Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tupps hitting the hard seltzer market with Blur

Image courtesy of Tupps Brewery.

Craft brewing is no longer just about beer, as more and more local and national brewers are turning to hard seltzer as a way to diversify their product lines. The latest North Texas entity to take the leap is Tupps Brewery of McKinney, as the company is set to introduce its Blur Hard Seltzer line later this week.

“We’ve always been interested in exploring new products, says Keith Lewis, founder and president of Tupps. "The seltzer growth has been incredible, so once we found time in our production schedule, we knew it was go-time. With Blur we wanted to take the craft spirit we’ve cultivated at Tupps and put our stamp on the seltzer category. It has been a fun process working with my daughter and two sons to refine these flavor combinations."

Blur will be available in a variety 12-pack box to start, with six-packs of individual flavors to follow. The four "flavor combinations you never knew you needed" include: Mango Dragon Fruit, Lemon Blueberry, Passionfruit Watermelon and Hibiscus Apple. Each has only 105 calories, 2 grams of carbs and less than 1 gram of sugar.

“We taste tested so, so many different flavors, says Chris Lewis, head brewer at Tupps. "I’m actually surprised at how quickly we all agreed on these four flavor combinations. We all came to love the taste and really look forward to everyone enjoying these seltzers."

An official launch party for Blur will take place at Tupps on Saturday, October 3, from 12-9 p.m. Customers will be able to enjoy free seltzer samples, along with live music and a Blur-inspired menu served by the Barley Gastrovan food truck.

“We hope to host many launch parties and pop-up tasting events all over DFW in the coming weeks, says Katie Baker, marketing and events director at Tupps. "We know with Covid-19, things have been a bit off and weird, but we want to keep this a fun and exciting launch for everyone.”

Look for Blur Hard Seltzer at Kroger, Market Street, Central Market, Spec's Total Wine and other DFW wine/liquor stores.

Lakewood's latest IPA promises level-up big hazy experience

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co.

Now reaching level three of its yearlong IPA series inspired by retro gaming and the almighty hop, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has announced the release of Level3: Dungeon Escape.

Billed as a double dry-hopped imperial hazy IPA, Level3: Dungeon Escape was brewed with Denali, Citra and Cashmere Cryo hops to create a "level-up big hazy experience." According to a press release, the beer has a big, dank and fruity aroma with tropical notes of pineapple and papaya.

“We’re gearing up for the boss fight and need all our IPA points for the win!” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “This series has been so much fun and the beers keep getting bigger and bolder. Level 3 certainly delivers for the hop haze craze.”

Level3: Dungeon Escape will be available in four-packs of 12-ounce cans beginning Friday, October 2. Look for it at select retailers, or visit the Lakewood Drive-Thru to pick up beer to-go.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

3 Nations launches Symbol Brewing side project

Image credit: 3 Nations Brewing Co.

A new North Texas brand is debuting this week, the concept behind it built around three little words: "Simply. Good. Beer."

From the team at 3 Nations Brewing Co. of Carrollton, Symbol Brewing Co. is an initiative designed to give head brewer Gavin Secchi the opportunity to experiment with recipes falling outside the bounds of the brewery's everyday lineup.

"Symbol Brewing is our innovative, rotating line of beers focused towards craft beer lovers," says John Royer, business manager at 3 Nations. "Our 3 Nations beer portfolio, like most local breweries, tends to be a consistent lineup of great tasting beers. Gavin is a strong brewer with a lot of recipes and we want to take advantage of this opportunity."

Regarding the "simply good beer" elements of the brand's identity, those words apply not only to what's found inside Symbol Brewing's cans, but also to how its products will be portrayed in the marketplace.

"The marketing is minimalistic and meant to be 'all about the beer,'" explains Royer. "We believe that symbols create conversation, so rather than naming beers we just wanted to create relevant symbols."

As for what consumers can expect in terms of availability, the Symbol Brewing line is intended to be a series of limited edition, one-off beers.

"We will rotate three new exciting brews created by Gavin every other month," says Royer. "This is a limited series as we just don’t have the capacity to brew larger amounts of Symbol Brewing beers.  It is just our way of having fun and keeping it fresh."

The initial run of Symbol Brewing beers is shipping now to select retailers across North Texas. Styles include Pastry Gose, Strawberry Hefeweizen and West Coast IPA. Look for them in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

HopFusion picks Baltic porter for honorary Etzel beer

Image courtesy of HopFusion Ale Works.

For the fifth release in the series of beers being made to honor local homebrewer Greg Etzel, HopFusion Ale Works of Fort Worth will delve into a darker color spectrum with its chosen recipe.

Simply entitled Etzel, the eponymous offering is a Baltic-style porter with an ABV of 8.7% and 36 IBU.

"We chose Greg's Baltic porter because it was one of his favorite beers to brew and he had won many awards with this recipe," says Matt Hill, co-founder of HopFusion.

With that in mind, Hill and fellow HopFusion owner Macy Moore plan to enter Etzel in several upcoming competitions. The hope, of course, being to build upon the recipe's heritage by winning a few additional awards.

"Greg was a great person, great brewer, and a great friend," adds Hill. "It was a no-brainer to be involved with this project, and I felt honored that we were chosen to brew one of his beers."

Etzel Baltic Porter will available on tap at HopFusion beginning Thursday, September 10. As with other beers in the series, a portion of the proceeds from sales will go to charities selected by the Etzel family.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Oak Highlands, Rahr & Sons winners again at USBTC

Image credits: United States Beer Tasting Championship, Oak Highlands Brewery, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.

Continuing runs dating back multiple years, two local breweries have once again taken regional honors for their beers at the United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC). Including tallies from 2020, Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth now boast overall USBTC win totals in the double digits.

As to be expected, the pandemic has put a crimp on competition results for 2020, but the USBTC powered through and went ahead with its 26th Annual Summer Competition. During the event, 595 beers from 164 breweries were judged across 18 different categories. Like before, regional winners were chosen in each category, with those beers moving on to a subsequent round to determine a national grand champion.

Products from Rahr & Sons and Oak Highlands competed in the Rockies/Southwest division. A breakdown of their winning beers is provided below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas

  • Resting Bitter Face, Regional Champion in the Imperial IPA/Red Ale category.
  • Tipsy Goat, Regional Champion in the Bock/Doppelbock category.
  • Golden Mustache, Regional Champion in the Dortmunder/Helles category.

Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth
  • Texas Red, Regional Champion in the Amber/Red Ale category.
  • Summertime Wheat, Regional Champion in the Wheat Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to Oak Highlands and Rahr & Sons!

