Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Texas Ale Project crafts Good to Go to support veterans

Image courtesy of Texas Ale Project.

Looking to give back and make a difference in the lives of veterans, Texas Ale Project (TAP) of Dallas has created a special beer to benefit Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. (HCC). It's an organization that provides education and training to veteran entrepreneurs.

The beer, dubbed Good to Go Pale Ale (5.3% ABV, 32 IBU), came to be after TAP founders Kat and Brent Thompson met with the veterans of HCC. Entrepreneurs and members of a military family themselves, the Thompsons came away from that meeting excited about the opportunity to help veterans start their own businesses, while building successful lives back home. To that end, Good to Go was developed with the mission of empowering veterans, with a portion of the proceeds from its sales to be donated to HCC.

For more on the work being done by Honor Courage Commitment, Inc., visit HCC's website at hccvet.org. In addition, veterans interested in pursuing a career in the brewing industry may send their resume and cover letter for consideration to info@texasaleproject.com.

As for Good to Go, the beer will be sold on draft and in six-packs of 12-oz cans. Look for it wherever TAP beers are sold.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lakewood shipping summertime drinkable duo

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Summer seems to finally have arrived in North Texas, and with it comes two seasonal releases from Lakewood Brewing Co.

The first of these offers a new spin on an old favorite, as Zomer Pils (draft, cans) is now dry-hopped with Lemondrop and noble hops to give the beer a touch of citrus flavor, along with a grassy element. With the changes, consumers should expect a beer that maintains its thirst quenching quality, but now with an added flair.

"We're excited to re-release Zomer with this little hoppy twist," says Wim Bens, founder and president of the brewery. "We honestly didn't think this beer could get any more refreshing, but we proved ourselves wrong with this brew."

As for the other summertime beer, Artsy Tartsy (draft only) has been tapped for wide release after first being a taproom/special event-only beer. This time, though, Lakewood has added peaches in order to take the beer to another level. 

"Artsy Tartsy is just as refreshing, with a slightly fruitier spin on it," says Bens. "We chose a Berliner weisse since the style pairs so well with fruit, and nothing screams summer quite like fresh peaches. The added tartness, low ABV and bitterness make the beer highly drinkable."

Look for both beers to be available throughout DFW beginning this week, with shipments to other markets happening in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On the BrewHaHa and Four Corners' new spot in The Cedars

Image credit: Go Oak Cliff.

For years now, Brew Riot has been one of a handful of local events that celebrate the homebrewer...a.k.a. the origin of the craft beer movement. This year, though, Brew Riot wasn't meant to be. The festival's growth over its first eight years has forced organizers to seek out a new place to hold the event, which they say will return bigger and better in 2018.

In its place for 2017, though, fans of Brew Riot were presented with an alternative in the form of the first ever Dallas BrewHaHa. Produced by Go Oak Cliff, the same folks behind Brew Riot, the placeholder event (as it's been called) went down this past weekend, bringing with it a new vibe and a new venue with which to celebrate craft beer culture.

The vibe, in this case, had more of a standard weekend festival-type feel, with vendors, artisans and food tents replacing the surroundings of the bustling Bishop Arts neighborhood. It was different, but not in a bad way, being simply a more everyday way for the craft beer community to come together.

With respect to the venue, BreHaHa was held at the new facility of Four Corners Brewing Co. in The Cedars (located at 1311 S. Ervay St.). Set up on a two-acre tract of land in that South Dallas neighborhood, the brewery's new digs sit opposite the historic Ambassador Hotel. A warehouse built on the spot in 1925 has been renovated to house the company's 16,000 square foot production space, which will be offset by a taproom-to-be under construction inside an existing building off its front elevation. That structure, incidentally, once served as stables for the hotel across the way (see image captions for more on Four Corners' new location).

The Ambassador Hotel hovers over the front of Four Corners' location in The Cedars. A taproom is under construction in the building to the right (off-image). It will an feature an event space, on-site food service, and a small-batch brewing system as its centerpiece (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Four Corners is replacing its original 30-bbl system with a new setup anchored by a four-vessel 50-bbl brewhouse (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

It was the beer, though, that ultimately brought everyone together for the BrewHaHa, as just short of 30 homebrew teams signed up to compete and sample their latest creations.

