Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Three NTX breweries nab medals at 2024 World Beer Cup

Image credit: Brewers Association.

Tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, winners were announced at the 2024 World Beer Cup (WBC), with three local breweries receiving medals.

The competition, otherwise known as "the Olympics of beer," now takes place annually during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America put on by the Brewers Association. For the 2024 edition of the WBC, 9300 entries were submitted by 2,060 breweries from 50 countries worldwide. A total of 110 categories were judged, representing 172 beer styles (includes sub-categories).

Among honorees from North Texas, Peticolas Brewing Co. of Dallas scored its second WBC medal - winning the two in back-to-back years no less, while Odd Muse Brewing Co. of Farmers Branch and Union Bear Brewing Co. of Denton (and Plano) earned WBC wins for the first time.

Odd Muse Brewing Co., Farmers Branch
  • Silver Spaceship, Silver in the Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale category (132 entries).
Peticolas Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Irish Goodbye, Silver in the Irish-Style Red Ale category (98 entries).
Union Bear Brewing Co., Denton
  • Mexican Lager, Bronze in the International Pilsner category (133 entries).

Cheers and congrats to Odd Muse, Peticolas and Union Bear!

For more on the 2023 WBC, and the historical performance of breweries from North Texas, click the links below:

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Vector, Pro Brew Supply/Southern Roots honored with 2024 'Crushie' awards

Image credits: Craft Beer Marketing Awards, Vector Brewing, Pro Brew Supply/Southern Roots Brewing Co.

Pro Brew Supply of Haltom City with Southern Roots Brewing Co. of Waco (and Waxahachie), and Vector Brewing of Dallas and were honored today for their marketing efforts at the 2024 Craft Beer Marketing Awards (CBMA).

Known more familiarly as "The Crushies," the CBMAs debuted in 2020. The aim of the event is to "recognize the pinnacle of craft beverage marketing and the brilliant teams and individuals who create them." This is accomplished by way of judging over 40 categories covering branding, label design, logos, packaging and more.

Contestants compete both regionally and internationally, with Platinum and Gold Crushies going to regional winners, and a Global Crushie signifying the international achievement.

Local winners are summarized below. For more on the 2024 Crushies, click here to visit the official competition website.

Pro Brew Supply, Haltom City with Southern Roots Brewing Co. of Waco
  • Platinum Crushie for Expanding Possibilities Dry Hopped Saison in the Best Fun & Feel-Good Branding / Cause-Related Product or Campaign: Craft Beer category. This collaboration beer was brewed to support American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).
Vector Brewing, Dallas - Craig Bradley, Creative Director
  • Global Crushie for Anchovy Pail Ale in the Best Can Label Design (16-32oz): Craft Beer category.

Cheers and congrats to Pro Brew Supply with Southern Roots, and Vector Brewing!

Monday, April 8, 2024

Funky Picnic closing brewpub in Fort Worth

A pour of Funny Accent, a spot-on ESB offered by Funky Picnic ( © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Fort Worth will be a little less funky come the end of the month, as Funky Picnic Brewery & Café has announced it will close after nearly 5 years in business.

Founded by Samantha Glenn, Collin Zreet, Jenni Hanley and John Koch, Funky Picnic opened in June 2019. This, after the team spent a number of years building its brand by way of local homebrew competitions.

In terms of approach, Funky Picnic took the idea of being a true brewpub to heart, with its beer and food offerings getting equal billing. Everyday pairings were further enhanced by the fact that the business was the only one of its kind in the area with an Advanced Cicerone on staff (Zreet). And, while beer recipes were ever-rotating in line with consumer expectations, one could always count on a reliable pour in the form of Funny Accent, a spot-on stylistic ESB.

According to a social media post, difficulties with rising costs and other economic factors influenced the decision to close.

"Over the past year and a half...we have seen rising operating and material costs from inflation while consumer habits have shrunk back on their spending due to the current economy, leading us to sales now lower than what we saw in both 2023 and 2022. We have put everything we have (money, emotions, time) into keeping these doors open, but it no longer makes viable sense."

Funky Picnic will remain open until its final service on Saturday, April 27.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Rollertown breaks ground on new Frisco HQ

Logo courtesy of Rollertown Beerworks. Insets © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D (click to enlarge).

Officially kicking off a project first announced in November 2022, Rollertown Beerworks of Celina broke ground today on what will become the company's new headquarters in Downtown Frisco.

The principals at Rollertown include Jonathan Rogers, co-founder and CEO, along with Ben Rogers and Jeff "Skin" Wade, co-founders and hosts of The Ben & Skin Show on 97.1 The Freak. They were joined at the event by Frisco city leaders and a list of sports and entertainment celebrities who also happen to be Rollertown investors:

Dirk Nowitzki, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks.
Travis Frederick, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys.
Torii Hunter, formerly of the Minnesota Twins.
Matt Kemp, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dude Perfect, Frisco-based Sports and Comedy Group.

