Friday, March 31, 2017

Cedar Creek sending Dankosaurus hybrids into the wild with Dank Daze 12-pack

Image courtesy of Cedar Creek Brewery.

Coinciding with the brewery's annual Dank Daze celebration, Cedar Creek Brewery will release a new Dank Daze 12-pack featuring hybrid versions of its popular Dankosaurus IPA.

Dank Daze, which runs from April 20 through April 23 at the brewery in Seven Points, commemorates the release of Dankosaurus IPA with special variants of the beer created in honor of the occasion. Dankosaurus itself was first unleashed into the wild in March 2014, so this year's festivities will mark the beer's third birthday.

Versions to be served at the event include:
  • Poblano Paradise (Dankosaurus brewed with poblano peppers).
  • Maui Wowie (Dankosaurus brewed with pineapple).
  • Grapefruit Haze (Dankosaurus brewed with grapefruit).

These three beers will also be contained in the Dank Daze 12-pack, which is scheduled to hit stores across Texas beginning April 20. Look for it at the brewery and wherever Cedar Creek beers are sold.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Franconia releases RoughRiders Red in bottles

Label graphics for RoughRiders Red Ale feature the classic Franconia logo, but bold lettering and a
distinctive red color allows the beer to stand out from the brewery's standard design (Franconia Brewing Co.).

Just in time for Opening Day of the baseball season, Franconia Brewing Co. and the Frisco RoughRiders have announced the return of RoughRiders Red Ale.

First introduced in May 2015, RoughRiders Red Ale is an Irish red with an easy-drinking style and a low ABV (4.5%), making it a perfect beer for drinking at the ballpark on a warm spring day.

RoughRiders Red Ale is a smooth,
malty brew with balanced flavors
and a light finishing bitterness
(Franconia Brewing Co.).
"We are very proud of this collaboration as we feel strongly about our local community, and what better way for our company to show that pride than by partnering with the RoughRiders," says Dennis Wehrmann, founder of Franconia." Coincidence or not, the color of the RoughRiders matches the color of the beer, so we celebrate the team and the bier from here."

Originally, RoughRiders Red Ale was only available on draft at Bull Moose Saloon in Dr. Pepper Ballpark. And while it will still be offered in that format at RoughRider games during the season, this year's edition will packaged in bottles for the first time.

"Taking RoughRiders Red Ale beyond the friendly confines of Dr. Pepper Ballpark is an extremely exciting venture for us and our good friends at Franconia," says Scott Burchett, chief operating officer of the RoughRiders. "We look forward to quenching thirsts around North Texas with a taste of RoughRiders Red."

According to a press release, RoughRiders Red Ale will be available on tap and in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Distribution will be limited to Frisco and Collin County, with the beer to be sold at Kroger stores, as well as at select retailers, restaurants and bars.

As for RoughRiders Opening Day, that happens on Thursday, April 6 at 7:05 p.m. Tickets for the game may be purchased online at, or by calling or visiting the RoughRiders Ticket Office (972-731-9200).

Friday, March 24, 2017

Be a part of the New Main story

Image courtesy of New Main Brewing Co.

With hopes of opening the first brewery in Pantego later this year, New Main Brewing Co. is entering the final stages of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at enhancing the project's vision.

That vision, according to founder David Clark, is the manifestation of a core philosophy that lies at the heart of what he and wife Amanda wish to create with the company.

"If you're passionate about something, you owe it to yourself and those around you to give your endeavor meaning," says Clark.

In this case, those who visit New Main will find such substance and significance in the brewery's name and how Clark will apply it when engaging his customers.The choice of a nautilus shell as the logo for the business is a further embodiment of how it will all come together, based on its identification as a "growth spiral."

Naturally, the gathering point (as it were), will be New Main's portfolio of beers, the presentation of which will center around a line of six core styles offered with a set of four different treatments (i.e. infusions, barrel-aged beers, etc.). In that way, customers can discover "New" ways to enjoy their "Main" go-to beer.

"Beer is about people and the relationships they forge together," explains Clark. "The symbolism of the nautilus shell, and how it uses its past to build its future, is something we want people to feel when they come into our brewery. We want our patrons to use their past knowledge of tasting our 'Main' beers as a guide for tasting our 'New' treatments, and we want them to share their experiences with friends and family."

