Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year in review: What a difference a decade makes

The 10-year challenge as it applies to the North Texas beer scene (Brian Brown/Beer In Big D).

Another year in beer has come to a close, and with it comes the end of a decade. With that in mind, it makes sense to start off the 2019 year in review by taking a moment to reflect on some things we didn't have in the North Texas beer scene back in 2009.

To start, taprooms didn't exist. Legislation allowing them wouldn't come until 2013, which meant the only way to drink beer at a manufacturing brewery was to pay to take a tour. With the tour model, which still hangs on in a few places, you essentially pay a fee for glassware and "complimentary" beer samples. Plus, up until just a few months ago, we had to just say no to beer to-go.

Next on the list, growler stations. Growlers were available at brewpubs, but the growler station as we know it today was a non-entity. They weren't strictly outlawed, but you couldn't offer growlers in a bar without a specific type of license (beer/wine retailer's permit - i.e. no liquor). Once that became clear, Craft and Growler was born, established in 2012.

There were also no large-scale beer festivals. The Flying Saucer had its seasonal beer fests (now billed as BeerFeast), but there wasn't anything like Big Texas Beer Fest, started in 2012, or even the Best Little Brewfest in Texas - an event that donates 100% of proceeds to charity.

From a packaging point of view, bottles where dominant. Canned craft beers existed, but no local breweries were canning their beers in 2009 (a point that may apply to all of Texas at the time). Now, it's practically candemonium when you walk down a grocery store aisle.

And, speaking of which, you couldn't sip on a beer while shopping for groceries in 2009 either.

Looking at what we did have, nine brewing operations were active in North Texas at the end of 2009 - Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Franconia Brewing Co., The Covey Restaurant & Brewery, Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewery (three locations) and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (two locations).

Nine...that's it, only two of which were manufacturing breweries.

Indeed, what a difference a decade makes. All of the things we didn't have above are now a part of our everyday beer lives. Of course, we've added some things, too. Like more breweries. A lot more (see the 10-year challenge graphic above).

Granted, that means a more crowded marketplace, which presents a different set of issues. Now, when we talk beer, we also discuss things like competition, expansion, consolidation, buyouts and more. Still, the industry is certainly in a better place than it was ten years ago, and here's hoping it never goes back to the way things were.

Now, let's talk about 2019...

The Big Story

Without question, the biggest development in 2019 was the advent of beer to-go in Texas. Debated during legislative sessions dating back to 2007, stakeholders finally came together earlier this year to hammer out details allowing manufacturing breweries to sell packaged products to consumers for off-premise consumption.

Over 25 area breweries were affected by the new law, which went into effect on September 1. And, while the long-term impact of the change remains to be seen, so far beer to-go has been a boon for local brewers. Among the benefits, brewers should see a boost to the bottom line thanks to the added revenue stream, and there's also the creation of new jobs, since many breweries have expanded their hours to accommodate increased taproom traffic.

Unfortunately, though, it seems every legal victory is met with a setback. In this case, Texas brewers lost an ongoing battle over the ability to charge a fee for distribution rights. The original suit to allow a fee was filed by Live Oak Brewing Co., Peticolas Brewing Co. and Revolver Brewing in 2014, after the Texas Legislature prohibited the practice during the 2013 session.

A District Court sided with brewers in August 2016, but the Texas Third Court of Appeals overturned the decision in December 2017. The matter was then appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, who declined to review the case in May 2019.

The Business of Beer

On the business side of things, the year more or less began with the bankruptcy proceedings and subsequent sale of the Noble Rey brand to the same party that purchased Woodcreek Brewing Co. late in 2018. An association with Nocona Beer & Brewery also exists within this group, as Noble Rey recipes are now produced at Nocona's facility in Montague County.

In a similar vein, the year closes with an announcement regarding the sale of TKO Libations to a local entrepreneur who intends to refresh the brand and approach of the Lewisville-based brewery. Naturally, there's more to come on this topic, the details of which should become clearer in the new year.

Elsewhere, 3 Nations Brewing Co. completed a move from Farmers Branch to Carrollton, unveiling an impressive new facility in the latter city's downtown district in October. Also debuting new digs, the Dallas-based Manhattan Project Beer Co. overcame a number of obstacles and opened its own brewery and taproom in December. Manhattan Project had been operating under various alternating proprietorship agreements for the past three years.

As for the state of the brewing industry in Texas as a whole, data from the Brewers Association for 2018 shows Texas ranking eighth in total production, with 1.1 million barrels of beer produced, and third in economic impact, contributing nearly $5.1 billion to the U.S. economy.

North Texas on the National Stage
  • What's in a (beer) name?: One of the obstacles Manhattan Project encountered involved a controversy over the naming of Bikini Atoll, a beer the brewery has produced for years as an amateur and professional entity. Local, national and international media outlets covered the story, which centered on opposition of local Pacific Islanders still experiencing effects of nuclear testing done on the Marshall Islands site by the U.S. Government.
  • Pickle pandemonium: Pickle beers are not a new thing, but you wouldn't know it based on the response throughout Texas and beyond regarding Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer, a collaborative effort between Martin House Brewing Co. and fellow Fort Worth firm, Best Maid Products. A limited batch released in August sold out immediately, leading Martin House to change plans and adopt its Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer for perpetuity.

Comings and Goings

New breweries continue to open at a high rate in North Texas, but overall growth slowed a bit in 2019 due to an increased number of closures. The nine total closures represent the most ever in the craft beer era locally, though the number is skewed somewhat due to Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewery shuttering all three of its remaining Metroplex locations.

Still, barring a shift in fortunes, the region looks to continue its march towards the existence of potentially more than 100 area breweries with 78 operations currently active and well more than 30 in various stages of development.