As for Rollertown's future home, it will be built on 2.9-acre tract at the northeast corner of Main St. and John Elliot Parkway. Buildings will be designed with an industrial look meant to play off their proximity to the BNSF railroad, while also paying homage to mills that once occupied the land.

Exterior views of the brewhouse, taproom and event lawn (Rollertown Beerworks, City of Frisco, PGAL).

Among the features are over 6,350 square feet of air-conditioned indoor hospitality space, including a two-level taproom with large porches and multiple bars, a 4,320 square foot outdoor beer garden, a 25,200 square foot great lawn connecting Frisco’s historic grain silos to the taproom’s porches (fronted by an 800 square foot performance stage), and a 15,000 square foot production hall featuring three different sized brewhouses (30-bbl, 7-bbl, 1-bbl).

"We are absolutely thrilled to be planting our flag in what is consistently recognized as one of the finest cities in the country," says Jonathan Rogers. "To join the family of companies based in Frisco that includes the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Stars, the Frisco Roughriders, the PGA of America, and Keurig Dr Pepper among many others is a true honor.”

Interior views of the two-story taproom (Rollertown Beerworks, City of Frisco, PGAL).

Rollertown Frisco will be equidistant from Toyota Stadium and Frisco’s Historic Downtown. This family and dog-friendly venue is meant to be a cornerstone of Frisco’s Downtown development plans and a beacon of community engagement.

“We’ve been brainstorming for years about how to find the best project for the silo tract to incorporate into our plans to redevelop historic downtown,” says Mayor Jeff Cheney. “We believe Rollertown Beerworks fulfills our vision to bring destination entertainment to the heart of our city. Research shows our residents want live music, brewery experiences, and historic downtown settings – all while being family friendly. Rollertown delivers."

Look for Rollertown Frisco to open in the summer of 2025.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Total solar eclipse brews and views at NTX bars and breweries

Image by kjpargeter on Freepik.

Unless you've been living under a rock of galactic proportions, you know a cosmic event of some significance is coming up on the calendar. A total solar eclipse is set to occur on Monday, April 8, with much of North Texas positioned in the path of totality.

Naturally, watch parties will be taking place at breweries and other craft beer-centric locales across the region. Most, but not all, events will have solar glasses on hand for attendees (quantities may be limited), while some will even be serving up special beers to mark the occasion. And, judging by a beer name appearing more than once, a certain song by Soundgarden is sure to be spinning at solar soirees around town.

In addition, those raising a "Toast to Totality" can pick up commemorative merchandise from the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Click here to view exclusive items designed by DeuxSouth Creative of San Antonio.

As for all the happenings going down in D-FW, check the listings and links below for details. Note, tickets are required for some events.

The brews:
  • Black Hole Sun Blackberry Berliner Weisse - 3 Nations Brewing Co.
  • Black Hole Sun Black Lager - 903 Brewers (available now).
  • Black Hole Sun Black Pilsner - Three Empires Brewing Co.
  • Brownie Totality Coffee Milk Stout - On Rotation (releases April 6).
  • Darker Shade of Ellum - Westlake Brewing Co.
  • Day Ruiner Barrel-Aged Blonde Barleywine - Martin House Brewing Co. (releases April 5).
  • In the Path of Totality Hazy IPA with Eclipse Hops - Celestial Beerworks.
  • Maximum Totality Cascadian Dark Ale - Autonomous Society Brewpub (releases April 5).
  • Moon Pie Full Grown Man - Tupps Brewery.
  • Path of Totality Stout Aged on Hazelnut, Coconut and Vanilla - 903 Brewers (available now).
  • Sunburst Wheat - Lakewood Brewing Co. (available now).
  • Total Eclipse of the Hops IPA - Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery.
  • Totality Black IPA - Railport Brewing Co. & Southern Roots Brewing Co.
  • Umbral Shadow Golden Stout with Pistachios, Marshmallows, Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla - Keyworth Brewing Co. (releases April 5).
  • Umbraphile Golden Stout with Coffee, Vanilla and Chocolate - Division Brewing (available now).
  • Yellow Haze of the Sun Hazy Pale Ale - Odd Muse Brewing Co.

The views:

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Maple Branch, Flix Mansfield among winners at 2024 Best of Craft Beer Awards

Image credits: Best of Craft Beer Awards, Maple Branch Craft Brewery, Flix Brewhouse.

This past weekend, the 2024 Best of Craft Beer Awards competition was held in Redmond, Oregon, with two Tarrant County breweries landing among the winners.

Now in its tenth year, the Best of Craft Beer Awards has grown to be the third largest professional brewing competition in North America. At this year's event, more than 1850 submissions were received for evaluation against style guidelines covering 55 categories and subcategories.

