Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Rollertown tracking a new future in Frisco

Image courtesy of Rollertown Beerworks.

Over the past year, the City of Frisco has been actively working to secure a brewery (or breweries) within its borders. And, while two projects have already been announced, the most ambitious yet may come from a newly-formed partnership with Rollertown Beerworks of Celina.

Founded by Ben Rogers and Jeff 'Skin' Wade, hosts of "The Ben & Skin Show" on 97.1 The Freak, Rollertown is a relatively young company, having just opened in April 2020. Even so, an eye towards expansion has been in place from the very start.

"When we originally opened this spot in Celina, it was always meant to be a temporary location," says Jonathan Rogers, CEO of Rollertown. "Eventually, we were planning to move and occupy another building on this block, but once the pandemic hit, we realized a lot of the people coming to the brewery are traveling to get here."

With that in mind, Rollertown began considering its options. Factoring into the equation was the idea that just like I-635 is considered "The Wall" for downtown dwellers, US-380 presents as a similar sort of barrier for suburbanites. In other words, patrons are perhaps only willing to go so far in the pursuit of better beer.

The talk then turned to Frisco as a destination, especially in light of the fact both the Dallas Cowboys and PGA Tour have recently relocated their headquarters to the city. Now you can add Rollertown to the mix, as the brewery looks to join those entities in being a draw for out-of-town entertainment traffic.

So, what will a new Rollertown HQ look like? Concepts are early in development, but Rollertown's vision for the future will be realized on a roughly 2.6-acre tract of land along Main St., between John W. Elliot Dr. and First St. in Frisco's Rail District. Active tracks run alongside the site, which shares space with the Frisco Grain Elevators. It's a fitting locale, given how the Rollertown name stems from when the railroad was built, and local businesses had to literally roll their buildings closer to the rail line in order to survive.

Once work is complete, the multi-faceted facility will represent quite an upgrade compared to Rollertown's current digs. In addition to a dedicated 11,000 square foot production space anchored by a 60-barrel brewhouse (up from the seven-barrel system employed in Celina), plans call for the construction of a separate 13,000 square foot, two-story structure to house the brewery's taproom and a rooftop deck.

Additional indoor features will include upwards of three resident food vendors, these set up in a miniature food hall-type environment. There will also be a seven-barrel brewing system installed in the taproom for the exploration of more offbeat recipe designs from the mind of head brewer Tommy Miller and potential collaborators.

"We're going to build a very experimental setup in the main taproom, with foeders and other kinds of tanks to brew with different techniques," says Miller. "We'll probably have about 50 taps, just doing tons of crazy stuff in there, while the big production facility in the back is going to be pumping out lagers."

Miller also hopes the small-batch system can be used as a tool to help reconnect with homebrewers. The purpose being to dedicate time to the culture and community that got the industry started in the first place, with the ultimate goal to help foster the next generation of North Texas craft brewers.

"Nobody has really taken up the mantle of the homebrewer since the demise of Brew Riot and Deep Ellum's Labor of Love, and that's kind of a shame," says Miller. "We want to have homebrewing clubs come in to brew a batch together and put it on tap, and we want to get back to having bigger homebrew competitions."

Regarding the makeup of the exterior grounds at Rollertown in Frisco, much attention will be paid to outdoor amenities as well, with the intention of giving patrons and their pets plenty of room to move around.

"Between two green spaces, we'll have about 30,000 square feet of turfed-off area," says Rogers. "It'll be fantastic for families, with an outdoor biergarten, a stage/pavilion and more, and it will allow us to host bigger and better events."

Naturally, concerts and large-scale beer festivals (think curated events like Festicle at Braindead, but on a grander scale) are on the agenda, but to hear Rollertown tell it, they have aspirations to leverage the venue to produce even crazier, spectacle-like gatherings.

As for the motivation behind it all, clearly such a move will make Rollertown much more available and accessible to a wider audience. Beyond that, though, it comes down to demonstrating a commitment to a couple of core concepts at Rollertown: inclusivity and opportunity.

"We'll have greater opportunities to team up with the right kinds of partners to celebrate the culture behind our events, like with the Japanese consulate for our Sumo wrestling exhibition, or the German consulate for Oktoberfest," says Rogers. "We want to do things the right way, because it allows for education and enrichment, which is what we're all about."

A timeline for the design and construction of Rollertown Frisco is still being established. The Celina brewery and taproom is expected to continue operations as normal throughout the development cycle and beyond.

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