Friday, September 28, 2018

North Texas Craft Beer Conspectus - September 28, 2018 edition

A bevy of beverage types appear in this edition of the Conspectus, yet seeing as how it's National Drink Beer Day, perhaps it would be appropriate to drink a beer while reading this latest round of updates.


Black Man Brewing introduces "First Cello" series

Nomadic brewer Barrett Tillman of Blackman Brewing has produced a concerto of beer he has dubbed the "First Cello" series. The arrangement consists of a draft-only base beer, First Cello Tart Ale, and a series of movements to be released in bottles. The movements represent deviations from the original beer, each featuring different ingredients infused with liquid taken from the early or late stages of fermentation. First Cello is available on tap now at Small Brewpub, while bottle variants may be purchased online for pickup on Tuesday nights in October.

Breaking Brew Meadery opening in Dallas

Emerging somewhat quietly on the North Texas scene, Breaking Brew Meadery opens its doors to the public for the first time on Friday, September 28. Located at 14438 Midway Rd. in Dallas, the company's initial operating hours will be Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 1-9 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

Trinity Cider makes Dallas debut on October 5

Production is underway at Trinity Cider in Dallas, with the company's grand opening now set for Friday, October 12. The business, which has set up shop at 2656 Main Street in Deep Ellum, occupies the same space as a 1990s-era brewing operation that was known as Main Street Brewing Co.

Special use permit approved for Siren Rock

After successfully navigating a number of roadblocks, a special use permit was approved by the Rockwall City Council for Siren Rock Brewing Co. in August. This will allow the venture to continue to move forward in the development process, with the submission of site plans, architectural drawings and the like being next on the agenda.

Image credits (top to bottom): Blackman Brewing, Breaking Brew Meadery, Trinity Cider, Siren Rock Brewing Co.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Oskar Blues now brewing Dale's Pale Ale with Texas-made malt

Tim Matthews, Brandon Ade and Michael Harris
at Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas (Oskar Blues Brewery).

Oskar Blues Brewery in Austin, Texas, has announced a change to the company's flagship beer, Dale's Pale Ale. The beer is now being brewed with locally-crafted malt developed by Leander-based Blacklands Malt.

Up until now, Dale's had been brewed with commercial Munich malt, but a move to Blacklands allows the brewery to incorporate sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, while supporting the community and calling attention to the art of craft malting. As for how the change came about, the idea started germinating when Tim Mathews, Oskar Blues' head of brewing operations, met Blacklands' founder, Brandon Ade, in 2016.

After that, Ade and Michael Harris, Oskar Blues’ head brewer in Austin and malt enthusiast, started working together by incorporating Blacklands malt into specialty beers. Then, in the fall of 2017, they started talking about a larger project.

“I approached Tim and Michael and asked, ‘how can we get this malt out there and capture something unique and authentic going on in Austin?,'" says Ade. "The conversation evolved and we started looking at the Munich malts used in Dale’s.”

What followed were months of research, development and collaboration between the two teams, including the Oskar Blues’ lab headed by Brian Roye. Eventually the kiln schedule and recipe were dialed in to develop Brown Field 10 Texas Munich, which meets the color and toasty flavor profile required to brew Dale’s Pale Ale.

“I don’t know of any other iconic flagships doing something like this,” says Matthews. “We hope people will start coming into the taproom and saying, ‘I want something with Texas malt in it.’ It’s sustainable, and contributing back to a sustainable world is definitely important to us. This is a major way we can illustrate that.”

Harris has an equally compelling reason for pursuing craft malt – it’s part of supporting the community.

“I’ve been interested in where ingredients come from since I started professionally brewing," says Harris. "It’s important to use local ingredients and to be involved in the community.”

Ade also makes the point that it’s important to raise awareness around the connection between the consumer and the supply chain, and to call attention to the farmers that grow the barley that ends up in beer. Blacklands has worked with Texas A&M University since 2012 on research that aims to empower farmers to grow barley.

"It’s about supporting farm families outside of hops - hops get a lot of limelight," says Ade. "Malting is equally important."

According to a press release, Dale’s Pale Ale brewed with Blackland's Brown Field 10 Texas Munich is now available in Texas and surrounding states.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

North Texas notches four medals: That and more from the 2018 GABF

Thursday night at the Great American Beer Festival (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

This year, the official coming of fall brought with it the conclusion of the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Held, as always, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, the competition portion of the program involved the evaluation of over 8500 beers spread across 102 different categories. In other words, many beers were consumed and many medals were awarded (306 to be exact) at this annual celebration of great American beer.

A total of 18 medals found their way into the hands of brewers from the Lone Star State, with four of those going to breweries from North Texas. Locals landing on the winners list were 903 Brewers, Bankhead Brewing Co., Oak Highlands Brewery and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. Within that group, Bankhead and Oak Highlands snagged GABF medals for the first time, while 903 Brewers scored its second overall prize. And Rahr & Sons? That brewery now has six notches on its GABF belt, with the brewery's seasonal Oktoberfest receiving accolades for the third time in four years (priors: 2015 - gold, 2017 - silver).

