Tuesday, July 20, 2021

903 Brewers to build spacious new facility in Sherman

903 Brewers is working with Method Architecture on the design of its
new home at 3232 Northgate Dr. in Sherman (903 Brewers/Method Architecture).

Big changes are in the works at 903 Brewers of Sherman, as the eight-year-old company is eyeing a major expansion aimed at sustaining current and future growth.

Central to the plan is the ground-up construction of a new, two-story facility on a five-acre plat at the northwest corner of Northgate Dr. and West FM 1417. The land comes courtesy of a grant from the City of Sherman and includes an additional five acres for future development.

A need for more production space is the catalyst behind the project, according to Jeremy Roberts, who founded 903 with wife Natalie. Once the build-out is complete, all operations will move to a more than 30,000-square-foot structure on the site, with 23,000 square feet allotted for production, and 7,000 square feet reserved for indoor public areas.

"We have outgrown our current facility," says Roberts. "The ceilings in our current production space are 14-feet high, while the ceilings in the new facility will be 30-feet tall. This will enable us to purchase much larger tanks that we will be able to store inside."

Along those lines, 903 intends to upgrade all facets its production setup to take advantage of the added headroom.

A covered patio along the east and north elevations of 903's new building will
provide 10,000 square feet of premium outdoor space (903 Brewers/Method Architecture).

"We are purchasing a new brewhouse from W.M. Sprinkman," says Roberts. "We will be adding tanks, and we have purchased Real Ale Brewing Co.'s old canning line. With the new space, we will have the capacity to brew up to 40,000 barrels of beer per year."

Regarding amenities, 903's new home will have a taproom and restaurant on the inside, with accessible areas on two floors. In fact, visitors will be able take a self-guided tour along pathways above the production floor, allowing for a bird's-eye view of the brewhouse.  On the outside, a covered patio will attach to front and side elevations of the building, spanning a total of 10,000 square feet.

Design-wise, visual elements of 903's original taproom are being carried over, which should provide a sense of familiarity for anyone who might be nostalgic about the old place.

"We are doing our best to keep the same feel," says Roberts. "Our architect is doing a great job keeping the red and white brick like our current taproom."

As for the timeline, Roberts hopes to break ground in September, with construction projected to take from 12 to 18 months.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Siren Rock taps craft beer with character in Rockwall

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Reaching the culmination of a four-year journey to fruition, Siren Rock Brewing Co. is open and now pouring its brand of "handcrafted beer" with "irresistible character" in Rockwall.

Founded by Cory and Eva Cannon, Siren Rock is described as a destination brewery, and its 13,000- square foot facility comes across as exactly such a thing. Considering the structure alone, the brewery's eye-catching exterior appears like a landmark of libations set against the backdrop of the city's historic downtown district.

Taproom seating options include stools at the bar, community tables, and cozy corner setups.

Within the grounds, all elements of the brewery have an expansive feel. Whether you choose to hang out inside the taproom, or in one of two outdoor beer gardens, you get the impression there's more than enough room to move around. Plus, there's an attention to detail throughout, with each public area being well-appointed and accommodating for patrons of all types.

Design detail also enters into the presentation of Siren Rock's beer portfolio, where the "character" aspect of the company's tagline is something to be taken literally. Identified as individual characters, each beer at Siren Rock has a personality, as evidenced by the imagery and naming of selections like The Prima Diva (American blonde ale), The Divine Monk (Belgian witbier) and, yes, even The Gentle Lover (peach double IPA).

Front-and-back beer gardens at Siren Rock feature shaded tables, cornhole boards and more.

Personally, I had full pours of The Fiery Rebel, a red rye ale, and The Magnetic Muse, a chocolate milk stout. If these and tasters of the house IPAs are any indication, visitors can expect to enjoy a range of well-crafted and approachable beers suitable for any season.

On that note, Siren Rock's full core lineup will eventually consist of 12 beers. Recipes are the realm of Hayes Cooper (formerly of Hofbräuhaus Chicago), Siren Rock's head brewer and vice president of production. Standards are brewed by Cooper on a 30-barrel system supplied by ABE Beverage Equipment, while taproom-only beers will emerge from a small-batch, three-barrel setup.

Left: A full pour of The Fiery Rebel, an "outlandishly malty" red rye ale.
Right: Stylistic options at Siren Rock include beers with American, Belgian and German influence.

As for other amenities, hard seltzers are being served for non-beer drinkers, with mojito lime, fruit punch, and pineapple mango among flavors available to sip on in Siren Rock's taproom. A full kitchen exists onsite as well, with culinary offerings being added daily.

All of this and more can be experienced at Siren Rock as the company operates on a soft basis with hours from 3-10 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, and 12-10 p.m. on Friday-Sunday. An official grand opening event is also in the works, with festivities set to take place on Saturday, July 31.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Chambers Creek becomes Maypearl's first brewery

Chambers Creek couples with neighboring restaurant Hissy Fits to provide a one-stop
shop for beer and barbecue in Maypearl (All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The craft beer scene in North Texas continues to expand its reach geographically, as the newest brewery to open its doors has done so in the Ellis County town of Maypearl.

Founded by Lyle Chambers, the self-named Chambers Creek Brewing Co. slots into a spot at 319 N. Main St. in the city, along route FM-66. If the latter stretch sounds familiar, it's the road you take off I-35E to get to Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie. Except now, you go past the gates of the fair and drive on for another 10 miles.

Once you arrive in the heart of Maypearl, Chambers Creek is essentially the first thing you see, along with a neighboring business, Hissy Fits Barbeque. The two firms share the same structure, with the brewery now occupying a former gas station dating back to the 1940s.

On the space and setup, Chambers Creek is the epitome of a small-batch brewery in a small town. Maypearl's commercial district only extends a few blocks, with Chamber Creek's spot occupying just over 2000 square feet. Within those bounds, a pilot-sized brewing system is tucked behind a bar inside the main building, with a larger taproom area situated in the gas station's old garage.

Small-batch offerings during Chamber Creek's grand opening party included Dad Joke, a cream ale with an ABV of 5.7%.

Beyond that, an outdoor patio offers some additional streetside seating, though Chambers hopes to one day develop an area out back to provide more room to move around.

As for the liquids, four beers and a house-made pineapple and black cherry hard seltzer were on tap during grand opening festivities last weekend. Beer styles consisted of a bock, a cream ale, an IPA, and an oatmeal stout. Of those, Maypearl Bock (6.0% ABV, 16 IBU) was my favorite beer on the menu, thanks to its clean, dark and drinkable nature.

The bock is also billed as "the beer that started it all" for the brewery, which suggests it'll be a standard on the day-to-day tap list. Other beers are expected to rotate in regularly, with recipes for a Belgian tripel and a Vienna lager currently on Chamber Creek's radar.