Friday, August 21, 2020

On Rotation on the move to The Braniff Centre

Rendering of On Rotation's future location at The Braniff Centre (On Rotation).

Five years after opening in the Lakewood neighborhood near White Rock Lake in Dallas, On Rotation Small Batch Brewery & Taproom is moving to a new retail space at The Braniff Centre at Dallas Love Field, the former home of Braniff Airlines

The move will allow On Rotation to add a number of new spins to its operation. In addition to expanding its production capacity, the brewery will start packaging its beers in cans, and it will also build an onsite kitchen.

“While we never wanted to leave Lakewood, we spent two years looking for a location in Dallas that would offer us the chance to build On Rotation into a true brewpub experience, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stretch our legs at The Braniff Centre,” says Jacob Sloan, owner and co-founder of On Rotation. 

Not lost in the transition, On Rotation will continue to offer 40 ever-rotating taps of craft beer, cider and hard seltzer, along with a select wine list. The existing three-barrel brewhouse that has powered On Rotation to date will also make the move, with new fermentation tanks expected to double On Rotation’s brewing capacity. 

“Our focus has always been on making craft beer approachable yet captivating,” says Lindsay Sloan, owner and co-founder of On Rotation. “We curate every beer we offer to evoke excitement and compel you to share that experience. Our additional capacity will allow us to share more brews more often.”

The new location will comprise 4600 square feet, with amenities to include three distinct outdoor patios. 

“We all know beer tastes better outdoors in Texas,” says Jacob. “We made an outdoor experience one of our requirements in seeking a new location to expand. Our patio will be a place for sharing stories, good food and, of course, beer with friends and family.” 

Much as On Rotation’s brewing and beer operations are hand-crafted, fresh and highly curated, the Sloans are building a food menu to match, featuring fried chicken in all its forms with a supporting cast of Southern-inspired sides and shareable appetizers. 

“When we first started On Rotation, we wanted to be judged on the quality of our beer, not our appetizers,” says Lindsay. “With five years under our belt, we have the experience to do this right and offer a stellar menu that will complement our beers.”  

Not discounting the to-go experience, On Rotation’s future home will offer the convenience of a “minimart” for beer to-go and takeout order pickup. 

“We don’t want anyone to feel like they have a lesser experience with our food or beer by taking it home,” says Jacob. “And what feels more like home than a bucket of fried chicken and beers?” 

Construction at The Braniff Centre is set to begin in a few weeks. An opening date has not been set, but the Sloans hope to debut the new location early in 2021.  Until then, On Rotation will continue to brew at their Lakewood location. While currently closed to in-house customers, the brewery is open seven days a week for curbside pickup of crowlers and growlers — and soon, 4-packs of 16-ounce cans. Call ahead or order online at on-rotation.com/order.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Deep Ellum releases fruit-forward football seasonal

Image courtesy of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

With the promise of fall football just around the corner, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas is inviting consumers to "go sideways this season with a new hazy IPA."

According to a press release, Lateral Haze (7.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a tropical hazy IPA brewed in honor of the greatest game on earth - football. Billed as "the only part of game day guaranteed not to disappoint.," the beer is said to be dank, hoppy and fruit-forward with the flavor and aroma of fresh pineapples.

"With Lateral Haze, we set out to make the perfect companion for football season," says Brian Morris, head brewer at Deep Ellum. "A triple-option of sorts, Lateral Haze is triple dry-hopped with three different hops (Amarillo, Simcoe and Idaho-7) that come together to provide a beautifully tropical drinking experience."

Lateral Haze is available now through October in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Look for the beer at select retailers across Texas.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ten years ago today: One beer writer's retrospective, penned amid a pandemic

Source: Individual research.

Ten years ago today, I started writing about craft beer. And my, how things have changed.

Who could have imagined we'd be in the situation we are now, where breweries are hanging on day-to-day and we have no idea what rule changes the next hour may bring? Indeed, there's a lot of uncertainty going forward because of the pandemic, but for posterity's sake let's look back on the last ten years for maybe a minute or two.

Ten years ago today, there were nine brewing operations in North Texas, with roughly another dozen or so in planning around the entire state. Today, we have 84 active brewing companies with more than 30 new projects being developed in North Texas alone.

Ten years ago today, there were no brewery taprooms. Drinking beer at a brewery meant taking a tour, enjoying a few samples and getting some glassware to take home. And beer to-go? That was a no-no until late last year. Today, taprooms are rampant, though breweries have had to alter operations temporarily because of current conditions. And beer to-go? It's a go, and thank goodness, because it's been key in keeping our beloved breweries afloat.

Ten years ago today, the local panorama of pubs serving something other than imports was a tad bit limited. We had established locations of the Flying Saucer, Ginger Man and Londoner (various locations have opened and closed for all three), along with a trio of newcomers all less than a year old: The Common Table Uptown (gone, but not forgotten), Holy Grail Pub and Meddlesome Moth. Today you can drink beer in a plethora of pubs, restaurants and even grocery stores if the mood strikes...and daily mandates allow.

Ten years ago today, we mostly drank beer out of bottles. No local breweries canned their beers, and there was no such thing as a crowler. We had growlers, but only at brewpubs, as the growler shop was a non-entity. Today, dozens of growler shops fill jugs and seam crowlers on a daily basis. The only issue there being a looming can shortage, once again due to that whole ongoing pandemic thing.

Ten years ago today, things weren't great, but they were surely getting better. Since August 2, 2010, I've covered the debut of 100 brewing companies and 25 closures, not to mention the comings and goings of countless numbers of pubs, restaurants, events and other supportive projects.

And yet today, despite all of the growth, things aren't great again, all because of an invisible enemy.

But we hope they will get better.

Do what you can to support your local pubs, restaurants and breweries, so we have more good than bad to talk about in another ten years time.

Cheers, stay well and #SaveTexasBreweries!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tupps Brewery moving to historic McKinney grain site

All images courtesy of Tupps Brewery.

Tupps Brewery will soon trade one historical setting for another, as the company is set to make a move closer to Downtown McKinney.

Since debuting in 2015, Tupps has occupied a 17,000-square-foot space at The McKinney Cotton Mill. However, the brewery has outgrown that location and will now expand to a spot with over 40,000 square feet on a 4.3-acre campus in the city's  Historic Mill District.

Helping to spur the project, the McKinney Community Development Corporation approved a grant in the amount of $11,333,262 for construction, and the McKinney Economic Development Corporation has provided a loan for use in purchasing additional equipment Tupps will use to meet growing market demand.

