Sunday, November 19, 2023

Wriggly Tin adds new wrinkle to the Dallas beer scene

All photos © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

On a Saturday in December 2019, a spot local beer lovers had come to know as Small Brewpub closed its doors in Oak Cliff. It was a unique little place (literally), with good food and an eclectic range of brews borne out of what, at the time, was one of the more creative approaches to beer-making in the local scene.

It was a loss, but there were rumblings another chapter would be written down the road. Time passed, with word eventually getting out that Small co-founder Aaron Garcia and partner Jacob Boger were working on a new habitat on S. Haskell St. in the shadow of Fair Park. Small Brewpub would not return, but Small Beer Works was now a thing as part of a new project called Wriggly Tin.

Small patrons once wondered if beers like Black Pepper Pils and Underdog IPA would see the light of day again. Four years later, these indeed appear along with other creations (Oro Moro Dark Lager, Hart German Helles) on the menu at Wriggly Tin, which officially opened earlier this month.

Wriggly sets up as an attractive destination for patio pours near Dallas Fair Park.

So, what exactly is a Wriggly Tin?

Well, if you're talking about what inspired the name of the place, it has to do with the corrugated sheets of iron covering the half-circle shaped structure the brewpub calls home. The U.K. military called these wavy or wrinkled sheets of metal wriggly tin.

If you're talking about Garcia and Boger's vision for the business, though, Wriggly Tin is a "cocktail, wine, and pizza joint that also sells Small Beer Works beer."

And, that's just the sort of vibe you get upon visiting. With the brewhouse hidden beyond the dining room and kitchen indoors, house beer production is only one Small part of a larger scheme. Whether it be lager-leaning recipes designed for a more diverse range of beer drinker, the universal appeal of pizza offerings from Chef Desmon Coleman, or all the little touches coming together to shape the entirely handmade decor, the approach celebrates "what the common people of the world love."

Denizens of Dallas love a patio too, by the way, and Wriggly Tin has one checking all the boxes of an urban beer oasis.

Enjoy beer offerings like Hart, a German-style helles lager, inside the dining room or outside in the open air.

Also important is the welcoming nature about the place, starting with the attentiveness of the staff, which includes knowledgeable beer tenders willing to guide patrons through sample sips as they decide on an order. The presence of ownership actively circulating through the crowd, something seemingly more and more rare, was noticeable as well.

It all makes for the kind of place you want to settle in and stay awhile...not just for a quick beer and a bite, but more for an evening of dinner and drinks without distraction (no televisions were sighted). Perhaps this explains why Wriggly Tin is only open late afternoons and evenings (Wed-Sun, 4 p.m. - 12 a.m.) leading into the weekend.

Wriggly Tin may not be a full-on revival of Garcia's former business, but the new venture is driven by the same guiding principles behind what became a craft beer fan favorite. So essentially, it's a new space with an old soul, and that's no small thing. Then again, a "Small" thing is probably exactly what it's meant to be.

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