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

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.