“The McKinney grain site is a perfect location to build our forever home as it fits the Tupps vibe and allows us to meet increased demand for our products while providing more space for additional customers visiting the brewery,” says Keith Lewis, founder and president of Tupps.

This new location will be an extension of Downtown McKinney in a grain processing factory that has been in operation for over 120 years. The layout will comprise a 12,000-square-foot taproom in the original grain-milling building, a state-of-the-art production facility and a retail shopping area housed in reused shipping containers.

Current view and future rendering of Tupps' new location.

“The city of McKinney is committed to revitalizing the eastside of our historic downtown area and I could not think of a better partner than Tupps to start this process. Tupps will bring much needed energy to this area which will attract other businesses and expand our historic downtown footprint,” says McKinney Mayor George Fuller.

On the production side, Tupps will operate in a 28,000 square foot facility. The building will incorporate a barrel-aging area housing over 200 barrels that will age unique beers to be available for sampling on selected tours and for sale in the brewery's beer-to-go store.

As for other amenities, Tupps is a family business to its core and will continue to welcome families both young and old. The brewery will have a unique playground for all ages and plenty of space to relax inside and out. To that end, in addition to a large outdoor stage hosting live music and theater performances, the site plan will include shops featuring local artists, craftsman, and food vendors.

Tupps has also pledged to continue its strong commitment to the community with charitable work. Tupps got started by brewing beer in Keith’s garage, so it wants to give other dreamers the ability to start their own business in a supportive environment.

Friday, July 17, 2020

On Rotation releases Black is Beautiful to benefit Campaign Zero's #8CantWait

On Friday, July 17, On Rotation of Dallas will release its rendition of Black is Beautiful, a beer brewed in collaboration with Marcus Baskerville and Weathered Souls Brewing Co. of San Antonio.

When it was announced, the Black is Beautiful project set goals to raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily, and to raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged. Upon learning about this, the team at On Rotation knew they had to join in.

“We had been thinking about the best way to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, and our favorite language is beer,” says Jacob Sloan, co-founder and owner of On Rotation.

Breweries participating in the initiative have taken an imperial stout recipe developed by Baskerville and Weathered Souls and added a touch of their own creativity. On Rotation made a few minor changes to the beer by adjusting the grain bill to their preferred balance and adding a significant amount of chocolate.

The beer was brewed, appropriately enough, on Juneteenth, and according to a press release it presents with "a chocolate and bready aroma and powerful cocoa flavor throughout." It's a big beer, with an ABV of 10.2%, but with the "luscious chocolate flavor and dry finish," the alcohol is said to not overwhelm the palate.

“For me, it’s a perfect chocolate cake in a glass — not sweet but chocolate through and through,” says Sloan.

Proceeds from sales of Black is Beautiful will benefit Campaign Zero, specifically the group's #8CantWait campaign. The #8CantWait initiative aims to drive eight policies proven to decrease police violence by 72 percent. Research shows the more restrictive use of force policies #8CantWait is fighting for can reduce killings by police and save lives.

Of note, On Rotation points out Dallas is only halfway there. While the city has enacted four of the eight #8CantWait policies, Dallas still has four more to go.

The city has yet to ban chokeholds and strangleholds, require a warning before shooting, establish a duty to intervene, or ban shooting at moving vehicles. Citizens can get involved and contact Dallas’ Mayor Eric Johnson about these policies at 8cantwait.org.

In the meantime, show your support for Black Lives Matter and Black is Beautiful by purchasing “chocolate cake” stout this Friday at On Rotation. The taproom will be open at noon for curbside pickup of crowlers and growlers. Customers may pre-order online at on-rotation.com/order.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pathfinder finds its way to Hudson Oaks

Pathfinder's facility in Hudson Oaks consists of 10,000 square feet, with
1500 square feet allocated for the taproom (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

After navigating a long and winding road to establishment, Pathfinder Brewery is now open in Hudson Oaks.

Pathfinder is a venture founded by Eric and Giancarla Addison. I first contacted Eric in July of 2017, subsequently learning about their plan to build a brewery from the ground up, a relative rarity in North Texas where most have looked to renovate an existing space. Originally, Addison hoped to be up and running a year later, but issues with contractors stretched the timeline out to three.

"It was an ambitious project to say the least," says Addison.

Regarding the location, one reason Addison chose Hudson Oaks was due to a lack of options in Fort Worth. Another was the ability to operate under a brewpub license without having to meet the 51% food revenue rule enforced elsewhere.

"We do want to have a kitchen someday," says Addison, "but Hudson Oaks is great because their license allows for a brewery without food."

For now, though, the focus will be on the beer and overall brand experience. Pathfinder's name reflects on how everyone interested in craft beer is on a journey, so visitors can expect to see beers presented in ways that help individuals plot their own course.

"As folks explore different styles and widen their palates, more and more styles become interesting," explains Addison. "Our mission is to help people find their path to beer they like. So, we have various 'Paths':  Fruited, Texan, Barrel-Aged, Belgian, etc.  Each path gives folks a chance to experience new styles, and flavors and aromas.  There are many paths to great beer, and we want to help folks travel those paths."

The first round of offerings at Pathfinder, appropriately called the "Opening Path," consisted of Highway 180 Pale Ale, Kangaroo Kölsch and Texas Wheat Ale, along with variants in the form of Road Trip (coffee kölsch) and Citrus Slice (fruited wheat ale). This mix of classic styles, supplemented by beers with a bit of a twist, is representative of how the company intends to approach its everyday portfolio.

"It is fun to try the latest fad beer, but nothing beats coming back to a style that you can enjoy time and again," says Addison. "If you like variety, don’t fret, we plan on brewing many one-offs and seasonal beers just to keep things interesting, but not so often you get worn out chasing the newest twist on a beer style."

Pathfinder is currently open Tuesday through Saturday for to-go sales only in line with mandates connected to the Covid-19 pandemic. Look for expanded on-site hours to occur once restrictions are lifted.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tupps hopes to raise $25,000 for Red Cross

Image credit: Tupps Brewery.

In early April, Tupps Brewery of McKinney created a variety 12 pack box to sell at retail, with the profits to be donated to the American Red Cross. The aim of the initiative, called Help Now, was to raise awareness for more blood donations, money for those who have lost their jobs, and food donations to replenish food banks.

“Help Now has been a huge success! We have had a couple of months under our belt and we want to give a super shoutout to all the people that helped us get to where we are on this, especially corporations who matched some of our donations.” says Keith Lewis, founder and president of Tupps.

The first run of Help Now 12-packs helped the brewery donate almost $10,000 to the Red Cross, and now Tupps wants to keep it going with round two.

