Thursday, March 23, 2023

Voodoo Brewing to open first franchise in Texas

Image credit: Voodoo Brewing Co.

Building on an expansion plan that began with opening of its first taproom in 2012, Pennsylvania-based Voodoo Brewing Co. has formed a partnership to bring its brand of craft beer to North Texas.

Now under construction at 1015 Ikea Pl. in Grand Prairie, the local outlet will be owned and operated by Roland Rios, a longtime resident who has spent nearly 30 years in the paper manufacturing business. Rios has been wanting to open a pub for a few years, but rather than start from scratch in a new industry, he researched franchising opportunities and eventually landed on Voodoo.

"I came across Voodoo early last year," says Rios. "I immediately fell in love with their concept. My wife Nancy and I traveled to Pennsylvania to sample their beer and there was no turning back after that."

On how the partnership is structured, Voodoo recipes are produced in a 30,000 square foot production facility in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Finished beers are then distributed to each brewpub's satellite location. The company also provides guidance on other food and beverage aspects, but site-specific décor is mostly left to the locals.

"In addition to their crafted brews and their custom-crafted cocktails, they have a delicious [elevated pub] menu," says Rios. "I really like that they have a non-corporate culture and that their franchisees can have a lot of input on their individual pubs."

As the brewpub's address suggests, Voodoo Grand Prairie will operate in the shadow of an Ikea furniture store. The spot also has proximity to the city's EpicCentral entertainment district, placing it firmly in the midst of what promises to be a high-traffic hub.

"Grand Prairie has seen tremendous growth over just a couple of years," says Rios. "We wanted the first Voodoo Brewing Co. in Texas to be surrounded by equally great businesses. We found that spot right across the street from Ikea. In addition, they are building a Bass Pro Shop, Andretti Indoor Karting, and Shots Golf just walking distance from our pub. We couldn’t have found a better place."

Rios is hoping to complete construction by mid-April, with a grand opening to follow shortly thereafter. 

For more on Voodoo Brewing Co. and its products, visit You can also stay up-to-date with goings on at Voodoo Grand Prairie by following the brewpub on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Chambers Creek in Maypearl sold, brewing ops to end

Image credit: Chambers Creek Brewing Co.

Less than two years after pouring its first house beers in Maypearl, Chambers Creek Brewing Co. has been sold. Indications are the new owners plan to carry on the business - eventually under a different name, but they will discontinue on-site brewing operations.

Lyle and Mary Chambers opened Chambers Creek in July 2021, tucking the small-batch operation into a 2000 square foot space located in the heart of Maypearl's downtown district. Chambers Creek's top offering was probably Maypearl Bock, a recipe billed as "the beer that started it all for the brewery."

According to a social media post, the company will be under new management as of April 1, 2023.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Grab a beer and a burger at Brew Aleworks in Granbury

Beer and food options at Brew Aleworks include Charleston Amber (red ale, lower left)
and The Hawaiian (turkey burger with teriyaki sauce and fresh bell pepper, lower right).

Locales for enjoying a craft beer at the source are a little lean in the far southwest region of North Texas, but late last year a new destination emerged with the opening of Brew Aleworks in Granbury.

Brew Aleworks is a sister business to Brew Drinkery & Bistro, a taproom/restaurant in the city, both of which are operated by owner Christian Piatt. In fact, the first Aleworks recipes were tapped at the Drinkery beginning in mid-July. Production initially took place at Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine, while construction was completed on the new spot.

Open now since September, Brew Aleworks occupies a roughly 3000 square foot retail space located at 715 Autumn Ridge Dr. in Granbury. The brewpub presents with a bar and grill-type setup, albeit with 1920s Prohibition-era styling. Art deco artwork and fixtures enhance the flapper feel, which further extends to house beer identifiers like Bugsy Lager, Jitterbug Pale Ale, Charleston Amber and Speakeasy Stout.

Those beers join a year-round portfolio which also includes 33 Hefeweizen, Dizzy Blonde, and Lucky Light Lager. Classic and straightforward styles top-to-bottom, in case you hadn't noticed, the amber and pale ales being personal favorites. Each is crafted on a seven-barrel system at Brew Aleworks, with seasonal rotators and an occasional barrel-aged beer (currently a doppelbock) supplementing the everyday lineup. 

On the food side of things, appetizers, gourmet burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads appear on the menu. And if you go with a burger, know you have a number of options to choose from, not only with regards to patty-type (beef, bison, lamb, turkey, black bean), but with the fries on the side as well (regular, Cajun, black truffle parmesan).

