Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bluffview Growler adding small-batch brewhouse

Image credit: Bluffview Growler.

Just over a year after it began filling growlers near the Park Cities neighborhood of Dallas, Bluffview Growler is looking to add to its business by offering patrons the option of house-brewed beer.

Dale Czech, who co-owns both Bluffview Growler and Lakewood Growler with wife Stacie, was a homebrewer before he opened the Lakewood shop in early 2014. He'll utilize those skills, while teaming with Ross Frederick and Mason MacPhail from the Dallas Homebrew Collective, to craft small-batch recipes covering flavor profiles not well represented in the local market.

"We ordered a one-barrel system, which we'll use to fill two or three taps to complement our existing lineup," says Czech. "This will be a fun project for us, and we view it as a way to evolve our craft offerings by producing experimental beers with fresh ingredients and hops that are more difficult to brew on a larger scale."

On the subject of styles, Czech let it be known that hazy, juicy IPAs are something that's definitely on the team's radar. Beyond that, though, indications are that style choices will generally fall in line with the season.

As for when this will all take place, federal and state license applications are currently pending. Once those go through, test batches will be run initially, which means it'll likely be closer to the summer before production gets underway. When that happens, expect to see Bluffview beers on tap in house, as well as at the Lakewood location.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Beer by way of Beetle and Bus: German autos adorn Franconia's 10th anniversary packaging

Case boxes in the form of a classic Volkswagen Pickup will include six packs of all
four of Franconia's anniversary brews (all images courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.).

Following an announcement earlier this month revealing plans for its yearlong 10th anniversary celebration, Franconia Brewing Co. of McKinney has released images of package designs the company has created for its line of anniversary brews.

Individual six packs of four distinct styles will be shipped on a quarterly basis, according to the schedule outlined below. That doesn't mean you'll have to wait to try all four beers, however, since the full range will be brewed all year long and sold in special mixed cases (see the lead image above) at select locations around North Texas.

Regarding the package designs, Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann decided to go with imagery inspired by a classic German automobile brand as a way to balance the fact that recipes for three of the four anniversary beers have origins outside of his homeland.

"We chose to do something out of the ordinary with our 10th anniversary beers, only one of which is based on a traditional German style," says Wehrmann. "We're a German brewery, though, so we thought we needed to add a German element to all the beers to recognize our heritage. And, what better way to do that than to design the packaging around a German icon like Volkswagen."

Images of label and six-pack carrier designs are provided below, as are tasting notes taken from pre-release samples. As for availability, look for anniversary mixed cases and six-packs of Hazy Dhaze to begin arriving at retailers towards the end of March.


Hazy Dhaze (New England IPA, 6.8% ABV): Franconia's foray into the realm of New England IPAs is brewed with wheat and oats to promote the style's characteristic cloudiness, while a mix of Denali, Calypso and Lemondrop hops is used to create the beer's "juicy" element.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Bus.


Fun in the Sun (Belgian Blonde, 8.1% ABV): Easy drinking and sneaky strong, a traditional Abbey ale yeast infuses Fun in the Sun with a complex mix of funk, fruit and spice.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Thing.


Full Steam Ahead (California Common, 5.1% ABV): Franconia's entry into the steam beer category hits the nail on the head in terms of style, with its grainy malt backbone and pronounced hop presence.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.


Chicken Dance (Bordeaux-Aged Wheat Bock, 8.2% ABV): The brewery's original winter seasonal, Winter Wheat, is aged on Bordeaux to give the beer a woody, vinous character, with hints of dark fruit and toasted malt rounding out the flavor profile.

Six-pack carrier design: Volkswagen Beetle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

May the schwarzbier with you: Rabbit Hole releasing latest Bluebonnet brew

Image credit: Rabbit Hole Brewing.

Continuing a tradition started in 2016, Rabbit Hole Brewing of Justin will again release a commercial batch of an award-winning brew from the country's largest single-site home brewing competition, the Bluebonnet Brew-Off.

Skroob's Black Lager (4.53% ABV) is a German-style schwarzbier with a name that references Spaceballsand a well-known line from the film, "May the Schwartz be with you." Featuring hints of chocolate and dark roasted malt, the beer is based off a recipe created by Robert Brown, who competed in the 2017 edition of the Bluebonnet as a member of the Houston-based Foam Rangers Homebrew Club.

In terms of awards, Brown's creation won gold in the Dark European Lager category during last year's competition, while also ranking third for Best of Show. As for Brown himself, he has taken his talents overseas, and is now the head brewer at 7 Bridges Brewing Co. in Viet Nam.

It'll be here in North Texas, though, where Skroob's Black Lager will make its debut, tapping first at the 2018 Bluebonnet. Now in its 32nd year, the event will take place Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel. From there, the beer will be distributed in limited quantities, being made available on tap and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Shannon adding new pilsner to its portfolio

Image courtesy of
Shannon Brewing Co.
Shannon Brewing Co. of Keller has announced a new addition to its year-round lineup in the form of Pussy Willow Pilsner (5.9% ABV, 25 IBU), a beer named for the blooming tree representing luck, good fortune, and prosperity - three things those behind the brewery think everyone can use.

