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.