  • Breweries: Bluffview Growler (Dallas, added brewing operations), Brutal Beerworks (North Richland Hills), Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium (Fort Worth), Howling Mutt Brewing Co. (Denton), Krootz Brewing Co. (Gainesville), Odd Muse Brewing Co. (Farmers Branch), Soul Fire Brewing Co. (Roanoke), Westlake Brewing Co. (Dallas).
  • Brewpubs: By the Horns Brewing Co. (Mansfield), Funky Picnic Brewery & Café (Fort Worth), Walking Beam Brewing Co. (Bridgeport).
Brand Debuts:
  • Brewing under an alternating proprietorship: Toasty Bros., Trinity Forest Brewing Co.
  • Brewing under license: False Idol Brewing Co. (facility under construction in Farmers Branch).
  • Breweries: Good Neighbor Brews (Wylie), Old Town Brewhouse (Lewisville), Rabbit Hole Brewing (Justin), TKO Libations (Lewisville).
  • Brewpubs: Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewery (Arlington, Dallas - Greenville Ave, Dallas - NW Highway), Landon Winery (Greenville, ceased brewing operations), Small Brewpub (Dallas).
Source: Individual research.
The Year in Beer
  • Style trends: The biggest style trend in the brewing industry might not have anything to do with beer at all. In fact, it might be hard seltzer. Sought-after as a lower calorie, low-carb option, The Collective Brewing Project of Fort Worth was the first local brewery to offer a hard seltzer this past summer, but Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Texas Ale Project of Dallas soon followed.

    If sticking to beer, however, brews fermented with kveik yeast are catching on in the local market. A yeast beast born of Norwegian origin, kveik strains offer significant practical advantages for brewers, while also having flavor profiles that fit well with many of today's popular beer styles.
  • North Texas award winnersClick here to review all of the award-winning beers from 2019. Coverage includes results from the Great American Beer Festival, European Beer Star Competition, United States Beer Tasting Championship, U.S. Open Beer Championship, NABA International Beer Awards, NorCal Brew Competition, Australian International Beer Awards, San Diego International Beer Competition, Los Angeles International Beer Competition, Aro Rojo International Beer Competition and Best of Craft Beer Awards.
  • The 2019 list of Beer in Big D's preferred pours (new-to-market, or newly-discovered beers some blogger found to be particularly enjoyable): Armadillo Bourbon Barrel Brunch Money, BlackMan/Cedar Creek Smoking Lit, BrainDead We Are Your Overlords, Celestial Groovitational Pull, Community Irish Coffee Legion, Firestone Walker XXIII Anniversary Ale, Saint Arnold 25th Anniversary Grand Cru, Turning Point Endgame and White Rock Two Imperial Stout.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Manhattan Project opens bomb new brewery in Dallas

Plutonium-239, a coconut porter, was one of 13 beers on tap for
Manhattan Project's debut (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

In the three years since it began production under an alternating proprietorship agreement with another local brewery, The Manhattan Project Beer Co. has been busy building a brand while also working to open a facility of its own. This week, the latter effort came to fruition, as the company welcomed patrons inside its new space at 2215 Sulphur St. in West Dallas.

And, let's just go ahead and say it, since it fits right in with what's behind the company's name...this place is the bomb!  The vision of Karl and Misty Sanford, along with Jeremy Brodt, what the three founders have created can best be described as an upscale urban oasis.

Functionally, the site takes up most of the block it occupies, with over 10,000 square feet of indoor space containing the production and public areas, and another 4,000 square feet comprising an outdoor beer garden. Plus, there's a dedicated parking lot with room for more than 30 vehicles. This, in a spot where virtually no parking existed before.

In terms of visuals, the brewery has a sleek and modern look, with Manhattan Project's black-and-white color scheme adorning the building inside and out. Moreover, just like how its packaging stands out on retail shelves, the simple, but striking pose set by the brewery's structure makes it immediately recognizable when viewed against the surrounding neighborhood.

Murals by Alli K Design appear on interior and exterior walls at Manhattan Project. Additional design elements include
high back seating and a marble bar top inside, along with Adirondack chairs out on the patio (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D)

Of course, there's more to the place than just the atmosphere and amenities, and there are things to be said about what there is to eat and drink as well. Liquid consumables include espresso and beer, while food will eventually be prepared onsite by Thai Bird Asian Fried Chicken.

Currently on the menu, seven offerings are emerging from the espresso bar, and over a dozen house beers are flowing from the taps (click the image at the top of the page for details). Among the beers, most if not all represent familiar favorites that have appeared at one time or another over both the company's amateur and professional existence.

On that note, one beer being served has a recipe dating back to the very beginnings of the Project. Aptly named Inception, it's a Belgian brown ale the group brewed in honor of the Sanford's wedding in 2010. My first taste of this beer occurred in 2013 at Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s annual Labor of Love event. Back then it was called Edgar Sengier's Belgican Brown (after a Belgian who supplied the U.S. with uranium during World War II), but it was a beer that left an impression, and as they say, the rest is history.

As for the present and the future, look for upwards of 17 different beers to be available on a daily basis at Manhattan Project, with the occasional nitro pour being offered for beers like the brewery's coffee stout, Black Matter. Stop by for a pint, a flight or an espresso seven days a week, as Manhattan Project is now open with daily operating hours as follows: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to midnight.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Lakewood releasing Star Wars-inspired Droid Rage

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has announced the coming of a beer created in honor of the Star Wars film franchise.

Droid Rage is an imperial red ale with an ABV of 9.327%, and it represents the final installment of the brewery's 2019 Small Batch Series. Said to have a beautiful red hue, Droid Rage is described as a beer with rich caramel malt flavors balanced by some "out-of-this world hops."

“As a big nerd, I’m super excited to release a beer inspired by the movies we grew up with!” says Wim Bens, founder of Lakewood. “We have a tank at the brewery we affectionately call R2BEER2, and we prominently placed our brewery droid on the label.”

Look for Droid Rage to appear on shelves the week of December 16, with its debut set to coincide with the premier of the latest movie in the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. The beer will be available on draft and in collectible 12-ounce cans.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Odd Muse open for business in Farmers Branch

 (All photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The latest brewing operation to join the ranks of North Texas, Odd Muse Brewing Co. welcomed patrons for the first time last night at its new facility in Farmers Branch. The event was the first of four previews the company will host as it prepares for grand opening festivities set to take place on Saturday, December 14.

Odd Muse is a project that's been in the works for a number of years, according to co-founder Bobby Diaz. It became a reality this past spring, once Diaz and partner Charles Roffino secured funding and a location for the brewery now up and running at 4488 Spring Valley Rd.

Regarding the space itself, Odd Muse is situated on the far eastern edge of Farmers Branch with easy access to the Dallas North Tollway. Inside, the build-out encompasses 5900 square feet, yet the design and layout gives the impression of something bigger. A roomy feel permeates the place, whether you choose to bide your time in the clean and comfortable taproom upfront, or in the production area out back.

Taproom attractions at Odd Muse include wide-screen televisions, board games and various artistic adornments.
Among art placements, wall murals and a rotating selection of framed pieces look to bring attention to local artists.