From the entry pool, judges awarded 169 medals to 123 breweries located worldwide. On the North Texas medalists, Maple Branch Craft Brewery of Fort Worth previously won a Best of Craft Beer award in 2022, while Flix Brewhouse Mansfield appears on the honoree list for the first time.

Local winners and their beers are highlighted below. For more on the 2024 Best of Craft Beer Awards, click here for a full competition summary.

Flix Brewhouse, Mansfield
  • Luna Rosa, Bronze in the Fruit & Field Beers category.

Maple Branch Craft Brewery, Fort Worth
  • Monkey Business, Gold in the German Wheat Beers category.
  • Lion's Den, Silver in the Bocks category.

Cheers and congratulations to Maple Branch and Flix Mansfield!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Neutral Ground closing brewery in Fort Worth

Image credit: Neutral Ground Brewing Co.

Neutral Ground Brewing Co. has announced it will close its brewery in Fort Worth.

Owners Sean Doublet and Stan Hudson got inspiration for the brewery's name from a historical reference to the disputed border between Texas and Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase. The "neutral ground" was a hostility-free zone set aside to allow for safe trade until the matter was resolved.

Their choice also made for a symbolic fit, since Doublet and Hudson came together to open the brewery after having been born on opposite sides the border themselves.

Taking further influence from Texas' neighboring state, Neutral Ground's flagship beer recalled the Christian feast day of Epiphany, which in Louisiana marks the beginning of Carnival season. This is the time King Cakes are made, so Epiphany was brewed with cinnamon and nutmeg to create a King Cake-inspired ale.

Reasons for the closure have not been revealed, but Neutral Ground will celebrate its third anniversary on Saturday, March 23, before shutting down operations after the close of business on Friday, March 29.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Voodoo Brewing adds second NTX spot in Plano

The menu at Voodoo Brewing Co. - Plano features beers like Wynona's Big Brown Ale (a "spontaneous" release),
and Cajun-inspired food items like the Bayou Salad with Blackened Chicken ( all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Voodoo Brewing Co. of Pennsylvania has debuted its second franchise taproom in North Texas, this time in the heart of Historic Downtown Plano.

Located at 1001 14th St., Voodoo Plano is owned and operated by Jennifer and Jeremy Dartez. The brewpub sets up in a 3,900 square foot spot on the ground floor of Morado Plano, a five-story development described as an "ultra-modern" apartment community.

Given the locale and how the space was designed, it's obvious upon entry a different sort of vibe is in order at Voodoo Plano compared to its area predecessor which opened in May of 2023, Voodoo Grand Prairie. The latter, anchoring one end of a retail center, has a suburban bar and grill-type feel, while Voodoo Plano has more of a neighborhood pub quality.

Different yes, but it's all part of how Voodoo partnerships work. Not only do franchisees have the freedom to make design decisions which give each brewpub its own unique personality, they can also add a bit of personal flavor choice to the food offerings.

Along those lines, Voodoo Plano takes a cue from the fact that its name is synonymous with New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. As such, the menu has a Cajun flair with items like po'boys, beignets and boudin balls being notable additions to the parent company's base menu of burgers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches and more.

As for the beer, the bulk of the lineup consists of house beers brought in from The Keystone State, with year-round recipes like Good Vibes West Coast IPA and Voodoo Love Child Belgian Tripel supplemented with both seasonal and spontaneous releases (one of which, Wynona's Big Brown Ale gets high marks). You'll find a little bit of Bayou State influence here as well, with guest selections from Abita Brewing Co. of Covington, Louisiana.

Other beverages include Voodoo's Elxr hard seltzers, wines, spirits, hand-crafted cocktails, and a bevy of non-alcoholic options like root beer, sodas, and a Nitro Crème Brûlée Coffee drink courtesy of The Thirsty Growler in The Colony.

Voodoo Brewing Co. - Plano held its grand opening today, but going forward the brewpub will serve patrons seven days a week, with hours starting at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Stub's Texas Pils leads list of new beers at Lakewood

Images courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is adding a number of new beers to its portfolio.

The first of these is Stub's Texas Pils (4.5% ABV), a year-round offering described as a "clear, crisp and refreshing pilsner with a balanced, smooth finish."

“Classic beer styles have survived a long time for a good reason. Like we say in Texas, ‘If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.’ We created an uncomplicated beer, with quality ingredients, to enjoy at the end of your complicated day,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “We’re going back to beer flavored beer. Stub’s is a beer you can grab for any occasion.”

Look for Stub's Texas Pils on tap and in cans throughout Texas. Packaged products are going for "inflation busting" prices of $8.99-$9.99 for a six-pack and $18.99 for a 12-pack.

Also new are two variations of Lakewood's popular Temptress Imperial Milk Stout. Irish Cream Temptress (9.1% ABV) is available now, while Cookies 'n Cream Temptress (9.1% ABV) is set to hit shelves in April.

