Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Good Neighbor rolls out the welcome mat in Wylie

You won't find a cup of sugar at this Good Neighbor...this
place is all about the beer (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Don't look now, but the newest brewing operation in North Texas opened this past weekend, as Good Neighbor Brews began selling the area's 50th brand of beer. The business is the first of its kind for the City of Wylie, and one whose name suggests that it hopes to make a good impression on the locals.

Along those lines, a large part of Saturday's grand opening crowd did seem to have come from just up the road. Time and again conversations could be heard where someone exclaimed, "I live like a block from here!" Indeed, at least based on early returns, Wylie residents appear to be fully on board with the idea of having a brewery to call their own.

So, what can you expect should you decide to drop in on the neighbors? Well, for starters, founders Jill Bresnan and Darin Petersen are operating within a 6400 square foot space. In terms of allocation, roughly a third of that is devoted to the production area, while the rest is outfitted with bar seating and an array of picnic tables. The latter furnishings extend outdoors as well, where there's ample room for anyone wishing to enjoy a pint in the open air.

Good Neighbor is both dog and kid-friendly, with plenty of room outside for chilling
with a beer or tossing a football between friends (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

As for the liquid, yours truly arrived a little late to the party, so I only had time to try two of the three beers the brewery had on tap. The one I missed was Slim Sweetness (5.5% ABV), a blonde ale intended to be Good Neighbor's entry-level offering. While I can't speak for that one, the other beers available were clean and enjoyable efforts, which is a good sign for a brewery just coming out of the gates.
  • Jackalope Stout - At 4.2% ABV, Jackalope might best be described as a session stout, a depiction supported by the beer's light body and easy drinking feel. Of course, whether it's a stout, a black ale or whatever, what matters most is how it tastes. In this case, Jackalope had a good amount of flavor, with a hint of roasted grain to go with a light finishing bitterness.
  • Nickelville IPA - The name Nickelville refers to an early settlement in Collin County that joined other small communities in forming the town of Wylie in 1887. Nickelville, the beer, is a big, balanced brew that probably qualifies as a double IPA thanks to an ABV of 8.6%.

The brewery's production setup is anchored by a 10-barrel brewhouse
provided by Chicago Brewing Supplies (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Future additions to the Good Neighbor lineup include M'Rye, ah!, a rye ale listed on the brewery's website and keg toppers. Once it's ready, that beer will be tapped alongside those mentioned above during taproom hours running Tuesday through Friday from 5-7 p.m., and Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

Beyond that, look for Good Neighbor brews to be on draft in and around Wylie, with expanded distribution to occur based on demand. There's already been a Jackalope sighting in The Colony, where the brewery's stout is currently on tap at The Thirsty Growler.

*Click here for more on the brewery and its founders.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rabbit Hole bottling School of Bock

Image credit: Rabbit Hole Brewing.

For just the second time in the company's three-year history, Rabbit Hole Brewing of Justin will package one of its beers in hand-numbered 22-ounce bottles.

School of Bock (13.5% ABV, 30 IBU) is the product of the brewery's ongoing sponsorship of the annual Brewbonnet Brew-Off Homebrew Competition. Each year, Rabbit Hole selects an award-winning  beer from the event and tags it for a small-batch production run. This year, the spotlight falls on an eisbock created by long-time homebrewer, Brian "Schooly" Schoolcraft.

The beer itself is described as "an intensely rich, malty German lager with a smooth, sweet finish and a significant alcohol punch." It's brewed with a mix of four malt varieties and two types of hops, but it's said that Munich malt character is what dominates both flavor and aroma.

Look for School of Bock to appear on tap and at local retailers after first launching at the 2017 Bluebonnet, happening on March 25. The release will be extremely limited, with kegs being made available to select accounts and roughly 750 bottles to be produced.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get your Goatman: Lakewood's trash-tossing terror returns

The Goatman of White Rock Lake is said to be a seven-foot tall half-man, half-goat,
with a bad temper and  a tendency to throw trash at unsuspecting people (Lakewood Brewing Co.).

A legend is set to return, as Goatman (9.3% ABV) from Lakewood Brewing Co. will begin appearing on a regular basis as part of the brewery's year-round lineup starting February 27.

Originally brewed in the fall of 2013, Goatman is the first beer to be brought out of retirement from Lakewood's Legendary Series.

"From the moment we released Goatman, we knew we had a fan favorite on our hands", says Wim Bens, president and founder of Lakewood. "It was big, bold, aggressive and just the right amount of dank. This beast always held a special place in our hearts, and we couldn't be happier to release it to the public once again."