903 Brewers, Sherman: Bronze for Kilt Switch in the
Scotch Ale category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Bankhead Brewing Co., Rowlett: Silver for Hoofer's Hef in the
South German-Style Hefeweizen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas: Bronze for Oktoberfest in the
German-Style Maerzen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Gold for Oktoberfest in the
German-Style Maerzen category (Photo © 2018 Brewers Association).

As for other notable topics from this year's event and beyond, an additional note or two on the competition is provided below, along with my usual roundup of visits to breweries in and around the Denver area.


Haze craze not just a phase

Much has been made of the seemingly meteoric rise in popularity of hazy and/or juicy IPAs, and the subject was front and center at the beginning of this year's awards ceremony. Competition Director, Chris Swersey, opened the show with the previously-revealed news that "Juicy or India Pale Ale" was the most-entered category of the competition, having knocked "American-Style India Pale Ale" from the top spot for the first time since 2002. This, Swersey suggested, was proof positive that haze isn't just a phase, and that perhaps its time for detractors to stop dissing the style.

Not a banner day for Blue Ribbon and its ilk

As far as I can tell, no "big" beers won a medal for the first time ever. There was no Miller, no Coors (or MillerCoors), no Anheuser Busch, and no Pabst to be found among winners in the Light Lager/Malt Liquor or Cream Ale categories. Pabst Blue Ribbon won medals in 2016 and 2017 for "American-Style Lager or Malt Liquor," but this year's honorees were all independent American brewers. One was even unsung, literally, as Unsung Brewing Co. of Tustin, Ca., nabbed a bronze for a lager called Lumino.

The ABGB is a shining star in Austin

If you're like me, and have yet to check out Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., it might be time to put "The ABGB" at the top of your to-visit list. The Austin brewpub and its crew have now been named "Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year" for the third year in a row, an accomplishment that has to be among the most impressive feats ever achieved by a Texas-based brewing operation.

Taproom Trips

Left: Enjoy views of Jefferson Park while sipping on brews at Briar Common.
Right: Steps away from Mile High Stadium, Little Machine is the perfect place for a pregame pint.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Just north of Mile High Stadium, the Jefferson Park neighborhood in Denver is home to Briar Common Eatery + Brewery and Little Machine Beer. Briar Common is a brewpub with ten beers on tap and a full kitchen serving lunch and dinner, while Little Machine is a robot-themed brewery with great variety that sits little more than a stone's throw from the stadium parking lot.

Left: WeldWerks' taproom boasts over 30 taps, with popular styles balanced by the occasional classic.
Right: Custom cars and craft beer combine to create virtual man cave at Mash Lab Brewing.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Many make the pilgrimage to WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley for its array of hazy IPAs,  sour beers and flavorful stouts. And, while I would encourage fans of those types of beers to make the trip, I might also suggest a stop at Mash Lab Brewing in nearby Windsor. The selection is straightforward, but the beer is good and you can't beat the atmosphere, considering Mash Lab shares space with a nationally-recognized hot rod shop. Only a glass wall separates the two businesses, which means you can enjoy a beer while ogling over custom cars being crafted next door.

Left: Besides being a shrine to diminutive spirits, The Grateful Gnome is a place for beer and house-made sandwiches.
Right: Enter the alley behind Grateful Gnome to find the entrance to De Steeg / Blind Faith Brewing.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
I tend to seek out brewery clusters when traveling, and the Berkeley neighborhood in northwest Denver is a section of town that offers exactly that. Three brewing operations representing four different brands inhabit the area, with the total walking distance between them being roughly a block.

The name tells the story at The Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shoppe & Brewery, a spot which exists on the same alley as the dual-branded operation, De Steeg/Blind Faith Brewing. Diversity of style is what you'll find at the Gnome and De Steeg, while Blind Faith focuses on beers brewed in the Belgian monastic tradition.

Just down the way, food options are also in play at Call to Arms Brewing Co. (not pictured), thanks to Mas Kaos Pizzeria + Taqueria being located in the same building. As for the brewery's taproom, it's a vibrant and inviting space reminiscent of an old English pub.

Left: Beer and books are brought together at Fiction Beer Company.
Right: Dry Dock - North Dock is the brewery/taproom closest to Denver International Airport.
(Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Literary references are omnipresent at Fiction Beer Co., where bound volumes surround patrons seated in the taproom. Offerings of "liquid literature" are broken down by genre on the brewery's menu, with beers falling into the categories of Classics, Adventure and Fantasy.

Located one exit east of the entrance to Denver International Aiprort, Dry Dock Brewing Co. - North Dock is the place to go for one last beer before catching a flight back home. North Dock is a secondary production facility for the Aurora-based company, with a bit of contract brewing done in house as well.

For more on the 2018 GABF and the historical performance of breweries from North Texas, click the links below:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Deep Ellum releasing No Way Rosé at State Fair of Texas

Image courtesy of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the release of a new beer conceived to celebrate its recent coupling with the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective - a group of breweries that includes Deep Ellum, Oskar Blues Brewery, Cigar City Brewing and Perrin Brewing.

No Way Rosé (5.8% ABV), an offspring of that union if you will, is a tart Southwest-styled rosé ale that packs a prickly pear punch. It's described as "juicy, tart and floral, with just enough honey sweetness to balance."

