Monday, September 26, 2022

903 Brewers snags gold, silver at 2022 U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship

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

The 2022 edition of the U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship is now complete, with 903 Brewers of Sherman upgrading from a pair of bronze medals awarded in the 2021 competition to a gold and silver this year.

Held at the U.S. Open Event Center in Oxford, Ohio (also home to the U.S. Open Beer Championship), the 2022 festivities attracted nearly 250 submissions sent in by more than 75 hard seltzer-makers hailing from the U.S. and Canada. Entries were then broken down and judged across 32 different categories, a number which increased compared to last year, when only 18 categories were available.

Winning seltzers from 903 Brewers are listed below. You can also click here for a full competition summary.


903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Gold for Zombie Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Mixed Fruit category.
  • Silver for Blackberry Cheesecake Hard Seltzer Slushy in the Cake & Pie category.

Cheers and congratulations to 903 Brewers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Funky Picnic unveils speakeasy vibe in The Back Room

Images courtesy of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth has taken steps to expand its offerings and customer base, as the company has built upon its existing restaurant with a new speakeasy bar and pizza kitchen branded as The Back Room at Funky Picnic.

Joining the busy nightlife scene in the city's Near Southside and South Main Village neighborhoods, The Back Room is an adults-only lounge specializing in craft cocktails and beer. Located directly next door to the original brewpub, The Back Room will feature Funky Picnic's house brews as well as shareable bottles of Lambic and mixed fermentation beers from breweries around the world.

“When the opportunity to expand into a connecting space became available, we wanted to focus on creating a unique, yet complimentary experience for our Funky Picnic customers,” says co-founder and general manager Samantha Glenn. “This led us to creating The Back Room with a more sophisticated speakeasy vibe, along with later operating hours for the 21 and older crowd.”

Funky Picnic has also unveiled new menu options from Chef Josh Rangel and Sous Chef Parker Gordon, including specialty pizzas and Back Room-exclusive appetizers. The new 10” pizzas, available in both the restaurant and speakeasy space, range from a classic Margherita to a Steak Pizza featuring an olive oil base, bleu cheese, mozzarella, grilled steak, mixed greens, and a balsamic drizzle.

“The Back Room will be an intimate space within the overall Funky Picnic concept where we can focus more on unique and experimental beer and cocktail experiences,” says co-founder and Certified Cicerone Collin Zreet. “In addition to limited single keg releases from head brewer Michael Harper, The Back Room will be the only place in Fort Worth to enjoy authentic Belgian Lambic on-site, alongside other mixed fermentation beers from breweries like Jester King Brewery in Austin to give customers a unique and enjoyable new experience at Funky Picnic.”

The Back Room opens Friday, September 23rd at 3p.m., with regular operating hours going forward set for Friday - Sunday from 3- 11 p.m.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Rickhouse is first brewery to make beer in Mineral Wells

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

You could say things are a little "Crazy" in the City of Mineral Wells. It's the home of Crazy Water, after all, a mineral water company that's been hydrating Texans since 1881. Driving through town, signs and "Crazy" business names call attention to this fact, as does the presence of the Crazy Water Hotel.

It's in the aforementioned hotel that Rickhouse Brewing has set up shop in a prime corner spot on the ground floor. Open since April, Rickhouse is the work of Brian Miller and Alan Clarke. It's the first known brewery to exist in Mineral Wells, a place where the primary attractions - at least according to one local - are eating, drinking and shopping.

If that's indeed the case, then Rickhouse should make for a good fit, considering it identifies as a drinking destination. It may be a brewery first and foremost (with production equipment in full view), but Rickhouse also offers other beverages, including a selection of wines and non-alcoholic sodas for those seeking to sip on something other than beer.

As for the main draw, if you will, Rickhouse beers pour from upwards of 20 taps installed behind the bar. During my visit, eight standards and two rotators were available, with everyday options consisting of a lager, blonde ale, kölsch, two IPAs, an Irish red, a German hefeweizen and an oatmeal stout. A seasonal märzen was among the rotators, as was my favorite beer on the board, a Cascadian dark called Ghost Riders Black IPA.

Rickhouse Brewing is located at 401 N. Oak Ave. in Mineral Wells, occupying a corner spot on the ground floor of the Crazy Water Hotel.

Visitors to Rickhouse should also know beer and other consumables (snack offerings, beverages, etc.) may be enjoyed in the taproom, or alternatively in an adjacent public area which connects to other boutiques and small businesses making up the "Shops at the Crazy" section of the hotel. Either way, the digs are well-polished, casual and comfortable no matter where you decide to stop and sit a spell.

And, if you're wondering about the Rickhouse name, it actually references the distilling industry and the warehouses used to store and age whiskey. Given that, one would assume a barrel-aged beer or two might make an appearance at some point. As it stands now, though, the portfolio presents as a stylistic slate...which is to say there's nothing too crazy going on in terms of the recipes at Rickhouse just yet. 

Well, besides maybe using Crazy Water as an ingredient.

Rickhouse Brewing has operating hours seven days a week. Check it out if you find yourself in Mineral Wells and looking to partake the imbibing aspect of the city's favored pastimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Bourbon -n- Branch taps first house beer in Hudson Oaks

Top image: Bourbon -n - Branch Brewing Co.
Bottom (left-to-right): Exterior, Bourbon Drip Rye Pale Ale, The Goat, Interior Bar (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Head to the newly-minted Bourbon -n- Branch Brewing Co. in Hudson Oaks, and you'll likely notice a certain theme. It's a Dallas sort of thing, but it's not about the city itself, but rather a lead character in the popular television series of the same name which premiered in 1978.

Founded by Brian Lixey and Joshua Tarbay (the latter formerly of Parker County Brewing Co.), Bourbon -n- Branch gets its name from a favored cocktail of J.R. Ewing. Naturally, the drink is served here, along with a number of other infusions from a full bar featuring...what else...whiskey varieties from Kentucky, Texas and beyond.