A new goal to raise $25,000 has been set, and the hope is the second round can be even more impactful than the first. More and more people continue to file for unemployment, while missing rent and mortgage payments, and to compound things further, the Red Cross is running critically low on blood. Natural disasters do not slow down during a pandemic and the need for blood is at an all-time high.

“If you weren’t able to participate in round one, definitely come out and get the product for round two," adds Lewis. "Inside this box are 12 total beers with a selection of National Standard, our light American ale, and our Juice Pack, hazy pale ale."

More information regarding the Help Now project, as well as a list of retailers carrying the 12-pack, can be found on the brewery's website at https://tuppsbrewery.com/help/.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tasty to-go options for your holiday beer run

Image credits: Brewers Association, HopFusion Ale Works, Peticolas Brewing Co., Division Brewing, Brutal Beerworks.

Given the current state of affairs due to Covid-19, the 2020 edition of National Independent Beer Run Day couldn't be happening at a more appropriate time. Set for July 3, National Independent Beer Run Day was created by the Brewers Association to encourage consumers to purchase craft beers produced by small and independent brewers ahead of their Independence Day celebrations.

In North Texas alone, products from over 80 local and independent brewing operations are sold at bars and breweries across the area. Many outlets are temporarily closed under orders of the state, meaning beer to-go is the only way to go for these businesses literally fighting to stay afloat.

With that in mind, I've compiled a short list of favorites I've enjoyed over the last few months, each of which was purchased during a local brewery visit for beer to-go. All are still available, should you plan on making a pre-Independence Day beer run for celebratory supplies.

Brutal Beerworks - Hop Drop (New England IPA, 8.0% ABV)
  • A single hop hazy IPA brewed with only Mosaic hops, Hop Drop features a full spectrum of fruit flavors, with elements of berry, citrus, stone and tropical fruit.
  • Available in single 16-ounce cans.

Division Brewing - Macaroon Morning (Coconut Porter, 6.8% ABV)
  • Inspired by a chocolate coconut candy, this is a case where the added flavors actually add to the base beer, as opposed to overpowering it. The balanced interplay of the coconut and underlying porter works to create a coconut macaroon in a can.
  • Available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.

HopFusion Ale Works - Port Wine Barrel-Aged Fur Slipper (Imperial Milk Stout, 10% ABV)
  • I've said it before, but for me bourbon barrel beers have become a bit ubiquitous, so finding this available curbside was a treat. As for my overall impression, this slipper is a sipper with ample strength and a noticeable port presence.
  • Available in single 16-ounce cans.

Peticolas Brewing Co. - The Duke (Barley Wine, 12.0% ABV)
  • The Duke isn't new, but the onset of Covid-19 was a catalyst for putting it in cans. It's fruity and boozy, thanks to a balanced mix of of alcohol and esters, but also entirely too easy to drink considering the ABV of 12%. Plus, it's hard to beat the availability of a barley wine on a daily basis.
  • Available in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hop & Sting expanding product range and reach

Image courtesy of Hop & Sting Brewing Co.

Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine, an entity striving to be one of the most diverse craft breweries around, is now available all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 9000-square-mile economic and cultural hub of North Texas is rich with community and generational diversity, and the brewery is a welcoming atmosphere to all who want to drink and learn about the refreshing complexity and science of craft beer. However, D-FW stretches for nearly 100 miles end-to-end, making it a trek for many.

Recognizing that fact, Hop & Sting has been building relationships in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Garland, Irving, McKinney, Frisco, Denton and Rockwall to ensure their beers reach the diverse audiences they celebrate.

For craft beer fans from baby boomers to Gen Z, Hop & Sting puts out beers of tradition and trend to quench the thirst of those craving new styles as they discover and engage in the diversity of craft beer. The production schedule and expertly-conducted canning days support the brewery’s ability to maintain a variety of brew styles locally-owned shops and growler bars need to keep customers coming back for more.

“We have enough core beers to keep tap lines stocked with a new brew monthly throughout the year.” states co-owner Brian Burton. “It comes down to being deliberate about brewing beers that are approachable by all and enjoyable to people from all walks of life.”

In addition, Hop & Sting's products support various charities providing assistance to those in need ranging from children to animals, public servants to education. It’s important to the brewery team to get their product out as far as possible to support the livelihood of businesses and nonprofits affected by their work.

One Hop & Sting beer produced to that end is Miracle Wheat. This American-style wheat beer benefits The Miracle League of Southlake, an organization which removes barriers keeping children with mental and physical disabilities off the baseball field and lets them experience the joy of America’s favorite pastime.

As for other current and future offerings, available now is the brewery's latest limited release, Weisser Time (5.4% ABV), a beer described as a "clove and banana-balanced hefeweizen." Then later this month, look for Hop & Sting to unveil its version of Black is Beautiful. Created in collaboration with Weathered Souls Brewing Co. of San Antonio, proceeds from the sale of Black is Beautiful will go to Beersgiving, a North Texas group advocating for diversity in the brewing industry.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

House beers now pouring at Craft and Growler

Craft & Growler's debut house beer, One and a Half Years Later,
is available on tap and in crowlers (
© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The name of the beer says it all. Craft and Growler's initial offering, One and a Half Years Later, is an IPA that recalls the length of time it took for the Dallas growler shop to get its in-house brewing project underway.

Equipment for the initiative has been onsite since May 2019, but the first production brew day didn't occur until late last month. Craft and Growler's brewer, Brendan Smith, fired up the kettle on May 23, with the startup recipe chosen to be a SMaSH IPA. Brewed with two-row pale malt and Cascade hops, the resulting beer is nicely balanced, with a flowery aroma, citrus flavors and a mildly bitter bite.

One and a Half Years Later is also crystal clear, its clarity appearing as a stark contrast to the current wave of hazy IPAs. And while hazy beers are surely a hot commodity, choosing to do a SMaSH IPA was more about differentiating from another type of beer commonly produced when breweries are starting out.

"I didn't want to do just a blonde as a test batch as many seem to do," says Smith. "So, I figured why not spend a bit more on hops and make it a SMaSH?"

As for future style selections, Smith is working on a hefeweizen, with a hazy pale ale, gose and fruited Berliner weisse in the plans as well. In addition, Craft and Growler's SMaSH IPA is set to return, with subsequent hop varieties chosen by way of customer feedback. The overall goal, of course, is to build up a stable of originals to supplement the shop's everyday product mix.

"Eventually, as we get the system dialed in and perfect our process, we'd like to have four-to-six house beers on at any one time," says Smith.