Said to be "perfectly balanced with a subtle malt backbone and a light hop flavor," Pussy Willow Pilsner is brewed with Pilsen, Vienna and Munich malts, along with a blend of Tettnang and Saaz hop varieties. The beer is then lagered for over 40 days to create what the company describes as a "very approachable pilsner."

A launch party for Pussy Willow Pilsner will be held at the brewery on Friday, March 23. After that, pending label approval, Pussy Willow Pilsner will be available on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans throughout Shannon's distribution footprint.

Friday, March 9, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - March 9, 2018 edition

The Conspectus returns after a month-long hiatus with news on two recently-opened entities, three breweries in development, and an update on what's new in cans.


New Main now pouring guest taps in Pantego

New Main Brewing Co. officially debuted in Pantego with a grand opening event on February 24. Currently operating as a taproom, the company hopes to purchase equipment and initiate brewing operations later this year. In the meantime, visitors to New Main can expect to find a selection of 20 predominantly Texas-based craft beverages on tap during regular business hours occurring six days a week (Tue-Sun).

Brewing operations underway at Parker County

Announced in a Facebook post, Parker County Brewing Co. of Willow Park completed its first commercial brew day on March 3. Presumably fermenting away, the inaugural offering is said to be an American-style stout brewed with four types of malt and a mix of Cascade and Centennial hops.

Turning Point brewing in Bedford

Production is underway at Turning Point Beer in Bedford, as the company looks to build up stock ahead of its grand opening on March 17. Over a dozen house beers are expected to be available to those attending the event, and judging by posts appearing on Turning Point's Facebook page, a handful of hazy IPAs are sure to be a part of the proceedings.

Steam Theory receives TABC license

Steam Theory Brewing Co. of Dallas is now officially licensed, after its permit was approved and issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) on February 28. Construction on the company's site in Trinity Groves is ongoing, but an official opening is still a few months away.

Happy Hippie launches crowdfunding campaign

Looking to establish a brewery on the north side of town, Happy Hippie Brewing Co. has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Founder Michael Frederick has set an open-ended goal of $75,000, an amount he hopes to use for construction costs and the purchase of equipment. Currently, Happy Hippie is still looking for a home, but at last report Frederick was targeting a spot in the City of Richardson.


A fresh round-up of year-round (Pegasus offerings) and seasonal beers (all the others) being sold in cans for the first time...
  • Legal Draft Bock Trial (7.0% ABV):  Doppelbock, available in 12-ounce six-packs.
  • 903 Friday Slide (10.47% ABV): Irish car bomb milk stout, available in 12-ounce six-packs.
  • Panther Island Sweet Fang (5.0% ABV): Chocolate peanut butter milk stout, available in 12-ounce six-packs.
  • Rabbit Hole Jabberbock (6.56% ABV): Maibock, available in 12-ounce six-packs
  • Martin House The Morrigan (12.28% ABV): Barrel-aged blonde barleywine, available in 12-ounce two-packs.
  • Tupps Full Grown Scallywag (12.1% ABV): Coconut vanilla imperial stout, available in 12-ounce four-packs.
  • Pegasus City Cannoneer (7.43% ABV): Bold amber, available in 12-ounce six-packs.
  • Pegasus City Sixth Floor (5.4% ABV): Easy porter, available in 12-ounce six-packs.

(click to enlarge)

Image credits (top to bottom): Brian Brown/Beer in Big D, Parker County Brewing Co., Turning Point Beer, Steam Theory Brewing Co., Happy Hippie Brewing Co., Legal Draft Beer Co., Panther Island Brewing Co., 903 Brewers, Rabbit Hole Brewing, Martin House Brewing Co., Tupps Brewery, Pegasus City Brewery.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

2018 NTX Pink Boots Brew Day set for March 8

Image credit: Pink Boots Society. 
Looking to raise the profile of women's roles in the beer industry, local chapters of the Pink Boots Society (PBS) will craft special beers in collaboration with supporting breweries during the month of March.

"Pink Boots groups all across the world will brew collaboration beers this month, with our North Texas chapter participating for the first time ever this year on Thursday, March 8," says Andrea Gillum, Pink Boots member and co-owner of The Thirsty Growler. "This date marks International Women's Day 2018, and it's almost one year to the day since we formed the North Texas Pink Boots Chapter."

Collaboration brews will incorporate a custom Pink Boots Blend of hops, featuring varieties supplied by YCH Hops. Made up of a mix of Palisade, Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Loral hops, the proprietary blend is described as "fruity but not overly tropical, with more dominant citrus and herbal notes."