As for other beverages, soda, sparkling water and NA beers are kept on hand for non-drinkers, while wine, cider and hard seltzers are available for those not into beer, but wanting the extra kick.

Brew Aleworks is open six days a week, with operating hours on Tuesday-Sunday. Give 'em a try should you find yourself in need of good beer and good grub in Granbury.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Three Empires aims to become Frisco's first brewery

Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Last night, the Frisco City Council approved a request to prepare an ordinance for a Special Use Permit (SUP) paving the way for the establishment of what would be the city's first brewery. To be known as Three Empires Brewing Co., those behind the venture have leased a spot at 6990 Main St. in The Rail District of Downtown Frisco.

Owners David and Mandalyn Wible intended to open just down the road at what was to become the Main Street Food Hall. When that project fell through, they signed on with Nack Development, owners of The Ford Building - a structure dating back to 1911 that was once the site of an automobile dealership selling Model A's and Model T's.

According to David, plans call for the renovation of a 1300 square foot space within those walls. Roughly 200 square feet will be reserved for the production area (one-barrel system with five small-scale fermenters), with a taproom bar, walk-in cooler and seating to fill out the rest. Modifications will also be done on the exterior elevations to let a little bit of the outdoors in.

"We'll have a roll-top garage door in front, with a little bit of outdoor seating," says Wible. "Then, we'll also put in a back door that can access the common area behind the building to get that indoor/outdoor experience."

In terms of offerings, Three Empires hopes to debut with upwards of eight beers. Look for a portfolio of straightforward ales to start, with an American-style pale ale, hazy IPA, witbier and a blonde among the styles being considered. Any lagers would come later, once production is in full swing and the daily lineup is fully-stocked.

Should you wish to enjoy a beer outside the confines of the taproom, Three Empires will have growlers and also do limited canning for to-go sales. Beyond that, things will be kept pretty close to home in terms of outside distribution.

"We'll probably do some light distribution, but nothing on a big scale," says Wible. "We want to keep it local and be a local brewery. We'll just walk up and down Main St. to see who would be interested in having our beer."

As for timelines, everything depends on getting through construction and the permit process. If all goes well, Three Empires could be pouring beer as soon as this summer.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Say hello to Howdy Beer, a Colorado craft pilsner

Howdy Beer is a pilsner brewed for patio time (© Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

It's been a minute since a beer mail made its way to my door, but that drought recently ended with the delivery of a Colorado-based crispy lager which is now available in Texas.

Say hello to Howdy Beer (4.5% ABV), a Western pilsner originally created by The Post Brewing Co. - a "chicken and beer" establishment with over a half-dozen locations across Colorado. I've visited the original spot in Lafayette myself, so I'll just add it's a place where comfort food pairs well with an array of classic craft beer styles.

As for Howdy Beer, it's bright and quaffable with crackery malt, floral aromas and a light touch of lemongrass. It's brewed "with Western livin' in mind," which they say applies to enjoying a craft beer on the river, in the mountains, or on the porch. Here in Texas, though, you'll most likely end up on the patio or poolside while enjoying this warm weather refresher.

So, how does Howdy get here? It comes to us by way of Stem Ciders of Lafayette after being brewed and packaged by Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. of Denver. The cider company purchased the rights to Howdy Beer in early 2022, with plans to increase production and distribute the beer to states outside of Colorado. Texas, as it turns out, was one of the first on the list.

Now that it's here, you too can introduce yourself to what's billed as "the friendliest beer in America." Look for Howdy Beer on tap or in six-packs of 12-ounce cans at the following North Texas locations:



Sunday, March 5, 2023

Boozie's Brewery & TX Fare set to open in Fairview

Logo: Boozie's Brewery & TX Fare.
All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Fresh off a preview event showcasing its culinary offerings on Saturday, Boozie's Brewery & TX Fare looks to open as early as this week in Fairview.

House beers are pending, but once the doors open Boozie's Fairview will begin food service with a menu of starters, sandos, specialty entrees, sides, salads and desserts from Chef David Hollister. And as the name implies, a Texas flair is featured throughout the menu, though there are noticeable Latin and South American influences as well.

Beyond the sampled plates pictured below, options include items like Fried Quail Legs, Portobello Tacos Ranchero, Smoke Braised Verde Short Rib, Ancho Brown Sugar Pork Chop, and a Griddled Flank Steak Chimichurri with Street Corn.