As for the beer, the taproom at Odd Muse is equipped with 14 taps. Five of those were pouring beer on opening night, with options including a blonde ale, a hefeweizen, two IPAs and a stout. One IPA, Muse Juice, was of the hazy variety, while another more piney-esque offering, Never the Lesser, was a bit more old school. In fact, old school is how I'd describe my favorite beer on the board, a dry and roasty Russian imperial stout called Opulence.

Speaking of which, it's worth mentioning that Diaz is a self-professed "stout guy," with Old Rasputin from North Coast Brewing Co. of California listed among his favorites. Given that, visitors can expect an array of stouts to appear on the Odd Muse menu going forward. In particular, Diaz hopes to develop a series of stouts infused with various types of coffee.

Of course, explorations with other styles are planned as well. Some will be standards, like a Munich-style helles lagering at present, but Odd Muse also intends to delve into recipes featuring popular ingredients of the day (fruit, lactose, etc.). Some of those, like the occasional kettle sour, may occur sooner, while barrel-aged brews are something foreseen further down the road (an initial acquisition of spent barrels is on the agenda for later this month).

For now, though, consumers can check out what's currently on tap during remaining previews running from 4-10 p.m. on the following days: Friday, December 6 and Thursday-Friday, December 12-13. Beyond that, grand opening details are still to come, so be sure to follow Odd Muse's social media channels (Facebook, Instagram) for the most up-to-date details.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Deep Ellum, Rahr & Sons recognized at 2019 European Beer Star competition

Image credit: Private Brauereien.

Two local breweries have been honored with awards at the 2019 European Beer Star competition. The event took place earlier this month, with winners announced during a ceremony in Nuremberg, Germany, on November 13.

Now in its 16th year, the European Beer Star event bills itself as "one of the hardest beer competitions in the world." Entries are accepted from breweries around the globe, but submissions are limited to styles of European origin.

This year, a total of 2,483 beers from 47 countries were judged by an international panel, with prizes handed out in 67 different categories. North Texas winners are listed below, and it's worth noting that both beers have scored similar wins in the past. To see additional results, click here for a complete list of winners.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Silver for Local Legend in the Sweet Stout/Milk Stout category (2017, 2019).
  • Silver for Regulator in the German-Style Dunkler Doppelbock category (2018, 2019).

Cheers and congratulations to Deep Ellum and Rahr & Sons!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Small Brewpub closing in Oak Cliff

Image credit: Small Brewpub.

Opting not to renew its lease, Small Brewpub of Dallas has announced it will close on the occasion of its fifth anniversary.

Debuting in December 2014, Small Brewpub was part of a redevelopment effort along Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff. Originally, the spot attracted the foodie crowd in addition to local beer lovers, based on unique culinary offerings created by chef Misti Norris. So much so, in fact, Bon Appétit  magazine included Small Brewpub on a list of 50 nominees for its 2015 survey of America's Best New Restaurants.

The overall approach changed, however, after ownership shifted gears in the summer of 2016. Hoping to appeal to a wider audience, Small Brewpub parted ways with Norris and adopted a simpler, more approachable menu in line with traditional pub fare.

With regard to the brewing operation, Black Pepper Pils was probably Small Brewpub's most well-known beer, but also notable was the brewpub's work with gypsy brewer Barrett Tillman of Black Man Brewing. Collaborations with Tillman began in 2015, having continued on through present day.

As for the when the closure becomes official, the final service at Small Brewpub is set for Saturday, December 7.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A winter IPA renewed and a decadent debut to come from Lakewood

Images courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co

Adding to its popular Seduction Series, Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) of Garland is set to introduce Salted Caramel Temptress.

The Seduction Series takes Lakewood's best-selling Temptress Imperial Milk Stout and infuses it with different flavors. Past iterations have included Peanut Butter Temptress, Raspberry Temptress, French Quarter Temptress and Coconut Temptress.

“We’re always pushing the boundaries and making some 'Seriously Fun Beer' here at LBC,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “This time of year calls for a decadent beer and Salted Caramel Temptress checks all the boxes. We loaded her up with a punch of extra vanilla and lots of salted caramel flavor and aroma. And we’re super excited to share it with our fans!”

Look for Salted Caramel Temptress on draft and in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles starting in December.

Also on the way, Cold Front IPA is making a late fall return. It's said to be the beer perfect for sitting around the fire pit or enjoying the crisp air out on the patio with friends.

“Last year’s debut of Cold Front IPA flew off the shelves,” says Bens. “So this year we made plenty to make it through to Spring.”

Cold Front IPA will be available on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles from November through March.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Temptress with a touch of Jack is back

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has announced the return of Tennessee Temptress, a beer inspired by iconic whiskey-maker, Jack Daniel's.

The inaugural vintage of Tennessee Temptress debuted in in June 2018, after Lakewood was invited to collaborate with the Tennessee distiller. As for the 2019 edition, this barrel-aged version of the brewery's popular Temptress Imperial Milk Stout has been resting in spent Jack Daniel's barrels for most of a year, and is now ready to be shared with the world.

“I can’t wait to release Tennessee Temptress again,” says Wim Bens, founder of Lakewood. “Once the barrels are blended, we add sweet cherries from Oregon to the final blend to make it unlike any other Temptress you’ve ever had.”

A draft-only offering, Tennessee Temptress will be available for a very limited time starting in mid-November. Check the beerfinder at https://lakewoodbrewing.com/find-beer/ for locations.

Friday, November 8, 2019

On the hype of Hornindal (and others), a kveik Q&A with On Rotation

Image courtesy of On Rotation.

Earlier this week, I posted a piece on kveik, a family of farmhouse yeast strains originating in Norway. Entitled Brewers harnessing Norwegian beast of a yeast, the article acts as an intro to kveik, hitting the highlights on what makes the yeast special, and also calling attention to the growing list of local breweries exploring its use.

The mysteries of kveik were first brought to light by Lars Marius Garshol, a beer enthusiast living outside of Oslo. On his blog, Garshol extols the virtues of kveik, summarizing practical aspects as well as outlining flavor profiles obtainable across known strains.

Of particular interest to brewers, kveik yeasts ferment quickly at high temperatures, leaving no off flavors. Not only that, some strains are highly flocculant, resulting in finished beers being ready to drink sooner. Combined, these characteristics suggest kveik can reduce turnaround time and boost production, while allowing breweries to be more energy efficient thanks to less reliance on temperature control.