Should you be thinking of making the trek yourself, Chambers Creek is open on Saturdays, with hours from 12-8 p.m. Be prepared to park on a patch of grass, if need be, and be sure to get there early to fuel up at Hissy Fits, as the food goes fast - I should know, since I arrived too late to grab some grub myself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Sampling "beer" snacks you can buy at the store

"Beer" products now on sale at your local market (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

What's in a name? Well, if it's a food item found on local store shelves with "beer" in the name, you'd naturally expect to experience something beer-like in the flavor. The thing is, though, not every implied infusion actually contains beer.

For example, Mrs. Renfro's Craft Beer Salsa is made with beer from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., a fellow Fort Worth business. Yet, on the coupling of two other Cowtown companies, there's not a drop of Martin House beer in a Best Maid Beer Pickle.

Indeed, on the grocery aisle, "beer" is a term to be taken either literally or figuratively, depending on the product. Even then, beer as an ingredient doesn't always translate to "beer" as a tasting note in the literal cases, while all bets are off when it comes to food items trying to be "beer-flavored" without the benefit of beer.

In any case, below you'll find notes on nine products for sale in North Texas with beer (or ale, porter, etc.) in the name or the ingredients. Some have beer, some don't. And, of course, some have the taste beer, while others taste like nothing of the sort.

Harpoon Alehouse Cheddar
:  For this product, cheese curds are soaked in both Harpoon IPA and Harpoon Dark (a Munich-style dunkel) from Harpoon Brewery of Massachusetts . The result is a firm, crumbly cheese with a strong flavor element likely attributable to the beer, though I don't really get the "hoppy" impression noted in the commercial description.

Maker: Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co. (South Woodstock, Vermont).

Purchased at: Market Street.

Red Dragon Cheddar Cheese with Wholegrain Mustard & Ale: Its packaging lists "ale" as an ingredient, but a further search suggests this cheese is blended with a Welsh brown ale. Red Dragon is a soft and creamy cheddar, with a well-balanced taste profile. A mild mustard flavor is most prominent, with a bit of brown ale coming out in the aftertaste.

Maker: Somerdale International (Wellington, Somerset, England).

Purchased at: Central Market.

Sierra Nevada Mustard
: Two varieties of mustard incorporating beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of California are available on local shelves. The first, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Honey Spice Mustard, is sweet and spicy with an earthy element and a smooth texture. As for the other, Sierra Nevada Porter & Spicy Brown Mustard is bolder and grainier, coming across as a darker version of French's Spicy Brown Mustard.

Maker: Frank's Famous Foods (Lafayette, California).

Purchased at: Market Street.

Boardwalk Craft Beer Pretzels:
 Beer isn't among the ingredients, so we'll assume these Pilsner and Stout-flavored pretzels are designed to mimic the respective beers. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Either way, both are salty and sawdust-like at their core. The Pilsner pretzels are herbal with some sweetness, while the Stout pretzels have traces of brown sugar and cocoa powder, along with an intense, sort of dipped-in flat brown ale kind of flavor.

Maker: Boardwalk Food Co. (Sarasota, Florida).

Purchased at: Central Market.

Mrs. Renfro's Craft Beer Salsa
: Made with Texas Red American Amber from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, Mrs. Renfro's Craft Beer Salsa is Pace-like, but more complex as it delivers a moderate kick with a noticeable malt sweetness in the finish.

Maker: Renfro Foods (Fort Worth, Texas).

Purchased at: Kroger.

Wackym's The Temptress Cookies: Infused with The Temptress Imperial Milk Stout from Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland, what emerges from this pairing is a chocolatey, malty butter cookie that makes for an ideal snack pairing with the beer for which it's named.

Maker: Wackym's Kitchen (Dallas, Texas).

Purchased at: Central Market.

Best Maid Beer Pickles
:  No beer is used in the pickling process for Best Maid's beer pickles. Instead, the company adds lemon and coriander to the brine to model the flavor profile of The Salty Lady from Martin House Brewing Co. of Fort Worth. What emerges is a tart, salty pickle with a hint of lemon essence.

Maker: Best Maid Pickles (Fort Worth, Texas).

Purchased at: Market Street, Best Maid Pickle Emporium.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Lakewood's latest is loaded up and truckin'

Special edition taproom-only crowler labels of The Bandit will
be available at the brewery on July 2 (Lakewood Brewing Co.).

Complete with limited edition (crowler) label imagery featuring Pontiac's classic Firebird Trans Am, Lakewood Brewing Co. is conjuring up memories of the movie Smokey and the Bandit  with its latest release, an American-style lager billed as The Bandit.

According to a press release, The Bandit is a nuanced, yet approachable beer that's light but not lacking in flavor or body. Moreover, The Bandit promises to be a "go-to by summer's end" as it helps to keep consumers' ever-present thirst at bay during the Texas heat.

“I’ve always be a fan of a certain beer from Colorado that you might find at fancy banquets,” says Justin Hatley, innovation brewer at Lakewood. “I tried to emulate that but with a touch more Saaz hops to bring a bit more aroma than an average American lager. And it's brewed with flaked rice instead of flaked corn. Not hoppy, but balanced. Clean and crisp.”

The Bandit is a draft-only release. Look for it on tap and in crowlers beginning this Friday, July 2, in the Lakewood Taproom. A statewide rollout is set to follow, with The Bandit arriving at draft accounts next week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Oak Cliff readies first barrel-aged offering

Images courtesy of Oak Cliff Brewing Co.

Oak Cliff Brewing Co. is preparing a release which will represent a first for the Dallas-based firm in more ways than one.

"Bourbon Barrel Sombre is our very first venture into packaging and also our first barrel-aged beer, so we are very excited to get it out to D-FW craft beer drinkers," says Matthew Ayres, director of sales at Oak Cliff.

At its core, the beer is a barrel-aged version of Sombre, Oak Cliff's imperial stout brewed with house-made caramel sauce and vanilla. In this case, though, the base beer was altered slightly before aging to lower the ABV, making the finish smoother with a more balanced overall flavor.

"We took our staple imperial stout and put it into Jim Beam bourbon barrels in May of 2020, right in the thralls of the pandemic, when absolutely nothing was certain," says Ayres. "After letting it rest for a full 12 months, dark chocolate is the most forefront flavor, with other tasting notes including raisins, dried fruit, sherry and vanilla."

Bourbon Barrel Sombre will be sold primarily in 12-ounce, wax-dipped bottles.

As for how and when to get Bourbon Barrel Sombre, Oak Cliff is targeting an early July debut, with pricing and distribution taking a cue from the effects of the aforementioned pandemic.