House beers will also occasionally be dipped with bourbon, so to speak, as evidenced by the debut offering, Bourbon Drip Rye Pale Ale (9.0% ABV). More IPA-ish than the moniker implies, the beer was fermented with Hungarian oak chips soaked in TX Whiskey from Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. of Fort Worth. The bourbon is somewhat hidden in the resulting beer, but it's still a tasty opener featuring notes of rye and citrus peel upfront, with wood tannins and an ever-so-slight bourbony burn in the finish.

And while we're on the topic, beer recipes at Bourbon -n- Branch are brewed on a one-barrel system, and as such they are very limited. Given that, patrons thirsty for a beer should know house selections are supplemented by upwards of 25 guest taps pouring local and national craft brews, along with a few domestic macros as well.

As for what there is to eat, Bourbon -n- Branch serves up a menu of appetizers, Akaushi Wagyu burgers, flatbread pizzas and boneless wings. House specialties like The Goat (a pizza with white crème sauce, smoked sausage, black figs, feta cheese and rosemary) are labeled as J.R.'s Favorite, while a burger selection called Who Shot J.R. harkens back to the famous cliffhanger episode which concluded season three of Dallas.

Beer, bourbon and a taste of Texas-inspired television history...that's the draw at Bourbon -n- Branch Brewing Co., a place perhaps best described as a modern brewpub with a bit of a western vibe. Urban cowboys are surely welcome, so maybe don your best Stetson, slip on a pair of boots and mosey on in seven days a week. Bourbon -n- Branch opens daily at 11 a.m.

Bishop Cider's newest Cidercade now open in Fort Worth

Image courtesy of Bishop Cider.

Bishop Cider of Dallas has announced the newest location of its Cidercade entertainment venue is now open in Fort Worth.

Located just south of downtown near the TCU campus at 1813 W. Bowie St., the Fort Worth outlet is the largest Cidercade yet at over 25,000 square feet. The space houses nearly 300 classic and modern arcade games that are free to play once guests have paid the $10 daily admission or $15 monthly membership fee. In addition, patrons can shoot pool, play basketball, air hockey, foosball, skeeball, shuffleboard, DDR, Guitar Hero, or bubble hockey.

“Fort Worth was the natural next choice for a Cidercade location,” says Joel Malone, CEO and co-founder of Bishop Cider. “It’s an incredible city with a growing population of families, cider drinkers, gamers and young people looking for a great time."

As far as other amenities, guests can enjoy artisan pizzas cooked in one of multiple Italian rotary stone hearth pizza ovens on-site. And to quench their thirst, Cidercade offers a selection of dozens of hard ciders and hard seltzers on tap, all made by Bishop Cider. On top of that, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

“This is our biggest Cidercade location yet, so we were able to add new experiences and games that we don’t have at other locations,” adds Malone. “We pulled out all the stops. This one is awesome!”

Bishop Cider also has plans for new Cidercade locations in Arlington and Dallas. Cidercade Arlington is slate to open around the end of 2022 at a location near downtown Arlington and AT&T Stadium. Bishop Cider will also relocate and drastically expand Cidercade Dallas, but it will remain open at its current location until construction has been completed at the new site near Love Field Airport. The new spot, debuting sometime in 2023, will be 10 times larger and feature concepts, games, and activities that aren’t offered anywhere else in Texas.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Oak Highlands, Rahr & Sons build on wins at 2022 USBTC Summer Competition

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

Winners from the 28th Annual Summer Competition of the United States Beer Tasting Beer Championship (USBTC) have been announced, with Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth repeating past history and again landing on the list of winners.

The 2022 edition of the USBTC's summer event drew 726 entries from 180 breweries. Submissions were examined across 18 different style categories, with the best beers separated out by region. Regional Champions then competed to determine a national Grand Champion.

At the close of judging, eight North Texas beers were named Regional Champion in the Rockies/Southwest Division, while one beer - Tipsy Goat from Oak Highlands - went on to be named Grand Champion in the Helles Bock category.

A complete rundown of local winners is given below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas
  • Monk's Lunch, Regional Champion in the Belgian/French Specialty category.
  • Wit-House, Regional Champion in the Belgian Wit category.
  • Tipsy Goat, Regional and Grand Champion in the Helles Bock category.
  • Golden Mustache, Regional Champion in the Dortmunder/Helles category.
  • DFDub, Regional Champion in the Wheat Beer category.
  • ClassiRyed Strong Ale, Regional Champion in the Multigrain category.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth
  • Ruff Ale, Regional Champion in the Fruit Beer category.
  • Brut Rose, Regional Champion in the Fruited Sour Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to Oak Highlands and Rahr & Sons!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Autonomous Society set to open in The Cedars, August 13

Image © Joey Stewart.

The area's newest craft beer destination is set to debut this weekend, as Autonomous Society Brewpub prepares to open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday, August 13.

Founded by Dean Weaver, Autonomous Society is located at 1928 S. Akard in The Cedars neighborhood of Dallas. The brewpub itself occupies a 1940s-era structure comprising over 5000 square feet, while overall site amenities include a ten-seat bar, a window bar and tables, an outdoor patio, board games, dominoes and multiple televisions for showing sporting events.

As for the food and beverage offerings, paninis and pretzel bites will be the primary culinary attraction once the kitchen is up and running, likely in the next month. On-site beer production is pending as well, thanks to supply chain issues delaying parts necessary to complete the equipment set-up.

Weaver, incidentally, began homebrewing over 30 years ago, and he has garnered multiple awards and accolades for his “Deanitude” brand of beers. Putting that experience into everyday practice, he'll make small batches utilizing a one-barrel brewhouse feeding a quartet of four-barrel fermenters at Autonomous Society - with plans to add two more fermenters in the future.