As they say, though, the proof is in the pudding...or, in this case, the yeast slurry. So, to find out how well kveik performs in practice, I contacted Jacob Sloan, co-founder of the craft beer laboratory On Rotation. The Dallas-based brewery has tested four different strains of kveik to date, and from those experiments Sloan shared insights into how using the yeast has impacted production at On Rotation, along with thoughts on ester formation, its influence on flavor and more.

Q: What initially led you to explore using kveik in your beers at On Rotation? Were you interested in the practical aspects, the taste elements, or both?

JS: I'd say it was really both for us. We've always been big fans of high-performing, saison yeast strains, and we gravitate towards dry finishes in our brews. Kveik beers are prone to dry, wine-like finishes, so those characteristics definitely align with our tastes in designing recipes. We like throwing aggressive yeast strains at complex flavor profiles and seeing what we get as an end result.

Q: The performance characteristics of kveik, specifically its ability to ferment quickly and cleanly at high temperatures, have gotten a lot of attention. How do you see these traits impacting a small-batch operation like On Rotation from the production side?

JS: As a small batch brewery with limited tank space for fermentation, the quick-turn nature and ability to ferment without temperature control is, of course, appealing. Not having to ferment with our existing tanks that control temperature means we can produce these beers outside of our process limitations as a way to increase our overall brewery volume.

Q: Profiles for commercial kveik strains list citrus, stone and tropical fruit as predominant flavor elements, which I imagine is why many brewers are using them in IPAs. Is that style the sweet spot for kveik, or is the yeast a fit for other types of beers?

JS: The strains themselves vary in intensity. We've now brewed with four different strains, and a few of them definitely produce strong tropical fruit and citrusy flavor notes. Others are less pronounced, and may err more on the side of "candy" fruit flavors. That said, I think the flavor profiles and esters imparted by the kveik strains are worth experiencing regardless of what beer styles you typically choose to drink. While we've mostly done IPAs to date, that wasn't our intention. We just had a few IPAs in our schedule that we fast-tracked with the kveik strains.

Q: Using your IPAs as an example, how did kveik affect the presentation of those beers?

JS: With Heimdall's Vision and Last Stand of the Warriors Three, we split tested on the same IPA batch and same dry hop additions across two kveik strains to see the differences the yeast would provide.

We fermented Heimdall's Vision with Hornindal kveik yeast. This Norwegian farmstead strain is known for bringing out intense tropical notes of fresh pineapple, mango and tangerine, while adding an extra dimension to fruit-forward hops.

Last Stand of the Warriors Three, by contrast, fermented on Voss kveik yeast, another aggressive Norwegian strain with an entirely different flavor profile. Voss brings out more of a clean, orange-citrus profile, but it similarly emphasizes fruit-forward hops.

Both of these beers feature Citra, Pacifica, and Huell Melon hops, but the way the hops come through in the finished product has been heavily influenced by the yeasts, especially the way they reacted to identical double dry hop additions of Pacifica and Huell Melon. One of the two definitely came through more prominent and tropical.

Q: That brings up a point discussed on Garshol's blog. He says to avoid using too many "craft" hops, because they could mask the flavors of kveik. What's your take? Have you had to alter your hop bills compared to what you might normally use in similar recipes?

JS: I wouldn't say we're reducing our hop usage in these beers, but we are factoring in the expected flavor profile of the yeast when we build out hop schedules. I do agree it's definitely something you have to account for as you brew. If you just throw an overwhelming amount of hops into a beer and don't account for the notes of the yeast, you're missing out on embracing kveik's unique characteristics.

Q: Now, earlier you talked a little about how kveik delivers on the promise of a production boost. Looking at it in terms of the finished product, how would you evaluate the yeast's flavor enhancement capabilities?  Do kveik strains live up to the hype from that perspective?

JS: There are many strains of what I'd call traditional yeast that promise interesting flavor outcomes, esters and notes. Few of those truly pay off in every execution, but what we've seen with our experimentation with these kveik yeast strains is that they live up to expectations.

Q. I mentioned before how a lot of breweries have led out with IPAs when using kveik, but as brewers explore its use beyond craft beer's most popular style, what is it about kveik that should pique the interest of consumers going forward?

JS: Beer drinkers should be excited because I see these strains leading to more experimentation in craft brewery settings given their lack of practical limitations. I am always a fan of encouraging more experimentation and exploration in brewing and craft beer as a way of continuing to appeal to the large population of folks who haven't jumped into craft offerings yet.

Q: On that note, what's next at On Rotation? Are there more kveik beers to come?
JS: We absolutely plan on continuing to produce kveik beers. We'd like to explore more use in our favorite style beer style, saison, as we get more in the queue. In the short term, we're testing every strain we can get our hands on to determine which we like for different use cases and recipes.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Inaugural Delta Allen Craft Beer & Spirits Festival set for February

Image credit: Benchmark Global Hospitality.

A new craft beer event is coming to North Texas, with the announcement of the first annual Delta Allen Craft Beer & Spirits Festival. Benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Lone Star – Greater Dallas, the festival will take place on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at Delta Hotels by Marriott Dallas Allen.

“We are so excited to bring this event to Dallas-Fort Worth, Allen and the Delta Hotels by Marriott Dallas Allen, says Stacy Martin, managing director. “Our management company, Benchmark Global Hospitality, supports Big Brothers Big Sisters nationally. I was fortunately enough to work with BBBS in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to create The Heldrich Craft Beer and Spirits Festival, now in its fourth year, and I know that we will see great participation from Collin County and look forward to producing this event for years to come.”

In addition to beer and spirit offerings, the festivities will feature live music, local vendors and food curated by Executive Chef Stuart Race of Stampede66 by Stephen Pyles. Allen Mayor Stephen Terrell will also be present to emcee the beginning of the festival, during a ceremony with Nine Band Brewing Co.

Tickets for the event are $40 for general admission, or $50 for a VIP level which includes early entry and hors d'oeuvres served during a VIP reception. All attendees will receive commemorative glassware and have access to food and beverage options, as well as live music (click here to purchase tickets through Eventbrite).

Also of note, Delta Hotels by Marriott Dallas Allen is offering a special rate to attendees. If two tickets are purchased to the Delta Allen Craft Beer & Spirits Festival, guests can secure a room for $89 and overnight parking for $10. To book this rate, call 469-675-0804.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Assessing the early impact of beer to go

Image credits: Peticolas Brewing Co., Tupps Brewery.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 1, a new era began in Texas as manufacturing breweries began selling beer to go for the first time. The right to do so was granted by a new law passed during the 2019 legislative session, this occurring after over a decade of lobbying efforts by industry representatives.

