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, 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.