Goatman is described as a mash-up of two types of beer - one half being a Cascadian black IPA, with the other half being a schwarzbier. That, according to the brewery's creative director, Craig Bradley, means it can't really be pinned down into one stylistic category.

"It's a unique hybrid of beers, which we love," explains Bradley. "We dry-hop Goatman with 100% Simcoe, a unique hop that features earthy, aromatic pine and berry notes. With a pound per barrel, it adds a depth of bitterness that balances nicely with the roasted malt character."

Look for Goatman to be available on tap and in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Launch events, including pint nights with collectible glassware, will be announced in the coming days, with details to follow on Lakewood's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter).

* Click here for a review of Goatman, posted shortly after its debut in 2013.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Texas Ale Project signs with Standard Sales for West Texas distribution

Image courtesy of Texas Ale Project.

Two months ahead of the company's second anniversary, Dallas-based Texas Ale Project (T.A.P.) has signed an agreement with Standard Sales Company of Odessa for the delivery of its products to Lubbock, Midland, Odessa, San Angelo and other western locales in the Lone Star State.

"We're excited to partner with Standard Sales," says Kat Thompson, owner and CEO of the brewery. "Their team is experienced and knowledgeable in providing great service to customers, and Standard is passionate about offering high quality craft beer. We are honored to be part of their family."

West Texas consumers can expect to see T.A.P flagships Fire Ant Funeral and 50 FT Jackrabbit IPA, as well as 100 Million Angels Singing Double IPA, Payne Pils and other seasonals on draft and in cans beginning in late March. At that time, representatives from the brewery will travel to the region to attend launch events introducing the brand. Details on these will be shared on Texas Ale Project's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) as they become available.

With the deal in place, beers from Texas Ale Project will now be available in 61 counties across Texas.

Newly added counties include: Andrews, Bailey, Cochran, Concho, Coke, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Ector, Fischer, Floyd, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock, Hale (excluding the City of Plainview), Hockley, Howard, Irion, Lamb, Loving, Lynn, Lubbock, Martin, Menard, Midland, Mitchell, Motley, Reagan, Reeves, Runnels, Schleicher, Scurry, Sterling, Sutton, Terry, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum.

Rahr & Sons partners with charity: water to build wells in developing countries

Image courtesy of Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Adding to charitable efforts that have been a cornerstone of the company's business since it opened in 2004, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth has partnered with charity: water to help bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

To date, charity: water has build more than 20,000 wells in 24 countries, supplying clean drinking water to over 6 million people. As part of this initiative, Rahr & Sons will be involved in selecting the regions where the wells it supports will be constructed.

"Charity: water is an important organization that has a long-term outlook to make sure water is plentiful for years to come in areas that need it most," says Craig Mycoskie, Rahr & Son's vice president of operations. "Rahr & Sons is excited to expand our impact and help bring life's most basic need to those who desperately need it."

A launch event celebrating the new partnership will be held at the brewery on World Water Day, March 22 from 5-8 p.m. The brewery has set a goal to raise $10,000 in its first week, which is the amount necessary to build a single well. To reach that, Rahr & Sons will donate five dollars from each ticket sold for the March 22 event, as well as 100 percent of funds obtained from a silent auction featuring prizes from local businesses.

After that, beginning on March 29, the brewery will continue to support the cause by donating $1 from each admission to its Wednesday mid-week tastings to the organization. On top of that, anyone wishing to support the brewery's efforts directly can do so at the following link:


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lakewood set to release Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress

Image courtesy of
Lakewood Brewing Co.
Following up on a promise made when the brewery unveiled its 2017 release calendar in November, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is ready to release the first in a run of barrel-aged versions of its popular Seduction Series.

Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress will be unleashed in draft-only form, and only at select locations beginning at the end of February.

"We're excited to finally release these highly-limited beers, starting with Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress," says Wim Bens, president and founder of the brewery. "For this release, we used bourbon barrels from Breckenridge Distillery. It's everything you love about Bourbon Barrel Temptress with a big burst of raspberry flavor and aroma."

According to a press release, Lakewood chose bourbon barrels for the initial release after experimenting with the blend a couple of years ago. Moving forward, though, fans should expect to see a variety of other barrels used for upcoming releases.

"We're constantly trying to push ourselves creatively," explains Bens. "Each of our Seduction Series beers has its own unique personality, so we're interested to see how different spirits and barrels can add to that mystique."

As for this release, Barrel-Aged Raspberry Temptress will be available for a limited time.

"We are only releasing a handful of kegs of each Barrel-Aged Seduction Series release to the entire market," says Bens. "Get them while you can!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ice Bock leads list of new bottles coming from Franconia

All images courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.