As for what type of beer the local chapter will create, the group led by Georgina Solis, brewer at Peticolas Brewing Co., will take on a classic craft beer style.

"The only requirement this year was to use the PBS hop blend," explains Solis. "Style was up to us and we decided on an American Pale Ale (mostly because of the hops), with the majority of the malt bill being English Maris Otter to incorporate the theme behind it all, International Women's Day. Because the majority of the grist is Maris Otter, we are adding a small amount of an experimental malt that will contribute a slight tartness to balance the foundation of this brew, and for the hops, it’ll be lower on the bitterness with a mouthful of citrus, fruity, and earthy flavors and aroma."

To be called Pinky Boots, the beer will be brewed at Oak Highlands Brewery, where co-owner Brad Mall has pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds from sales to PBS. Money raised will help fund Pink Boots' scholarships and other educational efforts, according to Gillum, who hopes the project will also encourage other women in the industry to join the 26 active members that currently make up the North Texas chapter.

"We are proud to be a part of this tradition, and proud to promote the PBS mission of advancing women in the craft beer industry through education," says Gillum.

Pinky Boots will debut as a draft-only release during an event to occur on March 24 at Oak Highlands (further details will be forthcoming). After that, look for the beer to be available on tap at select venues across North Texas.

For more information on the event or to learn how to become a member of the North Texas Pink Boots Chapter, email

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Special beers and a taproom to come for Franconia's 10th Anniversary

Image courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.

On Monday February 26, 2018, Franconia Brewing Co. became only the second North Texas-based production brewery since Prohibition to be in business for 10 years. To celebrate this milestone, the brewery has plans for not only for a series of anniversary beers, but also for a rather significant addition to its facility in McKinney.

The back-story (from a press release):

"Since opening its doors in February 2008, Franconia Brewing Co. has been dedicated to providing world class German-style beer to drinkers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area using only the best ingredients. Franconia is more than just a local brewery, it is the essence of true Bavarian brewing. By combining local accessibility to North Texas with our German heritage, Franconia is able to provide the fine people of North Texas with a taste of some of the most genuine and freshest Bavarian beer available. Ten years later, Franconia is still one of the few breweries known for its quality and consistency.

Founder Dennis Wehrmann and others at Franconia champion the 'Green movement,' adopting many practices to help improve the environmental concerns in North Texas, such as recycling their mash into local cattle feed, operating in a state-of-the-art energy efficient building, and using solar panels for their power needs - thus making themselves stand apart from most other breweries.

It is that 'better beer,' along with a commitment to sustainability and community involvement, that has helped keep Franconia growing steadily in the increasingly competitive marketplace of the Texas craft beer industry over the last 10 years.

'The overwhelming support the community has continuously shown has been crucial to the brewery's success,' claims Wehrmann, who also attributes his success to the steady flow of attendees to the brewery tours he has held every Saturday since Franconia's inception."

As for how the brewery intends to commemorate its run, a year-long "10 Year Anniversary Celebration" will highlight the close relationship between brewery and community in several ways. First and perhaps foremost, the City of McKinney has approved the building of a "Bier Garden/Tap Room" on the premises right next to the current brewery. Expected to be completed this year, the existence of the taproom means Franconia will be open for business beyond its regular Saturday tours.

On top of that, consumers can look forward to the following four anniversary brews:

Hazy Dhaze - New England IPA.
Fun in the Sun - Belgian Blonde.
Full Steam Ahead - Steam Beer/California Common.
Chicken Dance - Bordeaux Aged Wheat Bock.

These beers will be released individually on a quarterly basis throughout the year, and also as part of a special anniversary case package (containing all four anniversary brews), to be made available at select locations throughout the year.

More information on the anniversary beers (artwork, tasting notes) and plans for the taproom will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay in the know by following Franconia on Facebook.

Lakewood enters the American IPA fray

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

After years of brewing other variations on the style (namely a Belgian IPA, a session IPA and a black India pale lager), Lakewood Brewing Co. has released its first American-style IPA.

Lakewood IPA (7% ABV, 50 IBU) is brewed with a mix of Mosaic, Citra, Mandarina, and Bravo hops. That combination adds notes of papaya, tangerine and grapefruit to a beer the brewery says is a great choice for seasoned hop heads and those who may be new to the style.

"We’re excited to finally release an American IPA, a style many fans have been asking for,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “It’s bittersweet (no pun intended), as this beer is replacing our retired IPAs – Hop Trapp and Hopochondria.”

A launch party for Lakewood IPA is scheduled for Friday, March 9, at Happiest Hour in Dallas. The evening will feature happy hour pricing on all Lakewood beers from 4-8 p.m., with swag and glassware giveaways to go on while supplies last.

As for when and where you can get it outside of the event, Lakewood IPA is available now in North Texas, both on tap and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Shipments to other markets will follow in the coming weeks.

Additional launch events are also in the works, with details on those to be revealed on the brewery's social media channels.