"We are trying to price the beer as friendly as possible for people's wallets after the year we've all had," say Ayres. "Availability will almost exclusively be at independent mom-and-pop beer shops across D-FW, as well as at our brewery. Format will be 12-ounce, wax-dipped bottles, with a limited number of slim kegs going to accounts that were essential in keeping us alive and on our feet during 2020."

In other news, fans of Oak Cliff will be interested to know cans are also in the works for some of the brewery's most popular everyday beers. Not only that, Oak Cliff has six more barrel-aged releases planned for later this year, some of which will appear around the time of the brewery's third anniversary in September.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Local team places at 2021 National Homebrew Competition

Image credit: National Homebrew Competition/American Homebrewers Association.

The 2021 National Homebrew Competition (NHC) has concluded, with a North Texas team placing among the winners.

Recognized as the world's largest international amateur beer competition, this year's NHC drew more than 5,045 entries from 2,037 homebrewers located around the world. On June 19, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) awarded more than 120 medals in 40 categories to amateur brewers of beer, mead and cider.

From our local ranks, Jeff Poirot and Nicholas McCoy joined forces to place second among 101 competitors in the Specialty IPA category. Poirot and McCoy, who are members of the Draft Punk homebrew club, previously brought home awards in 2017 and 2018. On top of that, they were also named Team Homebrewers of the Year at the 35th Annual Bluebonnet Brew Off, held earlier this year.

Looking back, NHC winners in prior years who have gone on to brew professionally include Clifton Ellis (2017), currently of Edgewise Eight Brewing in Weatherford, and Damon Lewis (2009, 2010), formerly of Cedar Creek Brewery in Seven Points.

For more, click here for a complete list of winners.

Lakewood drops Big D IPA #002

Images courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

In February, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland introduced a new line of double dry-hopped IPAs dubbed "Big D." Now, the Big D IPA series is back with its second installment, Big D IPA #002.

According to a press release, Big D IPA #002 (8% ABV) is dry-hopped with a mix of Lotus, Azacca and Sultana hops. This is said to result in a "remarkably refreshing and quaffable" beer with notes of orange zest, caramelized pineapple, and fresh vanilla.

“My goal was to brew a beer for, honestly, me!” says Justin Hatley, innovation brewer at Lakewood. “As a huge fan, I wanted to find the best of both worlds when it comes to IPAs, bridging the gap from the traditional New-England style hazy with its strong fruit forward flavor, and the West-Coast tradition of crisp, bitter dankness. Big D IPA#002 is the perfect marriage of both, complimenting instead of compromising on the vision of each!”

Big D IPA #002 is currently available statewide on draft and in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Friday, June 18, 2021

On Rotation now flight ready at The Braniff Centre

A mural behind the brewhouse depicts the Dallas skyline as seen from the south end of Love Field (All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The move from its original location in Lakewood is now complete, as the "craft beer laboratory" known as On Rotation has officially landed at The Braniff Centre at Love Field. With the new digs comes a new business model, which is reflected in the company's new name - On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen.

Adding an on-site kitchen, of course, is the new spin. And as the name implies, the food at On Rotation is expected to share equal billing with the brewery aspect.

“By taking our time and working with people who know the food business well, we were able to put together a menu that we feel works with almost any flavor we have on tap,” says Lindsay Sloan, co-owner of On Rotation. “From the very beginning, we never wanted our food to come second, which is why we didn’t open a kitchen in our first location. The menu we’ve put together shows you we were serious about that. The food is an equal part of the experience.”

Summing up On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen in three words - chicken, biscuits and beer.
Left: Chicken Tenders with Five Sauce Selections. Center: Thai Peanut Chicken Sandwich. Right: Biscuits with Honey & Jam.

Led by Devin McFarland (formerly of The Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Lucia Dallas and Top Knot), On Rotation's food program centers on gluten-friendly fried chicken. Menu options include bone-in chicken plates, tenders, sandwiches and salads, with offerings intended to complement whatever stylistic twists and turns arise from the brewhouse.

“We have a range of flavors to work with between the tap list, our menu, and our housemade sauces,” says McFarland, kitchen manager at On Rotation. “And, beyond just what you can order day one, we’re going to be able to do some very special things when we host beer dinners and more adventurous pairings.”

As for the brewpub's practice of frequently rotating an array of small-batch beers, things are expected to remain much the same in that department. 

"We wanted to keep the setup as a three-barrel system, so we started with the same equipment - the same brewhouse and the same original fermenters out front," says Jacob Sloan, co-owner of On Rotation. "We added two sets of stacked tanks to take advantage of the high ceilings, and also a canning line. So, we'll start doing cans to fill up the fridges out front for beer to-go."

Seating options at On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen are available indoors throughout the taproom, or outdoors within three distinct patio areas.

Dan Heinzerling (formerly of Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewery) is heading up brewing operations, bringing with him over 20 years of experience in the industry.  He's got the system running full-bore to start, with two IPAs, a dry-hopped pilsner, and a seltzer currently occupying On Rotation's four fermenters.

Those beers are set to fill one of 40 slots on the brewpub's tap wall. Breaking them down, on Rotation will eventually serve selections from 37 standard taps, along with two others on nitro, and then a Lukr side-pour faucet providing for a slow pour pils.

Once staffing levels allow, look for On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen to be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For now, though, the brewpub will open only for dinner Tuesday through Sunday beginning next week.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Pizza Americana in Richardson adding on-site brewery

Image credit: Pizza Americana.

A neighborhood pizzeria in Richardson will soon be adding its name to the roster of North Texas brewpubs.

Pizza Americana originally opened its doors at 800 W. Arapaho Blvd. in February 2019. Now, just over two years later, the restaurant is installing equipment for the creation of house beers to supplement its menu of fresh-made salads, pastas and brick-oven pizzas.

Michael Wilson will oversee brewing operations for Pizza Americana by way of Nano Brewing, LLC., a Dallas-based service company that specializes in adding the brewery experience to existing restaurants. The firm, which Wilson co-founded with Jeff Batson, handles all aspects of the brewing process, from installation of the equipment, to recipe design, to production.

"We manufacture our own proprietary brewery solution in our client's space and manage all brewing operations for them," says Wilson. "It's a completely new concept in brewpub design and we are thrilled to bring it to Richardson first."

At Pizza Americana, an ever-changing lineup of house beers will be tapped alongside upwards of 30 guest beers from local, national and international breweries.

"We will have a handful of [house] beers on tap at a time," says Wilson. "We focus on specialty beers and rotate them frequently. Some beers we are tapping first will be a Summer Ale, Tangerine IPA, Hazy IPA, and a Fireball Stout that is bourbon barrel-aged and infused with Atomic Fireball Candy."

Naturally, house beers will be available to enjoy on-premise, but visitors will also be able to visit Pizza Americana's drive-thru, where they can get all their beer and food to-go.