And to drink? If spirits are your thing, a number of creative cocktails are crafted from a fully-stocked bar. But if not, typical non-alcoholic options (water, soft drinks, etc.) are supplemented by eight Fizzie's brand house-made craft sodas (cherry cola, cotton candy cream soda, ginger beer, lemon-lime/grapefruit soda and more). One of which, by the way, forms the basis of the brewpub's Root Beer Float.

As for the hold up on house beers, a delayed forklift delivery is to blame according to Bobby Mullins, director of brewing operations at Boozie's (and formerly of Armadillo Ale Works in Denton). The hauler's arrival is imminent, giving Mullins hope he'll be moving things around and firing up his 10-barrel brewhouse in the coming days.

Starter: Salsa Verde & Queso - Crema, Cotija, Cilantro.
Entrée: Hatfield Pork Milanesa - Tortilla-Breaded Hatfield Pork Loin, Fried Okra, Grilled Corn Aji Verde, Hot Honey, Fried Egg.
Entrée: Sourdough Chicken Fried Steak - Akaushi Wagyu Eye Round, Black Pepper Cream Gravy, Roast Garlic & Green Onion Mash.
Dessert: Double Chocolate Brownie - Callebaut Chocolate, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Cajeta, Toasted Peans, Golden Raisins, Cocoa Nibs, Candied Jalapeño.

When he does, Mullins will be working to build up a portfolio of 16 Boozie beers. His initial lineup will consist of 4 lagers (bock, helles, pilsner, Mexican), three IPAs (single, double, hazy), a Berliner weisse, hefeweizen, porter, stout (12% ABV) and others. The most unique, though, might be a mezcal cocktail-inspired sour beer brewed with oak-smoked malt, tamarind, hibiscus and sal de gusano (a.k.a worm salt).

"We'll be casting a wide net over the beer rainbow to see what the people here in Fairview like," says Mullins. "I have a hunch what will stick...the lagers, the IPAs, but we'll see what sticks and just kind of rotate through and adjust from there."

Another interesting tidbit is Boozie's actually has bigger plans for its beer program down the road. 

"We've got a third location, and demo started on that last week," reveals Mullins. "It'll be in the automotive building at the old Star Telegram complex in Fort Worth [685 John B. Sias Memorial Parkway]. That will become our production hub and we'll distribute to our locations."

A timeline hasn't been nailed down, but when the production site goes active, Boozie's Fairview will continue to brew small batches on site (with a modest canning operation set up for beer to go). A locale in Fort Worth - Boozie's Brewery & Gourmet Sandwiches, which opened earlier this year, is pouring guest beers for the time being as brewing hardware is not currently installed.

As for when the first beers will be tapped at Boozie's Fairview, Mullins intends to have beer ready in three-to-four weeks.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Eight years in, On Rotation still turning out new taste temptations

Image courtesy of On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen.

Prolific production has been a defining element at On Rotation Brewery & Kitchen of Dallas since the company opened in 2015. Now approaching its eighth birthday, On Rotation has brewed and released 371 unique recipes over the course of its existence - 31 of which hit the tap wall in 2022.

Among new formulations debuting during 2022, On Rotation brewed a brown ale, a kölsch and a bière de garde for the first time in its official history. And, while IPA and pale ale styles were the predominant new offering, the brewpub kept things interesting by staying true to its "craft beer laboratory" label and exploring new yeast strains, including thiolized-variants, in some of the IPAs.

These exploits, of course, occur on top of work put in to brew house standards that have been around since beginning like Jalapeño Saison and Café Au Lait. Plus, there's a balance that has to take place when trying to squeeze in new beers while also keeping those recurring recipes in the rotation. On that note, On Rotation will be looking to increase its capacity in 2023 in order to brew more beers across the board.

As for what this is all leading into, the purpose is to promote the brewpub's aforementioned eighth anniversary. A party is set for this Saturday, March 4, with the festivities to feature a theme built around a popular aviation-based action thriller.

"We're doing it TOP GUN style, and it should be a fun party," says Jacob Sloan, co-founder of On Rotation. "We'll have new beer releases, some special anniversary shirts (and aviator sunglasses, of course), and live music throughout the day."

Click here for all the celebratory details, and be sure to check out On Rotation's "2022 in Review" post for a deeper dive into what all went down at the Dallas brewpub this past year.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

North Texas nabs 17 medals at 2023 Texas Craft Brewers Cup

Image: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

The second annual installment of the Texas Craft Brewers Cup is now in the books, with 12 North Texas breweries heading home from Austin with some nifty new craft beer bling. Not only that, Vector Brewing of Dallas was also named Brewery of the Year in the Under 600 bbl Group.