"We’ll be double batching on my one-barrel brewhaus to half-fill the fermentation vessels," says Weaver. "The goal is to get a four-barrel brewhaus in the near future (hopefully, within 12 months) to lighten our workload and increase our output."

Bar and table-top seating options fill the space at Autonomous Society Brewpub in The Cedars (Image © Joey Stewart).

So, what can patrons expect in terms of style options? Based on Weaver's response, the answer would seem to be one of internationally-inspired classics trumping current trends.

Case in point, Weaver plans an initial portfolio consisting of a double IPA, imperial red, Munich helles and a saison. From there, he’ll follow up with a festbier, English strong bitter (pub ale), English porter and most likely a Scottish wee heavy.

And, if that all sounds good, just wait...there's more.

"On deck, we’ll get a Belgian wit, Belgian dark strong (quad), Czech dark lager, classic American pils, American IPA (West Coast), Vienna lager, rye IPA, imperial red with coffee, and an imperial milk stout with cherries," adds Weaver. "I’ve got a whole lineup, but those are some that have done very well in competition."

For now, though, the brewpub's 24 taps will be filled with guest beers furnished by local, independent breweries.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Funky Picnic to host Smoke ‘Em Out Homebrew Competition

Image courtesy of Funky Picnic Brewery & Café.

Calling attention to a relative rarity among specialty beers, Fort Worth-based neighbors Funky Picnic Brewery & Café and TexMalt have teamed up to create a first-of-its-kind all smoked beer competition.

Naturally, this unique event will highlight all things smoky, including traditional smoked beer styles like rauchbier and lichtenhainer, but it also will allow participants to get creative with open-ended freestyle categories. Entrants will receive up to 5 lbs. of smoked San Jacinto 2-Row Heritage Malt from TexMalt to design their recipes around.

The goal, of course, is to create a well-made smoked beer, exhibiting a balance of beer and smoke. Competition entries should have enough smoke to enjoy the subtle nuances in the flavor and aroma of the wood used, yet be light enough in this regard to tell that there is a beer behind all that smoke.

Online registration is open now through August 28th. Entries will be judged by experienced brewers, beer judges, maltsters, and all-around smoked beer enthusiasts. Winners will be selected for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards based on technical style categories, as well as a Brewer’s Choice award that will be brewed at Funky Picnic and placed on the tap wall.

For more information, or to throw your own hat into the smoke ring (if you will), visit the official competition website at: https://www.funkypicnicbrewery.com/smoke-em-out-homebrew.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

More on plans for Armor Brewing Co. in Allen

Image credit: Armor Brewing Co.

Last night, the Allen City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend its land use code allowing Armor Brewing Co. to make modifications necessary to operate a brewpub at the address of 9 Prestige Cir.

Mike and Jennifer Todryk first made their plans known for Armor Brewing Co. in July of last year. The couple purchased the site formerly occupied by Nine Band Brewing Co., which up to that point had been in business as a production brewery. Now, though, they intend to refurbish the facility, making it more of a family-friendly, dinner and drinks-type entertainment destination.

Image credits: Armor Brewing Co., Plan B Group (click for larger view).

According to a presentation at the Council meeting, the taproom of the previous firm will be remodeled into a restaurant, with a new 1250 square foot kitchen extension added along the west elevation (formerly a patio). In addition, a portion of the front parking lot will be re-purposed to create a new covered patio comprising nearly 2300 square feet.

Total cost of the renovations, including additional building upgrades (new cooler to the north, decorative awnings, etc.), interior finish-out and more is expected to be in the $2.5 million range.

Look for Armor Brewing to debut the new digs later in 2022.

Monday, July 11, 2022

North Texas hauls in 19 medals at 2022 U.S. Open Beer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Beer Championship.

Medals, medals and more medals for North Texas - that seems to be the theme when winners are announced at the annual U.S. Open Beer Championship. And, this year is no different.

As for a few details, the 2022 edition of the event drew more than 9000 entries from breweries around the world, with those broken down into 150 different categories for evaluation. Reviewing the list of winners, eleven breweries from North Texas were awarded 19 medals combined (6 gold, 5 silver, 8 bronze). From that group, False Idol Brewing of North Richland Hills represents the area's lone first-time honoree, while Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas appears for the first time since 2016.

Winning beers from North Texas are summarized below. You can also click here for a complete competition summary.


903 Brewers, Sherman
  • Silver for Fragile Like a Bomb in the Aged Beer category.
  • Gold for Low Beams in the American/German Light category.
  • Silver for Cold Fort Worth Beer in the American Premium Lager category.
  • Silver for Dallas Blonde in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.
False Idol Brewing, North Richland Hills
  • Gold for Banquet Boy in the American Lager/Pilsner category.
  • Gold for Feisty Blonde in the Honey Beer category.
  • Silver for Mi Familia in the American-Style Fruit Beer category.
  • Bronze for The Hop Root Beer in the Root Beer - Kids category.
  • Gold for Muy Importante in the American-Style Fruit Beer - Lime category.
  • Gold for Bavarian Classic in the Munchner Helles category.
  • Bronze for Red Wine Freaky Deaky in the Wine Barrel-Aged Beer category.
  • Bronze for Freaky Deaky in the Aged Beer category.
  • Bronze for Great Scot! in the Scottish Ale category.
  • Bronze for Velvet Hammer in the Imperial Red Ale category.
  • Bronze for Top Shelf in the Experimental Beer category.
  • Bronze for Golden Opportunity in the Ukrainian Golden Ale category.
  • Gold for Midnight Delight in the Imperial Porter category.
  • Silver for Chocolate Reign in the Imperial Stout Specialty category.
  • Bronze for Dreamsicle Kayak in the Specialty/Anything Goes category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Happy Hippie hopes to build hip new brewery and taproom in Richardson

Image credit: Happy Hippie Brewing Co.

Happy Hippie Brewing Co. is putting plans in motion to open a destination taproom and brewery in the City of Richardson.