Look for Pizza Americana to tap its inaugural house beers on or about July 1. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery now open in Farmers Branch

Cedar Creek Brewhouse and Eatery is a joint venture between Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points (Founder: Jim Elliott)
and Chef Engineered of Dallas (Partners: Jeff Dietzman, Ned Steel and Lance Bodwell). All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

It's been more than two and a half years since Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points announced plans to join forces with the owners of LUCK (formerly of Trinity Groves) for a second location in Farmers Branch. Patience and persistence have finally paid off, as Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery is now open at The Shops at Mustang Station.

Set up on the southeast corner of Bee St. and Valley View Ln., Cedar Creek Mustang Station occupies a two-story structure with an open and expansive feel. The latter is enhanced by high ceilings and a wealth of windows letting the light shine in. Amenities also include indoor and outdoor seating options on both levels, with the second-floor balcony being an especially inviting space for those looking to enjoy an "elevated" brewpub experience.

Amenities at Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery include 30 beers on
tap behind the bar downstairs, and balcony seating options upstairs.

Surveying the "Eatery" aspect, Cedar Creek Mustang Station currently offers a menu of soups, salads and sharables, along with "Hands On" entrees (burgers, sandwiches) and "Build Your Own" pizzas. Selections are limited while the restaurant gets its routines down, but LUCK fans should take heart as familiar favorites like Bierocks and the Signature Pastrami Sandwich are planned as future additions.

In terms of beverages, Cedar Creek Mustang Station has a full bar to go along with barley and hop-based selections emerging from the "Brewhouse." Beers pour from 30 taps located behind the bar, most of which are Cedar Creek originals, though a handful of guest brews are available. Plus, Cedar Creek has its own hard seltzer, with blueberry and margarita flavors being served at present.

Indoor seating on the second level overlooks the brewhouse below (the domain of head
brewer Aaron Eudaly), while the brewery's mascot, Freddie, watches over patrons at the bar.

The brewery in Seven Points is sourcing the majority of the beers on tap, including a full range of popular Dankosaurus IPA variants. Small-batch offerings brewed in-house will fill slots on the tap wall as they are produced. The first of these tapped this past weekend in the form of Pretty Floral Bonnet, a pale ale brewed with grapefruit, ginger and lavender.

As for when to go, Cedar Creek Mustang Station is operating on a soft basis with reduced hours as it works to achieve optimal staffing levels. The restaurant hopes to expand service in the coming weeks, but for now it's open Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

New business offers opportunity to brew your own, take it home

Image credit: Food Experience Corporation.

If you've ever wanted to try your hand at making your own beer, but were hesitant to take the plunge on purchasing the necessary equipment, a new local business now offers a hands-on program tailored for aspiring homebrewers.

Up and running as of April, Food Experience Corporation is a commercial kitchen offering cooking and brewing classes in Aubrey. And not only is the beer program all-inclusive, the company is licensed as a brewpub, which means you get to take home the finished product.

According to Chef/Owner Angie Graffigna, classes consist of two meetings - one to work on the mash, and a second (two weeks later) set aside for bottling. Sessions include access to equipment and ingredients, as well as hearty appetizers and a dozen 12-ounce bottles filled with your beer to-go.

Current pricing is $60 for the "Brewer," who gets the bottles at the end, and $10 for guests and helpers. All are welcome to participate in the brewing process, and snacks are provided for everyone. Participants also have a say in choosing which style will be brewed.

"We ask people what they'd like to try," says Graffigna. "The first recipe we made was an Irish red ale (called 'Eric the Red'). "Our two brew masters tried to choose something that was liked across the board, and that would have interesting processes, but not be too complicated."

As for how often classes will take place, a bi-monthly schedule is planned.

"We are planning on having two brewing cycles per month," explains Graffigna. "Our next cycle will start with the class on June 18, but from now on we will try to stick to classes on roughly the 1st & 3rd and 2nd & 4th Fridays each month."

For more information, or to sign-up, visit the company's website at https://www.foodexperienceco.com/, and click on the "Cooking Classes & Brewing Classes" tab.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wild Acre expanding east to Fairview

Image credits: Wild Acre Brewing Co., Fairview Town Center.

Wild Acre Brewing Co. of Fort Worth is eyeing an expansion eastward, with plans to establish a restaurant and brewery in the Town of Fairview. The new spot would be the company's third location, but the first to be built outside of Fort Worth. Wild Acre currently operates a production brewery in the Near East Side neighborhood of the city, along with a scratch deli restaurant and brewery on Camp Bowie Boulevard.

Situated at 311 Town Place, the Fairview venture will share a building with IPIC Theatres in Fairview Town Center. Wild Acre is set to reside on the western elevation of the structure, which features a large outdoor area as one of its amenities.

Wild Acre's new restaurant and brewery (housed in the area enclosed by brick) will
share a structure with IPIC Theaters in Fairview (Images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

According to Wild Acre's founder and CEO, John Pritchett, the project is in the very early stages of development. Efforts are currently focused on drawing up plans for the space and the acquisition of necessary permits.

Once open, the culinary side of the business will feature a menu of craft burgers and gourmet sandwiches, while the brewery aspect will produce house beers pouring from a dozen taps, with a small canning line installed on site providing beer to-go.

As for timelines, Pritchett says a 2021 opening would be an "achievement." More likely, locals should look for Wild Acre Fairview to debut sometime next year.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Edgewise Eight serving stylistic slate in Weatherford

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Edgewise Eight Brewing first began brewing its brand of beer for distribution in late 2018. For two years, the company created batches at a production-only facility in Weatherford, with deliveries limited to accounts local to the brewery.

In December, founders Barney, Clifton and Colt Ellis - a father and his two sons - made the move to a permanent home in the city's downtown district. Located at 221 N. Main St., Edgewise Eight now occupies a 7500 square foot structure sitting two blocks away from the Weatherford Town Square.

Within the building's walls you'll find all the makings of a small-town craft beer destination. In what amounts to an all-in-one, single room setup, seating areas anchor the space, with a small-batch brewhouse and fermenters installed in one corner, and an on-site food trailer residing in another.

Edgewise Eight and The Grove come together to comprise the "Brewpub & Eatery" at 221 N. Main in Weatherford.

In fact, as further evidenced by exterior signage (out of view in the above image), Edgewise Eight bills itself as a "Brewpub & Eatery." Pub grub is provided by The Grove, quite literally by way of a hollowed-out and retrofitted Airstream travel trailer. Daily dining options include starters, sandwiches, street tacos and sausages.

As for the beer, the brewery's portfolio builds off a set of award-winning recipes from homebrew competition entries dating back to 2016. Offerings lean towards stylistic selections, with the menu on the day of my visit featuring a blonde, a brown and a porter, along with an IPA and an Irish red.

