Thursday, April 20, 2023

White Rock Brewing Co. opens new digs in West Dallas

Taproom, patio and pizza views (the 'Off White' with bacon and spinach) at
White Rock Brewing Co. in Dallas (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

White Rock Alehouse & Brewery opened its original East Dallas location in late 2017. Now, more than five years later, the company has established a second spot, White Rock Brewing Co. (WRBC), on the city's west side at 2477 N. Beckley Ave.

Brought to you by the team of Dave Kirk and Greg Nixon, along with head brewer Blake Morrison, this core group at White Rock has remained in place since day one. The name on the new front door may be a little different, but the WRBC moniker has been in existence since early 2021. A re-brand was announced at the Alehouse's third anniversary party, and since then the new name has appeared on all of White Rock's to-go packaging.

Something else that has remained constant since White Rock's debut is the brewpub's ability to consistently deliver a solid and stylistic lineup of well-balanced beers. Their recipes have won several awards, but the most prestigious thus far may be a silver medal won last October at the Great American Beer Festival. White Rock's IPO IPA, a New England-style IPA, placed in one of the competition's most competitive categories.

So, what's the plan for the new place? Presumably, it's to build off the recent momentum and to get White Rock beers into the hands of more North Texans.

Production operations have been upgraded from the Alehouse's four-barrel system filling 500 square feet, to a 20-barrel, three-vessel brewhouse occupying 3000 square feet at WRBC. The boost in capacity is expected to allow house beers, which primarily left the Alehouse in to-go containers, to be more easily distributed throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

As for other amenities at the N. Beckley locale, WRBC has a kitchen on site, though the menu is a bit more focused than at the Alehouse. House-made pizzas are WRBC's featured item, with appetizers, salads and desserts offered as supplementary selections. Cocktails and spirits are also available, as are non-alcoholic beverage options (coffee, soda, water, juice, etc.) for those choosing not to indulge.

All of this, incidentally, is meant to be enjoyed within the confines of WRBC's three distinct public areas. On top of taproom seating indoors, there's a covered patio space (which can be fully enclosed thanks to roll-top garage doors), as well as open-air accommodations in the dog-friendly beer garden.

Going forward, WRBC will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, with regular hours starting at 11 a.m. (brunch service is coming soon). And if you go, take note that the brewpub's primary parking allotment is on the ground level of the garage out back.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Soul Fire setting up second location in Cleburne

Image credit: Soul Fire Brewing Co.

It's been three-and-a-half years since Soul Fire Brewing Co. opened its original brewery and taproom in Roanoke, but now the company is ready to expand its reach with a location on the opposite side of North Texas.

Soul Fire's new spot will occupy an 8,500 square foot space in Historic Downtown Cleburne. The structure at 6 N. Caddo St. dates back to 1900, and sits just across the street from the Johnson County Courthouse.

Regarding the operation itself, whereas Soul Fire is part of a food hall development in Roanoke, the Cleburne locale will be a standalone facility according to owner James Brown.

"It will be a different setup than Roanoke," says Brown. "The whole building/operation will be owned and run by Soul Fire offering beer, pizza and an arcade."

Of course, while the added amenities will enhance the overall experience, beer production will take center stage as it does in Roanoke. At the same time, things will be a bit more scaled-down in Cleburne.

"We will have a five-barrel system to allow us to be more flexible in our beer styles," says Brown, "but still offering the same [mix of] traditional and seasonal beers as in Roanoke."

Rhantu Gamino has been hired as head brewer in Cleburne, coming to North Texas following a stint working at The Seventh Tap Brewing Co. in Shreveport, LA. This, after completing the "Concise Course in Brewing Technology" at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, Ill.

"My expertise and favorite styles to brew are hazy IPAs, adjunct beers, fruited sours and barrel-aged stouts," adds Gamino. "We've already brewed our first collab between both locations, First Call, a hazy double IPA with Citra. It is going to be on tap at Roanoke next week!"

As for a timeline in Cleburne, with construction underway, Brown is hoping for a mid-summer opening.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Meddlesome Moth details 13th anniversary plans

Image courtesy of Meddlesome Moth.

Set to mark its latest longevity milestone, Meddlesome Moth has announced plans for its 13th anniversary celebration, with festivities to take place the weekend of April 27-30.

Things kick-off on Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m., with a Beer Garden Party featuring the Moth’s new spring cocktail menu, complimentary light bites from the kitchen, and music from renowned Dallas DJ Steffi Burns. This event represents the “official” opening of the Beer Garden for the season and is free and open to the public.

