Monday, May 21, 2018

Armadillo Ale Works makes Denton debut

Available as a taproom exclusive, the initial batch of Armadillo's experimental
New England IPA squeezes out a fair amount of juice (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

Sometimes a simple statement says it all, and if you've followed the journey of founders Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins, then the phrase 'Armadillo Ale Works is open in Denton' likely tells you all you need to know.

Surely, most are aware of how Armadillo got started, stopped, and got started again. A Kickstarter campaign effectively launched the brand in 2011, but securing a location took longer than expected, forcing the company to pursue interim production agreements at breweries in Dallas and Grapevine. All along, though, the goal was to get back to Denton, a city Armadillo has always called home.

Now, that dream has been realized. An on-site coffee shop, Cryptozoology, began service in mid-April, but the brewery poured beer from its own taproom for the first time on Friday. And, as it turns out, the combined operation is something Arestis and Mullins had in mind from the start. All the better that Armadillo ended up at 221 S. Bell Ave., a spot that is arguably at the epicenter of Denton's daily grind.

"This was always the plan," explains Arestis. "Bell Ave. is busy all-day, every day, with a stream of cars going both ways all the time. Now that we're here, people can come by for coffee in the morning on their way to work, and then swing by for a beer on the way home."

Speaking of beer, Friday's tap list consisted of three familiar offerings, Honey Please (gold medal winner at the 2018 World Beer Cup), Land Yacht IPA and Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat, while the fourth represented something new. The debut beer being the first batch of an experimental New England IPA that's currently on draft as a taproom exclusive.

Left: Production/office space occupies more than two-thirds of the available 18,000 square feet that make up Armadillo's facility.
Right: With 5000 square feet and a seating capacity of nearly 300, Armadillo's taproom epitomizes the beer hall atmosphere and experience.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

There's more to come, of course, as Armadillo works to build up its day-to-day portfolio.

"We're hoping to start off with around six beers for the official grand opening, adding Brunch Money and WunderMelon to what's on tap now," says Arestis. "Eventually we'll work our way up to 12, so Bobby is finally going to be able to brew some recipes he's been sitting on for quite a while."

In terms of pricing, patrons can expect to pay a flat rate. All beers are $5, with standards served in a 16-ounce glass and specialty brews arriving in a 10-ounce size. Flights are on the menu as well, priced at $10 for a lineup of four five-ounce pours.

On top of that, other beverage options will include tea and soda, the latter coming as welcome news for those who recall drinking Bee's Knees Lemonade Soda Pop and Clawfoot Ginger Cream Ale early in Armadillo's history.

As for the aforementioned grand opening, that event will occur over two weekends early next month (June 1-3, June 8-10). In the meantime, the brewery side of the business will operate on a soft basis with hours as follows: Mon-Thu 2-10 p.m. and Fri-Sat 2 p.m. - midnight. Combine that with Cryptozoology's hours, Mon-Sat 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., and that means Armadillo's facility is open morning, noon and night.

Or as Arestis put it, "We're going to be running this thing from 7 a.m. to the late hours, pretty much every day of the year."

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