A flight through the final four mentioned showed each to be spot-on to style. The IPA was bold, bright and refreshing, with an almost ideal moniker, Fit of Sanity. Reason being, this IPA is to be enjoyed in its simplicity, the beer and its presentation not being bogged down with this coast or that coast care-abouts, or whatever hype-driven hop is currently the name-drop of the day.

My personal favorite, though, was First of His Name. This dark and roasty porter effused elements of chocolate and coffee, while finishing with a hint of black patent malt bitterness. Here again, with no additives other than oats, the beer was yet another straightforward and tasty take on a classic.

The brewpub's spacious seating area is flanked by a production area upfront, and the food trailer in back.

Foundational brews such as these set the stage for further exploits at Edgewise Eight. Beyond the present range of American styles, the brewery has tapped Belgian and German beers as well, while also exploring the sour realm. In addition, a run of fruit beers is set to be crafted to coincide with the annual Parker County peach harvest.

So how best to describe Edgewise Eight as a whole? Let's call it a one-stop shop for good beer and good food, all brought together in a friendly and relaxing downtown setting.

Moreover, it's a great place to go if you're looking to get away from it all, and by that I mean the daily grind of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Sure, Edgewise Eight may be a bit off the beaten path in Weatherford, but the brewery would seem to be worth a visit should you find yourself exploring the far western edge of our North Texas craft beer frontier.

Historical note: Edgewise Eight is the first modern brewery call Weatherford home. Current research shows at least four brewing operations were established in the town prior to Prohibition, existing at various times between 1867 and 1879.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Deep Ellum now shipping pickle-flavored hard seltzer

Image courtesy of CANarchy/Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the release of Blind Pickle Hard Seltzer, "a guaranteed-not-to-suck seltzer crafted for pickle lovers." Blind Pickle the latest in a series of limited-edition flavors being spun-off the brewery's year-round Blind Lemon Hard Seltzer brand.

From a press release:

"Blind Pickle is a light, zesty hard seltzer infused with natural dill pickle flavor. The result is a dillicious, light beverage that pairs well with Texas summer. Crafted in a process similar to Deep Ellum’s other brands, Blind Pickle uses cane sugar instead of the malted barley that appears in a typical beer, making it gluten free, 100 calories, and high in pickle flavor."

Blind Pickle Hard Seltzer is available now throughout Texas in six-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Soul Fire to revive Rabbit Hole original

Image credits: Soul Fire Brewing Co., Rabbit Hole Brewing.

A Rabbit Hole original is set to reappear for a limited time this week, as Soul Fire Brewing Co. of Roanoke will tap its take on a recipe from the former Justin-based brewery.

Rabbit Hole Brewing debuted Off With Your Red as a seasonal offering in September 2014, describing it as "an aggressively-hopped red IPA." From that point on, the beer recurred in Rabbit Hole's portfolio up until the brewery closed its doors in late 2019.

According to co-owner Aaron Bennett, the Soul Fire team worked with none other than Matt Morriss, co-founder and brewmaster at Rabbit Hole, to brew Off With Your Red for its return engagement.

As for availability, Soul Fire's rendition of Off With Your Red will be a draft-only release, with the beer expected to tap Thursday, April 29 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Martin House, Fort Worth Zoo come together for elephant conservation

Image credit: Martin House Brewing Co.

Martin House Brewing Co. of Fort Worth has announced a new partnership with the Fort Worth Zoo, as the brewery will release a beer celebrating the zoo's newest exhibit, Elephant Springs.

The two entities first came together in the spring of 2018, when the zoo opened its African Savanna enclosure. In that instance, Martin House created a wheat beer with kiwano fruit called Into the Wild, which helped bring awareness to the plight of the endangered black rhino.

African Savanna also introduced the zoo's "A Wilder Vision" campaign, an initiative designed to create "new ways to observe, interact and learn about animals." Elephant Springs, which opened on April 15, represents phase two of that program, with the new area designed especially for Asian elephants and greater one-horned rhinos.

As for Elephant Springs (5.2% ABV), the beer, Martin House has taken one of its original recipes, River House Saison, and added a favorite treat of elephants - blueberries. And, if memories of River House are any indication (the beer was a stylistic favorite back in the day), this blueberry variant promises to be a light and refreshing springtime drinker.

A launch party for Elephant Springs will be held at the brewery on Saturday, May 1. Admission is free, with the beer to be available on tap and in packaged form. Can purchases (in singles or four-packs of 16-ounce tallboys) will help with elephant conservation efforts, as Martin House has pledged to donate 25% of all can sales to an elephant-centric charity of the zoo's choosing.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Lakewood goes darker with 2021 Double Chocolate Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.0

Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) of Garland has teamed again with local chocolatier Yeli Marshall from Yelibelly Chocolates for the release of 2021 Double Chocolate Temptress.

“We really embraced the dark side of chocolate this year,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of LBC.

According to a press release, this year's edition of Double Chocolate Temptress is bigger and bolder in dark chocolate flavor. Copious amounts of single origin cocoa nibs and a healthy dose of dark cocoa were added to make the beer a dark chocolate lover’s dream. The resulting flavor profile is said to be full of dark chocolate flavor, with aromas of rich cacao, smoke and vanilla.

The brewery also took steps to make the 2021 edition of Double Chocolate Temptress even better than last year's by way of changes to its process.

 “Since we use all-natural ingredients as much as possible, last year’s Double Chocolate, while tasting amazing, had some of the chocolate oils separate in the bottle," explains Bens. "It’s always a challenge when you’re working with real ingredients. We knew we could do better, and we did.”

Double Chocolate Temptress is available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles as of today in the Lakewood Taproom. Statewide distribution will begin the week of April 26.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Lakewood launches new music-centric beer series

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. (LBC) of Garland is showcasing the brewery's love of live music with a new three-beer limited series called Lakewood Live.

“Who’s ready for some live music?!” says Wim Bens, founder and president of LBC. “We’re huge music fans at LBC and we’ve been yearning for some live music during the pandemic. That lead to us making a music-centric series celebrating all genres of beer and music.”

According to a press release, the Lakewood Live series will consist of three beers, with each celebrating a musical style. First to hit the stage, as it were, is Lakewood Live Vol. 1. This country and western-inspired imperial peach saison has a sun kissed peach hue, with sweet and tangy peach flavors and an 8% ABV "for a knee-slappin' good time."

Asked why a peach saison reminded him of country and western music, Bens said, “We Texans love our peaches! And a saison is a traditional countryside beer.”

Coming later this year, Lakewood Live Vol.2 will be an imperial rice lager with matcha tea, inspired by high-energy electronic dance music. Then, following that, Vol. 3 will be an imperial Norwegian stout, brewed to be as big and black as Norwegian black metal.