Another notable aspect of Craft and Growler's journey to this point is how it was able to lean on industry relationships built since opening in 2012. Smith singled out no fewer than nine local brewers who provided advice and encouragement during the process of getting the shop's brewhouse ready for use.

Along those lines, it's no surprise to learn that collaborations with area brewers are also on the agenda at Craft and Growler.

"We are in talks to do collabs with Celestial Beerworks and 903 Brewers," adds Smith, "but others have expressed interest in working with us and we'll be happy to work with anyone."

With that, Craft and Growler takes its place as an active North Texas brewing operation. It may have taken one and a half years to get here, but those pitching in to help proved once again the community of craft beer is alive and well.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Deep Ellum closes Funkytown Fermatorium

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas, a member of the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective,  has announced the permanent closure of its Funkytown Fermatorium in Fort Worth.

The company's Funkytown Fermatorium opened in March 2019, providing Deep Ellum with a westside Metroplex location apart from its original facility near Downtown Dallas. The outpost featured a full onsite kitchen, along with a small-batch brewhouse producing exclusive recipes for local Panther City patrons.

In a Facebook post, Deep Ellum cited "the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," as well as its "inability to serve beer to-go due to Texas House Bill 3287," as factors in the decision.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Ash & Ember brings first brewery to Cedar Hill

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

Pandemic or not, the roster of North Texas breweries continues to grow, as evidenced by this weekend's opening of Ash & Ember Brewing in the City of Cedar Hill.

Located just off U.S. 67 at 226 Texas St., Ash & Ember is the first brewery in Cedar Hill. Its facility sits a fair distance away from other like businesses, with no other breweries existing within a 10-mile radius. This, according to co-founder Brian Krajcirovic, played a role in site selection as he and business partner, Timothy Martin, were deciding on where to establish the enterprise.

Now up and running, Ash & Ember occupies a 5000 square foot building. Currently, the company is utilizing about half of the space for its taproom and production areas, with the rest reserved for the possible addition of a lounge-like room in the future.

For production, Ash & Ember employs a five-barrel brewing system and four 10-barrel
fermenters. Beer names call attention to points of interest around the City of Cedar Hill.

As for the here and now, Ash & Ember's opening day offerings were Lumber Yard Lager, High Pointe Porter and Tower Red IPA. All were easy-drinking styles of moderate strength, and such characteristics will be the norm for most brews produced onsite. Bigger beers will occasionally appear, but the focus at Ash & Ember is on making what Krajcirovic refers to as "beers for the beer drinker."

In terms of the brewery's overall portfolio, Krajcirovic says recipes will rotate. At a minimum, though, patrons can expect Ash & Ember's tap wall to feature a light beer, something dark and an IPA on a typical day, with future selections to include a German-style hefeweizen and a Scottish wee heavy.

Once the pandemic passes, taproom hours will take place on Fridays at Ash & Ember, with tour packages set for Saturdays, and to-go only service available Tuesday through Thursday. Of course, for now it's to-go only all the time, so stay tuned to social media (FacebookInstagram) for updates on operations at the area's newest brewery.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Funky Picnic goes big with Greg's Big Honey Lager

Image: © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Funky Picnic Brewery & Café
represents the latest entity to access the rolodex of recipes created by local homebrewer Greg Etzel, with the Fort Worth brewpub set to tap its contribution to the series of beers honoring his memory later this week.

Greg's Big Honey Lager, an imperial honey lager boasting an ABV of 11%, will debut at Funky Picnic this Thursday, June 25. Like previous memorial beers, proceeds from sales will benefit charities chosen by the Etzel family, including ACH Child & Family Services, Direct Relief (Covid-19 Relief)Team Conner Childhood Cancer Foundation and Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation.

"We decided to pick the honey lager because it allowed us to brew a unique and big beer, much like Greg himself," says Collin Zreet, co-founder of Funky Picnic.

According to Zreet, those at the brewpub had never tried the beer, so they relied on the recommendation of friend, fellow homebrewer and organizer of the tribute series, Nigel Curtis. And, it seems everyone is pleased with the choice, considering Funky Picnic plans to enter Greg's Big Honey Lager in the National Honey Board's 2020 Honey Beer Competition.

As for how Funky Picnic approached its interpretation of the recipe, the commercial description for Greg's Big Honey Lager says it all:

"A tribute to Greg. His recipe, his idea, we just tried to do it justice. An 11% lager with generous amounts of honey and citrus aroma, and a clean, sharp finish.

"Drink it for Greg."

Friday, June 5, 2020

Weathered Souls recruiting brewers for Black is Beautiful campaign

Image credit: Weathered Souls Brewing Co./KD Designs.

Weathered Souls Brewing Co. of San Antonio is asking breweries worldwide to raise a glass in unison by participating in a collaborative effort meant to "raise awareness for injustices people of color face daily."

Over 970 breweries have joined the Black is Beautiful initiative, each pledging a commitment to the long-term work of equality, while also donating 100% of proceeds from sales of a collaboration beer to organizations in their own communities supporting police brutality reform and legal defense funds for those who have been wronged.

As for the beer, Weathered Souls is providing the base recipe for an imperial stout, this type of beer chosen "to showcase the different shades of black." Participating breweries are encouraged to put their own spin on the beer, as well as the label art, which has space left over for breweries to add their logo. Labels for the project have been created by KD Designs, with The Creative Mango offering discounts to all who use their services for printing.

A list of North Texas breweries involved in the project follows, along with notations of chosen beneficiaries where available (many are still working out details, so updates will follow).