“Born out of a conversation between new coworkers, No Way Rosé is a brew that has thrown out the book on conventional beer styles,” says Kyle Wilborn, head brewer for Deep Ellum. “With the goal of brewing a unique, but approachable beer featuring a heavy dose of organic prickly pear juice, Texas wildflower honey, rhubarb and hibiscus, this sessionable brew can best be described as a southwestern rosé ale.”

According to a press release, No Way Rosé will debut on draft at the State Fair of Texas, which takes place in Dallas from September 28 through October 21. Statewide distribution will follow, with the beer being packaged in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. It will also be available at the Deep Ellum's taproom in Dallas, as well as at the Oskar Blues facility in Austin.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Harvest launching growler program and new seasonal beer, September 20

Brewers Toby Thomason and Bob Lang inspect hop vines
at Water Boy Farms (Harvest Seasonal Kitchen).

Harvest Seasonal Kitchen is embracing fall with the introduction of a new seasonal beer next week, an event that will coincide with the debut of a beer-to-go option at the restaurant in Historic Downtown McKinney.

Brewing operations got underway at Harvest in early 2017. Since then, brewers Toby Thomason and Bob Lang have released a couple of limited small-batch offerings in addition to a regular brew called Farmer's Daughter (a honey blonde ale). That beer, like the new one to come, features Texas-grown ingredients, some of which are produced on the company's farm, Water Boy Farms.

"In the kitchen at Harvest, we are dedicated to using as many local ingredients as possible, so our beer is no different using Texas grains, hops and honey from our farm," says Thomason.

Regarding the newest addition to Harvest's portfolio, Red River Rye is a red ale brewed with Texas grains and rye. The beer is dry-hopped, then naturally-conditioned with local wildflower honey to produce the finished product.

As for availability, Red River Rye and Farmer's Daughter will be on tap and ready to take home in signature 64-ounce growlers beginning Thursday, September 20. That evening, a launch party will take place at the brewpub from 5-8 p.m., during which attendees can try the brews and meet the team behind the beer.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Oak Highlands Oktoberfest helping to build The Bridge

Image courtesy of Oak Highlands Brewery.

Renewing an annual pledge to partner with a local breast cancer charity, Oak Highlands Brewery will raise funds for The Bridge Breast Network (The Bridge) during a campaign set to correspond with the release of its seasonal Oktoberfest beer.

The Bridge is a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides access to diagnostic screenings and treatment services for breast cancer to low income, uninsured and under-insured individuals in North Texas.

"Breast cancer has touched many lives close to the Oak Highlands family, and since the traditional Oktoberfest season and Breast Cancer Awareness Month loosely coincide, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to raise funds for others affected by breast cancer," says Lauren Barnes, marketing director for the brewery.

To help support The Bridge, Oak Highlands will donate 10% of sales from the 2018 edition of its Oktoberfest beer to the organization. In addition, Oak Highlands will host its fourth annual Oktoberfest Celebration on Saturday, September 15, with 10% of the proceeds from the event going to The Bridge. Representatives from the group will be in attendance during the festivities to raise awareness and to answer questions about The Bridge and its mission.

Admission to the 2018 Oktoberfest Celebration at Oak Highlands is free. Beer will be sold by the glass, with food, live music and games rounding out the attractions.

For more information on The Bridge Breast Network, visit

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The ruckus is ready: Civil Pour set to start service in Dallas

Coffee and beer come together at Civil Pour (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

A ruckus is about to be raised, as the specialty coffee shop/craft beer bar known as Civil Pour prepares to open this week in North Dallas.

Conceived by Chad and Nellie Montgomery, Civil Pour is the latest venture for a couple most well-known for its work with Big Texas Beer Fest. Billed as "a coffee and beer ruckus," the idea behind the new place is rooted in a play off of the Civil War, where North and South combatants are replaced by coffee and beer. At issue, it seems, is an argument over what makes for a better beverage.

To that end, options for coffee lovers at Civil Pour include the signature drip (served by way of the Commuter Cup), shots of espresso and cold-brewed coffee, while beer fanatics can pick from 30 taps containing only the finest in draft-only selections produced by local and national breweries.

With multiple windows and two see-through garage doors, Civil Pour's front elevation serves
as a virtual picture window to the outside world (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

So, which is your beverage of choice? Take sides if you must, but who's to say you can't alter your allegiance over the course of a day. Why not grab some coffee on the way to work, and then a beer on the way home? Or vice versa, I suppose, if you're the type that enjoys beer for breakfast.

Regardless of whether you stop in to kick-start the day, or unwind after a long one, Civil Pour's carefully-curated selections will be delivered to you within the confines of a bright and welcoming atmosphere. You can even add a pastry pairing to round out a morning snack, or a panini sandwich to make it a meal.

Either way, Civil Pour seeks to satisfy all coffee and beer cravings by offering the best of both under one roof. Think of it as a way to ease potential hostilities. Order what you like at Civil Pour...and raise a drink to detente.

Civil Pour
8061 Walnut Hill Ln., Suite 924

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