Then, there's Sunburst Wheat (5.5% ABV), the brewery's new spring/summer seasonal. Said to "taste like a Texas sunset," this American-style wheat beer with soft hints of fruit will debut statewide in time for the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Three Wide now wide open in Fort Worth

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Three Wide Brewing Co. has opened in Fort Worth, as the business is celebrating its highly-anticipated debut with Grand Opening festivities this weekend. Located at 16230 Three Wide Dr., the brewery lies just west and within earshot of Texas Motor Speedway (TMS).

For team members Matt Morriss and Tom Anderson, Three Wide represents a return from down the 'Rabbit  Hole,' if you'll recall the Alice in Wonderland-themed brewery the two helped establish just four miles down the road in Justin. With this new venture, they've joined forces with Hau Lau, Roger Ma and Helen Ma, along with yet another former Rabbit Hole crew member in Joshua Mercer, who takes on the role of head brewer at Three Wide.

Of course, motorsports fans will know "three wide" is a racing term referring to when cars run side-by-side-by-side across the width of the track. Three Wide's moniker was surely influenced by its proximity to TMS, and it's almost a given the brewery will become a default destination for pre- or post-race day shenanigans.

One reason is because Three Wide has the makings of a beer drinking, sports-watching mecca. With a bank of eight large widescreens above the main bar, another four encircling an arena-like scoreboard dropping down from the ceiling, and additional TVs along the walls, Three Wide isn't just some bar where you go to watch THE game, it's a brewery you go to when you want to watch ALL the games.

Plus, patrons can enjoy the ambiance both inside and out on two levels. Downstairs, a covered patio extends the dining area outside, while the upstairs adds a second bar, seating overlooking the brewhouse, and an open-air balcony.

Options to eat - Footlong Bratwurst (sauerkraut, caramelized onions, Dijon mustard,
grilled baguette), and drink - Wake Up Call (Belgian-style pale ale with coffee).

Another reason is the eats and drinks. Liquid-wise, Three Wide will pour upwards of 20 house beers into proper glassware on a daily basis. And, fermentation has clearly been underway for a while, since 19 taps were flowing on opening day. Initial style options included six IPAs (English, hazy, double hazy, rye, West Coast, double West Coast) and two stouts, along with a variety of Belgian, English and German offerings.

Oh, and if anyone was wondering about new takes on former Rabbit Hole recipes making an appearance at Three Wide, one candidate may be a brown ale called Heart of Glass. It's said to be "truly rapturous."

On the culinary side, Three Wide's kitchen is led by Roger Evaristo, who appropriately enough has done some cooking for NASCAR. The Brazilian-born chef owns Azores Craft Sausages & Charcuterie in Roanoke, so Three Wide is essentially a second location. Look for his menu to feature snacks, burgers, sandwiches, Neapolitan-style pizzas and more.

Beyond all that, there are attractions like to-go beers (coming soon), board games, giant Connect Four, live music bookings, and something to do with a speakeasy or private event area lurking behind a rotating bookcase. And, let's also not overlook the barrel stacks in the production space. The latter promising barrel-aged beers to be discovered sometime down the road.

Three Wide Brewing Co. offers service daily, with hours beginning at 11 a.m.

Friday, February 23, 2024

A first look at Tupps' new location in McKinney

A view from the balcony outside the rentable office space in the production building at Tupps (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

After over four years in development, Tupps Brewery is finally ready to pull back the curtain on its massive new facility near Downtown McKinney.

Conversations surrounding a move and expansion for Tupps began in 2019, with an official press release announcing the brewery's plans coming in July 2020. The setting for the new showplace to be a 4.3-acre site at 402 E. Louisiana St., with the project involving the repurposing of a 1900s-era grain processing site in the city's Historic Mill District.

A few finishing touches are still being applied, but Tupps welcomed visitors for a sneak peek during a preview event earlier this week. And to say the multi-faceted, multi-structure campus is impressive would be an understatement to say the least.

Tupps at twilight - taproom (left), production building (right).

The famous saying "everything is bigger in Texas" immediately comes to mind when walking the grounds. Comparing the brewery's new home to its previous digs inspires the obvious modifier, because now everything is bigger at Tupps.

Taproom? Bigger. Beer Garden? Bigger. Brewhouse? Bigger. You get the idea.

Beginning with the taproom, it now occupies the original grain milling building. Inside, features include multi-level seating areas, a full kitchen, and a bar backed by a two 20-handle tapwalls fashioned in the shape of giant barrels.

Just behind it is another building designed to function as an outdoor beer hall. Here, the old taproom will essentially be re-installed, providing a connection for those nostalgic for days spent at the brewery's first location.

Then, there's yet another building devoted to production - details on that to follow.