Among them were at least two entities that hope to be open and serving the public by this time next year. Oak Cliff Brewing Co., working to set up shop at Tyler Station in Oak Cliff, served up a portfolio led by a twosome of tasty lagers - Oak Cliff Export and Bishop Black Lager, while Steam Theory Brewing Co., under construction in Trinity Groves, poured a Dank IPA and the wonderful Wee Piggy (a bourbon barrel-aged wee heavy).

Also looking to join the professional ranks at some point is Celestial Beerworks, which showed an affinity for hops with brews like Kepler (a New England-style IPA) and Gravitational Collapse (American pale ale). Yet another, Bleshoux Brewing, produced my favorite beer of the day, a spice-infusion by the name of Chai Times Blonde Stout.

Surveying others on hand, longtime Brew Riot participants like Mox Nix Brewery (currently collaborating with Cobra Brewing Co. on beers like Raspberry Rye and Citra Blond) and Knowles Brothers Craft Brewing continued to impress, the latter even rolling out a ridiculous 18.5% ABV imperial stout called By-Tor.

They led a wave of relative newcomers (i.e. groups that have only been around a year or two) that combined to produce a range of interesting beers that didn't seem to take any current trends too seriously. Teams just made good beer, for the most part and, in fact, I'd say the quality of the beers offered was as good or better than it has ever been...whether we be talking about Brew Riot or other area homebrew extravaganzas.

As for what else I tried, a handful of notable brews are listed below. Those who created them may be unfamiliar, but who knows...someday one might be a household name. Cheers!

Bigtone Brewing - Zaragosa Mexican Coffee Stout
Brutal Beerworks - Hop Suey
Driveway Brewing - Barrel-Aged Krew Brew (vanilla milk stout).
East Dallas Brewing Co. - Vienna Lager
Holy Brewing - Barrel-Aged Honey Tripel

* Visit Go Oak Cliff's Facebook page to see additional images from the event.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shiner harvests the Hill Country for Peach Wheat

Image credit: The Gambrinus Co.

When a little white box from the little brewery in Shiner shows up at my door in the spring or summer, it's a fairly safe bet that some sort of fruit beer is in the offing. Just consider what the Spoetzl Brewery has produced during warm weather months over the past few years. Beers like Ruby Redbird, Prickly Pear and Strawberry Blonde have all hit the market once the mercury started rising in the Lone Star State.

In each of those instances, the fruit used to make the beer was harvested right here in Texas, which is a trend that continues with the latest beer in Shiner's Brewer's Pride series, Hill County Peach Wheat (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU). It's a beer that's brewed with a mix of 2-row and wheat malt, along with other natural flavors, but the peaches are what brings "the Hill Country to your hand."

Peach Wheat makes for a fine poolside potation (The Gambrinus Co.).

Now, make no mistake, Hill Country Peach Wheat is peachy, and not in a contrived way like a lot of beers that claim to feature the fuzzy fruit's flavor. It's just that other than a hint of wheat grain in the finish, peaches more or less dominate the palate. So, the question of the beer's appeal would seem to come down to whether the peach presence is too much of a good thing.

On that note, my impression of Hill Country Peach Wheat follows almost directly in line with what I thought about Shiner Prickly Pear. When the beer is cold...ice cold...it's a refreshing and effervescent beverage that stops just short of the soda-like quality I sensed when drinking Ruby Redbird. Let it get too warm, though, and it feels as if the sweetness starts to linger just a little bit too long.

Be that as it may, Hill Country Peach Wheat almost certainly isn't meant to be a sipping beer. Rather than setting aside time to savor a beer like this, you're more likely to shotgun it on a hot summer day. Just keep it cold and keep it koozied, if that's the case, and you'll be good to go should you decide to pop a Peach Wheat poolside.

Like all Brewer's Pride release, Shiner Hill Country Peach Wheat will only be available for a limited time. Look for it on tap, in 24-ounce bombers, and in 12-ounce bottles as part of the brewery's Family Reunion six pack.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Backcountry Brewery closes Rowlett location

Image credit: Backcountry Brewery.
Fifteen months after opening for business, Backcountry Brewery has closed its Texas location in Rowlett.

Based in Frisco, Colorado, Backcountry began operations in Rowlett after agreeing to purchase the equipment of the defunct FireWheel Brewing Co. in December 2015. The brewery held its grand opening the following February, eventually going on to brew and package four of its beers on-site for distribution to the local market.

Along those lines, cans of Backcountry's Amber, Pale Ale, Double IPA and Texas IPA will be sold at retail until inventory is exhausted, however, it's unclear if product shipments will continue from the company's brewpub in Colorado, which remains open.