Then on Sunday, April 30, guests will join Celestial Beerworks founders Molly and Matt Reynolds, along with Moth beer director/certified cicerone Matt Quenette, for a guided pairdiné. Featured brews will be paired with five courses crafted by guest chef Anthony Langston. These include:

  • Polyphia: Paradiso - American-style pilsner.
  • Sonus - blended bourbon barrel-aged stout.
  • Kaleidoscope - double hazy IPA with Galaxy, Vic Secret and Rakau hops.
  • Visual Pathway - cold IPA with Centennial and Azacca hops.
  • Echo Chamber - fruited sour.
  • Mango Triple Stars - triple hazy IPA with Strata, Vic Secret and Citra hops.

Tickets for the beer dinner are available at a cost of $90 per person, and seating is limited (click here to purchase individual admission or to reserve a full table).

Naturally, beers from around the world will be featured throughout the weekend as well. Quenette has curated several rare finds expected to be available on draft, with flights also available.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

My 2023 Big Texas tasting card

Image credits: Tupps Brewery, Ghost Eye Brewing Co., Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, Windmills,
Equal Parts Brewing, Peticolas Brewing Co., Vector Brewing, Manhattan Project Beer Co., Brewvolution.

According to my records, my last visit to the area's longest running beer festival was in 2019. Surely the plague was partially to blame, though I'm sure life probably has been getting in the way as well. In any case, it was fun to be back at it once again with other beer denizens at this weekend's Big Texas Beer Fest (BTBF).

Taking place in the familiar confines of the Fair Park Automobile Building in Dallas, the 2023 event featured 97 beverage makers serving up a variety of more than 400 craft beers, ciders and seltzers. Over 50 of the breweries in attendance hailed from North Texas, representing roughly half of the brands that serve our local industry.

Among those set up and sampling, Jester King Brewery of Austin attracted some of the largest crowds around its booth, but Delirium Brewery of Belgium established quite a presence as well. The latter brought along a large inflatable version of the pink elephant that adorns its logo, and at some point, brewery reps doled out a plethora of pink elephant hats to attendees.

Also drawing interest was a gun mount exhibit from the Battleship Texas, an attraction brought in by Altstadt Brewery of Fredericksburg and the Battleship Texas Foundation Group. The vessel itself, which fought in both World War I and World War II, is currently dry docked in Galveston while it undergoes restoration.

Getting back to festival beverages, while there were a fair number of lagers, stouts and sour beers, IPAs naturally ruled the day. By my count, there were easily more than 100 IPAs available on the festival floor. I tried exactly one, IPA Series 1 from Ghost Eye Brewing Co. of Dickinson. The beer led with a mix of citrus and tropical fruit flavors, finishing with a welcome pithy bitterness.

And while we're on the subject, if you've ever had doubts about IPA's dominance as craft beer's most popular style, let me tell you about the BTBF booth occupied by Shiner.  The little brewery known for its lagers had a trio of IPAs in the offing when I surveyed their selection, and nothing else. All ales and not a drop of that ubiquitous dark lager? Talk about stepping outside the "bocks."

As for other festival favorites, I direct you to the summaries below. It should be noted that I mostly stuck to beers of lower strength, though I did enjoy a dose of Enriched Plutonium - a rum barrel-aged version of Plutonium 239 from Manhattan Project Beer Co. of Dallas. 

Oh, and as always...selections are new to the market, or at least new to me.


Rice is nice

I kicked things off with a pour of Kaizen, a Japanese rice lager from Equal Parts Brewing of Houston. Let's just say this was a light, refreshing and easily crushable quaff.

Keeping your wits about you

I recommend keeping six wits about you, to be in keeping on hand a sixer of Day Pass from Tupps Brewery of McKinney. The company's newest offering is a stylistic Belgian witbier, and just the kind of beer I could drink all day.

Amber waves

Once upon a time, nearly every brewery made an amber beer of some sort. Right now, there are two ambers of note in North Texas. One is Sonidero, a smooth and malty amber lager from Windmills of The Colony. That beer won a gold medal at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival. Another is Amberversary, a nicely-balanced amber ale with a hint of hop happiness from Vector Brewing of Dallas. Wait, what year is it again?

Woodruff is the way

Got Berliner weisse? Get German woodruff (it's a plant). That is, if you like beer descriptors like sweet and sour, floral and funky. Berliners weren't on my radar going into BTBF, but Eclectus from Peticolas Brewing Co. of Dallas, with a shot of woodruff syrup, ended up being one of the more enjoyable pours of the day.

More smoked beers please, 'twould appease

Smoked beers are one of my favorite styles. Couple that with a beer name referencing the guttural growl of one's favorite musician, along with a recipe using malt smoked on the grounds of the historic Kreische brewery site in La Grange, and well, you've got my attention. Coming from Funky Picnic Brewery & Café of Fort Worth, A Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw in Billy Gibbons' Voice is a smoked helles with pecans. And yeah, it's fine, if you've got the time...