Friday, March 11, 2016

The Thirsty Growler coming to The Colony

Image courtesy of The Thirsty Growler.
Given the uptick in growth currently going on in The Colony, it was probably only a matter of time before a few craft beer-related businesses looked to establish a presence in the Denton County community. At least two such entities, in Drunken Donkey and Rock & Brews, are already up and running, with a third on the way in the form of The Thirsty Growler.

Mike and Andrea Gillum are the husband-and-wife team behind The Thirsty Growler, which looks to become the first business to offer craft beer to go in the city. The taproom and growler station is being built as part of a retail center at 5733 State Highway 121, which puts it opposite Nebraska Furniture Mart and the ongoing Grandscape development. It's a spot with easy access that should provide ample visibility based on the high volume of traffic expected in the vicinity.

Choosing The Colony for the couple's new venture came down to a couple of key factors. One was the fact they have friends and family in the area, while another was the aforementioned climate of growth.

"My wife and I were drawn to The Colony due to the recent influx of new businesses that are moving into the area," Gillum said. "We see an unbelievable opportunity to serve not only craft beer drinkers from The Colony, Frisco, Plano and the surrounding areas, but to also provide an experience for others to learn what good beer is all about. I've had a passion for craft beer that has grown tremendously over the years, and my wife is no different. Our goal is to help others discover that passion as well."

The Thirsty Growler will occupy a little over 2200 square feet in a space Gillum describes as "cozy, but not cramped." Plans call for table, bar and booth seating, with added conveniences like USB plug-ins and Wi-Fi access. Gillum also intends to install a television or two for those wanting to watch a ball game, but he's quick to point out that he doesn't want The Thirsty Growler be seen as a sports bar. "Think of it as a mix between a coffee shop and taproom kind of place. We wanted to make sure there was enough room for people to stay and try out different beers in a cool and comfortable environment before deciding which beers they want to take to go. We'll even be dog-friendly, as long as your dog is friendly too."

As for how the taplist will be structured, craft beer, cider, kombucha and non-alcoholic root beer will be stocked to start, with other beverages added as demand dictates. Among the planned 50 taps, Gillum says the hope is to try and strike a balance across the board. "We want to serve the best of what there is locally, while also bringing in the national brands that everyone knows and enjoys. In regards to styles, we look forward to serving every style that we can get into the cooler."

Gillum suggests, though, that the ultimate approach will come down to how they connect with customers.

"We look forward to building relationships with the people that frequent our store. We've studied the reviews of places that paved the way for us, and we hope to adopt things that have proved successful, while improving on things that haven't according to the wishes of the craft beer community."

Based on the current state of construction, Gillum foresees The Thirsty Growler opening sometime in mid-to-late April. Once that happens, events like pint nights and tap takeovers will be a regular occurrence, as will the hosting of food trucks, either as a meal option for patrons or as part of on-site food pairings.

The Thirsty Growler
5733 State Highway 121 - Suite 230
The Colony

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Deep Ellum bottling Barrel Aged Cherry Chocolate DBS

BACCDBS is a 100% cask strength selection, re-fermented with
additional cherries (Barrett Tillman/Deep Ellum Brewing Co.)

The first beer of the year to emerge from the barrel program at Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is being packaged today. To be released in individually boxed 22-ounce bombers, Barrel Aged Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout (BACCDBS) is expected to be delivered to local retailers as early as next week.

As the name implies, BACCDBS is based off the brewery's popular Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout, a product which comes out annually around Valentine's Day. For this edition, a batch of the base beer was aged for 11 months in bourbon barrels, then extracted and re-fermented with nearly 300 pounds of cherry puree. The finished beer is 100% barrel-aged, having not been combined with a fresh batch at any point in the process. This means the final product will be released to the public at cask strength.

Barrett Tillman, brewer and barrel wrangler at Deep Ellum, said he's excited about this beer and others the brewery has in the works with its barrel program.

"We have some great beers in the lineup for this year, with BACCDBS being the first," said Tillman. "For this release, beer was aged in several different casks that were selected for a lush presentation. Some barrels had a refined toasted oak character, while others had richer chocolate or silky vanillin notes. The resulting blend is layered with deep cherry fruit, embellished by rich malt, bittersweet chocolate and toasted almonds, all finished with warming bourbon."

Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout is going from barrel to
bottle to box. (Barrett Tillman/Deep Ellum Brewing Co.).
Sharing his thoughts further, Tillman also singled out elements of fig, hot cocoa, light barrel char and medium roast while talking about how BACCDBS continues to develop as it warms. Something else he mentioned, though, with regard to the balance between its bitter and sweet malt characteristics is what stood out to me most after sampling the beer.

For me, there's a distinctive cherry flavor upfront, something which is followed by a rich chocolate wave that mingles with the inner workings of the oak barrels. This all leads to a warm and lingering aftertaste I would describe as being akin to bourbon-dipped chocolate covered cherries. The other complexities Tillman mentions come and go with time and temperature, but the balance between fruit, bourbon and beer seems to maintain throughout the drinking experience.

As for when you'll be able to take home a bottle for yourself, that depends on when the label is approved by the TABC. Once that happens, look for BACCDBS to appear on shelves wherever seasonal and specialty offerings from Deep Ellum are sold.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cedar Creek now sporting Tighty Whities

The background of the Tighty Whities logo features the chemical structures for
humulones (alpha acids) and lupulones (beta acids) contained in hops (Cedar Creek Brewing Co.).

Fans of the television series Breaking Bad are probably familiar with the character Walter White and his propensity for wearing tighty whities during the show's five year run, but who would have thought such a thing might one day play a role in the naming of a beer?