Each beer will have its own musical accompaniment in the form of a curated Spotify playlist featuring songs picked by LBC's staff. Click here to listen to "Live from Lakewood - Vol. 1."

As for Vol.1, the beer, it's out now and available statewide in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Texas craft breweries team up for Liquid Bake Sale

Image courtesy of Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

This spring, over 25 Texas breweries are joining forces to throw an old school community bake sale in support of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG). Only, instead of baking up brownies and lemon bars, they’re brewing handcrafted beers with a foundation of Texas-grown malt, and releasing them from their taprooms across the state.

The collaboration comes after an immensely challenging year for Texas craft brewers, including for the TCBG, which works to advance the brewing industry through advocacy and education. The 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association relies heavily on in-person events like the annual Texas Craft Brewers Festival, which pivoted to a smaller virtual experience in 2020. Purchasing a Liquid Bake Sale beer is a way beer enthusiasts can patronize a local brewery and help support the TCBG’s mission.

“Sometimes we feel like the PTA for breweries, but in the best way possible," says Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the TCBG. “When the idea came up to throw a fundraiser for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, a bake sale seemed like a natural thing to do. When we found out we could partner with our friends at TexMalt, we knew for certain it was something we had to do. We simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feature Texas-grown malt in some of the most creative ways possible with breweries across the state, while at the same time ensuring the on-going operations of the non-profit trade association that advocates, educates, and promotes Texas craft breweries.”

Liquid Bake Sale beers are not limited to a single recipe or specific style. From pastry stouts, to double IPAs, to farmhouse saisons, each brewery’s creation will showcase Texas-grown malt from Fort Worth-based TexMalt in a different, unique way.

“We cannot tell you how excited we are to see our malt in the hands of so many talented Texas Brewers!” says Chase Leftwich, co-founder of TexMalt. “The Liquid Bake Sale collaboration left the door wide open for creativity at the participating breweries, and the crew here at TexMalt are dying to try the different variations!” 

Breweries began brewing their Liquid Bake Sale beers in early March. Locals joining the effort include Funky Picnic Brewery & Café and Wild Acre Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, as well as Vector Brewing of Dallas. Funky Picnic's variation, Apple Cobbler Golden Pastry Stout, is available now, while details on offerings from Wild Acre and Vector Brewing are pending.

Liquid Bake Sale beers will be released in bottles and cans featuring retro, bake sale-inspired label art from Austin-based designer Lauren Dickens. For those looking to further support the initiative, Liquid Bake Sale T-shirts and stickers are also available in the TCBG’s online store.

To learn more about Liquid Bake Sale, visit https://texascraftbrewersguild.org/liquidbakesale.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Neutral Ground aims to bridge the beer gap in Fort Worth

Compared to the original 1950s-era structure, a portion of the front elevation was
recessed to create patio space for Neutral Ground (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

A new brand of beer is pouring in the Metroplex, as Neutral Ground Brewing Co. is now open at 2929 Race St. in Fort Worth.

Founded by Sean Doublet and Stan Hudson, Neutral Ground is the latest project to land in a newly-redeveloped area of town. The brewery occupies a 4000 square foot building in River East, a vibrant shopping and entertainment district located in the northeastern section of the city.

Regarding the name, "Neutral Ground" is a historical reference symbolizing the coming together of owners who grew up on different sides of the Louisiana-Texas border. Moreover, the moniker serves as the inspiration behind the brewery's overall mission.

In the early 19th century, the "Neutral Ground" was a disputed border region between Spanish Texas and land acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. The matter remained in question from 1806 to 1821, but rather than go to war over the issue, the opposing parties designated a soldier-free zone to prevent hostilities while negotiations continued.

Neutral Ground is serving King Cake and other beers by the pint during its soft
opening, with additional options (including to-go containers) to be added at a later date.

Applying the story to the brewery's concept, Neutral Ground presents as a place where beer drinkers with differing backgrounds and tastes can meet in the middle over a pint in a relaxing and inclusive setting. Initial offerings support this approach, given style options ranging from a British mild, to a hazy IPA (the first beer to sell out), to an imperial stout, with ABVs falling between 3.7 and 8.6%.

Neutral Ground's signature selection, though, is its King Cake beer (3.0% ABV). Brewed in the spirit of confections made in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, King Cake is served in sugar-rimmed glass. It may sound sweet, but King Cake is as balanced as a pastry beer can be, with a doughy malt base and a soothing cinnamon infusion.

As for availability, Neutral Ground's beers are limited for now as the brewery operates on a soft basis while awaiting delivery of its 10-barrel production system. Once equipment arrives and is dialed-in, taproom hours will be extended beyond current service times on Friday from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday from 2-10 p.m.

Should you visit, take note food isn't provided in house, but it may be brought in from nearby restaurants or delivered. Also important, know parking on Race St. is a bit quirky, requiring drivers to back into spots along the sides of the street. Choose not to, and you're pretty much pre-destined to receive a parking ticket.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Lakewood releases new citrusy spring seasonal

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

The coming of spring has brought with it a new seasonal release from Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland.

Tangerine Queen is a citrus wheat ale brewed with orange peel and tangerine purée. According to a press release, the beer is fermented with an American wheat yeast strain which leaves the finished beer lighter in body than either a German wheat or Belgian witbier, while also enhancing the citrus aroma and flavor.

“With the world reopening it’s time to grab a refreshing beer on a patio and drink in the sun,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “Tangerine Queen is a great beer for any beer drinker! It’s super low on the hops and high on the citrus. We’ve been having so much fun with our designs too. We’re making Seriously Fun Beers at LBC and our creativity is being unleashed in our recipes as well as our designs.”

Look for Tangerine Queen on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. The beer will be available statewide from March through August.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

House beers supplement the scene at Old Texas Brewing Co. in Burleson

Old Texas Brewing Co. is located in Old Town Burleson, with easy access to I-35W (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

You'd be forgiven for not knowing a brewpub exists in the City of Burleson. Despite its name, Old Texas Brewing Co. didn't serve house beers when it debuted in spring 2013. Social media posts (and Untappd check-ins) indicate Old Texas didn't go into production until mid-2018, and even then, less than a dozen different beers have appeared periodically since.

Given that, it's not surprising to find that Old Texas presents as a restaurant first and foremost. House beers are limited to selections poured from three serving tanks behind the bar, with beers like Father Kent's Heavenly Honey Wheat, Glowing Raspberries (a saison) and Hazy Sun Shine NEIPA helping to fill a 30-tap draft lineup containing both craft and macro offerings.

Tasters, flights and full pours are offered at Old Texas Brewing Co., with growlers available to take home.