Products from the team of Michael and Kellie Frederick, along with partner Scott Schwieterman, first appeared on the market in early 2020. This, after Happy Hippie entered into a joint proprietorship agreement with Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine. Since then, a total have 10 beers have been released, one of which is the firm's highly-rated Belgian-style tripel, Captain Tripels (which is also available in a rum barrel-aged variety).

Going forward, though, Happy Hippie hopes to establish a brick-and-mortar facility in the Lockwood District, an area of development in Richardson anchored by Lockwood Distilling. To be located at 500 Lockwood Dr., Happy Hippie's future home would sit across the street from the spirit maker, and be contained in a existing structure comprising nearly 11,000 square feet.

To aid in this endeavor, Happy Hippie is gauging the public's interest in providing investment by way of crowdfunding. Set up on Wefunder, the company's campaign wants to thank loyal customers for their support by offering them a chance to be a stakeholder in the future of Happy Hippie Brewing Co.

For more details and further insight into Happy Hippie's overall vision for its future, visit the landing spot for the campaign at : https://wefunder.com/happyhippiebrewingcompany.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Local amateurs honored at 2022 National Homebrew Competition

Photo © American Homebrewers Association.

The American Homebrewers Association has announced the winners at the 2022 National Homebrew Competition.

Recognized as the world's largest amateur homebrew competition, this year's gathering logged 2,940 entries from 1,187 homebrewers located around the globe. Overall, a total of 132 medals were awarded across 44 different categories covering homemade beer, cider and mead.

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

Nicholas McCoy of Sachse.
  • Affiliation: Draft Punk.
  • Award: First Place in the Specialty IPA category.
Jarrett Long of Arlington, with John Bates.
Nigel Curtis of Arlington, with Come & Brew It.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Steam Theory to close in Dallas, June 19

Image credit: Steam Theory Brewing Co.

Four years after debuting in Trinity Groves, a multi-use entertainment destination in Dallas, Steam Theory Brewing Co. will shutter at the close of business on Sunday, June 19.

Founded by Jonathan Barrows and Chuck Homola, Steam Theory opened with backing from the former host of ABC's The Bachelor, Chris Harrison. Initially, the concept paired beers with culinary selections curated by Chef Michael Weinstein, but over time Steam Theory shifted its focus to pub fare featuring Neapolitan pizza.

Steam Theory's name was derived from the idea of taking an old-school approach and applying it to the modern day. This fusion of elements was symbolized by the decor of the space, which took on a steampunk vibe.

According to a social media post, the business was unable to overcome financial difficulties encountered due to the "global pandemic, the great resignation of 2021, a recession and inflation."

Despite the closure of the physical location, a report says the Steam Theory brand will carry on by way of a "virtual brewery" model, with beers produced and distributed by a North Carolina-based company.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A look at 2021 North Texas production numbers

Click image to enlarge.190

Presented is a chart showing a breakdown of brewery sizes in North Texas based on production data reported to the Brewers Association and published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer (this information was last covered in this space during July 2019).

Note that not all brewing companies provide their numbers, while others report numbers covering multiple locations. As a result, the number of brewing companies counted here does not equate to the total number of brewing operations open and operating at any given time.

Takeaways:
  • Smaller breweries continue to dominate the North Texas landscape, with the majority producing less than 1000 barrels per year. Moreover, the number of breweries producing more than 1000 barrels has not changed significantly over the past five years.
  • Movement between the higher tiers has been minimal over time, with only Martin House Brewing Co. of Fort Worth (2019) and Tupps Brewery of McKinney (2020) crossing into the upper threshold. Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is the sole entry to drop down, moving from "Large" to "Mid-Size" in 2020.
  • Based on total production, Martin House is now considered to be an independent "Regional Brewery." Other regionals owned by larger entities include Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas (CANarchy Craft Beer Collective), Four Corners Brewing Co. of Dallas (Constellation Brands), and Revolver Brewing of Granbury (MillerCoors).
  • Joining the aforementioned five, the other two "Large" producers in North Texas are Community Beer Co. of Dallas and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth.
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on production, and by extension sales, can be seen in the total barrelage reported by North Texas breweries over the last three years. Over  barrels 190,000 barrels combined were produced locally in 2019. That total dropped to over 178,000 barrels in 2020, with levels recovering to over 189,000 barrels in 2021.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Lakewood cycles back around with Rock Ryder

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co.

A former year-round recipe is set to return at Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland on Saturday, June 25.

Rock Ryder is an American rye wheat beer that first appeared in Lakewood's lineup when the company debuted in 2012. It's described as "light and refreshing," with "just enough bite to quench a Texas-sized summer thirst."

The beer is being re-released to coincide with a Bikes & Brews event Lakewood is hosting with Bike DFW, a non-profit group that "supports and promotes the safe use of bicycles as an affordable, viable, and sustainable means of active transportation and personal enjoyment." Naturally, Rock Ryder is an appropriate choice of refreshment for the festivities considering its package art features a cyclist traversing a bridge.

As for the upcoming event, participants may start at the Dallas Farmers Market at 10 a.m. for the full ride, at White Rock Lake at 11 a.m. for a half-ride, or at the destination - a vendor fair at Lakewood at 12:30 p.m. - for no ride. If you choose to ride, note the first 20 cyclists to arrive at Lakewood will get two free beers from the brewery's array of taproom offerings.

To learn more, visit the event web site at https://lakewoodbrewing.com/event/bikes-brews-with-bike-dfw/.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Vector Brewing recognized at 2022 NABA International Beer Awards

Image credit: North American Brewers Association.

Vector Brewing of Dallas has been honored for one of its beers at the 2022 NABA International Beer Awards.

The NABA International Beer Awards is an annual event put on by the North American Brewers Association, with the goal of "providing recognition and incentives by the way of awards to demonstrate excellence in the field of beer brewing." Entries to this year's competition were evaluated against the 2022 North American Brewers Association Style Guide, with medals handed out in more than 100 different categories covering beer, cider and hard seltzer.