The Rowlett closure, which was announced on Facebook, became effective as of May 13.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lakewood, Rahr & Sons medal at 2017 San Diego International Beer Competition

Image credit: San Diego
International Beer Competition.
Two local breweries continue to impress the judges in California-based competitions, as both and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. have followed up recent wins in Los Angeles with additional medals awarded at the 2017 San Diego International Beer Competition.

In existence since 2007, the San Diego International Beer Competition honors top breweries from around the world through the judging of styles as defined by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). Entries are evaluated by BJCP-certified judges and select industry professionals, with this year's event recognizing standouts in 57 different style categories.

A list of medals awarded to the aforementioned breweries from North Texas is given below, with a complete list of winners to be found by clicking here.

Lakewood Brewing Company
  • Gold for Goatman in the American-Style India Black Ale category.
  • Silver for Rahr's Blonde in the European Lager category.
  • Bronze for Iron Thistle in the Scottish-Style Ale category.

Cheers and congratulations to the winners!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Revolver releases Full-Tang for the first time in bottles

Image credit: Revolver Brewing.

After first appearing on the scene last summer as a draft-only offering, Full-Tang IPA from Revolver Brewing is out this week for the first time in bottles, and it's likely already resting on a retail shelf near you.

Full-Tang (7.2% ABV, 50 IBU) is an IPA that's brewed with tangerine peel, along with four different hop varieties (Saphir, Mandarina, Apollo and Citra), to fulfill the brewery's "tangerine-fueled" quest to design a stellar IPA.

In fact, two of the hop varieties used - Mandarina and Saphir - are noted for their tangerine qualities, with Mandarina sometimes being described as a "tangerine machine." Brought together with flavors imparted by the addition of Apollo and Citra hops, the resulting brew features a mix of tropical and citrus fruit flavors backed by an engaging floral essence.

Packaged in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, Full-Tang IPA's official release date was May 8, with availability forecasted to last through July. After that, expect to see Redshift Spiced Red Ale to land on local shelves, with bottles of that beer slated to hit the market during the first week of August. For more on that and other products to come later this year, check out Revolver's complete 2017 release schedule on the brewery's website.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rahr & Sons to present check to USS Fort Worth Support Committee, June 17

Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

In the latest example of its commitment to philanthropy, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. will present a check for $5594 to the USS Forth Worth Support Committee next month.

The money was raised through the sale of the brewery's American-style session ale, The Fort Worth. A portion of all sales of The Fort Worth are donated annually to the Committee, which provides moral support to the crew and families of the USS Fort Worth.

Officers from the USS Fort Worth will be on hand for the presentation of the check, which will occur during Rahr & Sons regular tasting event on Saturday, June 17 from 1-3 p.m. Admission to the event will be $10pp, with attendees receiving a commemorative pint glass and three beer samples.

In related news, Rahr & Sons has also reached its initial $10,000 fundraising goal related to efforts benefitting the work of charity: water. Combining these numbers with money raised through other initiatives, the brewery has now raised more than $160,000 for numerous nonprofit organizations since 2004.

"Supporting our community is a key aspect of Rahr & Sons' mission statement," says co-owner Erin Rahr. "We feel fortunate that our business growth has allowed our definition of community to expand with it, so we are able to have a positive impact on people around the world."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Local breweries honored at 2017 Los Angeles International Beer Competition

Image credit: Fairplex.
Winners were recently announced at the 2017 Los Angeles International Beer Competition, with three local breweries garnering recognition.

Now in its 17th year, the Los Angeles International Beer Competition seeks to recognize the finest in commercial beers and is open to any licensed brewery or brewpub from around the world. In addition to entries from 29 U.S. states, beers judged in the 2017 event were received from countries as far away as Croatia and Vietnam.

Drawing from a pool of 1460 entries sent in by 240 breweries, awards were handed out in 95 different categories according to the following breakdown: 88 Gold, 89 Silver, 81 Bronze and 35 honorable mentions.

As for North Texas, area breweries taking home medals are summarized below (click here for a full list of winners):

Community Beer Company

  • Gold for Legion in the Imperial Stout category.
  • Bronze for Texas Helles in the Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category.
  • Silver for Sin Mint Temptress in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Honorable Mention for Bourbon Barrel Temptress in the Wood-and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category.
  • Bronze for Midnight Cab in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!