Friday, September 8, 2023

Union Bear shares first details of Denton expansion

Logo: 33 Restaurant Group.
Photo © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

A former Denton brewery is getting a new lease on life, as the building that once housed Armadillo Ale Works is now the property of 33 Restaurant Group. The Frisco-based company, and parent of Union Bear Brewing Co. in Plano, purchased the facility late last year.

This acquisition fits into an overall expansion strategy for the Union Bear brand, which includes already-revealed plans to open a restaurant-only outlet in McKinney. In Denton, though, locals will be able to enjoy everything Union Bear is about, according to Coty Bell, who hired-on as director of brewing operations in 2022. That means a full kitchen and dining experience will be paired with Union Bear beers brewed in house.

Located at 221 S. Bell Ave., the site has been TABC-approved since last November, but construction on the 17,000+ square foot space has just recently gotten underway in earnest. And, at least in terms of the public areas, crews essentially wiped the previous slate clean.

A completely new bar is being installed alongside what will be the main dining room, where booths and high-top tables will be positioned for the comfort of Union Bear patrons. Then, adjacent to this section, a raised lounge area will set the stage for entertainment options consisting of a pool table, dart boards, arcade games and more.

On the beer production side, operations will be led by Nick Stolz, who arrived at Union Bear after working as head brewer at Cowtown Brewing Co. of Fort Worth since its inception in 2018. Stolz will be producing Union Bear recipes on a 30-barrel system, an upgrade compared to what Armadillo Ale Works originally used on site.

The brewhouse also exceeds the 10-barrel capacity setup at Union Bear in Plano. Small-batch runs will continue there, with high-volume movers like the brewpub's amber and blonde ales shifting to the queue in Denton. Some distribution will come with the expansion as well, a primary point of delivery being other members of the 33 Restaurant family.

As for timelines, Bell says they hope to begin brewing in a few weeks, while the ultimate opening of Union Bear Denton is likely to occur in early 2024.

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