For Vector Brewing, recognition came in the form of a silver medal for Slightly Darker Black, an India black ale whose recipe was originally brewed in collaboration with Braindead Brewing of Dallas. As for other winning beers, click here to view a full competition summary.

Vector Brewing
  • Silver for Slightly Darker Black in the Cascadian Dark Ale/American Black Ale category.

Cheers and congratulations to Vector Brewing!

Bois d'Arc ceases production at Cork & Brew in Commerce

Image credit: Bois d'Arc Brewery.

In-house brewing operations have ceased at Cork & Brew in Commerce.

Lizardo Garrett manned the brewhouse at Cork & Brew by way of his nano-brewing project Bois d'Arc Brewery. His first two beers, Osage Pale Ale and Bad Gorilla DIPA, debuted in mid-November 2020, shortly after Cork & Brew celebrated its grand opening.

Remaining stock of a single beer, Nitro Bois d'Arc Barleywine, was still being poured as of mid-May, but a production stop apparently occurred late last year. Garrett confirmed the news in a social media correspondence.

Cork & Brew continues on as a wine and beer bar, with the tapwall featuring products from North Texas and beyond.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Cedar Creek satellite in Farmers Branch now closed

Image credit: Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery.

After opening its doors one year ago, Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery in Farmers Branch is now closed.

Initially announced in October 2018, the project was a collaboration between Cedar Creek Brewery of Seven Points and former owners of the Dallas-based craft beer-centric restaurant, LUCK at Trinity Groves. Naturally, the brewpub paired popular elements of LUCKs food menu with Cedar Creek's line of craft beers and hard seltzers.

Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery also built on LUCK's legacy of supporting both local charities and the North Texas craft brewing industry as a whole with community events like SliderMania, and the revival of the North Texas Craft Beer Chili Challenge.

According to a social media post, "trials and tribulations brought on by operating during a global pandemic" contributed to the closure.

Cedar Creek's original spot in Seven Points remains open, with the brewery expected to celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Tupps to launch 'Build Your Own Business' program in December

Artist rendering of the B.Y.O.B Courtyard at Tupps Brewery (Image courtesy of Tupps Brewery).


Last July, Tupps Brewery of McKinney announced the intent to relocate its business to a historic McKinney grain site east of Downtown McKinney. Now, the company is sharing details on a key feature of the new location.

The B.Y.O.B. Courtyard at Tupps Brewery will be home to a unique 'Build Your Own Business' program. Set up with multiple grain bins, each bin will allow a local business to get started or stimulate growth by offering a place to work and sell their products to customers. 

“We started Tupps by brewing beer in my garage on the weekends," says Keith Lewis, founder and president of Tupps. "Our weekend hobby turned into a real idea for a business. We built the company from the ground up and we want others to have the opportunity and encouragement to do the same.”

Each B.Y.O.B business will be open on the weekends. Tupps will have multiple resources to offer each of the businesses that range from sales and marketing to coaching and advice. 

“We will also offer business seminars to the owners of these businesses to help stimulate and advance their product or service," adds Lewis. "Our taproom, brewery and events drive significant traffic which provides a built-in customer base for these B.Y.O.B participants.”

Construction is currently underway at Tupps' new location, where crews are remodeling the site's 120-year-old grain mill and building a new state of the art production brewery. The total project will encompass over 45,000 square feet of buildings on a four-acre spread. 

As of now, Tupps intends to open the space, including the B.Y.O.B. Courtyard, in December of 2022. In the meantime, Tupps is accepting applications for the B.Y.O.B program from now until June 30, 2022. This is an equal opportunity for all - anyone and everyone may apply.

Interested parties can click here to fill out the online application.

Friday, May 27, 2022

On Rotation spinning a spring menu refresh

New brunch items at On Rotation include (left-to-right) Cajun Sunrise and Gravy Baby (Images: On Rotation).

On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen of Dallas is now in the midst of a spring menu refresh. This, after bringing on new chef and kitchen manager, Michael Smith. Craft beer fans may recall Smith served as the executive chef at the original Dallas location of The Common Table from February 2011 to January 2014.

"We're really excited to have Chef Mike on our team," says Jacob Sloan, co-founder at On Rotation. "We’ll have some beer dinners to announce soon where we’ll really get to show off Chef Mike’s skills and pair that with our new beer releases."

Smith has plenty of experience in the beer and food pairing arena, by the way, having been at the helm when The Common Table introduced its weekly Pour Man's Beer Dinner in 2012.

As for the biggest part of the menu refresh (at least so far), that involves a complete reboot of the brewpub's weekend brunch offerings. New temptations include Cajun Sunrise (cheddar cheese grits layered with blackened chicken, scrambled eggs and a Cajun hollandaise sauce), as well as Gravy Baby (beer biscuits, sausage and scrambled eggs topped with a peppered cream gravy).

Oh, and, there's a new spin on mimosas, too.

"We know people dig mimosas at brunch time," says Sloan, "so we’ve added mimosa carafes of our traditional mimosas as well as our Pink Lemonade Mimosas."

The brewpub's full brunch menu can be found at https://on-rotation.com/menu/brunch-menu/. Also take note that On Rotation now serves brunch from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Bishop Cider going big, acquires Wild Acre, Legal Draft

Image: Bishop Cider.

Looking to expand its reach and build upon an already well-established brand, Bishop Cider of Dallas has acquired assets associated with two North Texas breweries - Wild Acre Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, and the recently-closed Legal Draft Beer Co. of Arlington.

TexBev, a beverage co-packing company owned by Bishop Cider, will relocate operations from Dallas to Wild Acre’s Fort Worth facility and expand its capacity and capabilities with the addition of the equipment from Bishop Cider's Dallas operation and Legal Draft’s Arlington brewery. Bishop Cider will also be opening a one-of-a-kind entertainment concept at the site, with details to be revealed in the fall.