Tupps' brewhouse and equipment (left/right), and barrel-shaped tapwall (center).

Intermingled are countless other amenities. There's a dedicated kid's area, bocce ball court, swings, permanent vendor space (for the BYOB - Bring Your Own Business - program), and a stage for live music performances fronted by amphitheater-like lawn seating.

And, if you want to take your concert viewing experience to the next level, you can rent out an office space in the production building. This comes complete with its own kitchen, private bathrooms, and outdoor balcony seating which overlooks the stage below. You might say it's a little like having a suite at the AAC.

It all leads to the conclusion that Tupps may be a craft brewery first and foremost, but what the company has created with this new space is nothing less than a full-on, family-friendly entertainment destination.

Plus, the place has character. The historical setting is one thing, but Tupps has also added vintage touches here and there sourced from not only the grain mill, but the family's own treasure trove as well. Some would call them conversation pieces, but 'talking points at Tupps' seems a better turn of phrase.

More on individual aspects below.

The Beer

Brewing operations have been underway for a number of weeks inside Tupps' four-story, 25,000 square foot production center. Chris Lewis, head brewer at Tupps, is working with a 4-vessel, 60-barrel brewhouse manufactured by Deutsche Beverage & Process. Additional equipment includes a 15-barrel pilot system, along with the requisite array of fermentation tanks.

"The beauty of this facility is we don't have to brew 24 hours a day," says Lewis. "We've got bigger equipment and we can do a lot more volume, but we've got the same crew from before doing the work."

Ask what the real game changer is, though, and the answer will likely be the loading dock, which facilitates distro pickup.

The Food

Leading the kitchen at Tupps is Sean Frye, whose resume includes stints at Jasper's, Abacus and other restaurants founded by Chef Kent Rathbun.

Frye's everyday menu will be straightforward, but executed at a very high level, according to Chase Lewis, vice president of finance and strategy at Tupps.

"Kind of what to expect is brewpub-like food," says Lewis. "The menu is loaded with appetizers and bar snacks, but then you've got six awesome sandwiches, two or three salads, and two or three entrees. You're coming here to eat a burger, or a sandwich, or a taco, or maybe something like beer-battered salmon fish & chips."

A large smoker will also be employed on site, allowing for the creation of go-to barbecue items. And beer-inspired dishes? Those will pop up from time to time too.

"I want to take craft beeriness and inject that life into the kitchen to do weird, fun, innovative things," says Lewis. "Hopefully some of those ideas will turn into really cool specials."

The Economics and Future Outlook

So, what drove this all-encompassing expansion?

For Tupps, it wasn't an issue of needing more capacity to fulfill orders for a flagship beer driving the brand, but rather sales data suggesting an increase production was in play for all of its year-round products.

"As we've grown up, core beers like Juice Pack, Evil Dankster and Tupps IPA have had steady growth for years and years," explains Lewis.

Given that, rather than chasing trends and being dependent on the success of hype beers that come and go like the breeze, foundational products will be the focus at Tupps going forward.

"I think stability will be the thing in the next ten years of craft beer," says Lewis. "It's about the stability of your base, and being a trusted brand that makes a good portfolio of different beers you can trust."

Along those lines, Lewis says balance and drinkability will be key for the future. That, and leveraging the brewery's size, scale and efficiencies to provide value to its customers.

In other words, Tupps hopes to provide patrons with the ability to enjoy beers they want to come back to, without breaking the bank.

The Introductory Events

The public's first chance to take in Tupps' new surroundings will be during Festival of Darkness 2024, happening tomorrow - Saturday, February 24 (click here to purchase tickets).

Grand Opening Weekend takes place March 9-10, with live music on the bill, the soft opening of Tupps Kitchen, and the debut of the BYOB Vendor Space (click here for more information).

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Uptown Rail Brewery setting up shop in Sanger

Image: Uptown Rail Brewery.

Looking to add to craft beer's presence in the northwestern part of the Metroplex, Uptown Rail Brewery has secured a spot at 204 Bolivar St. for what would be the first business of its kind in Downtown Sanger.

Founded by Todd and Vanessa Benson, Uptown Rail will occupy a structure with 7500 square feet of usable space, originally built in 1903. According to Todd, plans call for amenities to be set up outside as well, with a focus on making the brewery a family-friendly destination.

"We plan on having an outdoor green space and a stage for live music, with food trucks making it a fun environment for families to enjoy," says Benson.

Inside the taproom, Benson expects to have 15-20 house beers available on a daily basis. Uptown Rail's portfolio will consist of a mix of classic and modern styles, with products highlighting the uniqueness of the area - whether it be by way of flavors and ingredients, or by bringing attention to local heritage.

"We will partner with local farmers and/or suppliers to incorporate fresh, regional produce into our beers," says Benson. "Additionally, we will showcase the history and culture of our region through the branding and marketing of our brewery."