As for the crowdfunding campaign, hosted by Indiegogo, the impetus behind it represents yet another way for consumers to feel connected to New Main by being "a part of the story." Money raised will go to creating a taproom and beer garden with patio seating, yard games and an open area for festivals and homebrew competitions. Clark sees it as a place where fans, friends and neighbors can come to spend time together while catching up over a pint of New Main beer.

"When they contribute to the campaign, our supporters become a part of the story in different ways," says Clark. "Above all, the campaign is meant to give the community a way to make the space their own. We want people to have their own seats at the bar with their names on them, we're letting people name our fermentation tanks, and anyone who contributes over $100 is going up on our wall of supporters so we can show our appreciation for the impact the community has had on our brewery. We'll also thank each of our contributors on the New Main blog as part of our Building a Brewery series, because without them our story would be vastly different."

Anyone looking to learn more about the project can visit the aforementioned blog, where Clark takes readers on a journey from his start in homebrewing, to the week he announced plans to go pro, to weekly updates on the progress of brewery build out and more. Information can also be found on the Indiegogo campain page, where rewards associated with varying contribution levels are outlined in detail.

In addition, New Main will host a Fundraising Party on Friday, March 31 at the Pantego Lions Club (located next door to the brewery). Attractions include food, live music, door prizes and a live auction. Tickets for the event are $15pp and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thirsty Bro off and running in Royse City

Thirsty Bro is the first brewery in Royse City and the
third in Rockwall County (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

The phrase "go west, young man" is one that's traditionally used to talk about the natural course of America's expansion, but here in North Texas the phrase "go east, brewer man" might be a more appropriate adage, considering the last two breweries to open in our area have done so near the region's eastern border.

One of those is Thirsty Bro Brewing Co., which held its grand opening on Saturday in Royse City. Founder Terry Gordon and wife Catherine have been welcoming visitors on a soft basis here and there since late December, but this past weekend was the first time Thirsty Bro was officially open to the public. Saturday's festivities included live music and, of course, beer - both of which were enjoyed in the brewery's intimate space, which essentially anchors one end of the city's downtown district.

On tap for the occasion were five Thirsty Bro recipes, including the flagship Gettin' Figgy Wit' It, a pale ale brewed with fig and apricot that Gordon says has been his most-requested beer so far. Also available were Licking Dog Porter (chocolate and licorice), Big Bro Breakfast Stout (oatmeal, raisin and cinnamon), Brother's Keeper IPA (Citra hops, orange and anise), and Bro'd Trip IPA (British malt).

Thirsty Bro beers will feature a variety of ingredients, including fruit, nut and spice infusions (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

That's just the starting lineup, though, as Gordon plans to serve upwards of 12 beers on a regular basis (click the image above for a full list, including ingredients and ABV/IBU where available).

"We're going to have eight regulars and four rotators," says Gordon. "One of the rotators will be unique in that we'll do a kind of homebrew spotlight beer with someone from the Royse City Homebrew Club."

Production of those beers is currently being done on Gordon's pilot system. While his 15-barrel production brewhouse was delivered in November, Gordon says he's still working with the city on a couple of issues on how it'll be set up inside the space. Originally, the plan was to open after getting everything installed, but delays got to a point where he had to make choice as to whether to wait it out or push forward.

"We're about five months behind where we wanted to be in terms of getting up and running," explains Gordon. "Sooner or later you have to get open, though, so we decided to start with the first five brews being made on the pilot system. We'll keep those on full time and work in small batches of the others every few weeks."

What that limited output also means is that the taproom will only be open on Saturdays from 12-11 p.m. initially, with hours on Thursday, Friday and Sunday being added once full production is underway.

* Click here for more on the brewery and the story behind its name.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hemisphere is here: Long-awaited brewery now operating in Rockwall

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Finishing the final leg of a journey that's lasted nearly six years, Hemisphere Brewing Co. has opened its doors in Rockwall.

