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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Vector stays the course, opens with curbside service

Keyframe: Sabro, a  DDH hazy IPA, was one of five beers on tap
during Vector's opening weekend (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The newest North Texas brewing operation is a prime example of how things don't always go according to plan. Sure, every business overcomes obstacles, but who could have predicted the need to navigate a government shutdown followed by the nearly complete lockdown of the entire U.S. economy.

Such is the story of Vector Brewing, a Dallas-based project started by Craig and Veronica Bradley in early 2018. From the shutdown, which stalled small business loans in early 2019, to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic altering its opening date, Vector Brewing's path to pouring beer for Lake Highlands locals has been anything but straight and narrow.

Nevertheless, the Bradleys have chosen to "trust the journey" from the beginning, seeing setbacks as mere stepping stones on the road to making Vector Brewing a reality. So, naturally, they decided to push through the pandemic and open the only way possible in the current environment - that is, on a limited basis with curbside service to-go.

Along those lines, Vector Brewing debuted a pared-down menu to perspective patrons Friday evening. And, judging from early returns, Lake Highlands residents were ready. By Sunday night, the brewpub had run through 700 pounds of pizza dough, while filling nearly 1500 crowlers. In other words, Vector's beer and scratch pizzas were a hit.

"Opening amidst a pandemic certainly wasn’t the way we expected or wanted to open our doors," says Bradley, "but it was still amazing to see the amount of fans, friends, and family from all over who came out in support. We definitely didn’t expect that amount of love and generosity from so many, and we can’t thank everyone enough. It exceeded every expectation and then some."

Of course, this is just the start for Vector Brewing. Once things settle down in the world, an expanded menu will be in the offing, and there's still the matter of getting a chance to experience the ambiance of the brewpub's indoor and outdoor space (encompassing ~8000 total square feet, with 2300 square feet set aside for the patio).

Beer will flow continuously, though, with new recipes from head brewer and blender Tommy Gutierrez rolling out on the regular. His first run of fermentations included an American light lager, a German pilsner, a West Coast-style pale ale and two IPAs. As for what's in the queue, stouts, sour beers and more are also in the works. Of particular interest, Duotone, a smoothie fruit sour popular among fans (and myself) during preview tastings, is set to return as well.

"We're brewing a hoppy lager this week, followed by a DDH DIPA," reveals Bradley. "Vernal, our maibock is chugging away in the tank, and our imperial stout is getting close to finishing up, where a good portion will go into bourbon barrels and the rest will go on tap."

Beyond that, Bradley says, there's "more to come soon."

For more on Vector Brewing, visit, or follow the brewpub on social media (Facebook, Instagram).