer we're making today is the beer that we've been working towards for a long time. While much has changed in how we make the beer...we feel it's a more honest approach to the way we portray the brand. We know that fans of Monarch are going to love this beer, at least we're certainly counting on it."

According to a press release, the new Monarch Pilsner will hit draft accounts around March 1, with cans appearing on retail shelves beginning March 14.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Martin House delves into the Abyss with Acheron

Image courtesy of Martin House Brewing Co.

Drawing once again on a literary reference (à la Kafkaesque) in the creation of one of its beers, Martin House is preparing to release its fourth barrel-aged beer in the form of Acheron.

Acheron is a name that comes from Dante's Inferno, the first cantica of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem, the Divine Comedy. In that work, Dante and his guide, Virgil, seek to cross the river Acheron to gain entrance to Hell, but they must first obtain passage from Charon, the ferryman of Hades (or as I like to call him, the chauffeur to the Abyss).

As for the story of the beer, Acheron (12% ABV) is described by the brewery as a "deep, dark and ravishing imperial stout...that will satiate your sinuous desires for something bold, burly, boozy and barbarous. It's brewed with oats, black barley and a mix of black, chocolate and crystal malts, then finished with brown sugar and Columbus hops to balance its leviathan body." And, if that depiction isn't enough to convince you to try it, Martin House suggests "drinking it will help Charon determine your fate."

According to brewery co-founder Cody Martin, Acheron was aged for six months in a combination of first-use barrels from Woodford Reserve and second-use barrels from a Colorado distillery the brewery previously utilized for Christmas in July (a.k.a. barrel-aged Sugar & Spice). The finished beer was then extracted from the casks and kegged as-is, rather than blended with a non-barrel-aged batch, in order to achieve maximum barrel character.

Acheron will debut at Martin House during a Barrel-Aged Pop-Up Dinner being held at the brewery in conjunction with the Dallas gastropub LUCK. Happening on Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m., tickets for the event can be purchased at the following link:

Subsequent to that, the beer will be available on a limited basis at select draft accounts throughout the Metroplex beginning February 25.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rahr & Sons expanding distribution to Oklahoma

Commemorative pint glass to be given away at select launch events
with Rahr & Sons in Oklahoma (courtesy of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.).

Becoming the latest local brewery to provide North Texas beer to our friends to the north, Rahr & Sons has announced it will begin distribution to Oklahoma beginning March 1.

Set to debut at many restaurants and bars in Oklahoma, initial deliveries to the Sooner State will include the year-round beers Buffalo Butt, Rahr's Blonde, Stormcloud and Ugly Pug. In addition, Iron Thistle, the brewery's seasonal Scotch-style ale, will be among the first shipments, with other seasonal beers to be made available throughout the year.

According to a press release, Rahr & Sons will kick-off the expansion on Monday, February 29 from 7-9:30 p.m., with a beer feast at Fassler Hall in Oklahoma City. From there, a number of beer dinners, pint nights and sampling events are scheduled for the first week of March. Those events already set are listed below (should you wish to phone a friend up north to let them know), with a complete listing to be posted in the coming weeks at

Tuesday, March 1
  • Ranch Acres Wine & Spirits, Tulsa - 5:30 p.m.
  • The Patriarch Craft Beer House & Lawn, Edmond - 7 p.m.
  • The Pint on Cherry Street, Tulsa - 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2
  • Skinny Slim's, Oklahoma City - 5:30 p.m.
  • Skinny Slim's, Edmond - 5:30 p.m.
  • Oak & Ore, Oklahoma City - 6 p.m.
  • Fassler Hall, Tulsa - 6 p.m.
Thursday, March 3
  • R Bar & Grill, Tulsa - 5:30 p.m.
  • TapWerks Ale House, Oklahoma City - 7 p.m.

Monday, February 8, 2016

BrainDead to take over Taps & Caps for one night, February 25

Image credit: Lone Star Taps & Caps (click to enlarge).

Lone Star Taps & Caps debuted its Denton location just last month, and while the new spot has held a few tap takeover-type events, it has yet to play host to its first beer dinner. That will change, though, when BrainDead Brewing out of Dallas brings its brand of food and drink to Denton on Thursday, February 25.

For one night only, the most talked-about brewpub from Big D will take over the newest craft beer destination to open in 'Lil D for what promises to be "a colossal and epic night," according to owner Rick Ali."We've wanted to team up with BrainDead for a food pairing for quite some time," Ali says, "but we decided something bigger was needed. Something bigger than just beer. This takeover is the most unique and special one of any we've done before, and we're putting it on in celebration of the brewpub's upcoming anniversary."

In addition to BrainDead beers being on tap and available for growler fills, the brewpub's chef, David Pena, will prepare a special four-course dinner to be served at the event (see menu below). Not only that, those in attendance will have the right to purchase limited-release bottles of the BrainDead beers Bent de Garde and Hammer of the Gods for the first time outside the brewpub.