Indeed, if ever there was a brewery that ought to have a beer called Murphy's Law, Hemisphere would be the one. All startups face obstacles, but it seems as if founders Ruben Garcia and Brandon Mullins have met with more than their fair share since kicking off the project in 2011.

"Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong," says Garcia.

In the last year alone, they've dealt with code issues related to ramps and doors, not to mention problems with getting the gas line hooked up. Then, on top of all that, Mullins ended up landing in the hospital right as Hemisphere was poised to announce its long-awaited opening.

A small-batch system and a working list of over 90 recipes means patrons can expect a lot of
experimentation when it comes to what Hemisphere has to offer
(© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Thankfully, though, perseverance has finally paid off. And to hear Garcia tell it, it's rewarding just to be able to get to the point where he and Mullins can say "We're open!"

"There a lot of things we want to do with the brewery," explains Garcia. "For now, though, we really just want to enjoy being open here in Rockwall. Eventually, we'll work on getting our beer out to a wider audience, but we'd like to get settled in first while building a following with the local community."

As for the types of beer Hemisphere will be serving, the brewery's debut weekend featured five different beers. Early returns suggest Straight Dope IPA will be the crowd-pleaser, but my favorite beer on the board was Hemisphere Grisette (the coffee porter was a close second). No matter which you choose, though, this first run of beers suggests that balanced, approachable brews will be the order of the day.
  • Shiver Blueberry American Wheat (5.86% ABV, 17.6 IBU): An easy-drinking wheat beer with a hint of blueberry sweetness and a lightly tart finish.
  • Straight Dope IPA (6.46% ABV, 73 IBU): A hazy IPA, with upfront notes of citrus and tropical fruit that's backed by a moderate bitterness.
  • Hemisphere Grisette (5.56% ABV, 15.3 IBU): Complex and crushable, this light-bodied beer is a little tart and a little funky, with elements of citrus and bread yeast rounding out the flavor.
  • Superfleek Coffee Porter (7.22% ABV, 46.3 IBU): Distinctive roast and an earthy underbelly form the base of this coffee-forward beer, which finishes smooth with little bitterness thanks to the use of cold-brewed coffee.
  • Gnarlacious English Pale Ale (6.46% ABV, 30.5 IBU): A dry, estery and earthy English-style pale.

Hemisphere's taproom has an open and casual feel, with wide-screen TVs and
Giant Jenga offering entertainment options (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Of course, other beers are in the works, but what form they'll take remains to be seen. According to Garcia, the partners are working from a list of over 90 different recipes. What ultimately gets chosen, though, will depend on a variety of factors. Naturally, consumer preference will play a part, but so will a desire to offer styles and/or flavor combinations that are currently missing in the local marketplace (ergo, offering up a style like the grisette).

Regardless of what styles get brewed, expect Hemisphere to remain draft-only for the time being. Packaged products will follow at some point, but when that happens will probably depend on that whole getting their feet firmly on the ground thing. Either way, a trip to the taproom is currently your best bet if you're looking to try a Hemisphere beer.

On that note, taproom hours will occur on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to start. Exact times are still being worked out, so be sure to follow the brewery's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter) for the most up-to-date information.

* Click here for more on the brewery and its six-year journey.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From NTX and beyond: A (very) brief history of green beer

If you happen to be one of those people who simply must dip your lips in a pint of green beer this St. Patrick's Day, why not do so while knowing a little bit of the history behind the emerald elixir? By all accounts, these crafty concoctions got their start during the early 1900s (as you'll see in the snippets below), but you might not realize that a former brewery in North Texas plays a small part in the story as well.
Image taken from bottle label in personal collection.

Plano's Reinheitsgebot Brewing Co. was the first microbrewery in Texas, not to mention the sixth one ever to open in the United States. And, believe it or not, the company once produced the only bottled green beer in the country. Collin County Emerald was an all-malt beverage crafted for St. Patrick's Day in the mid-1980s. It was packaged and sold in clear glass bottles, which came complete with a Leprechaun on the label.

Image taken from the March 17, 1910 edition of The Press, a newspaper out of
Spokane Washington. Click here to access the article by way of The Library of Congress

America's first exposure to green beer appears to have happened in Spokane, Washington in 1910. That year, a local bar poured a beer with an apparently naturally-occuring shade of green, which...when combined with the imagery of a beer that "looks like paint"...makes you wonder what exactly patrons were being exposed to while drinking this beer.