903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Beneficiary: Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling, an organization funding technical education and career advancement for black, indigenous and people of color in the brewing and distilling industries.
  • Recipe spin: Oak-aged on coffee beans, vanilla beans and cacao nibs.
  • Availability: Early August.
Armadillo Ale Works, Denton
Brutal Beerworks, North Richland Hills
  • Beneficiary: Big Thought, a group closing the opportunity gap by equipping youth in marginalized communities with the skills and tools they need to imagine and create their best lives and a better world.
  • Recipe spin: Kindred Coffee Espresso Blend, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup and coconut.
  • Availability: Early August.
  • Beneficiary: The Innocence Project, an organization that works to exonerate the wrongly-convicted through DNA testing, and to bring reform to the justice system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.
  • Recipe spin: Vanilla beans.
  • Availability: Late June.
  • Recipe spin: Straight forward imperial stout.
  • Availability: Late July.
Division Brewing, Arlington
  • Beneficiary: National Cares Mentoring Movement, a group dedicated to alleviating inter-generational poverty among African Americans.
  • Recipe spin: Peanut butter.
  • Availability: Early September.
False Idol Brewing, North Richland Hills
  • Beneficiary: Mothers Against Police Brutality, a multi-racial coalition fighting for civil rights, police accountability and policy reform.
  • Recipe spin: Maple and marshmallows.
  • Availability: Early July.
  • Beneficiary: Big Thought, a group equipping youth in marginalized communities with the skills and tools they need to imagine and create their best lives and a better world.
  • Availability: Mid-June.
  • Beneficiary: Tarrant County Community Bail Fund, a campaign by United Fort Worth to raise funds for those not convicted of a crime, but who remain incarcerated because they can't afford bail.
  • Recipe spin: Black cherries and Belgian yeast.
  • Availability: Early July.
  • Beneficiary: Beersgiving, an organization advocating for diversity in the brewing industry.
  • Recipe spin: Black cake.
  • Availability: Late July.
  • Recipe spin: Maple and vanilla.
  • Availability: Early July.
  • Beneficiary: NAACP - Dallas, an organization whose mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons, and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
  • Recipe spin: Hazelnuts.
  • Availability: Mid-July.
  • Beneficiary: Know Your Rights Camp, a campaign for youth to raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment and interacting with law enforcement.
  • Beneficiary: Mothers Against Police Brutality, a multi-racial coalition fighting for civil rights, police accountability and policy reform.
  • Recipe spin: Black Coffee Poly Blend and Madagascar vanilla beans.
  • Availability: Late July. 
Odd Muse Brewing Co., Farmers Branch
  • Beneficiary: Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), an organization whose mission is to create a radically inclusive city by addressing race and racism through narrative change, relationship building and equitable policies and practices.
  • Availability: Mid-July.
On Rotation, Dallas
  • Beneficiary: $8CantWait, a project by Campaign Zero designed to drive eight policies proven to decrease police violence by 72%.
  • Recipe spin: Chocolate and cookie dough.
  • Availability: Mid-July.
  • Beneficiary: Know Your Rights Camp, a campaign for youth to raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment and interacting with law enforcement.
  • Recipe spin: Marshmallows and cacao nibs.
  • Availability: Mid-July.
Vector Brewing, Dallas
  • Beneficiary: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, an organization whose mission is to create and produce contemporary modern dance performances and educational programs that reach diverse communities.
  • Availability: Late summer.

For more on the #BlackIsBeautifulBeer collaboration, visit the initiative's website at https://blackisbeautiful.beer/.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

False Idol's opening week puts wolf pack on the prowl

False Idol debuted with six beers in cans (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

In March 2019, founders Dominique Van Ausdall and Brandon Pitzer debuted the False Idol brand with the first in a series of beers released under license at another local brewery. Since then, they've held to a vision of opening day at the company's permanent home in North Richland Hills, with beers flowing inside a packed taproom and overflow crowds spilling out into the parking lot.

Images of a grand gathering had to be put on hold, however, thanks to the pandemic. So, with a thirsty wolf pack waiting, False Idol chose to persevere through the pause by shifting all efforts to full-scale production. This, even knowing options might be limited when it came time for delivery due to the economic shutdown. Thankfully, though, the company hit on a stroke of luck right when the initial run was ready.

"The loss of taproom sales for an opener is a big hit, but kegs sales were better than expected," says Van Ausdall. "We were fortunate to have sold out kegs to FullClip Craft Distributors for Dallas-Fort Worth distribution the week before most places seemed to open back up as normal."

Thus began an opening week Van Ausdall's describes as "interesting to say the least." In addition to kegs, False Idol packaged six beers (two IPAs, two stouts, a hefeweizen and a blonde ale) for sale in four-packs in time for its premier. These, in turn, were doled out by way of beer drops occurring across the area.

Among the beers, one of the better hazy IPAs I've enjoyed of late, Cut the Red Tape, has been the brewery's best seller so far. Fans of the beer will be happy to know it's set to return, but in general stouts and IPAs will rotate at False Idol (in terms of both style and strength), with alternatives like a pilsner and a mango passionfruit Berliner weisse added to the mix as well.

"We have a lot in store, and balanced offerings is the plan," explains Van Ausdall. "We want to make sure we can provide beer for all walks of life when people come to the taproom, drink our beer around Texas, or buy our cans to-go."

As for what's ahead, False Idol intends to resume work on the hospitality side of the business, with production continuing to ensure a consistent supply of kegs and cans remains in the market. 

"We put all our money and focus on getting beer brewed and canned, so the next step is getting our taproom ready for guests in the next month or two," says Van Ausdall. "One bright spot is Covid allowed us to focus on one thing and get the process down. So, when we add the taproom to the mix we should be ready to roll."

Friday, May 22, 2020

Quarantine beer to benefit bartenders

Image credit: Quarantine Brewing/Hop & Sting Brewing Co.

A new beer produced at Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine is providing beer drinkers an opportunity to serve those who serve us.

According to a press release, Quarantine Bartender Bail Out is an all-American ale brewed with American 2-row barley, American hops and an American yeast strain. In addition, the beer features an infusion of elderberry, "to give it a special sense of doing what's best for you and your friends as we are coming out of isolation and social distancing."

Quarantine Bartender Bail Out goes on sale at Hop & Sting's taproom beginning Saturday, May 23. Limited to only 4000 cans, Quarantine Bartender Bail Out may be purchased in four-packs for $16, or $5 for individual cans.

A portion of proceeds from sales of Quarantine Bartender Bail Out will go to support those in the service industry who have lost their jobs. Merchandise promoting the release is also available at www.quarantinebeer.com. Leave a tip with purchase, and 100% of that money goes directly to servers and bartenders.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wild Acre honors Etzel with Greg's Key Lime Pie Sour

Image: Wild Acre Brewing Co.

If you've yet to visit one of the area's newest brewing locales, head to Wild Acre Brewing Co.'s new Camp Bowie location in Fort Worth this weekend to sample the latest beer crafted in memory of renowned homebrewer Greg Etzel.

Continuing a tradition started in March, Wild Acre brewers Jerrod Womack and Ryan Hoffman drew a recipe from Etzel's own archives in order to create Greg's Key Lime Pie Sour (5% ABV, 6 IBU), a beer brewed with lactose, vanilla beans and key lime juice.

As for what inspired them to participate in the effort, Womack, who last saw Etzel at a birthday party he threw for one of his youngest kids, pointed to personal connections both he and Hoffman shared with Greg.

"I got involved with this project because Greg was a solid dude," says Womack. "I'd known him from hanging out at homebrew events, and I worked with him at Texas Brewing, Inc. [in Haltom City].