"I am truly excited about this one!," says Pena. "The opportunity to highlight some of our unique beers, including our first ever retail bottle release, is something that makes us all proud. Brewmaster Drew Huerter knocked it out of the park with Hammer of the Gods, a beer that's dangerously easy to drink, and Bent de Garde, which is ridiculously complex and delicious. As a close friend of Rick, it has been awesome to watch how he and his father Sam have been true proponents of craft beer. This is going to be the first-ever BrainDead Pop-up, with a unique menu of four courses paired with four of our own beers (with a few surprises as well). You definitely don't want to miss it!"

Tickets for the event are $45pp (including taxes and gratuity) and are available now by way of Eventbrite at the link that follows. Note that take-home bottles will be sold separately, and are not included in the ticket price.

Course 1:

BrainDead Red (India red ale, 6.0% ABV).

Tequila shrimp and pomegranate ceviche with serrano avocado cream.

Course 2:

Dry-Hopped Wheat (American-style pale ale with wheat, 4.8% ABV).

Roasted brussels sprouts, cactus fruit syrup, pequin chile, cumin seed, cecina beef.

Course 3:

Bent de Garde (red wine barrel-aged bière de garde, 8.5% ABV).

Rye-battered chicken thigh, red pepper manchego grits, braised collard greens, cabernet pepper cream gravy.

Course 4:

Hammer of the Gods (bourbon barrel-aged imperial wheat porter, 11.2% ABV).

Stout beer chocolate cupcakes, bourbon vanilla cream, ancho chile pecan brittle, quince and tiger fig jellies.

Apricot Provincial coming from Funkwerks in March

Following up the 4-pack release of its year-round Raspberry Provincial in the fall of 2015, Funkwerks has announced the addition of a new Belgian-style fruit beer with similar naming to its seasonal lineup.

Apricot Provincial, slated as the brewery's spring seasonal, is a sessionable Belgian-style sour ale with an ABV of 4.2%. It was brewed with a unique 24-hour warm souring technique using lactobacillus in the wort, then fermented with a Belgian yeast strain famous for its fruit character. The chosen yeast is said to be the perfect compliment to the fruit, resulting in a beer with a citrusy apricot aroma that transitions into a subtlety sweet and tart finish.

"It's the perfect beer to bring in the spring season because of its light citrus flavor and delightful apricot notes," says Gordon Schuck, co-founder and head brewer of Funkwerks.

According to a press release, Apricot Provincial will be available in 4-packs of 330 mL bottles, with deliveries to retail outlets in North Texas to occur by late March.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Backcountry hires head brewer, opens for business in Rowlett

A new banner hangs above the door at 3313 Enterprise Dr. in Rowlett (Brian Brown).

Just over a month after announcing its plan to establish operations in North Texas, Backcountry Brewery of Frisco, Colorado, held a three-day grand opening celebration this past weekend at the company's newest location in Rowlett.

Backcountry, as many may know, took over FireWheel's former building after purchasing the operation in late December. At the time, owner Charlie Eazor indicated changes to the existing set-up would be minimal, likely only involving the addition of a few personal touches to the taproom and beer garden. As for whether or not that ended up being the case, initial impressions suggest that Eazor was definitely true to his word.

Indeed, you won't notice any striking differences should you visit the brewery and its new occupant. There are obvious things, like the staff being decked out in Backcountry gear and a different brand of beer being served, but the only other thing that caught my eye were some slight alterations to the seating options. For example, what used to be a gift shop in one corner of the space is now a lounge-like area with a couch, a table and a pair of cushioned high-back chairs.

Creature comforts aside, though, what will probably matter most to visitors of Backcountry is what's offered in terms of the beer. During the debut, patrons were able to purchase standards like the brewery's Amber and Pale Ale, as well as seasonals like Breakfast Stout, Double IPA and Imperial Saison. Also available was a Texas IPA, a beer with a grapefruit-forward flavor profile that's said to be a Lone Star State-exclusive.

Tasked with the production of these beers going forward will be Ian Hendry. The newly-hired head brewer comes to North Texas after stints at breweries in Colorado and Montana. Hendry began his career in 2009, and was most recently working at Ska Brewing in Durango. He'll work under the guidance of Frisco-based head brewer J. P. Vander Veen, who's expected to check in often to ensure quality control.

On that note, outside of the exclusive, really the only difference in beers that turn up in the taproom at the Rowlett outpost will be that they happen to be brewed in Texas. As has been mentioned before, recipes may be tweaked to adjust for local factors, but the goal is to have Texans drinking the same styles of beer that they do at Backcountry's brewpub in Colorado. It's a "stick to your guns" type of approach, to be sure, but it shouldn't come as a surprise considering the brewery has nearly 20 years of brand history to fall back on.

Backcountry Brewery 
3313 Enterprise Drive