The goal, quite naturally, is to create a strong connection with area residents, and to attract customers who are interested in supporting a local business.

As for a timeline, the project is in its early stages, but Benson hopes to be open by mid-to-late summer.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A visit to Brick Streets, Corsicana's first brewery

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

Turning off of Business 45 onto 5th Ave. in Downtown Corsicana, it doesn't take long to discern how the city's small batch brewery got its name. Brick Streets Brewery sets up at 224 E. 5th Ave., a road inlaid with dark red brick.

Open since October 2021, Brick Streets is the first known brewery to exist in Corsicana and Navarro County. Owned and operated by Clayton Goins, the brewery's home is a 1700 square foot structure, also made of red brick (albeit with a brighter hue), as are many other neighboring businesses.

Inside, the taproom and production areas share a unified space. A solid wood bar lines one elevation, fronting the brewhouse and other hardware installed along the sidewall. Wood tabletops, tap handles made out of tree limbs, and hunting trophies on display further complete the spot's rustic country decor.

Outdoors, a beer garden of roughly the same size flanks the building, a portion of which is covered should you wish to escape the Texas sun while enjoying one of the half-dozen (or so) beverages the brewery has to offer.

On that note, three house beers were pouring during a recent visit. The best of these was a black IPA called Darth Dankness, while others included Cold Beer, a bolder than expected kölsch, and the aptly named Red Brick Beer, an American-style red ale.

According to the beertender, Cold Beer is the top-seller, but recipes rotate at Brick Streets regularly. Now and again, visitors might find beers like Siqueness for the Thiqueness NEIPA, the brewery's Session Stout, or a schwarzbier known as Cold Beer Dark on tap.

As for further attractions, Texas wines are kept on-hand at Brick Streets as well, with selections from Kuhlman Cellars of Stonewall available on this occasion. The brewery also has a widescreen TV above the bar for visual diversions, and there is plenty of free parking out back for those making the drive into town.

Brick Streets Brewery is open four days a week, with evening hours beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, followed by a noontime start on Saturday.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Locals land 19 medals at 2024 Texas Craft Brewers Cup

Image credit: Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Results from the 2024 edition of the Texas Craft Brewers Cup were announced this evening in Austin, with 14 North Texas breweries recognized for a combined total of 19 beers. And, for the second year in a row, a local got the nod for Brewery of the Year in the Under 600 bbl Group - congrats to Maple Branch Craft Brewery of Fort Worth!

Organized by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the Texas Craft Brewers Cup is a competition open to all licensed and operating Texas breweries meeting the criteria of the Guild's "craft brewer" membership definition. Guild membership is not an entry requirement, but out-of-state breweries are not eligible to participate.

This year, the event drew 956 entries from 170 Texas breweries. Submissions were then evaluated across 31 categories and associated sub-styles based on guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Notable statistics:

  • Just over 35% of active Texas breweries competed (170 up from 147 in 2023).
  • Hazy IPA repeated as the most-entered style category with 61 entries.
  • North Texas swept the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
  • North Texas medal count: 6 gold, 6 silver, and 7 bronze.

Area winners are featured below. For more on the Texas Brewers Cup, click here for a full competition summary.

Armor Brewing Co., Allen
  • Smoked Porter, Gold in the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas
  • Neato Bandito, Gold in the Golden, Blonde & Light Ales category.
  • Devil's Tears, Bronze in the American & International Light Lager category.
  • Social Betty Ann, Silver in the Wheat or Rye category.
False Idol Brewing, North Richland Hills
  • Let it Rip, Gold in the Belgian & Farmhouse Ales category.
  • Sinister Shadows, Silver in the Decadent Beer category.
  • Squirtle Squad, Bronze in the Belgian & Farmhouse Ales category.
  • Why Can't I Be Turboman?, Silver in the Fruit & Field Beer category. 
  • Velvet Veil, Bronze in the Strong Hoppy Beer category.
  • Raspberry Fields, Gold in the Fruit & Field Beer category.
  • Romanov's Revenge, Gold in the Barleywine & Strong Ale category.
  • Gigi's Juice, Bronze in the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
Odd Muse Brewing, Farmers Branch 
  • Rose Colored Glasses, Silver in the Strong Hoppy Beer category.
On Rotation, Dallas
  • Jalapeño Saison, Silver in the Smoke & Chili Beer category.
Tupps Brewery, McKinney
  • FAYM - Forever Always Your McKinney, Silver in the Legislative Pro-Am category.
  • Juice Pack, Bronze in the Hazy IPA category.
  • Mexican Lager, Gold in the American & International Lager category.
  • Rubus Rex, Bronze in the Brett & Mixed Culture category.
  • Big Thicket Blonde, Bronze in the Golden, Blonde & Light Ales category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Royal Goat targeting Arlington for new brewing venture

Image credit: Royal Goat Brewing Co.