"It turned out that Ryan went to high school with Greg in Stephenville. We both met up at Cowtown Brewing Co. to choose a beer to brew, and Ryan chose Key Lime. He has the same feelings about Greg as I do. Greg was a really awesome guy to know and be around."

Look for Greg's Key Lime Pie Sour on tap at Wild Acre Camp Bowie beginning on Friday, May 22. The brewery will donate $1 from every pint served to a fund established to support the Etzel family.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Make hay for Lakewood's take on a PB&J

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Beginning today, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is tapping its latest Temptress delight in the form of Barrel-aged Peanut Butter & Jelly Temptress.

The last batch of the base beer, Peanut Butter Temptress, sold out at retail in less than 10 days, but Lakewood held some back and set the remainder to rest in bourbon barrels. From there, the brewery topped things off with an infusion of fresh fruit and nuts to create its own interpretation of a popular childhood treat.

"Our little brewing elves have been busy at work cooking up new taproom releases, and the latest one is a treat we all need right now,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “We took barrel-aged Peanut Butter Temptress and added fresh Oregon raspberries and an extra boost of peanuts. The result is pretty friggin’ awesome! It’s like your favorite sandwich, but all grown up.”

Barrel-aged Peanut Butter & Jelly Temptress is a taproom-only release. It can be purchased at the Lakewood Taproom Drive-Thru in 16-ounce crowlers (single cans), as well as in new, unused 32 and 64-ounce growlers.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Second Greg Etzel memorial beer to benefit Direct Relief

Image courtesy of Brutal Beerworks.

The newest entry in an ongoing series of beers honoring the memory of Fort Worth homebrewer Greg Etzel is set to debut this week, with the release of Etzelbock (5.8% ABV) by Brutal Beerworks of North Richland Hills.

Etzelbock follows the beer that kicked-off the series, Wetzelbock, a weizenbock brewed by Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth. Like the first beer, Etzelbock is based on one of Etzel's own homebrew recipes, but as the name implies, Etzelbock adheres to the standards of a traditional German bock beer. The style selection being a purposeful departure from the everyday lineup at Brutal Beerworks, which tends to feature a variety of IPAs, sour beers and stouts.

"We wanted to do a beer style that we typically don't do, and Greg's Tic Tok Bock was a perfect choice for us," says Eric Johnson, co-founder at Brutal Beerworks.

As for why he thought it was important for the team at Brutal Beerworks to get involved in the project, Johnson's reasoning was simple and succinct as he added, "We did a beer in Greg's honor because he was an all-around great person to everyone."

Sixteen-ounce cans of Etzelbock will go on sale at Brutal Beerworks beginning on Wednesday, May 6. A portion of proceeds from sales of the beer will be donated to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization providing targeted assistance to communities recovering from disasters like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Temptation times two: Lakewood delivers Double Chocolate Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has partnered with an Addison-based chocolatier to create Double Chocolate Temptress, the newest temptation in its popular Seduction Series.

“One of the dominant flavors in Temptress is the chocolate malt," says Wim Bens, founder of Lakewood. "It’s what makes Temptress so big and rich. So why not go BIGGER? We partnered up with our friends at Yelibelly Chocolates and put our brewer and their chocolatier brains together to do just that.”

According to a press release, Double Chocolate Temptress features a copious amount of single origin cacao nibs, as well as a healthy dose of Belgian chocolate to make it a chocolate lover’s dream. The resulting beer is said to be full of chocolate flavor and complexity, making it perfect for sipping around the fire pit with s’mores, or as a dessert pairing with fresh berries.

“We are so delighted to work with Lakewood on this brew," adds Yeli Marshall, Yelibelly's owner and chief chocolate officer. "Yelibelly Chocolates has paired and infused our chocolates with Lakewood beers for years now. This is a perfect next step in our partnership."

Double Chocolate Temptress will be sold in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles at retail to start, with kegs rolling out for when bars and restaurants are able to open again.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Rollertown rolls on, opens in Celina

Rollertown rolled out Wardaddy Vanilla & Coffee Imperial Stout, along with three
other beers during its Grand Opening Weekend (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Pulling up to the car line for the drive-thru debut of Rollertown Beerworks on Friday, I couldn't get the Steve Winwood song, "Roll With It," out of my head. Naturally, the word "roll" in the title had some measure of influence, but there was more to it in my mind. I mean, what else is there to do but 'roll with it' when you're faced with opening a brewery during a pandemic?

Yet, that's the call co-owners Ben Rogers and Jeff 'Skin' Wade, a.k.a. the guys behind The Ben & Skin Show on FM 97.1 The Eagle, had to make when they decided to open the doors to Celina's first brewery. Except it was car doors they were opening in order to deliver the goods on Rollertown's first day.

Of course, none of this was part of the plan. Not just having to open during a pandemic, mind you, but the whole idea of cans as well. The original intent was for Rollertown to be a taproom-focused operation. Hence, packaging was a pivot, requiring the acquisition of a can seamer, along with a few late-night canning runs to make it all happen.

Despite the change of direction, opening weekend seemed to go off without a hitch. Lines moved quickly as local residents, and likely more than a few radio listeners, lined up to grab "Inaugural Brew" pre-orders that sold out beforehand. Offerings included Rollertown Light lager, The Big German Kölsch, Juice Serum Juicy IPA and Wardaddy Vanilla & Coffee Imperial Stout.

Of those, the one referring to 'The Big German' himself, Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, was probably my favorite (the stout was a close second). Clean and refreshing, The Big German is a kölsch with some complexity, being a bit bready with notes of honey and lemongrass.

As for what's next on the to-do list for head brewer Tommy Miller, another round of the first four beers is on the agenda, as is a pilsner fermented with a strain of kveik yeast. For updates on when they'll be ready, follow Rollertown on social media for details (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Friday, April 17, 2020

Panther Island has Road Trip Snacks at the ready

Image credit: Panther Island Brewing.

This weekend, prepare to make a pit stop at Panther Island Brewing of Fort Worth, as the brewery is set to release its first production batch of Road Trip Snacks (4.8% ABV).

Otherwise known as the beer with Buc-ee's Beaver Nuggets, a test run of Road Trip Snacks was rolled out in early February, but the 12-gallon batch sold out within hours. This time, though, Panther Island went bigger, using 100 pounds of Beaver Nuggets to create a 60-barrel batch, which ends up equating to roughly 700 cases to go around.

As for differences between the two batches, the only change to Road Trip Snacks was a slight reduction in strength.

"The test batch was higher [6% ABV]," says Ryan McWhorter, founder of Panther Island, "but I lowered it to around 5% to be a little more approachable and drinkable for all types of beer drinkers."

