Friday, September 6, 2019

Franconia brings new mix to 2019 Original State Fair Brew

Image credits: Franconia Brewing Co., Fiesta Enterprises.

Continuing a series started in 2014, Original State Fair Brew (OSFB) has once again partnered with a North Texas brewery to create a new and exciting version of their annual State Fair-themed beer.

For this year's edition, the OSFB folks enlisted the help of Franconia Brewing Co. of McKinney, a choice that may surprise some given the brewery's usual strict adherence to tradition. The State Fair of Texas, of course, is famous for defying convention with its food and beverage offerings, often showcasing taste combinations that challenge even the most ardent explorers of new and unusual flavors.

So how, then, did this collaboration come to pass?

According to Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann, it was a matter of convincing Fiesta Enterprises, the creators of the OSFB concept, to go in a different direction. In the past, local breweries infused ingredients to create State Fair beers reminiscent of funnel cake, corn dogs and pumpkin pie. This year, though, consumer will have the chance to conceive their own unique State Fair brew.

"People like to mix things with beer, so I introduced Fiesta owners Rudy and Justin Martinez to the idea of a snow cone system," says Wehrmann. "You start with a base beer, and then let customers mix it with other flavors."

The origin of the concept is a German-style radler, a beverage consisting of a 50/50 mix of beer and either soda or fruit puree. At the State Fair, the drink will be known as Barnyard Radler, with Franconia Wheat (a classic hefeweizen) forming the foundation of the system.

Consumers will be able to instill up to four different flavors in the beer, but suggested varieties you'll be able to order by name include Cattleman Cola (with Coca-Cola), Watermelon Wrangler, Strawberry Fields, and Pig-in-the-Mud Pumpkin.

"We tried a lot of flavors and these were the best combinations," explains Wehrmann. "Plus, our wheat beer works because it supports a lot of fruitiness to begin with."

Naturally, such mixes lie outside the realm of the Reinheitsgebot (a.k.a. the German Beer Purity Law), a guiding principle for Franconia since day one. But what makes this collaboration a fit, while also maintaining the spirit of the State Fair, is the fact that the brewery's role lies strictly with the base beer.

"We thought, why not leave the creativity to the customer," says Wehrmann. "They can use their imagination and choose the flavors they want to make the 'beer.' We just provide a starting point, which allows us to stay true to our roots."

The 2019 State Fair of Texas opens on September 27 at Fair Park and runs through October 20. In addition to Barnyard Radler, beer flights featuring Franconia Kölsch, Lager and Oktoberfest will be offered during the event at Trio on the Green and the Lone Star Roadhouse.

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