Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HopFusion now flowing in Fort Worth

Flights at HopFusion are $8, with servings consisting of four 4-oz pours (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Completing the final leg of a journey that began in late 2014, this weekend HopFusion Ale Works hosted the grand opening of the taproom at its brewery in Fort Worth. Located at 200 E. Broadway Avenue, the venture is situated in the city's Near Southside district. It's an area of town that has become a sort of brewing epicenter, considering it's also occupied by the likes of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Chimera Brewing Co., and The Collective Brewing Project.

HopFusion beers have been on the market since June, but founders Matt Hill and Macy Moore had to overcome a series of hurdles before opening the brewery's doors to thirsty North Texans. With that milestone now achieved, HopFusion will be open for business Thursday-Saturday, with the eventual goal of being open six days a week.

So, what can you expect if you decide to make the trip? Well, to begin with, the building is hard to miss should you find yourself wandering the streets without a map. With a predominantly white exterior and contrasting black trim, HopFusion's home stands out like a craft beer beacon compared to surrounding structures in that part of the city. Inside, though, the space takes on a different sort of glow with a warm, sort of wood grain and graffiti motif enveloping imbibers hanging out in the taproom.

Left: The taproom at HopFusion is equipped to serve as many as 20 different beers (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Right: A bandstand occupies one end of HopFusion's public area, with sliding doors
off to the side able to be raised for a more open feel (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Speaking of which, indoors is probably where you'll want to be to get the best view of a wall-size widescreen TV off to one side of the space, but musical morsels emerging from the bandstand are easily within earshot of patrons seated inside or out. Either way, there's roughly the same amount of seating whether you prefer the inner ambiance of the bar and brewhouse or the open-air feel to be had out on the deck.

As for what the brewery will have to offer, a total of seven beers were on tap during opening weekend, with the list including both commercial releases and a handful of taproom exclusives. HopFusion's bar has space for a total of twenty beers, though, so it's assumed that more selections will be added over time.

Regarding the types of beers HopFusion is making, with the exception of a saison, the brewery's current lineup consists of mostly modern takes on American styles. Everyday beers, dubbed the Signature Series, include the names Feisty Blonde, Fur Slipper, Hairpin and Steampipe. Thoughts on those are provided below (based on samples had at a launch event during North Texas Beer Week at LUCK), as are notes on last weekend's taproom-only offerings.


Feisty Blonde (honey vanilla blonde ale): If I've ever had a more honey-forward beer, I don't remember it. In fact, many "honey" beers don't smell or taste like honey at all, since honey characteristics tend to ferment out as yeast consumes the liquid's fermentable sugars. In this case, though, orange blossom honey leads in a beer that also features background notes of vanilla, brown sugar and spice.

Hairpin (rye pale ale): Dry, flavorful pale ale with a noticeable rye component and a moderate finishing bitterness.

Steampipe (black rye IPA): While I can't completely discount the influence of drinking Hairpin right before this one, my initial reaction to Steampipe was that I got more of the roasty, dark malt flavor than I did the rye. It's there, just seemingly more subtle, adding a hint of complexity to what is otherwise a well-crafted black IPA.

Fur Slipper (imperial milk stout): Smooth, easy drinking milk stout that belies its imperial moniker, with toffee and hazelnut flavors complimenting the beer's dark chocolate underbelly.

Les Fauves (saison): The name refers to a group of "wild beasts" composed of 20th century French painters known for their bold use of color. It fits, of course, due to HopFusion's artistic influences and the fact that the saison style has origins in Wallonia, a French-speaking region of Belgium. The interpretation here is brewed with ginger and hibiscus flowers, which results in a funky and floral farmhouse ale boasting a bit more body than a typical saison.

Ahuevo (double IPA): I'd probably want to drink this one again on a fresh palate to flesh out the hop flavors, but a first impression reveals a strongly-hopped, resinous DIPA balanced by an ample malt backbone.

Zombie Crack (imperial milk stout): A version of Fur Slipper aged on charred oak with roasted pecans, the nuts are front and center in terms of the flavor profile. They also likely play a role, along with the wood, in giving the beer a touch of tannic dryness.

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