If all goes as planned, come spring of 2025 an area in the heart of Downtown Arlington will become home to a new brewery with a rather noble-sounding name.

Royal Goat Brewing Co. will be the culmination of a dream many years in the making for Anthony Byington, a U.S. Army veteran and longtime homebrewer who was formerly a crew member at New Main Brewing Co. of Pantego. For his own venture, Byington hopes to secure a spot within walking distance to nearby Arlington venues, with only a short drive needed to reach major sporting events in the city.

"We are looking into properties between UTA and the sports district," says Byington. "With a revitalized downtown area, the Levitt Pavilion, and other craft beer locations, we feel that this will position Royal Goat in a great location for those seeking a quaint weekday spot for an after-work beer, or a place to celebrate during an excitement-filled weekend before and after the big game."    

On the brand, the inspiration for Royal Goat's imagery comes from Byington's family crest, which features a goat presiding over the regalia. As can be seen on the company's website, beer recipes will have a unique "Royal" representative, with each to be displayed in the brewery hall along with a story telling drinkers about its lineage and history.

Members of the "Royal Court" will include Grand Duke Stout, Dutchess Blonde Ale, Baron Duke IPA, Wise Earl Wit and more, with these style selections to be among an entourage of well-crafted and reliable everyday beers at Royal Goat.

"Royal Goat will focus on core beer recipes, with two revolving taps for seasonals and special brews," says Byington. "With the ever-changing and rolling craft beer environment, I see an opportunity to fill a void, so we are working hard to create seven solid and popular styles that will always be on tap."

Of course, Byington recognizes the need to branch out beyond beer to reach other potential customers. With that in mind, Royal Goat will also stock a selection of meads, wines, and a house-made non-alcoholic root beer in order appeal to a variety of tastes.

For more on Royal Goat, including information on tasting events set to take place in the D-FW area during the development cycle, follow the project on Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Glen Echo Brewing a welcome addition to Wylie

All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D.

One year after initially announcing plans to establish a new brewery in Wylie, Glen Echo Brewing is now open and operating near the city's downtown district at 106 N. Birmingham St.

Reading through the company's website, you get the impression owners Steve and Debbie Schoenekase are all about craft beer, conversation and camaraderie. So, it's not surprising to find upon visiting that the couple has created a space exactly in line with those ideals.

An open and unified floorplan fills the interior of a 4,000 square foot structure occupied by Glen Echo, with the brewery's taproom flanked by the production area off to one side. The atmosphere exudes a chill vibe, with low lights and distractions at a minimum. Families can gather around a board game, but the brewery's projection TV will only emerge for special events.

Even the seating options (community tables, couches, booths) seem chosen to encourage patrons to come together over a beer. And indeed, they did just that during a soft opening this weekend. Among the steady stream of customers, a fair number of folks clearly knew each other beforehand, meaning Wylie residents made up a majority of the crowd. Naturally, this bodes well for a business looking to make a name as the local, neighborhood brewery.

As for beer offerings, Glen Echo is still dialing things in as it works to convert recipes originally brewed on a one-barrel setup to an advanced 10-barrel system. Once production is in full swing, look for upwards of a dozen house beers to be pouring on the regular.

Full pours and flights of up to six beers are available to enjoy in the taproom at Glen Echo.

To start, four beers (kölsch, amber ale, IPA, chocolate milk stout) and an orange seltzer are currently on tap. Of those, future batches of the IPA are expected to be hoppier, and while the chocolate milk stout will likely be a year-round staple, a "stoutier stout" is also in the works.

Add to those a bock, a hefeweizen, a non-alcoholic root beer and more to see how Glen Echo is working to build a portfolio favoring classic, everyday drinkers. That said, trendier brews will certainly surface from time-to-time as well.

Foodwise, Glen Echo stocks daily snacks in the form of a chips and salsa basket, which features a family-size bag of chips, along with either Smoky Red or Spicy Green Salsa from ZPalm Kitchen of Garland. Food trucks will provide plates on the weekends too, but patrons are free to bring in outside eats anytime.

It all makes for a welcome addition to Wylie, not to mention the North Texas beer scene as a whole, considering only a few breweries dot the map on the far eastern edge of the coverage region. One imagines craft beer drinkers local to the area will echo that sentiment as well.

An official grand opening is still to come, so follow Glen Echo's social media channels (Facebook, Instagram) for the latest information. Once regular service begins, the brewery will have hours Wednesday-Sunday. An important note, with parking not available on site (the concrete pad out front is for patio seating), drivers should seek out the free lot one block over and directly behind the brewery on N. Jackson Ave.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Lakewood and Oak Highlands notch nine wins at 2024 USBTC Winter Competition

Image credits: United States Beer Tasting Championship, Oak Highlands Brewery, Lakewood Brewing Co.