Regarding Legal Draft, Bishop Cider acquired the company's equipment, but did not assume their liabilities and will not market beer bearing the Legal Draft name. Bishop Cider will, however, be opening a Cidercade location at the Arlington property around the end of the year.

At Wild Acre, beer will continue to be produced at the facility, but the brand will be getting a refresh - investments will be made in QA/QC equipment, and recipes will be fine-tuned. Grant Wood, co-founder and former brewmaster at Revolver Brewing of Granbury, is joining the new management team to ensure the liquid at Wild Acre is world class.

"Rightfully so, Wild Acre has gained a lot of respect in Fort Worth," says Joel Malone, CEO of Bishop Cider and TexBev. "Founder John Pritchett has built a very impressive facility and the beer can hold its own against other local breweries, but I believe there is potential to compete on a larger stage. I’m thrilled to be able to make this happen and partner on the next evolution of Wild Acre."

Wild Acre Camp Bowie will remain open, but it and a planned Fairview locale will transition to a new brewpub concept by an ownership group independent of Bishop Cider in the coming months.

On the cider side of things, Bishop Cider operates three locations of its Cidercade concept in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. In addition to the outlook for Arlington, construction is underway on Cidercade Fort Worth, set to open by the end of summer just south of the city's downtown area.

What's more, there are plans to relocate Cidercade Dallas to a 79,000-square foot building, a spot nearly 10 times larger than its present home (opening date to-be-determined).

"As the business has grown, we have been blessed to be able to make every new location even better than the last," says Malone. "Here’s the problem with that - Dallas, our home base and literal home, was our first location. A redo of Cidercade Dallas has been on our wish list for years and we finally get to bring our wildest ideas to life and go huge. Get ready."

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Texas Ale Project expanding partnership with Pantera

Image courtesy of Texas Ale Project.

It's been just over a year since Texas Ale Project debuted its first pairing with the metal band, Pantera, but now the Dallas-based brewery is looking to build on that relationship with expanded distribution and the first of a new limited-edition series of Pantera-branded beers.

Thanks to a recent partnership with Dynamo Specialty Distributing, fans of the band and brewery can now find six-packs of the original release, Pantera Golden Ale, in the San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Houston, and Dallas/Ft Worth areas at locations of HEB, Total Wine, Spec’s and other local retailers.

“Pantera Golden Ale has been a huge success, and we’re excited to continue this partnership with Pantera to expand the distribution across Texas and launch new limited edition Pantera beers," says Kat Thompson, co-founder of Texas Ale Project. "Thank you to all the Pantera fans out there. Keep rockin’ and keep enjoying our beers!”

As for what's to come, the new limited-edition series of Pantera beers will kick-off with Becoming Bock, an easy-drinking amber lager for summer and fall. Availability will be limited to Total Wine, independent beer stores, and other select spots - and the beer is expected to sell out quickly.

Then later this year, the Pantera line will continue with Electric Blonde Ale, a beer brewed with a punch of habanero peppers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Topics on Twin Cities beer, the 2022 CBC and World Beer Cup

The 2022 Craft Brewers Conference took place at the Minneapolis Convention Center (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Things I knew about Minnesota before visiting the state last week for the 2022 Craft Brewer's Conference (CBC), presented by the Brewers Association, were more or less limited to sports-related items - the Twins, the Vikings, the Wild, and the fact that the Dallas Stars were borne of the Minnesota North Stars.

Vikings were probably most prevalent in my mind, and while there are noticeable elements of Nordic culture - Scandinavian gift shops, the American Swedish Institute, a Leif Erikson statue on the grounds of the State Capitol, the people of Poland and Ukraine are likewise well-represented.

I also learned Minnesota is the home of the Jolly Green Giant and the founder of the Mayo Clinic. In fact, a house that served as W. W. Mayo's first medical practice was also once the home of the Cosgrove family who started the Green Giant Company.

Oh, and if you're into cartography, Interstate 35 (I-35) splits into east and west branches through the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, just like it does here at home for Dallas and Fort Worth.

As for all things beer in Minnesota, what I discovered was an active and vibrant scene. Most beer drinkers have heard of the Summit and Surly brewing companies, but beyond those, Minnesota may be a bit of a mystery - or, at least it was to me. One very pleasant surprise, though, is how you can explore both past and present elements of Minnesota's beer industry.

Highlights of my beer explorations in Minnesota are included below, as is a summary of topics discussed during keynote speeches at this year's CBC and the event's annual State of the Industry address. A quick recap of 2022 World Beer Cup results is provided as well.

Cheers!

State of the Industry

The message conveyed during the annual State of the Industry address given by Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, was one of challenges ahead for America's craft brewers.

Craft beer is rebounding as it recovers from struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet while overall volume production is bouncing back, only about half of breweries in the U.S. have regained or improved upon 2019 production levels. What this means is, many breweries have now gone a number of years without experiencing any sort of business growth.

Even so, the number of breweries in America continues to increase, though it's notable that the growth curve is now leveling off - only 646 openings were recorded in 2021, continuing a downward trend in new brewery debuts that began around the beginning of 2018.

Data courtesy of the Brewers Association.

The rate of closures continues to remain low - only 186 in 2021, but the expectation is numbers will rise going forward. One reason cited was the end of pandemic-driven government support for small businesses. With the possibility of deferred bills coming due, the question becomes whether breweries on life support will be able to stand on their own.

Moreover, a difficult economic environment will impact operations for many, with supply chain issues resulting in rising costs, which will lead to pricing dilemmas as breweries make decisions as to how much of these increases will have to be passed on to their customers.

There's also the specter of increased competition, though it's not just other beer makers brewery owners have to worry about. Other types of alcoholic beverages are gaining market share and fighting for the same retail space and distribution channels as they vie for consumer dollars.