A Texas-only craft beer competition, the Texas Craft Brewers Cup is presented by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Judging takes place in the weeks ahead of the organization's annual meeting, during which winners are announced during a special awards ceremony.

Surveying statistics from the 2023 event, 852 entries from 147 Texas breweries were sorted and judged across 27 medal categories (Hazy IPA being the largest with 61 entries). Each of those categories contained a mix of related sub-styles defined by guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Overall, a total of over 150 different beer styles were represented at the judge's table.

And on the participation metric, 147 competing breweries translates to approximately 35% of the more than 400 brewing companies currently operating in Texas. That's roughly on par with the participation level in 2022.

As for the local winners, 17 North Texas beers were recognized, with their medals breaking down as follows: 8 Gold, 6 Silver, and 3 Bronze. Area honorees are summarized below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

  • Smoked Porter, Bronze in the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
  • Double Stars, Silver in the Strong Hoppy Beer category.
  • Polymath, Bronze in the American & International Lager category.
  • Neato Bandito, Gold in the Golden, Blonde & Light Ales category.
  • First of His Name, Gold in the Stout & Porter category.
  • Banjo! Banjo! Banjoooo!, Gold in the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
  • Lion's Share X, Gold in the Barrel & Wood Aged Beer category.
  • Mechanical Grizzly, Silver in the Chocolate & Coffee Beer category.
  • Battle of Britain, Gold in the Barleywine & Strong Ale category.
  • Raspberry Fields, Bronze in the Fruit & Field Beer category.
Odd Muse Brewing, Farmers Branch 
  • 500 Pesos, Silver in the American & International Lager category.
  • Juice Serum, Gold in the Hazy IPA category.
  • The Divine Monk, Silver in the Belgian & Farmhouse Ales category.
  • Moonsmoke, Gold in the Experimental, Hybrid & Specialty Beer category.
  • Pho Sho, Gold in the Fruit & Field Beer category.
  • Open Rhythms, Silver in the Session & Standard Hoppy Pale Ales and Lagers category.
  • Big Thicket Blonde, Silver in the Golden, Blonde & Light Ales category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

"Beer to You" bills seek to allow home delivery from Texas breweries

Members of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild gather for TCBG Lobby Day at the Texas Capitol (Photo: Emily Love).

Two bills introduced this week in the Texas Legislature seek to allow direct-to-consumer shipping and delivery from Texas breweries and brewpubs. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG), along with its political action committee arm, CraftPAC, has strongly advocated for such an action as a means of supporting small businesses, increasing consumer choice and convenience, and creating more manufacturing jobs for Texans.

Dubbed the "Beer to You" bills and sponsored by Texas State Senator Pete Flores (SD 24) and State Representative Shelby Slawson (HD 59), Senate Bill 752 and House Bill 2003 seek to level the playing field with Texas wineries, grocery stores, liquor stores, and restaurants who already enjoy legal pathways to get their products on customers’ doorsteps. Currently, breweries and brewpubs are explicitly prohibited from engaging in home delivery, shipping, or even working with third party delivery apps for pick up from their facilities.

“In an era where consumers can have anything delivered to them with a swipe of a finger, convenience is paramount in the retail market and your license type shouldn’t be the barrier between your product and the customers that want it,” says Jon Lamb, owner of Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co. and Government Affairs Chair for the TCBG. “You can have wine shipped directly to your doorstep from a Texas winery, a six pack of beer added to your grocery delivery, or a margarita added to your taco and queso order. It's time to end the prohibition on breweries and brewpubs reaching their customers in this same way.”

Past actions by the Texas Legislature include a 2005 law allowing wineries to ship their products directly to consumers. The state's wine industry has blossomed since, growing from around 40 wineries in 2005 to more than 400 today. Not only that, Texas now ranks second in direct wine sales volume with more than 600,000 cases shipped annually to enthusiasts’ doors.

More recently, the Texas Legislature made temporary pandemic-era delivery privileges for bars and restaurants permanent with the 2021 passage of House Bill 1024, popularly known as the “Margs to Go” bill.

“The Texas Legislature has already demonstrated its support for the safe and legal delivery of alcoholic beverages to Texans’ doorsteps,” says Caroline Wallace, Executive Director of the TCBG. “With Beer to You, the Texas Legislature has an opportunity to support the growth of beer tourism in Texas as brewery visitors send products home, join beer clubs, and support their favorite small beverage producers regardless of proximity.”