Truth be told, house beers at Old Texas are just one of a number of added amenities designed to supplement the overall vibe. Whether it's the expansive and varied food menu, multiple patio areas (including the "Skybar" on the roof), or regular band bookings, Old Texas is a venue serving at times as a restaurant, weekend hangout and live music venue.

So, while Old Texas does qualify as a brewpub, one imagines the other aspects are what bring people in to this eight-year-old business. But then, appealing to a wide range of interests appears to be the central goal, considering Old Texas describes itself as a place with "a little something for everyone."

Old Texas Brewing Co. is open daily at its location in the city's historic Old Town Burleson district. Free parking is available nearby, with lots only steps away from the restaurant's front door.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Deep Ellum rolls out bumped-up Bandito

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co./CANarchy.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the release of a new seasonal cerveza based off the company's year-round Mexican-style lager, Neato Bandito.

Cadillac Bandito (6% ABV) plays off the original Bandito by adding flavors of sea salt and lime. The citrus flavors join with a subtle touch of sea salt to balance the sweet flavor of malted Texas blue corn. What results is a beer light in color, but big in flavor, with aromas of blue corn tortilla chips and freshly-squeezed lime. 

“For me, this was a natural progression of Neato Bandito," says Brian Morris, head brewer at Deep Ellum. "How can we take what we love about this beer and amplify it? Lime and salt! People commonly ‘dress a glass’ or bottle around here. So, why not do it for them?"

Look for Cadillac Bandito to be available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans starting March 1. Pick it up at craft beer-friendly retailers across Texas, or grab some to-go at the Deep Ellum Taproom + Kitchen.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Ten years in, this Hammer still hits

Image credit: Peticolas Brewing Co.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the first time I drank Velvet Hammer.

How is this possible you ask? I mean, Peticolas Brewing Co. didn't go into production until December 2011. Well, let's just say the beginnings of a blog and the beginnings of a brewery came together around this time 10 years ago.

In fact, the coming together came to be in the parking of the Bavarian Grill in Plano. There was a meeting, and there was a beer...the latter delivered by way of the trunk of Michael Peticolas' car.

At the time, the Hammer didn't have a name. It was a test batch to gather feedback from anyone willing to meet Peticolas for an impromptu beer share. Of course, the test batch evolved into a debut offering that dared to defy convention. Rather than follow the standard blonde ale and IPA playbook, Peticolas had the idea of opening with something a wee bit bolder. Enter the Hammer, an imperial red ale with an ABV of 9%.

The beer was poured publicly for the first time on January 24, 2012 at the Meddlesome Moth. Before long, the band Shotgun Friday had written a song about the beer. The tune was played at the brewery's first anniversary bash - an event, incidentally, which featured a somewhat unusual wedding. You see, what happened was...a cheesemonger married a beer.

But I digress...

I bring this all up for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it recalls great memories dating back to before the local craft beer boom got started. There's more to it, though, when you consider exactly what it means.

Not many North Texas beers have stood the test of time for 10 years. Like it or not, today's market operates with a one-and-done type mentality. If you like a new beer nowadays, you better get it while you can, because the NEXT new thing is right around the corner.

Yet, here we are 10 years later, still drinking Velvet Hammer. It's always been like the trusty tool you always reach for, which makes for the perfect analogy, given the beer's name and its status as a sturdy and reliable brew.

So, what am I getting at?

Take the quality, consistency and longevity and add this - I believe it's fair to say Velvet Hammer fits the definition of being "widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence." Those aren't my words in quotes, they're Webster's.

And, maybe I'm wrong, but I think that means it's iconic.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Lakewood introducing French Toast Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has announced the release of French Toast Temptress, the newest addition to the brewery's popular Seduction Series.

“Y’all want some breakfast?” jokes Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “This time of year calls for a decadent beer and French Toast Temptress checks all the boxes. This newest release is slightly sweeter than regular Temptress with extra vanilla and lots of Grade A maple syrup and a hint of cinnamon. It’s the best part of waking up!”

Past entries in the Seduction Series have included Peanut Butter Temptress, Salted Caramel Temptress, Double Chocolate Temptress and Coconut Temptress. In order to create this latest iteration, French Toast Temptress, Lakewood has added maple syrup and other natural flavors to its best-selling Temtpress Imperial Milk Stout.

French Toast Temptress will be available at the Lakewood Taproom starting February 19, with state-wide distribution kicking off the following week.

Lakewood liberates 2020 Bourbon Barrel Temptress

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

After sharing the news its annual December release would be delayed, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has finally tapped the 2020 edition of Bourbon Barrel Temptress (BBT). 

“2020 wasn’t good enough for BBT,” jokes Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “All kidding aside, we wanted to make sure that our beloved BBT was the best it could be and that made us wait for a bit.”

According to a press release, this year's batch of BBT features a blend created with bourbon barrels sourced from Buffalo TraceHeaven HillJim Beam, and Wilderness Trails Distilleries. This blending of different barrels adds complexity and depth to the brewery's dark and sultry Temptress base beer.

As for what's to come in the year ahead, Lakewood has already started work on BBT 2021.

“We saw over 120 bourbon barrels arrive just this week,” adds Bens. “Now it’s time to fill them up and let them happily rest until November.”

BBT 2020 is available now on draft and in 22-ounce commemorative bottles at the Lakewood Taproom. Look for the beer to begin arriving at bars and retailers across Texas this week.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Eleven regional, two grand champions emerge from 2020-21 USBTC winter event

Image credits: United States Beer Tasting Championship

The United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC) has announced results from its 27th Annual Winter Competition, and three North Texas breweries are among the winners.

This year's winter event drew 544 entries from 151 breweries, with these beers judged across 19 different style categories. As always, regional winners were chosen in each category during the competition (North Texas breweries compete in the Rockies/Southwest division), then pitted against each other in a final round to determine a national grand champion.

Overall, eleven North Texas beers were named Regional Champion, with two of those going on to be crowned Grand Champion. Top honorees include Lion's Share VIII from Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland, and Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth.

A complete list of winning beers from North Texas is provided below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland

  • Lion's Share VIII, Regional and Grand Champion in the Non-whiskey Aged Beer category.
  • Bourbon Barrel Temptress, Regional Champion in the Whiskey Aged Porter/Stout category
  • The Temptress, Regional Champion in the Imperial Stout category.
  • Lakewood Lager, Regional Champion in the Vienna/Märzen Lager category.
  • Punkel, Regional Champion in the Spice Beer category.
  • Salted Caramel Temptress, Regional Champion in the Experimental Beer category.

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas

  • Bois D'arc, Regional Champion in the Dark Lager/Dunkel category.

  • Iron Thistle, Regional and Grand Champion in the Scottish-Style Ale category.
  • Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer, Regional Champion in the Whiskey-Aged Beer category.
  • Winter Warmer, Regional Champion in the Strong Ale category.
  • Dadgum Coffee IPA, Regional Champion in the Coffee Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Deep Ellum releasing Blind Lemon variety pack

Image courtesy of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas is expanding its Blind Lemon line of hard seltzers by way of a new variety 12-pack set to release this month.

In addition to the original Blind Lemon Hard Seltzer, the variety pack will include three new flavors - Blind Lime, Blind Peach and Blind Berry. Deep Ellum created each new flavor by infusing the Blind Lemon base with "all-new natural flavors you'll love not to hate."

From a press release:

  • Blind Lime: Main squeeze. Pairs perfectly with some Tex-Mex.
  • Blind Peach: Soft & light. You can almost taste the fuzz in the fizz. 
  • Blind Berry: What kind of berry? All the berry.

The new flavors will only be available in twelve-ounce cans found in the variety pack. Look for the pack to be sold at retailers in Texas and Oklahoma.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Court ruling lifts ban on beer to-go for CANarchy

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. may now sell beer to-go from its production facility in Dallas, this after a Texas federal court ruled in favor of its parent company, CANarchy, in a case challenging regulations put forth by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).

In September 2018, a law authorizing beer to-go sales in Texas for brewers with production below 225,000 barrels a year went into effect. However, breweries operating under the CANarchy umbrella were excluded from the new law due to collective-wide barrelage.

CANarchy challenged the ban, based on arguments of discrimination against interstate commerce and its reading of the text of the regulation. The federal court recently agreed with CANarchy’s reading, a ruling that will allow beer to-go sales moving forward. 

“We’re beyond excited that the court ruled in our favor," says Matt Fraser, president and COO of CANarchy. "This allows us to join our fellow craft brewers to get the freshest beer possible to our fans in package format to-go including cans and crowlers.”

CANarchy was represented by Austin-based attorneys, Cobb & Counsel, whose practice focuses on regulatory compliance and litigation. For more information on the case, click here to read a summary found on the firm's website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Chambers Creek Brewing coming to Maypearl

Image credit: Chambers Creek Brewing Co.

Ellis County will soon be home to a new brewery near its western edge, as Chambers Creek Brewing Co. is now under construction in Maypearl.

According to founder Lyle Chambers, plans for the project involve the setup of a small-batch brewery and taproom in an existing structure located at 319 N. Main St. The choice of locale is fortuitous, since the brewery would seem to pair well with a neighboring business across the street.

"We are remodeling a 1940s gas station for our nanobrewery," says Chambers. "Next to us is an amazing barbecue place called Hissy Fits, with a small music venue attached to it. They have live Texas country music every 2nd and 4th Saturday."

As for how Chambers will approach his portfolio, he'll offer hard seltzers in addition to beer, while following the usual plan of having an array of regulars and rotators on tap, albeit with a twist.

"I plan on having 2-3 beers always on tap, and 3-4 that will be constantly rotating," says Chambers. "I also want to do a concept where people can request a type of beer, and then I will brew it and have it ready for them to drink in 1-2 months."

Chambers hopes to have the brewery open by mid-spring.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A first look at what's to come at Windmills in The Colony

Windmills in The Colony is the second brewpub designed and built by Total Environment Hospitality (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

The long-awaited debut of Windmills, a brewpub concept first established in Bangalore, India, by Total Environment Hospitality, is set to take place later this month in the Grandscape development of The Colony.

It was August 2019 when plans for Windmills were revealed in this space. According to CEO Ajay Nagarajan, an early 2020 opening was pushed back due to delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but now Windmills is putting the final touches on a refined brewpub showplace unlike any other in North Texas.

Windmills offers multi-level seating inside and out, with patio options overlooking a manmade waterway.

Along with a fully-appointed brewery, attractions within Windmills' two-story, 14,000 square foot facility include spacious dining areas, two full bars, a performance stage, multi-level seating inside and out, and an expansive selection of carefully-curated books. As a whole, the combination makes Windmills a restaurant, brewery, library and live music venue all rolled into one.

On the culinary side, an elevated menu overseen by Adam Harkless, Windmills' executive chef, goes well beyond everyday pub grub. Starters, stuffed breads, kebabs, entrées and desserts are inspired by Texas traditions and East Indian influences (think spices like curry, cardamom, cumin and cinnamon).

Select samples provided at a socially-distanced preview event are described with images below. Not pictured, Texas Twinkies (smoked, honey glazed and bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, gouda and pulled pork) are forecast to be a particular favorite among patrons.

Left: Cheese Curds Pakora - fried white cheddar cheese curds, mint-yogurt dipping sauce.
Middle left: Prime Filet Dorado - bacon-wrapped prime filet, black-eyed pea succotash, mole poblano sauce, roasted broccolini.
Middle right: Carrot Halwa Cake - carrot halwa and orange upside-down cake, citrus salad, orange chips, French vanilla ice cream.
Right: Sour Cherry Kulfi - pistachio/saffron kulfi, ruby chocolate, chick pea noodles, saffron-pistachio sauce, sour cherry compote, sweet basil seeds.

In the brewhouse, Windmills has equipped Cal Ryan, director of brewing operations, with a 15-barrel, three-vessel system paired with an array of seven fermenters and 14 serving tanks. From the latter, no fewer than 14 house-brewed beers will be served on a daily basis.

Among them, customers will discover a mix of new and old world styles, with recipes originating from America, Belgium, Germany and beyond. Ryan says the opportunity to brew a diverse range of styles is one of the things that attracted him to Windmills, since he was most recently a brewer in San Diego, California, where it's all about the almighty IPA.

Highlights from a tasting of initial offerings were a Coffee Porter, made with beans sourced from Addison Coffee Roasters, and a Tropical Saison, infused with mango, passionfruit and pineapple (a beer which pairs wonderfully with elements of the food menu). Also notable, a hefeweizen is the best seller at Windmills' original location in India, so naturally it slots into the local lineup as well (see image caption below for the complete opening day slate).

Opening day beer styles: Blonde, Pilsner, Saison, Tropical Saison, Vienna Lager, Amber, Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, IPA, Hazy IPA, DIPA,
Blackberry Sour, Coffee Porter, Imperial Stout. Flights and full pours will be available on site, with crowlers and growlers to take home.

Altogether, Windmills is an ambitious and unique venture. With its sophisticated dining element, the promise of world class jazz and the availability of intellectual reading pursuits, the new spot presents as a multi-faceted venue where visitors can indulge in the finer things in life while enjoying, of course, a finely-crafted beer.

As for when you can experience the eclectic atmosphere yourself, Nagarajan expects Windmills to go live during the last week of January. The brewpub will begin with a soft launch, followed by an official grand opening to be held at a later date.