With that in mind, innovation is a key going forward for breweries hoping to weather the storm. Ideas and approaches spurring past growth will likely need to be refreshed and/or re-invented in order to get things moving forward again.

Watson further called upon attendees to remember that innovation begins with the customer. Brewers must be responsive to the demands of current customers, while also seeking out new ones who many have different preferences with regards to craft beer, and craft beverages in general.

Strong branding and creativity will matter greatly as well, points touched on by other featured speakers at the event. Natalie Cilurzo, co-founder of Russian River Brewing Co. of California, spoke at length about how breweries should have a clear and defined sense of purpose. Further reinforcing this with the right product choices and community involvement helps both customers (brand loyalty) and staff (employee retention) connect to your brewery.

On creativity, Timothy Wu, special assistant to President Biden for technology and competition policy, called the craft beer industry a model for the type of economy the administration wants to promote. Individualism, local identity, and diversity of choice being preferred over the watered-down nature of a consolidated industry and the anti-competitive practices that result. Wu also suggested breweries producing little beyond "trivial variations" weren't on the same page as others when it comes to true creativity and innovation.

Despite these issues, Watson believes craft beer can and will continue to thrive. Breweries have more than proven their resilience over the last two years, and he expects them to rise to the challenges in front of them as the industry soldiers on.

Three local breweries earn World Beer Cup honors

Held for the first time since 2018, this year's edition of the World Beer Cup (WBC) attracted 10,542 entries submitted by 2,493 breweries from around the world (with 57 different countries represented). A total of 307 medals were awarded by judges across 103 style categories. As for the most-entered categories, there was a flip-flop at the top compared to 2018, as "American-Style India Pale Ale," with 384 entries, jumped ahead of "Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale," with 343.

Among honorees from North Texas, 3 Nations Brewing Co. of Carrollton won its first ever WBC award, while Community Beer Co. of Dallas landed its second, and Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth its third (click here for a full competition summary).

  • 3 Nations Brewing Co., Carrollton: Silver for Devour - Mexican Chocolate in the Chocolate Beer category.
  • Community Beer Co., Dallas: Bronze for Bock in the American-Style Amber Lager category.
  • Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth: Silver for Hazy Hefe in the South German-Style Hefeweizen category.

Founder Gavin Secchi of 3 Nations Brewing Co. accepts an award for the
brewery's Mexican Chocolate Devour Imperial Stout (© Brewers Association).

Minnesota breweries - yesterday and today

  • Of the more than a dozen breweries I visited in Minnesota, three were among the top five producers in the state, though nary a one currently ships their beers to Texas. These included August Schell Brewing Co. of New Ulm, along with Surly Brewing Co. and Fulton Brewery of Minneapolis. Another destination, Fair Sate Brewing Cooperative of Minneapolis, has been available locally since 2020.

    Fulton and Surly were two of the more lively locales I checked out, as was Modist Brewing Co., which exists along with Fulton, Inbound Brew Co., and StormKing Brewpub + Barbecue in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis.

    StormKing, incidentally, was one of three Twin Cities-area dining establishments purporting to be a purveyor of "Texas BBQ," the others being Animales Barbeque Co. of Minneapolis and Firebox Deli of St. Paul. And while each had some enjoyable offerings, I think it's safe to say nothing quite compares to the source.

    Among favorite stops, Surly was at the top of the list, as was a little joint called Yoerg Brewing Co. in St. Paul. This spot resurrects the name and flagship recipe of Minnesota's first commercial brewery, which got its start in 1848. Yoerg's Beer, a steam beer akin to Anchor Steam, is produced just as it was over 150 years ago. The beer also pairs well with The Yoerg Sandwich, a sausage and Swiss selection on rye bread that's been called "The Greatest Blue Collar Sandwich in Town."

    Left-to-right: Surly Brewing Co., Yoerg Brewing Co., Fair State Brewing Cooperative (Photos © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).
Left-to-right: Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co., Hamm's Brewery/Saint Paul Brewing, Grain Belt Brewery (Photos © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Friday, April 15, 2022

Ghost Eye seen as new North Texas beer brand

Image: Ghost Eye Brewing Co.

If you recently caught a glimpse of an unfamiliar North Texas beer brand, it may have been a sighting of a newly-established entity that goes by the name of Ghost Eye Brewing Co.

Russell Rodriguez and Krizia Isaac form the husband-and-wife team behind Ghost Eye, which currently operates by way of a collaboration with Trinity Forest Brewing Co. of Dallas. Essentially, the two entities share a license while brewing under an alternating proprietorship agreement with Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine.

Ghost Eye recipes were first introduced at Big Texas Beer Fest in November 2021, and since then the company has quietly been pouring at events with Trinity Forest as it works to build a following. Draft offerings to-date have included Ghost Eye IPA, Ghost Eye Stout and Ghost Eye Pilsner. Those are just the beginning, as Rodriguez has plans for additional IPAs, sour beers and lagers going forward.

For now, though, you can expect to catch Ghost Eye at festivals and pint night events around town, including appearances at the following locales:

April 18 - Pint Night at Guitars & Growlers, McKinney.
April 21 - Pint Night at Local Tap & Table, Dallas.
April 23 - Pint Night at Mudhook Bar, Duncanville.
April 30 - Wine, Arts & Craft Brew Festival, Midlothian.

As for the future, Rodriguez says the long-term plan is to open a brick-and-mortar location in Duncanville. If all goes well, construction is slated to begin on the spot this summer.

To learn more, visit the company's website at www.ghosteyebrewing.com. You can also stay up-to-date by following Ghost Eye on Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

New brewer, new beers and new territories part of the plan at Pathfinder

Image: Pathfinder Brewery.

With a new brewer and plans to expand its offerings and service territory, Pathfinder Brewery is looking to blaze new trails as the firm approaches its second-year anniversary in Hudson Oaks.