More than 25 breweries in North Texas were affected by the change, which promises to provide an additional revenue stream for these small businesses. The creation of new jobs was also anticipated, something evidenced by the expansion of taproom hours at some North Texas breweries.

As for the initial impact of beer to go, anticipation was high at places like Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas, where founder Michael Peticolas and crew packaged local favorite Velvet Hammer for the first time.

"Our can launch absolutely exceeded expectations," says Peticolas. "We blew away our sales projections and ran out of cans prior to our second canning run. And, taproom traffic has increased with beer to go. Those swinging in to purchase beer to go oftentimes grab a pint, and those grabbing a pint oftentimes purchase beer to go. It's been a big win for our taproom."

Early returns were also "EPIC!" at Tupps Brewery in McKinney, according to marketing and events coordinator, Katie Baker. There, the brewery celebrated the advent of beer to go by bringing back its immensely popular DDH IPA Series 2.

"September was an incredible month for us out of the taproom because of the support we received from beer to go," says Baker. "It was great seeing people walking out of the taproom with a six-pack in their hands."

A few weeks later, both breweries report it’s business as usual, with no real changes to production or distribution due to beer to go. The distribution question is a common one for Peticolas, but for those wondering, canned beers will remain a brewery exclusive for the foreseeable future.

"Cans in retail locations will happen, but not any time soon," says Peticolas. "We'll pull that trigger to spur growth as needed. Remember, we choose to grow properly, not quickly."

Regardless of what formats are available inside or outside the taproom, being mindful of the relationship retail plays in the overall success of the industry has been and will continue to be an important part of the process for all breweries from here on out.

"Our retail and distribution partners are our life blood," says Baker. "We price our beer in the taproom at what we feel is the market average, because the relationship we have with our retailers and distributors is crucial. It’s immensely important to us to keep those partnerships as positive and productive as possible."

As for whether the beer to go boost is sustainable long-term, that's a story still left to be told.

"We are curious to see how it holds up now that the initial excitement has worn off," adds Baker. "That said, there is still a steady flow of traffic coming to the brewery for the sole purpose of buying beer not found in the market, so we’ll continue working on taproom-only releases to keep things as exciting as possible."

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the October 31, 2019 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Brewers harnessing Norwegian beast of a yeast

Seven Serpent from Armadillo Ale Works is one of many North Texas beers
fermented with a kveik yeast strain (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Local brewers are calling it a beast. It's fast, it's furious, and it has to potential to change the way local breweries make beer.

The subject is kveik, a family of Norwegian yeast cultures that seems otherworldly - especially in light of how it ferments beer unlike other yeasts in popular use today. And yet, it is of this earth. It's just that kveik's powers have only recently been revealed to modern brewers. This, after it was handed down for generations among homebrewers in Norway.

Among its abilities, kveik is a fast-starting yeast that ferments quickly and cleanly at high temperatures.

"I think the ideal temperature for most kveik is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit," says Bobby Mullins, head brewer and co-founder of Armadillo Ale Works. "It can fully ferment an imperial beer in three days with no off flavors."

Kveik settles out quickly as well, reducing maturation times and making beer ready to drink sooner.

So, what does this all mean? Simply put, kveik is capable of speeding up production while expending less energy, since temperature control (even in Texas!) is not as critical given the yeast's wide functional range - anywhere from 62 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit depending on strain (sources: Omega Yeast, White Labs).

Shifting to a consumer point of view, what's interesting about kveik is how its ester profile fits the industry's most popular style of beer. Commercially available strains feature a variety of citrus, stone and tropical fruit flavors. For that reason, consumers are likely to see kveik pop up in India pale ales (IPAs). In fact, IPAs fermented with kveik have already appeared on tap at Brutal Beerworks, On Rotation and TKO Libations.

"We've got it scheduled for all future versions of our hazy IPA, You Like the Juice," says Ty Sefton, co-founder at TKO Libations. "With kveik, the citrus notes from the hops we use burst out at you compared to yeast strains we've used in the past. And, the haze stays."

Kveik has also been used in a blonde ale at Bluffview Growler, a barleywine at Hemisphere Brewing Co., and in Berliner weisse beers at Celestial Beerworks. The yeast's understated flavor elements make stouts fair game as well, with New Main Brewing Co. and Cedar Creek Brewery among those who have explored the dark side with kveik.

"Every big stout you see from us in the future will probably be made with kveik," says Aaron Eudaly, head brewer at Cedar Creek. "The fermentation speed is a big reason, but it also has a very high alcohol tolerance. It's probably the heartiest strain of yeast I have personally worked with."

Other local examples exist, and there are surely more to come. BrainDead Brewing has experimented with kveik, and Hop & Sting Brewing Co. plans to brew a honey tripel with it later this year. Plus, kveik is already on the radar at Rollertown Beerworks, a new brewery set to open in Celina in early 2020.

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the October 31, 2019 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

How breweries are broadening the reach with more beverage options

Image credits: Peticolas Brewing Co. (top left), Brutal Beerworks (top right),
The Collective Brewing Project (bottom left, bottom right).

Visiting a brewery in North Texas isn't just about drinking your everyday beer, as taprooms tend to offer alternatives appealing to a wide range of tastes. In many cases, breweries supplement their menus by bringing in guest taps, craft sodas, wine or cider options. Some, though, are finding ways to get creative with products made in-house.

Whether it's efforts to pique the interest of a different kind of drinker or simply a matter of trying something new and fun, here are three ways local breweries are branching out with hand-crafted products meant to enhance the taproom experience, and make it a welcoming environment for all.

Cocktail Beers

Ever innovative, Peticolas Brewing Co. of Dallas seized upon a void in the local market and introduced its first "cocktail beer" in late 2017. According to founder Michael Peticolas, quality cocktail beers sampled at breweries around the country provided the inspiration to produce Grin & Tonic, modeled after a gin and tonic, and later The Usual, an homage to the Old Fashioned.

"Cocktail beers provide us the opportunity to spread our wings and try something new, unique and different," says Peticolas. “And, cocktail beers excite consumers. We've reached a point where classic styles simply don't excite the vocal minority of craft beer drinkers, but they still go crazy over new and innovative styles."