We're just over a month into the new year, but if you know anything about the history of Franconia Brewing Co., you know that's when the wheels start turning in the mind of owner Dennis Wehrmann. That's because it's anniversary time for Franconia, which means it's time to talk about what's new and coming soon at the McKinney-based brewery.

Of course, over the past few years, Franconia's anniversary has become more or less synonymous with the annual release of some form of eisbock. This year will be no different, though there will be more to go around thanks to Wehrmann's decision to package this year's batch of Tripel Dunkel Ice Bock in bottles. It's a move, he says, that makes sense considering the beer's bold flavor and heightened strength (with an ABV of 17%) should compare favorably to specialty releases already on the market.

"This beer stands up to what some of the other breweries are doing out there," says Wehrmann, "so we thought it would be good for a limited release."

The label for Franconia Ice Bock tells the story of how this style of beer originated in Germany.
It's a tale that in some way mirrors how Franconia created its first version in 2014 (click to enlarge).

A total of 1680 12-ounce bottles will be produced, all of which will be relegated to single bottle sales. That's not a truckload of beer by any means, but it's certainly a lot more than has been available in the past. Fans of the brewery may recall that only 16 gallons of Ice Bock were produced when it debuted in 2014. That amount, which yielded from a starter batch consisting of only two 13.2 gallon kegs, is roughly a tenth of what was produced this time around. Naturally, Franconia's eisbock process has evolved, otherwise a wide release probably wouldn't have been possible.

"It was a challenge to get this done in volume," explains Wehrmann. "We had to change the way we make the beer quite a bit, but I'm pretty happy with the result."

RoughRiders Red Ale will be sold exclusively in Collin County for a limited time, while Franconia Lager will be
bottled year-round and available across the brewery's full distribution footprint (click each image to enlarge).

In related news, two other Franconia beers are also slated to get the bottle treatment for the first time, with both to be sold in six-packs. RoughRiders Red Ale, which debuted as a draft-only offering at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in May of 2015, will be released exclusively to accounts in Collin County for a limited time. Not limited, however, will be bottles of Franconia Lager. That beer, whether purchased in bottles or on draft, will maintain its status as a year-round standard.

As for when these products will arrive on local retail shelves, Ice Bock and RoughRiders Red Ale will be packaged and shipped once label approval is obtained from the TABC (expected by the end of February). Franconia Lager, on the other hand, will be bottled in the coming days. Initial allotments of that beer will be heading to Costco as early as next week, with deliveries to other retailers to follow thereafter.

Beyond that, be sure to follow the brewery's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) for details on festivities related to Franconia's ninth anniversary. A celebration at the brewery is scheduled on Saturday, March 25, where Wehrmann is once again planning to serve multiple varieties of eisbock in honor of occasion.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Shiner enters sour beer fray with Berliner Weisse

Image Credit: The Gambrinus Co.

For a few years now, we've watched the little brewery in Shiner take steps to branch out from its stereotype of producing primarily German lagers. Over that time, the Spoetzl Brewery has released beers of Belgian influence, American-style ales and various fruit infusions, not to mention brews crafted with coffee and even chocolate. Its latest release, however, may be the most surprising of all...because let's be honest, how many of you ever expected Shiner to brew a sour beer?

Expectations aside, Shiner Berliner Weisse is rolling out as the 10th beer in the company's Brewer's Pride series. It's a product the brewery describes as a South Texas take on a type of beer Napoleon's troops once called "the champagne of the north." The north of Germany, that is, which is where the style originated.

Berliner Weisse beers are a regional specialty of Berlin, making the style
one that stays true to Shiner's German roots (The Gambrinus Co.).

So does Shiner Berliner Weisse have, as the neck label suggests, a "sour note worth hitting?"

Well, like most Shiner beers it's approachable and easy to drink. It's not sharply sour, which shouldn't be a shock, having more along the lines of a lightly lacto character. Citrus peel is added, giving the beer a distinctive background note, with remaining impressions revealing a brew that's subtly sweet and a bit spritzy, with some lingering tartness and a dose of doughy malt rounding out the finish.

As for its appeal, Shiner Berliner Weisse would probably be a good first step for someone just getting into sour beers, though I imagine established fans of the style will wish for a drier presentation. Other than that, the beer is a tad stronger than is typical*, but an ABV of 4.1% is not something you're likely to notice while engaged in the quickness of the quaff.

Shiner Berliner Weisse will be available for a limited time only. Look for it on tap, in 24-ounce bombers, and in 12-ounce bottles are part of the brewery's Family Reunion six-pack.

* Style guidelines published by the Brewers Association call for an ABV range of 2.8%-3.4%.