Texans who want to support the fight for Beer to You can visit to take action, either by signing a petition or making a monetary donation to CraftPAC.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Oak Highlands finishes with four winners at 2023 USBTC Winter Competition

Freaky Deaky, a Belgian-style tripel from Oak Highlands, is a four-time USBTC winner (Oak Highlands Brewery).

Results are in from the 29th Annual Winter Competition of the United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC), with Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas being the lone North Texas entity to appear on the winners list.

Overall, a total of 568 beers from 173 breweries were entered and examined across 19 different style categories. As before, the USBTC picked regional winners in each category - North Texas breweries compete in the Rockies/Southwest division, with those beers advancing to a final round to determine a national grand champion.

One interesting note from this year's event is that winners were not declared in five categories within the Rockies/Southwest division. Perhaps that's a sign more North Texas brewers should consider entering the competition.

As for Oak Highlands, four of the brewery's entries received regional honors. Those beers are listed below, or you can click here for a full competition summary.

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas

  • Bourbon Barrel Freshman 15, Regional Champion in the Whiskey-Aged Beer category.
  • Devil's Snare, Regional Champion in the Porter category.
  • Freaky Deaky, Regional Champion in the Belgian-Style Ale category.
  • Bean Beer, Regional Champion in the Vanilla Porter category.

Cheers and congratulations to Oak Highlands!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Hemisphere closing brewery in Rockwall

Image credit: Hemisphere Brewing Co.

Hemisphere Brewing Co. has announced it will close in January, the brewery's run coming to an end after nearly six years of operation in Rockwall.

Founded by Ruben Garcia and Brandon Mullins, Hemisphere opened in March 2017. The debut occurred, coincidentally enough, roughly six years after the pair kicked-off the project in 2011. Mullins would later leave the company in 2020, but Garcia carried on and eventually brought on a new partner in 2022.

On the Hemisphere name, it represented the idea of exploring beer styles from hemispheres around the world. From those forays, the brewery's Belgian grisette was a personal favorite, with other popular recipes including Shiver Blueberry Wheat and Black Sacrament Imperial Stout.

In October 2020, the company expanded its offerings outside the realm of beer with the addition of HBC Hard Red Cola. The product was a high-ABV beverage inspired by Big Red, a beloved soft drink with origins in Waco, Texas.

According to a social media post, Garcia decided not to renew the lease on the facility because of the difficulties of running a small brewery in an unsustainable market, and a desire to pursue new opportunities.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Glen Echo working to open brewery in Wylie

Preliminary renderings showing potential design concepts (Glen Echo Brewing).

A new brewery is in the works for the City of Wylie, after the town's city council approved a special use permit this week allowing Glen Echo Brewing to be established on a property located at 106 N. Birmingham St.

Founders Steve and Debbie Schoenekase originally targeted another nearby city for their brewery, but shifted the focus to Wylie around the summer of last year. And, according to Debbie, things are on the fast track now that they've got the initial approvals out of the way.

"The Wylie Economic Development Corporation, the planning department, and the city manager's office have supported our vision from the beginning," says Schoenekase. "Working with Wylie is refreshing!"

Once up and running, Glen Echo will occupy an existing structure comprising just over 4000 square feet. The building itself lies on a 0.21 acre plat, with plans calling for an outdoor patio space to be built out front. Then in the back, a concrete slab lining the building would be used as a potential parking spot for a food truck.

Glen Echo will operate within the confines of the city's Downtown Historic District, which is fitting given the couple's plan to integrate a bit of their own family history in the theme of the place. The brewery's name is drawn from Glen Echo Dairy, a business run by Steve's great-grandfather in Illinois during the early 1900s. Plus, the original font and orange color from the dairy's logo will be carried over into Glen Echo's design motif.

Regarding production plans, the company will utilize a 10-barrel brewhouse fabricated by Deutsche Beverage Technology. Debbie expects the brewery to have 10-12 beers on tap once Glen Echo is fully operational.

"We will brew traditional ales and lagers like a Czech pilsner, German hefeweizen, bock, märzen, English brown ale, and chocolate milk stout-- in honor of the family dairy farm," says Schoenekase. "In addition, we will brew some trendier IPAs and seltzers, and for the non-alcoholic option, we do make a flavorful root beer."

As for project timelines, construction should start in March, with the majority of work involving a remodel of the interior. From there, if all goes well, Glen Echo Brewing will look to open sometime this summer.