Image taken from March 26, 1914 edition of The Independent, a newspaper based
in St. Petersburg, Florida. 
Click here to access the article by way of Google News.

Long about 1914, a man by the name of Thomas H. Curtin created a green beer by adding a bit of blue dye to a glass of amber-hued lager. The coloring agent, wash blue, was and still is a product used to improve the appearance of certain fabrics. No word on whether or not it had any effect on the taste of the beer.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lakewood to deliver Mole Temptress, March 20

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Continuing with a plan to offer its Seduction Series beers in a smaller format, Lakewood Brewing Co. will release Mole Temptress in 4-packs of 12-ounce bottles beginning March 20.

According to the brewery, the recipe for Mole Temptress combines chipotle, ancho, guajillo and pasilla chiles, as well as cinnamon and 100% pure cacao, to create a beer that has a rich, spiced nuance to go along with a warm subtle finish.

"Temptress is such a great base beer to play with flavor combinations, and one of the first ideas we experimented with was mole," says founder Wim Bens. "As a brewery from a state with a strong Hispanic culture, we wanted to see how incorporating these indigenous, bold flavors in a milk stout would play together."

Working with a variety of dried chiles wasn't easy, adds Bens, since it would have been very easy to go overboard with respect to the spice addition.

"This was one of the more challenging beers to get just right, since chile beers can go extreme very quickly," explains Bens. "We think it hits every note nicely, not overpowering the base of the beer, while letting a little heat and spice come through at the right levels. Unlike other chile beers, it's not going to knock you over the head with heat. The flavors meld beautifully together, allowing just the right amount of each element to come through."

Look for Mole Temptress to first appear on shelves around DFW, with deliveries to other Texas markets to follow.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Nineteen North Texas beers recognized at 2017 USBTC Winter Competition

Image credit: USBTC.
Results are in from the 2017 United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC) Winter Competition, with the list of recognized beers including 19 from North Texas.

A total of 480 beers from 133 breweries were judged at this year's event. Beers were broken down into 16 categories and rated on a hedonic scale, which indicates the overall pleasure achieved from the taste experience. Aroma, flavor, balance, complexity and mouthfeel are all considered in determining a beer's score, with winners (top honors and honorable mention) reported by region. Products from North Texas compete against other breweries located in the Rockies/Southwest region of the United States.

In addition to the winners listed below, Lion's Share IV from Lakewood Brewing Co. won out over 27 other beers to be named Grand Champion (across all regions) in the Non-whiskey Barrel Aged Beer category, while Pumpkin Ale from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. placed above 28 other beers to be named Grand Champion in the Pumpkin Beer category.

Cobra Brewing Co.
  • All Eyez on Me, honorable mention in the Imperial Stout category.
  • Best Mistake Stout, honorable mention in the Stout category.
Lakewood Brewing Co.
  • Bourbon Barrel Temptress, top honors in the Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer category.
  • Thread Spinner, honorable mention in the Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer category.
  • Lion's Share IV, top honors in the Non-whiskey Aged Beer category.
  • Holiday Bonus, honorable mention in the Porter category.
  • Mole Temptress, honorable mention in the Spice Beer category.
  • French Quarter Temptress, honorable mention in the Bean Beer category.
  • White Wine Freaky Deaky, honorable mention in the Non-whiskey Aged Beer category.
  • Freaky Deaky, honorable mention in the Belgian-Style Ale category.
  • Oktoberfest, top honors in the Vienna/Märzen Lager category.
  • Vanilla Porter, top honors in the Bean Beer category.
  • Black Curtains, top honors in the Imperial Stout category.
  • Great Scot!, top honors in the Scottish-Style Ale category.
  • A Lost Epic, top honors in the Belgian-Style Ale category.
  • Winter Warmer, top honors in the Strong Ale category.
  • Ugly Pug, top honors in the Dark Lager/Dunkel category.
  • Pumpkin Ale, top honors in the Pumpkin Beer category.
  • Angry Santa, top honors in the Spice Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!