Cold Creations

Hot days call for cool and refreshing drinks, and while a cold beer can certainly hit the spot, some local breweries are employing devices that turn house brews into frozen treats.

In Fort Worth, The Collective Brewing Project has been crafting beer slushees with simple syrups using herbs, spices and real fruit to accentuate and balance certain flavors in their brews.

"We saw the slushee machine as a way to implement new flavors and provide refreshment for those incredibly hot days," says Dave Riddile, who handles sales and marketing at Collective. "Since most of us have culinary or bartending backgrounds, it's a natural fit to want to experiment with beer as an ingredient. The slushee machine was definitely born out of fun, but it has been a way for us to be creative outside the brewhouse as well."

Cold creations of a different sort are on the menu at Brutal Beerworks in North Richland Hills. The company's Fro-Beer machine freezes beer and fashions it into a soft serve-like frozen head that acts as a "topper" for the beer your drinking.

Hard Seltzer

The Collective Brewing Project was also one of the first North Texas breweries to add a house-made hard seltzer to its lineup. Made from fermented sugar, hard seltzers check boxes for drinkers seeking a lower calorie, low carb option. Moreover, these drinks are a gluten-free alternative.

"After some research and our first test batch, we were satisfied hard seltzers could be a great option we wouldn't have to outsource like we do with our wine and cider list," says Riddile.

Others hopping on the hard seltzer bandwagon include Dallas-based breweries, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Texas Ale Project.

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the October 31, 2019 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A North Texas craft beer state of the union - 2019 edition

Image credit: Brewers Association.

Since late 2011, the refrain has remained the same - the North Texas beer scene is booming. Breweries continue to open, and more are on the way, suggesting the surge hasn't stopped and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The starting point of the boom dates back to the debut of Deep Ellum Brewing Co. in November 2011. When Deep Ellum arrived, it was the first locally-owned brewery to open in Dallas since 1998. And, at the time, there were only eight active brewing operations in the entire region.

Today, North Texas is home to over 80 brewing companies, with the jump here an extension of a national trend where brewery numbers in the U.S. have increased from around 2000 eight years ago to 7,346 in 2018. Local growth rates are greater, but given where the industry started, North Texas had nowhere to go but up.

Still, Texas as a whole ranks 46th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for number of breweries per capita, with 1.4 breweries per 100,000 adults 21 years of age or older (source: Brewers Association). Numbers are similar for Dallas-Fort Worth specifically, but things should improve locally based on 40 or so new ventures working to open in the near future.

Despite the per capita gap, state rankings are higher if you consider the amount of beer made in Texas and its economic impact. According to the Brewers Association, over 1.1 million barrels of beer were produced in Texas during 2018, the eighth highest total in the country. Even more impressive, the state's craft brewing industry contributed nearly $5.1 billion to the U.S. economy last year, trailing only California and Pennsylvania.

One thing lagging, however, is the size of the local customer base compared to other markets. Texans love their light beer, and it shows in certain metrics. Using U.S. Census Bureau statistics, along with data taken by Scarborough (a division of Nielsen) during 2016 and 2017, an estimated 5.7% of the over 21 population in Dallas-Fort Worth drinks craft beer on a regular basis. That trails the national average of 7.3%.

Consequently, while craft beer is big business in Texas, it could be even bigger. Getting more people into craft beer has been a priority from day one, and it will remain important as the number of breweries in North Texas nears the century mark.

If that milestone occurs, what happens next is anybody's guess. Will the market support over 100 breweries, or will a tipping point be reached? The general belief is consumers will continue to support local breweries as long as quality and customer service don't falter. Differentiation and the taproom experience are factors as well, especially as the playing field gets more crowded.

Either way, for now it appears North Texas will keep setting records for the number of breweries within its borders. That's great for consumers wanting additional options for drinking local in Dallas-Fort Worth, but it ups the ante in an already challenging market for local breweries. Indeed, how those breweries respond will go a long way towards determining the health of the North Texas brewing industry going forward.

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the October 31, 2019 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Old Town Brewhouse closing in Lewisville

Image credit: Old Town Brewhouse.

Old Town Brewhouse of Lewisville is closing its doors, with the final day of operations set for Saturday, November 2.

Originally debuting as Cobra Brewing Co. in December 2013, one of the brewery's first beers was the aptly-named Anti-Venom Amber Ale. Over time, brews with a bit more bite were Cobra's signature, with higher ABV options like Dawn of the Dank Double IPA, Klurichaun (barleywine) and The Kitchen Sink (imperial stout) being some of the brewery's most sought-after offerings.

That changed after a re-branding of the business in late 2017. From then on known as Old Town Brewhouse (a reference to its home in Old Town Lewisville), the company took on a classic rock theme. The slogan "craft beer that rocks" adorned a new logo, while more sessionable styles began to emerge from the brewhouse, each bearing the name of a 1970s-era classic rock song.

The brewery celebrate its "Last Call" this weekend, with taproom hours scheduled for Friday from 4-10 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. until midnight.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

3 Nations debuts its showy new shed in Carrollton

 (All photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

A craft brewery now resides in Carrollton, as 3 Nations Brewing Co. has opened the doors to its new location in the city after relocating from its previous site in Farmers Branch.

Initially debuting in the summer of 2015, 3 Nations got its start after taking over the original space of Grapevine Craft Brewery, following that operation's move to its namesake city. Along the way, 3 Nations has made a name for itself with beers like GPA, Mango Smash IPA and Haze Wizard, along with offerings from its Devout Imperial Milk Stout series.

Now, 3 Nations occupies a former grain warehouse anchoring a corner of Historic Downtown Carrollton. Built in the 1950s, real estate listings for the structure known as the "shed" quote a usable space of just under 12,000 square feet, but the place feels bigger...much bigger. So much so, one wonders if a survey team should be called out to recheck the numbers.

Views from above and below capture the production system at 3 Nations, along with a pilot system
composed of tanks once used at Hoffbrau Steaks & Brewery in the 1990s (click image to enlarge).
In any case, the brewing apparatus from Farmers Branch takes up a good portion of the south end of the building, fronting what's essentially an indoor patio to the north. Along the eastern edge, there's a climate-controlled taproom, an event space, and a second-floor public area with additional seating and expansive views of the brewhouse.