While that's not the sole inspiration behind the newest seasonal from Cedar Creek, the beer now known as Tighty Whities is indeed an homage to the award-winning drama. The name is also a play on the style of beer that Tighty Whities represents, which in this case is a session white IPA.

The session part of the equation comes from the fact that the beer has an ABV of only 4%, with the white IPA part varying a bit from what consumers might expect. Where other interpretations of a white IPA have sought to bring together the elements of a Belgian witbier and a hoppy pale ale, Cedar Creek has taken a slightly different approach.

Pale wheat malt is used to give Tighty Whities a bready element, as well as its hazy "white" color, but the brewery chose to use something other than a witbier yeast to ferment the beer. That means you won't pick up any spice phenols due to the yeast in Cedar Creek's take on a white IPA, which leaves it to the hops to be the star of the show.

On that note, the brewery describes the beer as "a citrusy session white IPA," that offers "lots of hop flavor, without being too bitter. Calypso hops impart notes of lemon and pear, while experimental hop 06277 (a.k.a. Nuggetzilla) adds tropical flavors." It's said to be "perfect for a summer day," which suggests it's coming out at an appropriate time given the early arrival of warmer temperatures.

For now, Tighty Whities is only available at the brewery in Seven Points, but look for it to begin showing up at draft accounts around North Texas over the next couple of weeks.

Tighty Whities
Style: Session White IPA
ABV: 4.0%
IBU: 45
SRM: 5
Hops: Calypso, Nuggetzilla (06277)
Malts: 2-Row, Pale Wheat, Dextrin
Other: Coriander

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tupps to launch its beer in cans, March 18

Cotton Mill Gold was packaged during Tupps' first
canning run on Monday (© Brian Brown/Beer In Big D).

Since opening in May of 2015, Tupps Brewery has been working to develop a presence in the market by way of local draft accounts. This month, though, the company looks to extend its reach by offering its beer in cans for the first time.

An inaugural canning run took place on Monday at the brewery's facility in McKinney, with equipment provided by Armadillo Mobile Canning. According to Tupps' sales manager Chase Lewis, mobile canning provided the best option for getting packaged beer into the market short term, though Tupps does intend to purchase in-house equipment sometime in the future. "We're still working through the process of obtaining quotes on various canning lines, so for now we're just going to take advantage of the convenience of going mobile."

As for distribution, Tupps' marketing and events coordinator Katie Baker indicated that the brewery will continue to self-distribute, with current plans calling for deliveries of canned products to occur all across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Initial shipments will begin arriving at retail on Friday, March 18, with cans expected to be available at area locations of Fossil Creek Liquor, Market Street, Spec's, Total Wine and Whole Foods, as well as at other local craft beer retailers (a full list will be posted on the brewery's website).

Once on retail shelves, consumers will be able to purchase all five of the brewery's year-round beers, a lineup which includes: Black Ale, Cotton Mill Gold, Northbound 75, Texas Shade and Tupps IPA. Additional offerings will follow, such as McKinney Red Rye Ale, a new beer scheduled for release in April.

A full slate of pre-release parties is planned for the week leading up to the official launch event, which will happen on Friday, March 18 at The Rustic in Dallas. See the list below for where and when you'll be able to try Tupps beer in cans for the first time, and be sure to follow the brewery on social media for the most up-to-date details.

Launch and pre-release party schedule:

Monday, March 14: The Celt, McKinney - featuring a pre-release of Tupps IPA.
Tuesday, March 15: The Bearded Monk, Denton - featuring a pre-release of Northbound 75.
Wednesday, March 16: World of Beer, Plano - featuring a pre-release of Black Ale.
Thursday, March 17: San Francisco Rose, Dallas - featuring a pre-release of Cotton Mill Gold.
Friday, March 18: The Rustic, Dallas - Official Can Launch Party featuring the complete Tupps lineup in cans.
Sunday, March 20: Barcadia, Dallas - featuring a pre-release of Texas Shade.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Rabbit Hole Pro-Am(ber) to debut at Bluebonnet

Image courtesy of
Rabbit Hole Brewing Co.
If you're a craft beer lover in North Texas and not familiar with the Bluebonnet Brew-Off, you probably should be. Now in its 30th year, the Bluebonnet is the largest single-site homebrew competition in the country. And, while it focuses on the hobbyist, the event brings together both professional and amateur brewers in a celebration of the beer community like no other in our local area.

Part of that community aspect involves collaboration, and it's something that will be on display when Rabbit Hole Brewing Co. introduces its newest beer, a joint effort between the brewery and the 2015 Bluebonnet "Best in Show" winner David Toups.

Bluebonnet XXIX Pro-Am(ber) is based off of Toups' award-winning recipe for an American-style amber ale, and both he and Rabbit Hole are hoping it's a product that proves that these types of beers are flavorful and not boring. Described as having "a candy-like maltiness, with generous citrus and tropical fruit notes," Pro Am(ber) is said to be "bold enough to stand up and scream 'Session Me!' and subtle enough to allow you to do so."

Pro-Am(ber) will make its debut during this year's Bluebonnet as part of the annual Tasting Glass Evaluation Clinic, which happens Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m. After that, it will be available on tap at the brewery and select draft accounts around the Metroplex.

Regarding the event itself, other attractions at the 2016 Bluebonnet Brew-Off include a pub crawl, the People's Choice Competition and a keynote address to be delivered by Vinnie Cirluzo, co-founder of Russian River Brewing Co. Tickets for the event, which goes on March 11-12, range from $30-$40pp and can be purchased at the following link: