Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 Year in review: North Texas nearly to 100 breweries

All logos and graphics the property of their respective owners.

At the end of 2020, much of the talk was about how local breweries had persevered through the pandemic. This sentiment even found its way into the title of the 2020 year-in-review article published 12 months ago in this space. Now, a year later, the pandemic itself continues to persevere. Thankfully, though, the industry has soldiered on, with the area brewery count somehow experiencing another year of double-digit growth.

On the subject of national news, one of the most important beer stories of the year surrounded rampant reports of racism, sexism, harassment and discrimination in the brewing industry. What started as a personal Instagram post quickly grew into an industry-wide callout for change. In response, industry groups joined together to create the BRU (Brewing Respect and Unity) Coalition in an effort "to drive industry-wide adoption of evidence-based best practices for preventing discrimination, harassment, and violence within the brewing industry."

As far as things happening here at home in 2021, discussion topics covered herein will go beyond the regular rundown of openings, closings and expansions, to include a few words on the long-overdue rise of female head brewers in North Texas, and notes on the coming wave of 10-year anniversaries taking place at a number of local breweries.

Oh, and there was that whole Yuengling thing, too. Not my cup of tea, but maybe it's yours. Either way, grab a glass, drink what you like and take a minute (or ten) to catch up on all that went down during the 2021 year in beer.

The Business of Beer

This year's break down of local business dealings begins with a few holdover items from last year's review, notably those brewing operations that remained in limbo for various reasons at the close of 2020. 
  • In July, Nine Band Brewing Co. of Allen was purchased by a pair of reality TV personalities who intend to rename it Armor Brewing Co. - a name matching a coffee shop run by the new owners nearby. Readers may remember Nine Band's demise was brought on by misdeeds committed by its former owner.
  • By the Horns Brewing of Mansfield will return in some capacity after being acquired by the Local Favorite Restaurants group. The establishment will be reimagined as del Toro Craft Q & Brew (out with the tacos, in with the Q), but a decision is pending on whether the "By the Horns" name will continue to identify the brewing side of the business.
  • Judging by minutes published by the Royse City Community Development Corporation, ownership has decided not to move forward with the relocation of Thirsty Bro Brewing. The company ceased production in December 2019, so its closure is considered retroactive to that date.
  • All remains quiet concerning Woodcreek Brewing Co., formerly of Rockwall. Said to be on the lookout for a new location, the company's license expired earlier this year and it is now presumed closed as of the final day of operations in June 2020. 
Moving on to expansion news for 2021, new and considerably larger facilities were unveiled by On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen of Dallas and Fort Brewery & Pizza of Fort Worth. More room to move around was also the motivation behind an impressive taproom upgrade undertaken at Turning Point Beer of Bedford.

Elsewhere, others made moves to expand their reach, as Bankhead Brewing Co. of Rowlett took over the former Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium space in Fort Worth, Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points premiered its Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery in Farmers Branch, and Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth debuted a satellite taproom in Southlake.

Regarding ongoing projects, Celestial Beerworks has purchased an additional brewhouse to outfit a satellite spot of its own roughly a half-mile from its original location in Dallas. Beyond that, work continues on Community Beer Co.'s new home in Dallas, while Texas Monthly top 100 barbecue joint Oak'd Handcrafted BBQ is building a second location with a brewery in Addison. Further out, construction set to begin in the coming weeks on new locales for 903 Brewers of Sherman and Tupps Brewery of McKinney.

On that note, it's interesting to consider how many expansions are incorporating daily food service, a feature becoming prevalent at local taprooms. It's a logical evolution for such businesses in a crowded market, since having a one-stop shop serving both food and beverage helps to keep patrons comfortably in their seats.

Of course, adding food service is just one way breweries are diversifying. Many have added cider, seltzer, kombucha and non-alcoholic drinks to their menus in an effort to appeal to a wider base. And now, distilleries seem to be following suit, as evidenced by the installation of brewing operations at Johnson County Distillery of Cleburne and Deep Ellum Distillery of Dallas.

Shifting gears, a handful of new ventures entered the market by way of a different approach. Among them, Food Service Corporation built a commercial kitchen in Aubrey offering beer-making classes with the benefit of being able to take your creations home, Off Main Brewing introduced a unique boutique brewery concept in Prosper, and Pizza Americana partnered with Nano Brewing, LLC. to design, build and operate the first add-on brewpub (if you will) in Richardson. Unfortunately, the latter enterprise only lasted a few months.

As for the overall economic picture of the brewing industry in Texas, data from the Brewers Association for 2020 shows the state ranking sixth in production nationally (up from eighth in 2019), with 1.08 million barrels of beer produced (down from 1.18 million in 2019). The number of breweries per capita ticked up slightly from 1.7 to 1.8, with Texas' rank of 47th remaining the same in this category.

In terms of total economic impact, Texas placed third nationally while contributing $4.2 billion to the economy (down from $5.4 billion in 2019). The state's brewing industry provided jobs to over 24,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2019, paying more than $1.2 billion in wages and benefits, with an average annual salary of $51,121.

Image: Brewers Association.

Comings and Goings

Pandemic or not, the North Texas industry roster continued to grow at a rapid pace in 2021. For the fourth year in a row, 14 new breweries opened in the region (that is, firms with a license to brew in North Texas). More surprising, however, was the lack of closures, with only two occurring this past year.

Looking at the list of new breweries, you may notice how craft beer's influence is reaching further and further south within the borders of North Texas. New entities are always appearing in Dallas-Fort Worth proper, but now we're seeing local beer being brewed in cities like Cleburne, Corsicana, Dublin and Maypearl.

Summing it all up, the number of brewing operations in North Texas presently stands at 95. Add in side projects and special cases, while lowering the number to account for temporary closures and breweries with multiple locations, and there are 91 different brands of local beer to choose from in the market.

  • Brick Streets Brewery, Corsicana.
  • Bankhead Brewing (second location), Fort Worth.
  • Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery (second location), Farmers Branch.
  • Chambers Creek Brewing Co., Maypearl.
  • Food Experience Corp., Aubrey.
  • Johnson County Distillery, Cleburne.
  • Lead Belly Beer Co. at Deep Ellum Distillery, Dallas.
  • Lucky Brewing Co., Dublin.
  • Neutral Ground Brewing Co., Fort Worth.
  • Pizza Americana, Richardson.
  • Say When Brewing Co., Denison.
  • Second Rodeo Brewing, Fort Worth.
  • Siren Rock Brewing Co., Rockwall
  • Windmills, The Colony.

Brand Debuts (not counted as new openings, see comments):
  • Break Room Brewing Co., Cleburne (contract brewed at Red Caboose Winery in Clifton, Texas).
  • Off Main Brewing, Prosper (locally-based, but licensed in Hunt, Texas).

New Locations (not counted as new openings):
  • Fort Brewery & Pizza, Fort Worth.
  • On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen, Dallas.

Permanent Closures:
  • BrainDead Brewing, Dallas.
  • Pizza Americana, Richardson.

Temporary Closures (not counted as new closures):
  • By the Horns Brewing, Mansfield - closed since onset of pandemic.

Source: Individual research.

The Year in Beer
  • Why not more women?

    It was 1869 when Francisca Yetzer, a recent widow and single mother of two, opened and operated a brewery in Dallas. Now, more than 150 years later, we can finally recognize a number of women playing a significant role in the production process at modern breweries in North Texas.

    - Sandra DiPretore Murphy, head brewer at Fort Brewery & Pizza of Fort Worth.
    - Betsi Good, head kombucha brewer at Four Corners Brewing Co. of Dallas.
    - Megan Mares, commercial operations manager at Revolver Brewing of Granbury/Arlington.
    - Noel Tousignant, lab manager/brewer at Armadillo Ale Works of Denton.

    One wonders why it took so long...

  • Back down the Rabbit Hole

    Rabbit Hole Brewing of Justin closed its doors in late 2019, but fans of the brewery got a chance to raise a glass of a Rabbit Hole original back in April. The team at Soul Fire Brewing Co. of Roanoke got together with Rabbit Hole co-founder Matt Morriss to revive the recipe for Off With Your Red. It was a limited, draft-only release, but you never know if a similar offering might emerge in the future once Morriss' new project, Three Wide Brewing, gets rolling near Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

  • Ten-year anniversaries on tap

    In November, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas became the first modern craft era brewery in North Texas (those to open in 2011 or later) to reach its tenth anniversary. It's a rare feat, given less than 8% of all breweries to have ever opened in North Texas (since 1855) have made it to the milestone.

    Barring anything unforeseen, six more will reach this point in the coming year: Peticolas Brewing Co. of Dallas, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland, Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points, Revolver Brewing of Granbury, Four Corners Brewing Co. of Dallas, and Fort Brewery & Pizza of Fort Worth (based on when brewing operations actually began at Zio Carlo Magnolia Brew Pub).

    Thinking about the first name on the list of pending celebrants, it's hard to believe 10 years have passed since Velvet Hammer first hit.

  • Yuengling's highly-heralded arrival in Texas

    After what's seemed like years of yearning from local fans, the beers of American's oldest brewery finally landed on shelves in Texas. Recipes originating from the Pennsylvania-based Yuengling Brewery are brewed at Molson Coors in Fort Worth. These include Yuengling Lager, Light Lager, Golden Pilsner and FLIGHT.

  • Sad farewells in the service sector: As 2021 comes to a close, raise a glass in memory of the Fort Worth and Lewisville locations of Lone Star Taps & Caps.

  • North Texas award winnersClick here to review award-winning beers from 2021, with competition results from the Great American Beer Festival, San Diego International Beer Competition, United States Beer Tasting Championship, U.S. Open Beer Championship and U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship.

  • The 2021 list of Beer in Big D's preferred pours (new-to-market, or newly-discovered beers some blogger particularly enjoyed): 3 Nations Switchyard BBA Imperial Golden Stout, Beard Science Black Currant Sour Beer, Brutal Beerworks Into the Void, Celestial On Maple & Inwood, Denton County Rumbustion, False Idol The Wire, Lakewood Double Stuffed Temptress, Oak Cliff Bourbon Barrel Sombre, Odd Muse Perseverance, Peticolas What's New - Dubbel, Rollertown Barrel-Aged Brewser, Tupps/Smittox Black is Beautiful, Vector Moonsmoke, Wild Acre Barrel-Aged Belgian Dark Strong.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The legend of Lead Belly lives on in new brand of beer

A pint of In the Pines IPA, a beer named after a song most associated with Lead Belly and later performed by Nirvana (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

John Reardon is back in the beer business. Fifteen months after separating from CANarchy, and by extension the Deep Ellum Brewing Co. (DEBC) he founded over a decade ago, Reardon's new Lead Belly Beer Co. debuted its inaugural brews this past weekend in Dallas.

Brewed at Deep Ellum Distillery, Lead Belly Beer is a follow-on to products in the distillery's Lead Belly Whiskey line. The brand pays tribute to Huddie William Ledbetter, otherwise known as the blues legend Lead Belly. He and fellow musician, Blind Lemon Jefferson, were renowned for their performances in and around Deep Ellum after joining forces in Dallas around 1912.

Regarding goals of the project, Reardon says he's no longer looking to achieve "total beer domination," as was the case with his prior venture. This time around, the focus is on making a quality product with good people and good ingredients, and then drinking it while telling the stories of Dallas, Deep Ellum, Lead Belly and beyond.

To aid in this endeavor, Reardon enlisted Kyle Willborn, himself a graduate of the DEBC school of beer-making. Willborn presided over production at DEBC for over six years before joining the distillery, where he now works with the brewery's original 30-barrel system. This setup resides in the former Deep Ellum Barrel House space, from which some of DEBC's more experimental recipes emerged over the years.

As for what's to come under the Lead Belly Beer umbrella, Reardon says he's not limited by any sort of non-compete clause as it pertains to what he may choose to brew. The first two beers, Lead Belly Blonde and In the Pines IPA, are just the beginning. Naturally, there will be barrel-aged offerings at some point, but near-term work will center on dialing in the initial recipes. For example, Reardon intends to lighten the color and hop presence of Lead Belly Blonde in future batches.

And, just in case the choice of a blonde and an IPA to start haven't triggered certain memories, they surely recall styles DEBC released in the days and months after its introduction just blocks away in late 2011. In fact, the 12/12/2021 launch date for Lead Belly Beer is a rather pointed reference to exactly that time, as Reardon looks to embrace this evolution and one-up his previous employer. You see, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. sold its first keg on 11/11/2011.

Lead Belly beers are draft-only offerings at the distillery for now, but cans are promised for the future. In the meantime, try one or both during tasting room hours Thursday-Sunday at Deep Ellum Distillery.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Johnson County Distillery taps house beers in Cleburne

Johnson County Distillery is located at 1655 S. Main St. in Cleburne (All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Johnson County Distillery is now home to a more diverse set of offerings, as the Cleburne-based business has begun brewing and serving its own beer and cider on site.

Owned by Todd Kauffman, the distillery opened in October 2017 just on the outskirts of Historic Downtown Cleburne. Since then, the firm's flagship has been Jacob Weldon, a blended bourbon whiskey named after Kauffman's grandfather.

Now, though, patrons can enjoy a pint of house-brewed beer or cider if they're looking something different beyond the distillery's selection of spirts and custom cocktails. Created on a four-barrel system by the team of Megan Trainham and Joseph Soule, upwards of six beer and cider options are available daily, those pouring from newly-installed taps set up along the distillery's back bar.

Dirty Leg (left) is one of five selections (three beers, two ciders) currently pouring from the taps at Johnson County Distillery.

Surveying the lineup, Mixed Berry and Passion Fruit Peach ciders are on tap, along with beers by the name of Carmel Toe, Dirty Leg and C.M.P. to start. The first two, Carmel Toe and Dirty Leg, feature a pilsner malt base with additions of caramel and chocolate malt, respectively, while C.M.P. is a caramel maple porter.

Going forward, these and other recipes will come and go based on visitor feedback. Short-term, the distillery intends to add a gingerbread stout, as well as a lighter beer reminiscent of Rolling Rock - though, indications are it'll be an extra pale ale as opposed to a lager. Then long term, as you might expect given the nature of the business, bourbon barrel beers will be part of the mix as well.

As for other amenities, house-made pizzas will be on the menu beginning as soon as next week, making Johnson County Distillery a sort of one-stop shop for anyone looking to get their food and beverage fix while visiting Cleburne, whether they be in the mood for noshes paired with beer, bourbon, cider or something else.

Friday, November 26, 2021

BrainDead to close in Deep Ellum

Image © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

After more than six and a half years in business, BrainDead Brewing of Dallas has announced it will end its run in Deep Ellum and close at the end of business on Sunday, November 28.

Debuting in February 2015, BrainDead brought together the talents of Jeff Fryman (The Common Table), Sam Wynne (Flying Saucer, Rodeo Goat) and Andrew Huerter (Deep Ellum Brewing Co.). It was the first brewpub to operate in the Deep Ellum entertainment district since The Copper Tank closed across the street in 2001.

Speaking of which, BrainDead epitomized what the brewpub model is all about. The beer and food were both good, which meant your best option didn't involve drinking here and eating there (i.e., somewhere else) like it was at some brewpubs in North Texas during the late 1990s.

On the beer, Gritz (a cream ale) was among BrainDead's inaugural beer offerings - and I may have actually been the first to order a pint, but it was just the first of a wide range of recipes to be poured at a place where upwards of 25 different house beers were on tap daily.

Craft beer and food done right, this is what I'll remember about BrainDead. Well, that and Festicle, the small-scale sampling soiree the brewpub put on with the folks behind Big Texas Beer Fest. A beer geek's beer festival if there ever was one in North Texas, this event was an annual celebration of barrel-aged, wild and sour beers.

A post sharing the news on Facebook reads: "We are thankful for everyone that supported us through almost 7 years of brewpubbing in Deep Ellum, the best neighborhood there ever was."

If you ask me, those words are simply a case of best recognizing best.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Funky Picnic bands together with Midlake for music-inspired beer

Image courtesy of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth has announced the release of a new beer brewed in concert with Denton-based band Midlake. Courage & Pillars, an imperial Berliner weisse made with blueberry and cardamom, will be on tap Friday, November 26, in both the Funky Picnic taproom and at Tulips FTW, the venue where Midlake will play that evening.

Head Brewer Michael Harper has been a huge Midlake fan for years and he approached the band about a collaboration beer to coincide with their concert dates in Fort Worth. The band has a new album coming out March 18, 2022 featuring the song “Bethel Woods,” and the beer is inspired by that song.

Image courtesy of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

“The track itself is named after the area where Woodstock was held [in New York], so we looked at what fruits are available in Bethel Woods this time of year and landed on blueberry,” says Harper. “The drums on the track are so crispy and so warm, so we needed something to balance out the sweet and tart of the blueberry, so we landed on cardamom.” 

Image courtesy of Midlake.

Harper describes Courage & Pillars as a beer to be savored, but easy drinking all the same, kind of like Midlake. He says the cardamom spice meets you first with warm and green earthiness, then soft and tart blueberry enters to round out the glass.

Enjoy Courage & Pillars on tap at Funky Picnic this weekend, or even better at Tulips FTW while listening to Midlake live in concert on November 26. Admission to the show is $15pp (click here to purchase tickets).

Monday, November 22, 2021

903, Tupps awarded medals at 2021 U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship.

Results are in from the 2021 U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship, with 903 Brewers of Sherman and Tupps Brewery of McKinney appearing among the winners.

More than 60 hard seltzer-makers from across the U.S. and Canada submitted just short of 250 hard seltzers for evaluation at this year's competition, which is a collaborative effort with the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Brewery, Cidery and Distillery. Judges from Canada, England and the United States ranked seltzers in 18 different categories covering various fruit and herb infusions.

A list of winning seltzers from North Texas is provided below. You can also click here for a full competition summary.

903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Bronze for Pina Colada Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Pina Colada category.
  • Bronze for Bahama Mama Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Anything Goes category.
Tupps Brewery, McKinney
  • Bronze for Blur Strawberry Daiquiri in the Strawberry category.

Cheers and congratulations to 903 Brewers and Tupps Brewery!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Pizzeria turned brewpub closes in Richardson

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Pizza Americana, a neighborhood pizzeria turned brewpub in Richardson, has closed.

Originally opening in early 2019, Pizza Americana added brewing operations this past summer, after enlisting the services of Nano Brewing, LLC. - a company which provides full-service brewhouse management from concept to installation and production.

House beers were first poured in July at Pizza Americana, with the official brewery launch taking place just over a month ago in September. From the beginning, four recipes were offered on a daily basis, with the most creative being a bourbon barrel-aged stout brewed with Atomic Fireball candy.

As for Nano Brewing, LLC., despite the sudden end to what was its first installation, the firm's co-founder Michael Wilson says the short-lived partnership did allow the company time to prove out its concept. He adds they are actively working to open at another location.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Funky Picnic's food menu just got funkier

Clockwise from left: I'm Chicken You Out, TABC Sandwich, Mussels From Brussels (Funky Picnic Brewery & Café).

Starting today, Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth is featuring an expanded food menu from Chef Josh Rangel and his culinary team.

With the revamp, Funky Picnic has added up-scale appetizers and dinner entrees to the brewpub's already popular selection of sandwiches and burgers, while also bringing a renewed focus to beer pairing suggestions. Each item on the menu is paired with Funky Picnic beers brewed in-house by Head Brewer Michael Harper.

“These new menu items really allow us to better showcase the culinary skills of our incredible kitchen team while keeping the most popular sandwiches and burgers that our customers have come to love,” says co-founder Samantha Glenn. “Our team really focused on entrees that would pair well with our Funky Picnic beers, whether it is using the beer in the cooking process or having a pint alongside your meal.”

The menu includes healthier and heartier entrees like I’m Chicken You Out, a roasted lemon garlic half-bird, and the Mussels From Brussels beer-steamed mussels. Both are said to pair perfectly with Funky Picnic's Belgian tripel, The Child Must Not Be An Obstacle.

Several new vegetarian options, such as the Blueberry Flatbread and Roasted Cauliflower, were added to the appetizer menu, along with non-vegetarian options like the Bacon Bourbon Meatballs that debuted at the 2021 Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival last weekend.

As for those wondering about the fate of some familiar favorites, Funky Picnic classics such as the massive TABC turkey sandwich, the wildly popular Cluck Norris fried chicken sandwich, and the pimento cheese-topped Funky Burger will remain on the menu.

Try these new creations at Funky Picnic today, or anytime during regular business hours. The brewpub is open six days a week, with service Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Lakewood, Oak Highlands recognized at 2021 San Diego International Beer Competition

Image credit: San Diego International Beer Competition.

Two area breweries are among the winners at the 2021 San Diego International Beer Competition.

Judging for this year's event took place in late September, with submissions broken down in to 61 different style categories. Winning breweries from North Texas included Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland and Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas. Both companies have been honored at this competition before, with Lakewood earning medals in 2017 and 2019, and Oak Highlands being recognized in 2018.

Winning beers from North Texas are listed below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland
  • Gold for Temptress in the Bold Stout category.
  • Bronze for Double Chocolate Temptress in the Chocolate and Chili Beer category.
Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas
  • Gold for Tipsy Goat in the German-Style Bock category.
  • Gold for Freaky Deaky in the Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale category.

Cheers and congratulations to Lakewood and Oak Highlands!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Fort Brewery debuts new digs, fresh new vibe in Fort Worth

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

A year after announcing plans to move the brewpub from its original location on Magnolia Ave., Fort Brewery & Pizza is now open and operating within its new space at 2737 Tillar St. in Fort Worth.

It's the latest step in the evolution of an enterprise under the guidance of owners Will Churchill and Corrie Watson. In early 2018, the two purchased and retooled what was then known as Chimera Brewing Co., itself a rebrand of Zio Carlo Magnolia Brewpub started in 2011.

As for what this particular transition entails, it's a case of out with the old, in with the new. Fort Brewery & Pizza has traded the small, 1920s-era brick building on Magnolia for a remodeled 25,000 square foot facility once home to a candy factory. And, while partially-exposed brick and reused shipping containers fit the reality of what is a repurposed structure, a clean and modern feel best describes the presentation at the new place. This translates to a different vibe compared to experiences had dating back to the very beginnings of the business.

Change may be a good thing, though, considering Fort Brewery & Pizza's added amenities. Public areas comprise an indoor taproom with a requisite array of wide-screen TVs, along with an expansive outdoor patio covered with a retractable roof. The latter includes features like a stage setup for live music, and a play area outfitted with artificial turf.

Oh, and anyone who ever had to park and walk on Magnolia will surely not want to discount the benefits of the brewpub's dedicated parking lot.

There's also the promise of expanded offerings on Fort Brewery & Pizza's beer and food menus. With regards to the liquid, upwards of 20 different house brews will be available, with core styles, seasonals, sour beers and seltzers expected to be a part of the everyday portfolio (click here to view the current lineup).

Food-wise, pizza pies still take center stage at the brewpub, with burgers, brats, sandwiches and salads supplementing the culinary side of things. Then there's this note on the opening menu calling attention to a "Detroit style pizza experience coming soon!"

It all amounts to fresh start for the Fort Worth firm, as the legacies of Chimera and Zio Carlo are now safely left to rest with memories on Magnolia. Indeed, with new digs in a new neighborhood, Fort Brewery & Pizza can now look to leave its own mark on the local craft beer scene.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Flying Saucer to host 15th annual BeerFeast in Fort Worth

Image credit: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.

Beerknurds rejoice, as the beer-tasting extravaganza known as BeerFeast is set to return for its 15th annual installment at the Fort Worth Flying Saucer on Saturday, October 23 from 1-7 p.m.

Attendees to this year's event will be able to choose from beer samples provided by 50 local, national and international breweries. Offerings will consist of limited releases and hard-to-find brews, such as the following:

  • Boulevard Stuff of Legend - barrel-aged stout with vanilla and cocoa.
  • Brooklyn Black Ops 2020 - bourbon barrel-aged imperial Russian stout.
  • Firestone Walker Cinnamon Dolce Imperial Milk Stout.
  • Firestone Walker XXV Anniversary.
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout with Cinnamon, Vanilla and Cocoa.
  • Rahr & Sons Rumpy - rum barrel-aged pumpkin Ale.
  • Odell Sippin' Tropical - wild ale with passion fruit, pineapple and tangerine.
  • Saint Arnold Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pumpkinator.
  • Turning Point Mazdarati - imperial stout with macadamia nut.

Tickets to BeerFeast 2021 are $45 per person, or $40 for Beerknurds. Included in the price, guests will receive a BeerFeast 2021 t-shirt, tasting glass and 12 two-ounce beer tastings. For more details, or to secure your admission, visit the official event website at

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Craft beer industry reconvenes for 2021 CBC, GABF awards in Denver

Photos © Brewers Association.

Members of the brewing industry came together for the first time since early 2020 last weekend in Denver, Colorado, for the 38th Annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) presented by the Brewers Association.

Normally held in the spring, the gathering was a hybrid event of sorts due to the pandemic, as this year's edition took place around the time of year the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is typically held. Since that event was cancelled once again, the competition portion of GABF and subsequent awards ceremony took place in conjunction with CBC.

As expected, the pandemic was a topic front and center, especially in relation to its effects on the industry over the past 18 months. Also of great importance, however, was the call for an industry awakening, as countless incidents of racism, sexism, discrimination and harassment have come to light within its ranks.

Below, you'll find a recap of key points raised on these matters during CBC discussions. A rundown of local GABF winners follows, along with notes on taproom (and other) trips made to discover items of interest outside the 2021 event.

State of the Industry

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about dire predictions as to the fate of small and independent breweries, with some fearing the coming of mass closures. Thankfully, this didn't come to pass, but production numbers did decline in 2020 for the first time since the 1980s. Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, cited a reduction in keg beer consumption (i.e., bars being closed due to the pandemic) as a contributing factor.

Data courtesy of the Brewers Association.

As for the annual "Brewery Count" update, there are now 8,848 active breweries in the U.S., which represents an increase of 439 breweries over last year. While this is the smallest year-to-year gain of late, it's still a pleasant surprise considering the alternative.

More surprising is data showing the rate of brewery closings did not accelerate during the pandemic, which raises the question of how breweries are surviving. Watson noted Americans still drink the same amount of beer as before, just at different places. For breweries able to quickly pivot operations to focus on packaging beer to-go, this resulted in "at the brewery" sales numbers remaining relatively strong. Beyond that, he pointed to federal aid programs (for those who were approved for such things), and credited the tenacity and resilience of brewers.

A charge to bring about change

In response to a callout regarding a disturbing number of cases involving racism, sexism, discrimination and harassment occurring in the craft beer industry, initiatives seeking to promote diversity, equity and inclusion were introduced at CBC.

Images courtesy of the Brewers Association.

Attendees had access to a conference roadmap of seminars and workshops, entitled THRIVE, designed to empower "craft brewing community members to build safe, inclusive, and equitable cultures where everyone who makes, sells, and enjoys craft beer can thrive."

Industry groups joined together to create the BRU Coalition, with the "objective to leverage the combined reach of the organizations to drive industry-wide adoption of evidence-based best practices for preventing discrimination, harassment, and violence within the brewing industry." Members include the Brewers Association, Cicerone Certification Program, Master Brewers Association of the Americas, Pink Boots Society, and the American Society of Brewing Chemists.

Two area breweries among GABF medalists

Overall, a total of 9,680 beers from 2,192 breweries were evaluated at this year's GABF, with 290 medals awarded across 97 categories covering 175 different beer styles. And, as per usual, the most-entered categories were associated with IPAs. The largest number of submissions were in the "Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale" category with 427 entries, followed by "American-Style India Pale Ale" with 404.

Two local breweries were awarded medals, both garnering GABF recognition for the first time. Congratulations are in order for Westlake Brewing Co. of Dallas and Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth (click here for a full competition summary).

Westlake Brewing Co., Dallas: Gold for Peter Porter in the
Brown Porter category (Photo © Brewers Association).

Cowtown Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Silver for High Brau in the Dortmunder
or German-Style Oktoberfest category (Photo © Brewers Association).

Taproom (and other) trips

  • I generally have a theme in mind when deciding on what breweries to visit while attending events out-of-state. Oftentimes, it's a simple as finding a group of breweries I haven't experienced in proximity to each other. On this occasion, though, I decided to find a brewery with a view. A quick search led me to Cabin Creek Brewing in Georgetown, Colorado, a small-town spot set up on the shores of Georgetown Lake. For best results, grab a flight and head up to the second-floor balcony.
Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.
  • We'll call this a case of curious consumption. Here at home, when a new brewery opens, the first keg to kick is almost always some kind of IPA. Well, at Smash Face Brewing in Denver, a different story was being told, as the only beer available at this month-old brewery was an IPA. This, after the house lager, pilsner and session beers had all run out.
Photo © Enstrom Toffee & Confectionery.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Turning Point unveils expansive taproom upgrade

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Turning Point Beer has taken what was once a barrier to its inception and turned it into a jumping-off point for a new era at the three year-old brewery.

A gymnastics business originally occupied the spot adjacent to Turning Point's debut location at 1307 Brown Trail in Bedford. The gym's owners voiced opposition to the brewery during the development phase, but the Bedford City Council allowed the project to move forward despite the objection. Turning Point then went on to open its doors in March 2018.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the gymnastics company eventually chose to relocate. This presented Turning Point with the opportunity to enhance operations without having to move itself, so owners Jon Paul Goytia, Alex Knight and James Peery took over the lease on the neighboring property. After renovations were completed over the summer, Turning Point pulled the curtain back on the revamped space in early September.

Turning Point's new taproom offers patrons more beer options, along with more room to move around.

Comprising roughly 12,000 square feet, Turning Point's new playground has twice the usable area compared to where the brewery got its start next door. A substantial portion of the space is furnished with the comfort of the taproom crowd in mind, as seating options abound throughout, while a smaller expanse is home to additional production equipment. The hardware was acquired from The Collective Brewing Project, and the intent is to put it to work in honor of the former Fort Worth brewery.

Appropriately enough, Collective co-founder Mike Goldfuss is the man behind the taproom build-out. His firm, Goldfuss Construction Services, has worked behind the scenes at a number of recently-opened brewing locales, including On Rotation at the Braniff Centre in Dallas, and Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery at Mustang Station in Farmers Branch.

As for other amenities within the walls of the new taproom, note the brewery has also upped the ante on its list of available liquids. From now on, visitors will be able to pick from upwards of 30 beers on tap daily. And, if opening weekend was any indication, there will be more options among styles you've come to expect from Turning Point - like IPAs, sour beers and stouts - with other ales and few lagers mixed in for good measure.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lakewood releases Big D IPA #003

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland has begun shipping the latest in its limited "Big D" line of double dry-hopped IPAs. 

According to a press release, Big D IPA #003 (8.5% ABV) is a fresh take on the series "that delicately merges bold citrus and stone fruit flavors with a semi-sweet body to provide a crisp, succulent sip."

“As we’ve been making IPAs over the years, I’ve looked for new ways to utilize hops to really amplify their unmistakable character,” says Justin Hatley, innovation brewer at Lakewood. “Today we benefit from some of the best and most thorough hop research in generations, courtesy of the very growers themselves. So, when Hopsteiner, one of the best suppliers around, tells me they have a new, bold blend of hops called Trident designed to impart some of the fruitiest flavors possible, I had to try them!”

Using copious amounts of this blend, Lakewood imparted its unique floral bitterness into Big D IPA #003, along with notes of orange, mango, and kiwi.

"Using old homebrew hopping techniques and a healthy dry hop dose of the Trident hop blend, I think Big D #3 is my favorite in the series thus far," adds Hatley. "Big, juicy, fruity flavors with just enough bitterness for my old-school IPA palate. Give it a go, trust me, I’m sure this’ll put hop heads over the top!”

Big D IPA #003 is currently available statewide on draft and in four-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Locals land 16 medals at 2021 U.S. Open Beer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Beer Championship.

The hits just keep on coming for North Texas at the U.S. Open Beer Championship, as area breweries have landed 16 medals (6 gold, 5 silver, 5 bronze) at the 2021 competition. In fact, including this year's tally, North Texas brewing companies have brought home more than 100 medals from the U.S. Open during the course of the last 10 years.

At this year's event, breweries from around the world sent in over 8000 beers for evaluation, with those entries representing over 140 different styles. Among the winners were 11 local brewers, with first time honorees including Pathfinder Brewery of Hudson Oaks, along with Cowtown Brewing Co. and Maple Branch Craft Brewery of Fort Worth.

A list of winning beers from North Texas is provided below. You can also click here for a full competition summary.

903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Silver for Fragile Like a Bomb in the Imperial Stout Extreme category.
  • Gold for Mile Marker 12 in the Triple IPA category.
  • Bronze for Low Hood in the Belgian Tripel category.
  • Silver for Cold Fort Worth Beer in the American Premium Lager category.
  • Silver for Coco Añejo in the Coconut Beer category.
  • Silver for Coalition Coffee Stout in the Coffee Beer category.
  • Gold for Tipsy Goat in the Heller Bock/Maibock category.
  • Gold for Freaky Deaky in the Aged Beer category.
  • Bronze for Tejano Pecano in the Nut Beer category.
Pathfinder Brewery, Hudson Oaks
  • Gold for 3 Dragons in the Belgian Quadrupel category.
  • Silver for Great Scot! in the Scottish Ale category.
Tupps Brewery, McKinney
  • Bronze for Full Grown Man in the American Imperial Stout category.
  • Bronze for Monospace: Nelson in the New Zealand IPA category.
  • Bronze for Squoze in the Vegetable Beer category.
  • Gold for Dreamsicle Capsized Kayak in the Specialty/Anything Goes category.
  • Gold for Dave's Perfect Pils in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Deep Ellum delivers new IPA Variety 12-Pack

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas has announced the release of a new IPA Variety 12-Pack featuring four of the brewery's hoppiest offerings.

With a product mix including cans of Deep Ellum IPA, Easy Peasy Session IPA, Manic Confidence Hazy Enough IPA and the current rotator from the all-new Hop Seeker series, the pack is described as "an eclectic, hop-forward compilation of India Pale Ales crafted in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas."

The Deep Ellum IPA Variety 12-Pack is available now all across Texas.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Lakewood unveils act two of music-centric beer series

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is ready to take the stage with act two of its 2021 music-inspired series, Lakewood Live.

Lakewood Live Vol. 2 is an imperial rice lager brewed with green, pillowy pounds of imported matcha. According to a press release, "the matcha pairs beautifully with the crispness of a full-bodied lager, both uniting to deliver a truly sublime sip that delivers on Lakewood’s promise of 'Seriously Fun Beer'."

“I've always wanted to take a shot at an imperial lager,” says Justin Hatley, innovation brewer at Lakewood. “I never liked ones I've had in the past as they can come off as too sweet. Even if we're clocking in at 7% ABV, I still want it to drink like a smooth, crisp lager. When the idea of a matcha beer came up I knew I had the right beer in mind. With the addition of Loral and Meridian hops, it's a delightful floral lager. My only regret is it isn't green!”

Look for Lakewood Live Vol.2 on draft and in four-packs of 12-ounce cans wherever craft beer is sold. As with the inaugural beer in the series, this edition is launching alongside an official Spotify playlist curated by the staff at Lakewood. Click here to listen to "Live from Lakewood - Vol. 2."

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Second Rodeo ready to ride in Fort Worth

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

For the first time since 1997, beer is again being brewed in the Fort Worth Stockyards, as Second Rodeo Brewing has begun production ahead of a mid-September opening on Mule Alley.

Second Rodeo is the latest concept from Brain Storm Shelter, whose portfolio includes Truck Yard venues in Houston and Dallas, along with both a Truck Yard and Beard Science Sour House in The Colony (a fourth Truck Yard is currently under construction in North Fort Worth). And, while Second Rodeo sports a different name, elements of Truck Yard's design are an integral part of the experience.

Given the above, Second Rodeo clearly isn't Brain Storm Shelter's first project, a fact that plays into the naming of the place based on the saying, "This ain't my first rodeo." The taproom motif, though, takes the rodeo aspect a step further in drawing inspiration from local cowboy culture and the history of the Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville.

Beneath an expansive covered patio featuring a retractable roof, Second Rodeo's
outdoor design and decor matches that of Brain Storm Shelter's Truck Yard locations.

Along those lines, indoor areas at Second Rodeo have thematic touches like iron bars lining the stairways and balconies, tap handles with handcuffs, and a mock jail cell off in one corner (guests are asked to kindly refrain from using the cell's mock latrine!). Plus, if you've ever toured Alcatraz, you'll notice how the walls, painted signs, and light fixtures have a familiar jailhouse feel as well.

Outside, Second Rodeo is essentially an incarnation of Truck Yard, with Adirondack chairs, park benches, and an open-air stage set up underneath a retractable roof. The main difference being the absence of any actual trucks, as food (cheesesteaks, funkified chicken wings) will be served by way of self-service kiosks.

Regarding the beer, Brew Boss Dennis Wehrmann oversees brewing operations at Second Rodeo, just as he does at Beard Science. Production is taking place on a 15-barrel system, and while sour beers are the focus at Beard Science, a variety of styles will be brewed at Second Rodeo for consumption onsite or at other company locales.

Tap handles with handcuffs, a mock jail cell, and iron bars throughout are just
some of the elements brought together to create Second Rodeo's indoor jailhouse theme.

"We will have a total of 10 house beers on tap, and out of those, six will always be the same," says Wehrmann. "We will also brew for all the other Truck Yards in the Metroplex after we open."

In addition, visitors to the Stockyards will be allowed to purchase beer at Second Rodeo to enjoy anywhere on the grounds.

"We bought a little mobile-canning line to do some cans," says Wehrmann, "because the Stockyards is licensed for open containers, so you can take a beer and walk around."

Second Rodeo's equipment array includes a 15-barrel
brewhouse, stacked fermenters, and horizontal lagering tanks.

Patrons will be able to choose from a house beer lineup set to include a blonde ale, Mexican lager, amber ale, hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, and an IPA. Other options will consist of seasonal rotators, such as an Oktoberfest, and Beard Science offerings like the Sour House's cucumber lemon sour and hibiscus hard seltzer.

Beyond that, Second Rodeo will carry a stock of guest beers, spirits, and wine as part of its everyday drink menu.

As for when you can saddle up to Second Rodeo yourself, the spot is scheduled to open on Thursday, September 16. From there, the brewery/foodarama/live music venue will offer service daily beginning at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Truck Yard tapping 200 year-old kegs for Trucktoberfest

Image courtesy of Truck Yard.

In light of Dennis Wehrmann's recent move from his previous venture to Beard Science Sour House in The Colony, some may be curious as to the fate of annual Oktoberfest tappings drawn from his family's 200 year-old kegs. Well, wonder no more, as the Brew Boss will continue this popular pastime during Trucktoberfest events happening at Truck Yard locations in September.

“I’m excited to tap one of my personal 30-liter Oktoberfest kegs!" says Wehrmann. "Sharing this great tradition with Truck Yard is a great honor for me. The outdoor beer garden-style setting at Truck Yard is the perfect environment to enjoy something so special.”

According to a press release, the inaugural Trucktoberfest will feature a lineup of adult, kid, and dog-friendly activities including a stein holding contest, a pretzel eating contest, wiener dog races and a yodeling competition. And, there will of course be an Oktoberfest beer, with Truck Yard's take sharing the same name as the celebration.

“The 200+ year old wooden keg belonged to my great, great grandfather, who started our first family brewery in Germany in 1800," says Wehrmann. "We will fill the keg with our Oktoberfest beer, called 'Trucktoberfest,' that we brewed specially for this event. It is brewed as a traditional German Oktoberfest beer with German malt, hops and a Munich lager yeast. Enjoying this traditional German beer that is made locally alongside other local American and Oktoberfest beers at the event will certainly be a highlight for everyone."

Trucktoberfest takes place September 18-19 at Truck Yard Dallas and Truck Yard The Colony . The event is free to attend, but guests can click here to sign up for the various contests. To learn more, visit Truck Yard's social media channels for further details.

Ceremonial "Trucktoberfest" keg tapping schedule:

Saturday, September 18: Truck Yard The Colony at 2 p.m.
Sunday, September 19: Truck Yard Dallas at 3 p.m.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Bankhead now fermenting in Funkytown

Bankhead Fort Worth is open daily, with hours from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

It's been nearly five years since Bankhead Brewing Co. opened its original concept in Rowlett during the fall of 2016. Named for the Bankhead Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental roadways in the nation, the brewpub has since remained an arguably underrated destination for good food coupled with solid, stylistic house beers.

In more recent times, the company has undergone a change in ownership. This event was followed by the announcement in April of plans to expand the business by taking over a space in Fort Worth previously occupied by Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Funkytown Fermatorium. Located at 611 University Dr. in the city's Cultural District, Bankhead Fort Worth opened on a soft basis in July, with an official grand opening taking place on August 1.

In tune with the brewpub's namesake, the Bankhead Highway, artwork and decor is inspired by the American automobile.

So, what's the new spot like? Well, to borrow a known's a case of second verse, same as the first. And really, this is an appropriate turn of phrase in more ways than one.

To begin with, former visitors of the Fermatorium will see many similarities when stepping foot into Bankhead Fort Worth. This is because the conversion of the ready-made restaurant and brewery was a turn-key transition. From the looks of it, the company simply swapped out the signage, along with elements of artwork and decor...and voila, a newly-branded brewpub.

Indoor murals portray popular Bankhead offerings like Adios Bitchachos, a Mexican lager.

As for Bankhead Fort Worth's primary attractions, that being the beer and food, fans of the Rowlett locale will feel a sense of familiarity as well. The culinary menu is much the same (pizzas, sandwiches, salads and soups), as is the standard portfolio of brewhouse offerings, the latter of which includes popular selections like Adios Bitchachos (Mexican lager) and Hoofer's Hef (German-style hefeweizen).

What this means is, Bankhead regulars can enjoy essentially the same experience regardless of whether they frequent the company's brewpub in Rowlett or Fort Worth. The atmosphere and setting may differ a bit, but once you settle into your surroundings you'll hardly notice, as you enjoy the quality and consistency that's been a hallmark of Bankhead's approach since day one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Deep Ellum introduces Hop Seeker rotating IPA series

Image credits: CANarchy/Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas is embarking on a quest to track down the world's finest hops for inclusion in recipes designed for its new Hop Seeker rotating IPA series.

The first release in this line of beers is Hop Seeker West Coast IPA (7.3% ABV, 40 IBU). "Brewed for the hop-huggers, the lupulin lovers, and hopsplorers of every sort," Hop Seeker features Mosaic hops sourced from the Pacific Northwest. According to a press release, the resulting beer is said to start off gentle with fruity aromas, while finishing with piney bite.

“For this initial release we pulled inspiration from some of our favorite breweries on the west coast that are making huge waves with IPAs," says Brian Morris, head brewer at Deep Ellum. "Consider this a tribute to everything we love about the modern revival of the west coast IPA. Clear, crisp, and packed with some of our favorite hops.”

Hop Seeker West Coast IPA is available now on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce cans all across Texas.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Familiar names among winners at 2021 USBTC summer competition

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

Building on recent wins at the 2020-21 winter edition of the United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC), Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland, Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas, and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth secured additional honors at the organization's 27th Annual Summer Competition.

The USBTC's summer event drew 775 entries from 177 breweries, with these beers evaluated across 18 different style categories. From this pool, six North Texas beers from the above list of breweries were named Regional Champion in the Rockies/Southwest Division.

Local winners are summarized below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland

  • Lakewood Live - Vol 1, Regional Champion in the Belgian/French Specialty category.

  • Tipsy Goat, Regional Champion in the Bock/Doppelbock category.
  • Golden Mustache, Regional Champion in the Dortmunder/Helles category.
  • Summertime Wheat, Regional Champion in the Wheat Beer category.
  • Fritz's Funkberry, Regional Champion in the Sour Beer category.
  • Adios Pantalones, Regional Champion in the Session Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!