On the first bit of news, Pathfinder founder Eric Addison has enlisted the brewing expertise of Austin Heisch, a long-time veteran of the North Texas scene. Heisch comes to Pathfinder after spending more than ten years at Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, where he began as a cellarman prior to working his way up to director of brewing operations.

"Austin brings a wealth of experience and technical brewing knowledge that we plan on capitalizing on," says Addison. "He is already working on improving our lab and quality control processes."

Heisch will take on the simple title of "brewer" at Pathfinder, which is a reflection of the humble approach Addison takes as the owner of a small, local brewery.

"We are so small, titles aren't a big deal," explains Addison. "Austin does the hard brewing work, while I do the easy stuff."

Staffing in general is currently a high priority for Addison, who hopes to add two sales representatives to the Pathfinder team. Once hired, one will work to expand on accounts currently serviced in Parker and Tarrant County, while another will focus on developing new relationships in Dallas.

Regarding the types of beer they'll be selling, Addison intends to continue taking inspiration from history while remaining loyal to classic styles. That said, there have been talks of expanding the company's current range.

"Several fruit brews are in the works, and we are just now discussing sours and hybrid beers," says Addison. "There are not limits; we brew what sounds like fun and what we think people want to experience, probably for the first time."

As for the aforementioned anniversary, Pathfinder will celebrate year two in late July with a variety of special releases, one of which is expected to be a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout.

Texas Ale Project promoting 70s theme for TAP Fest 2022

Image credit: Texas Ale Project.

Be ready to don your best vintage threads, as disco dancing may be on the bill when Texas Ale Project celebrates its seventh anniversary with a 70s-themed event in Dallas on Saturday, April 23.

TAP Fest 2022 will feature live music, food from Southern Gentleman's Table, and over 25 beers on tap - some of which will be new limited-edition beers.

In addition, attendees are encouraged to wear bell-bottoms, mini-skirts and platform shoes in order to compete for a prize package (TAP t-shirt, custom TAP glass, and one free beer) to be awarded for the top 70s costume.

“We are blessed to be thriving and now growing beyond the DFW Metroplex, into the Houston, Austin, and San Antonio markets," says Kat Thompson, co-founder of Texas Ale Project. "We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for.”

Admission prices for TAP Fest 2022 range from $20-$45 per person, with a VIP option offering buyers early access, priority parking, a take-home 6-pack, and a designated private VIP area.

Click here for more information, or to purchase tickets.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

By the Horns Brewing is back in Mansfield

All images Image © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

It's been nearly two years since difficulties with Covid-19 restrictions led to a decision to shut down the business, but the brew kettles are now back in action at By the Horns Brewing in Mansfield.

A social media post in June 2020 was the last word anyone heard before By the Horns went into hibernation. The brewery's future was further clouded once its parent company, Brain Storm Shelter, filed for bankruptcy protection to cover assets in other areas of the D-FW Metroplex.

Once the dust cleared, By the Horns had become the domain of Local Favorite Restaurants, a group whose portfolio includes El Fenix Mexican Restaurant, Snuffer's Restaurant & Bar, Village Burger Bar and more. At that point, Local Favorite's first order of business was to get the brewhouse back in order before hiring Nathan Crawford (formerly of Wild Acre Brewing Co. in Fort Worth) to head-up brewing operations going forward.

Local Favorite also attached a new food partner to the venture in the form of Del Toro BBQ. The latest entry in a crowded North Texas 'que market, Del Toro features a fairly standard range of BBQ offerings. Patrons can order prime brisket, ribs, jalapeno sausage and other smoked meats by the pound, or instead choose from a selection of salads, sandwiches or tacos.

As for the brewing side of things, five beers make up the everyday menu at By the Horns. Prior to the transition, brews were referred to by their style moniker (i.e., Hefeweizen, IPA, etc.), but a farm and ranch theme complimenting the 'que concept now enters into the naming of beers like Big Hoss IPA, Ranchhand Blonde Ale and Thresher Wheat.

There's also Te Amo Lager...you know, for the lager lovers, as well as Big Rig Stout, which is said to make an ideal pairing with Del Toro's Pork Belly Burnt Ends.

Other than that, the atmosphere remains much the same as it did when By the Horns first opened as part of The Backyard development in early 2019. Beers purchased at By the Horns can be enjoyed throughout the venue, which includes holdover Twisted Root Burger Co., as well as the newly-installed Taqueria La Ventana.

So...beer, BBQ, burgers and tacos? Sounds like quite a consumable quartet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Celebrate seven years of small-batch beers at On Rotation

Images courtesy of On Rotation.

On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen of Dallas is set to celebrate seven years in business with a birthday bash on Saturday, April 9.

Originally opening as a small-batch production brewery (and wine bar) in early 2015, founders Jacob and Lindsay Sloan relocated On Rotation from Lakewood to the Braniff Centre at Dallas Love Field in mid-2021. This allowed them to expand brewing operations, while also adding a kitchen and other amenities to assume full brewpub status.

From the start, the company's reputation as a craft beer laboratory has been central to its success, something evidenced by the fact that over 340 different beer releases have occurred over the course of On Rotation's history. At first, the Sloans managed the mash paddle(s) in the brewhouse themselves, but day-to-day operations are now handled by Dan Heinzerling, an industry veteran with over 20 years of brewing experience in North Texas.

As for the coming event, it will serve as both an anniversary party and the unofficial grand opening for On Rotation’s home at the Braniff Centre, which never got a proper debut celebration due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Featured attractions will include lawn games, live screen printing, and of course, beer - with 15 house brews expected to be on tap, including two new releases, and a selection of beers created in collaboration with other local breweries like Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, along with Celestial Beerworks and Vector Brewing of Dallas.

Festivities will run from 12 p.m. until midnight, and attendance is free. For more details, click here to view the official event post on the brewpub's website.