Also of note, 3 Nations has acquired a bit of North Texas brewing history in the form of equipment once used by Hoffbrau Steaks & Brewery in the late 1990s. Visible alongside the array of production fermenters, the set includes a brew kettle and four "tax determination" tanks made of copper and stainless steel. And, they're not just for display either, as the whole lot is expected to be put to use as 3 Nations' pilot system.

Of course, there's plenty of room to mix and mingle outdoors as well, given the overall lot size of 20,000 square feet. On opening day alone, there were multiple food trucks, vendors, a giant dart board and inflatable attractions for the kids, all of which made for a family-friendly atmosphere enjoyed by a large crowd of young and old alike.

It's an impressive setup, to say the least, and given 3 Nations' proximity to shops and restaurants downtown, it's one that makes Carrollton an instant North Texas craft beer destination. As for when to visit, check out the brewery during taproom hours seven days a week, and don't forget to mark your calendar for the official grand opening scheduled for Saturday, November 16.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rahr & Sons reveals 15th Anniversary details

Image credit: Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. (click image to enlarge).

Set to reach a milestone few brewing operations in North Texas have achieved, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth has announced preliminary information related to the company's upcoming 15th Anniversary.

Two consecutive days of festivities will mark the occasion, with events scheduled for Friday and Saturday, November 15-16.

  • Friday, November 15 from 7-10 p.m. -- VIP Preview Night featuring an opportunity to rub elbows with Rahr & Sons' owners, employees and staff while getting exclusive first access to rare Rahr brews. Admission includes food and entertainment ($45pp, click here to purchase one of only 100 tickets available online).
  • Saturday, November 16 from 12-4 p.m. -- 15th Anniversary Party featuring live music, three food trucks and over 30 beers on tap ($35pp for early entry at 12 p.m., or $25pp for general admission at 1 p.m., click here to purchase tickets).

In addition, Rahr & Sons is teasing a very special announcement, the details of which will be revealed at both celebrations.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Maple Branch cultivating new craft brewery in Fort Worth

Maple Branch co-founder Stuart Maples was named 2018 Master Brewer of the Year
by Fort Worth's Cap and Hare Homebrew Club (Maple Branch Craft Brewery).

Up until now, areas to the south and east have been the primary target for breweries planning to open in Fort Worth, but at least one new project is looking to change that by setting down roots near the confluence of the Clear and West Forks of the Trinity River.

Stuart and Allyssa Maples are the founders of Maple Branch Craft Brewery, the husband-and-wife team also being fellow graduates of Texas Christian University (TCU). Together, they've secured a spot for their venture at 2628 Whitmore St. on the city's west side. There, Maple Branch will be located in The Foundry District, joining a developing collective of businesses focused on curating "an entrepreneurial spirit, with a distinctly Fort Worth vibe."

Renderings depict front elevation and aerial views of Maple Branch's location in
The Foundry District of Fort Worth (Maple Branch Craft Brewery/HCC Commercial Contracting). 

Regarding the brewery's space, construction is underway on an existing structure made up of 6,900 square feet. A taproom and small-batch production system will be contained inside, while an expansive beer garden (also 6,900 square feet) will comprise a public area outdoors. Overall, patrons should expect a scene inspired by nature, with greenery and dark wood decor setting the tone for warm, comfortable surroundings.

Once Maple Branch opens, the plan is to offer up a variety of beer styles, some of which will likely be drawn from a portfolio of recipes that have won more than 40 awards at homebrewing competitions across the country. As for when that will occur, the couple is aiming for a debut sometime in spring 2020.

For more on Maple Branch, follow the brewery on Facebook or visit the company's website at www.maplebranchbrew.com.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Beer's big day: Recapping the 2019 Great American Beer Festival

(Photo: © Brewers Association).

If there's one thing to be said with certainty regarding the 2019 Great American Beer Festival (GABF), it's that the Denver, Colorado-based event just keeps getting bigger. That applies not only to the competition, but also to the amount of area attendees must traverse in order to seek out the most highly sought-after samples on the festival floor.

On the latter point, the festival has grown to encompass nearly 600,000 square feet of convention center space. That's roughly equivalent to 10 football fields, which is great if you're looking to up your step count while imbibing on beers from around the country.

At the same time, I imagine it could be a little overwhelming to someone embarking on GABF for the first time. Luckily, there were plenty of things to see and do if you needed to take a break from your tasting trek. Among them, the History of Craft Beer Exhibit was new for 2019, while the Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden was a holdover from last year. In addition, Sierra Nevada trucked in its original brewhouse, with the equipment proving to be a popular display among patrons.

Sierra Nevada's original brewhouse was a 10-barrel system (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Shifting the focus to the competition, the 2019 edition was the largest to date, with 9,497 beers from 2,295 breweries evaluated across 107 categories. From within those entries, two North Texas breweries were awarded medals.
  • Community Beer Co., Dallas: Gold for Texas Lager in the Session Beer category.
  • Bitter Sisters Brewery, Addison: Bronze for Sisters Quad in the Belgian-style Dark Strong or Belgian-Style Quadrupel category.
For Community, the company earned its fifth overall GABF medal this year, while it was the first for Bitter Sisters. It's perhaps notable that both have also been recognized previously at the World Beer Cup.

Now, some will point out that this is the lowest award total for our region since 2013. Yet, while that might present itself as an unexpected (and/or concerning) drop-off compared to recent times, it's probably just a result of increased competition from an ever-growing field of competing breweries.

Representatives from Community Beer Co. of Dallas celebrate their gold medal with
Charlie Papazian, founder of the Great American Beer Festival (Photo: © Brewers Association).

As for more news and notes from the festival and beyond, coverage on further items of interest is provided below.


Community shines as my first, best 'mate'

Speaking of Community, one of the more popular local releases of late has been the company's Irish Coffee Legion. The result of a partnership with Jameson Distillery, the beer was poured at GABF inside the aforementioned Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden. Being a fan of Irish Coffee Legion (having purchased multiple four-packs here at home), I thought it would be interesting to compare/contrast with some of the other collaborations. The result? After trying over a half-dozen others, I walked out of the beer garden thinking Community's was the best one.

Altstadt garners two golds ahead of North Texas distro

Altstadt Brewery of Fredericksburg arrived at its first GABF in 2019 and promptly won two gold medals - one for Altstadt Lager and another for Altstadt Kölsch. How does this apply to North Texas? Well, the company has signed on with Andrews Distributing for the delivery of its products to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Kegs are said to be rolling out first, with packaged products to follow later.