Six-packs of Road Trip Snacks go on sale at the brewery today, Friday, April 17 at 2 p.m. Eager beavers can pre-order online by clicking here, or simply call ahead before making the trip.

Beginning April 20, the beer will also be available at select retailers around Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as at the six North Texas locations of Buc-ee's: Denton, Ennis, Fort Worth, Melissa, Royse City and Terrell.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pink Boots NTX releases first canned collaboration

Image credit: Hop & Sting Brewing Co.

Working in collaboration with Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine, The Pink Boots Society - NTX Chapter has released its first canned beer for distribution. Aptly named “She’s Intense,” the beer represents the intensity of the group's work to bring more women into the craft beer S.T.E.M. career path throughout North Texas, as well as the beer's intense triple dry hop schedule, which included the 2020 Pink Boots hop blend.

The brew day for She's Intense was led by Betsi Good of Plano's Union Bear Brewing Co., with assistance provided by Danii Oliver of Island to Island Brewery, an area project in development. The session also included educational demonstrations for chapter members Angi Thomas, alcoholic beverage writer of The Undeniable Vixen, and Lorinda Pinto, cellar person at Martin House Brewing Co. of Fort Worth.

Throughout the day the women welcomed young girls into the brewhouse, teaching them about S.T.E.M. aspects involved in the manufacture of fermented beverages. Industry professionals also came by in support of Women’s History Month, and to witness history in the making for women of craft beer in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“This brew day happening at Hop & Sting comes from a personal standpoint for me," says Jeremy Fernald, sales manager at Hop & Sting.  "I have a one-year old daughter, Carden, and recently did a homebrew so she could be a part of what I love to do.  I think it's absolutely vital for her to follow her passion when she's ready to do so and I'll be right there to cheer her on.”

As for the beer itself, She's Intense (8.5% ABV) is described as a delicious and surprisingly easy drinking brew with a smooth mouthfeel and a soft, balanced bitterness. It features an array of fruit flavors, with a tropical aroma and notes of pine.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of She's Intense will be donated to the Pink Boots Society, benefiting women who earn a living from the beer industry.

“It's part of our business to share a part of ourselves and our product to help or advocate for our community," says Brian Burton, co-founder of Hop & Sting. "We also understand how hard it is to break into the brewing industry. When we meet people who are willing to work hard to do what we do, we are happy to give advice or act as mentors. We don't care who you are, who you know, or what you look like. If you have the right work ethic, we'll find a place for you. That place may be with us, or with a brewery we know and respect.

“[Co-founder] Jon Powell and I have trained, hired, or mentored quite a few people in the industry.  Specifically, we've done so with quite a few women. Most recently, we have mentored Betsi on multiple systems and standards. Even though we are at different breweries, we don't stop being mentors.”

She's Intense is available now in six-packs of 12-ounce cans at Hop & Sting's location in Grapevine. The beer will also be sold at retail, with deliveries expected to begin soon.

Join members of the Pink Boots Society -NTX Chapter, Hop & Sting Brewing Co., and others for a She's Intense Digital Release Event, taking place live at Denton County Brewing Co. on Sunday, April 19 (click here for more information).

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lakewood reaches Level 2 of limited IPA series

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Advancing to the next level of its yearlong IPA series inspired by the almighty hop and retro gaming, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has released the sequel to Level 1: Jungle Run Tropical IPA.

Level 2: Temple Hop Hazy IPA (7.5% ABV) raises the stake of the brewery's Small Batch Series by bringing together a mix of Amarillo, Citra and Azacca Cryo hops. The resulting beer is said to be a big, juicy and crushable creation.

“I’m stupid excited about this series," says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “We challenge ourselves with making 'Seriously Fun Beer' every day, and this series really delivers. For this series we celebrate all things hop.”

Look for Level 2: Temple Hop Hazy IPA in six-packs of 12-ounce cans at select retailers. The beer is also available to-go at the Lakewood Taproom Drive-Thru.

Local brewers join All Together collaboration to help hospitality professionals

Image courtesy of Other Half Brewing Co./Stout Collective.

The spirit of community within the craft beer family is apparent again, as breweries around the world are taking part in an open-ended beer collaboration designed to support members of the hospitality industry.

Organized by Other Half Brewing Co. of Brooklyn, New York, All Together is an initiative that seeks to raise awareness and provide relief to workers struggling in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the program, Other Half is offering participants the tools they need to brew, brand and promote the collaboration beer, All Together IPA. The beer's base recipe has been created by Other Half, while resources for label design, label printing, and an online presence for the project are being provided by Stout Collective, Blue Label Packaging Co., and Craftpeak respectively.

Local brewers are free to add their own twist to the beer, with the only stipulation being that a portion of the proceeds go to hospitality professionals in the brewer's local community. Up to now, over 550 breweries from 39 countries have joined the cause, including the following North Texas companies:

Turning Point Beer, Bedford
Celestial Beerworks, Dallas
False Idol Brewing, North Richland Hills

Turning Point's take on All Together IPA is on sale now, and can be purchased online for curbside pickup. Beers from Celestial, False Idol and Panther Island are currently in the works, so be sure to follow each brewery on social media for updates on availability.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Lakewood releases new Barrelworks blend, Rest in Peaches

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Emerging from a sour beer wonderland set up in a small, nondescript South Garland warehouse, Lakewood Brewing Co. has released Rest in Peaches, the latest beer in the brewery's Barrelworks series.

"The cave," as founder Wim Bens calls it, is a room filled with an amazing aroma of sweet alcohol and wood. The walls are insulated up to a foot thick and are very cave-like indeed, with the air kept cool year-round at a constant temperature 64 degrees.

Barrels from all types of spirits, even absinthe, line the walls on racks in Lakewood's "sour room."

“Some of our barrels are three, four, and five years old," says Bens. "The beauty of our sour program is we have been building it slowly, and now we have a library of beers to blend.”

Sights from Lakewood's "sour room."

As for Rest in Peaches, Lakewood blended a variety of barrels and vintages of beers. The two base brews were an amber lager with peaches, aged four years in bourbon barrels, and a wheat wine aged three years in wine barrels.

Those were blended with more peaches and apricots prior to being packaged in 375ml champagne bottles. The bottles were then corked and capped and left to rest some more. After months and months of conditioning and refermentation, the result is a pleasantly tart beer with deep complexity.

“We don’t release many beers from our Barrelworks program,” says Bens. “This is a labor of love and time. The beer tells us when it’s done. So, that could be six months or five years.”

Rest in Peaches is currently only available to-go at the Lakewood Taproom Drive-Thru.