Friday, October 14, 2022

A ten-year toast to the Temptress

Image credit: Lakewood Brewing Co.

Fresh off the celebration of its tenth anniversary, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is now a member of a select group. The company is one of only eight active breweries (more will join the list in 2023) to reach what is historically a rare milestone. Since 1857, the year the first known brewery was making beer in North Texas, less than 10% of those who opened have made it to the ten-year mark.

My introduction to Lakewood came when I met founder Wim Bens at a beer festival in early 2011. This was more than a year before the brewery made its debut in August 2012. Bens mentioned he was seeking feedback on test batches for styles being considered for Lakewood's opening day lineup. Subsequent meetings at Homebrew Headquarters followed, which led to my first taste of Temptress Imperial Milk Stout in June 2011.

Temptress was one of two stout recipes in the running, the other being a beer called King Henry. They originated from a split batch, Temptress finished with a London ale yeast prior to being sweetened with lactose and vanilla post-fermentation. King Henry, on the other hand, was unsweetened and fermented with a Belgian yeast.

Based on early returns, Bens would say, "We're leaning towards the Temptress."

Now 11 years later, Temptress has been a staple of Lakewood's portfolio since day one. And, according to sales director Kyle Jordan, it's the #1 selling craft stout in Texas (based on recent IRI data). Retail shipments of the beer total just under 23,000 cases per year, on average (draft sales are not included in this number).

Temptress itself is a rare breed as well, being one of only a handful of North Texas beers to be in continuous production for 10 years or more. Such longevity is impressive, considering how breweries must now operate in a market where consumers demand fresh, new releases on a daily basis.

Of course, it helps that Lakewood has kept things interesting for the whole of the last decade. Temptress has spawned over 10 different commercial varieties (not counting taproom one-offs), the best-selling versions since 2016 being Peanut Butter Temptress and French Quarter Temptress, in that order. It also forms the basis of one of the area's most sought-after barrel-aged beers, Bourbon Barrel Temptress.

Oh, and let's not forget the baked goods. Wackym's Kitchen, a locally-owned and operated bakery, took the beer and turned it into a confection, launching The Temptress cookies in May 2019.

Looking back over my notes from that initial tasting in 2011, I expressed the opinion that milk/sweet stouts were an under-represented style. At the time, this was certainly true since the only other one around was Left Hand Milk Stout -  an iconic representation of the style on the national level.

Well, after ten years of tempting local craft beer drinkers with its chocolatey goodness, I think it's fair to say Temptress is on its way to being recognized in a similar manner. That is, as one of the iconic beers of North Texas.

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