S'mores to come from Great Divide's Yeti clan

New release announcements ahead of GABF seem to be few and far between these days, but one I got a heads up on was S'mores Yeti from Great Divide Brewing Co. of Denver. Brewed with chocolate, marshmallow and spices, the beer is reminiscent of Birthday Sasquatch (10.3% ABV) from 903 Brewers in Sherman, though S'mores Yeti (9.5% ABV) is a bit lighter in strength and less intense. Set to be available from now until December, look for S'mores Yeti to be sold in 19.2-ounce cans.

Taproom trips

By now, it's become tradition for me to end my GABF recap with a rundown of taproom visits outside the festival. This time around, I managed to visit a dozen breweries in and around Denver, including some down around Colorado Springs. I won't try to cover them all, but here are some thoughts on a few favorites.

Left-to-right: Renegade Brewing, Spangalang Brewery, Black Project Spontaneous
& Wild Ales, Manitou Brewing Co. (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
  • Renegade Brewing, Denver: I kicked-off my GABF journey this year at this spot in Denver's Santa Fe Arts District. Appropriately enough, my first beer at a brewery that bills its products as "Offensively Delicious" was a barleywine called Barrel-Aged Bedwetter.
  • Spangalang Brewery, Denver: A bit off the beaten path in Denver's Historic Five Points neighborhood, Spangalang had the best vibe among those I visited. Of course, that may be because of a soundtrack filled with the sounds of jazz greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and more. Though, that should have been expected given Spangalang refers to a jazz cymbal rhythm created by drummer Kenny Clarke in the 1940s.
  • Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Denver: Although set up in a revamped building downtown, the brewery's dark rooms housing a multitude of barrels make it seem like you're drinking beer in a cave-aging environment. Interesting and unusual offerings abound, with my choice being one called Experimental #1, a spontaneously fermented gose with hickory-smoked salt, rosemary and coriander.
  • Manitou Brewing Co., Manitou Springs: Should you find yourself south of Denver, you'd do well to end up at Manitou Brewing Co. in Historic Manitou Springs. It's a small place nestled into downtown, but the brewpub is churning out great food to go along with a variety of full-flavored beer styles.

For more on the 2019 GABF and the historical performance of breweries from North Texas, click the links below:

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Tupps partners with National Breast Cancer Foundation for Rising Hope

Image courtesy of Tupps Brewery.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Tupps Brewery of McKinney is doing its part to raise awareness by partnering on a beer with one of the leading breast cancer organizations in the world.

Rising Hope is the culmination of a collaboration started in August 2018, when Tupps founder and president, Keith Lewis, met the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) team to discuss a special beer created specifically to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.

“I have many friends and family members that have been affected by cancer," says Lewis. "My dad passed away from brain cancer, my very close and dear friend passed away from pancreatic cancer, and I have another good friend of mine that is on her third round of fighting breast cancer. It has impacted me, and I know it impacts everyone.”

Tupps has made a point of recognizing cancer's impact since its inception, a daily reminder of which can be found by way of a memorial installed on the brewery's grounds.

“One of the first projects we completed at Tupps was building a tree of old rusted pipes," explains Lewis. "We had people come in and paint a bottle with a story or picture to honor someone they know that has or had cancer. The tree is completely full of bottles and is displayed in our Beer Garden outside of the brewery.”

As for the beer, Rising Hope is an American-style ale brewed with fresh, organic pink guava puree. Packaged in 12-ounce cans, each six-pack features a different can design to represent all the people affected by cancer - whether that be a friend, a mom, a daughter, a grandma, a husband or a sister.

“What’s wonderful about this campaign is that it’s about bringing people together and about honoring people that we love,” says Kevin Hail, president and COO of NBCF. “Rising Hope is about giving us hope that we can get through any dark time together.”

Look for Rising Hope beginning in early October at bars, restaurants and retail locations in North Texas, Austin, Oklahoma and San Antonio. Six-packs will be available in retail stores like Kroger, Market Street, Central Market, Total Wine, Specs, and more.

Learn more about Tupps' partnership with NBCF through videos on the brewery's YouTube page.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Soul Fire ready to bring robust offerings to Roanoke

Soul Fire, Roanoke's first brewery, anchors the city's Oak. St. Food & Brew
brewery and food hall concept (Photo: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The first official brew day is in the books at Soul Fire Brewing Co. of Roanoke, as the company starts to build inventory ahead of a planned grand opening event on Saturday, October 19.

Aaron Bennett and James Brown form the team behind Soul Fire, the only known brewing operation to exist in Roanoke. The brewery is part of a food hall concept called Oak St. Food & Brew, located in the city at 206 N. Oak St.

Within the confines of that venture, Soul Fire will be joined by a variety of food providers, with barbecue, burgers, fish & chips, and deli sandwiches all set to be on the menu. And, as is the case with similar setups elsewhere, the property is licensed as a whole to allow patrons to enjoy a beer wherever they like - whether that be on the patio, in the food court, or while sitting at the bar in the taproom.

Speaking of the taproom, Soul Fire has 20 taps it will work to stock with house brews crafted by head brewer Eric Hilliard (Audacity Brew House, Denton County Brewing Co.). Guest beers will fill a number of slots to start, but most will be phased out as production picks up over time.

On that, Bennett offered the following perspective, "We'll have other options, but when I go to other breweries, I want to drink that brewery's beer, so I hope people come here because they want to drink Soul Fire beer."

Soul Fire's space inside Oak St. Food & Brew consists of 3100 square feet. The brewery's taproom adjoins a patio out
front, with a production area housing a 15-barrel brewhouse set up in the back (Photos: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

As for how they'll approach their product and style mix, Soul Fire's founders intend to draw inspiration from a popular Austin brewpub.

"We want to model our selection like that of the original Pinthouse Pizza on Burnet Rd. in Austin," says Bennett. "They have four beers that are always available, but everything else rotates. Plus, we like IPAs and stouts - styles Pinthouse is known for, so we'll have those types of beer tapped on a regular basis."

True to that statement, Soul Fire featured a SMaSH IPA and a New England-style IPA during a soft opening this weekend. Similar offerings are expected to be part of the brewery's initial lineup, along with a double IPA with West Coast influence making an appearance as well.

Beyond those, a Belgian witbier will add variety at the outset, while a coffee stout targeting the brewery's nitro tap is also in the works. Then further out, look for Soul Fire to roll out barrel-aged brews, as a run of spent barrels is already on the way.