This past weekend, the United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC) completed judging for its 30th Anniversary Winter Competition. And, based on the two winning breweries from North Texas, it seems there may be something in the water around a particular area of Northeast Dallas County.

Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland and Oak Highlands Brewery of Dallas, breweries located just two miles apart, received recognition for their beers in 9 of the 18 available style categories while competing in the Rockies/Southwest Division of the competition.

These results are just the latest accolades for the neighboring breweries at the USBTC, whose organizers host both a summer and winter event annually. In fact, counting this year's tallies, Oak Highlands has now placed 40 times at the USBTC - dating back to 2016, while Lakewood has landed 24 awards over the same time period.

A rundown of winning beers from North Texas is provided below. For more on the 2024 USBTC Winter Competition, visit the official website at

Lakewood Brewing Co., Garland

  • Bourbon Barrel Temptress, Regional Champion in the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Porter/Stout category.
  • Lion's Share XI, Regional Champion in the Barleywine category.
  • Temptress, Regional Champion in the Imperial Stout category.
  • Punkel, Regional Champion in the Spice/Herb Beer category.

Oak Highlands Brewery, Dallas

  • Bourbon Barrel Freshman 15, Regional Champion in the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Beer category.
  • Devil's Snare, Regional Champion in the Porter category.
  • Royal Scottie, Regional Champion in the Scottish-Style Ale category.
  • Vanilla Porter, Regional Champion in the Bean Beer category.
  • JR All the Way, Regional Champion in the Holiday Spice Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to Lakewood and Oak Highlands!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Lakewood taps next generation of brewing talent with UTA

Image credits: Lakewood Brewing Co., The University of Texas at Arlington.

Expanding on its educational efforts, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland is working with another local university to help bring up the next generation of brewing talent.

Lakewood's latest collaboration is with The University of Texas at Arlington, an institution offering a new Brewing and Fermentation Science Certificate. Dylan Parks, Ph.D., biology assistant professor of instruction and former Lakewood lab technician, is head of the four-course certificate program, and the brewery is helping provide hands-on experience for participants (students, hobbyists, or those simply curious).

Designed to teach concepts from the ground up, Dr. Parks has developed a curriculum including the following courses:

  • The Science of Brewing
  • Fermentation Science
  • Brewing Lab
  • Sensory Evaluation, QA/QC, and Product Design

There will also be a requirement for a 16-hour internship at a local fermentation or brewing facility, for which Lakewood is one of the first to participate.

“Hands-on experience is critical to anyone that is going to go on and work in a production facility, whether it be a winery, brewery, cidery, or distillery,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “It’s important to have an educated workforce, or to even power someone’s future hobby – that’s how I started, and I’m stoked to help others go that path.”

Bens is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, a school he also worked with following the launch of Pony Pils, a beer Lakewood made for Mustang fans. After a successful debut this summer, SMU added Pony Pils to its concession offerings at home football and basketball games. The beer also has an associated scholarship, with $1 from every case sold going to the LBC Future Brewer STEM Scholarship.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Funky Picnic launches Dry Bar Pop-Up, a mocktail experience

Mocktail offerings in The Back Room at Funky Picnic: I Know That She's Pretty (top left), Mule Love This Too (top right), Mochaccino Martini (bottom).

Over the last couple of years, it's been noted how breweries have begun to offer alternative drinks and experiences as a way to expand their customer bases. Following through on this approach seems particularly important in light of Dry January and the growing demand for alcohol-free alternatives.

As such, The Back Room at Funky Picnic Brewery & Café has launched its Dry Bar Pop-Up, bringing a refreshing twist to the world of mocktails and sober lifestyles. The Dry Bar Pop-Up will kick off this weekend, January 11-13 from 5-9 pm, and will continue to enchant guests with celebrations of liquor-free flavor on select dates throughout the month.

At the heart of the Dry Bar experience is the innovative Build-Your-Own Mocktail Bar, where patrons collaborate with skilled bartenders to craft customized drinks. From selecting glassware to choosing syrups, garnishes and more, the Build-Your-Own Mocktail Bar offers a unique and interactive journey into the art of mocktail mixology.

Funky Picnic’s Dry Bar Pop-Up also features an array of signature mocktails, including year-round favorites like Resolution Solution, a tantalizing blend of hibiscus, ginger, lemon, lime, Topo Chico, and tajin. Other standouts include I Know That She's Pretty (pink lavender syrup, lemon juice, angostura bitters & soda water), Mule Love This Too (apple butter, lime juice, ginger beer), and the Mochaccino Martini, a sober twist on the classic espresso martini.

"We are thrilled to introduce the Dry Bar Pop-Up to our community," says Samantha Glenn, co-owner of Funky Picnic. "With the rising interest in mindful drinking and Dry January, we wanted to create a space where individuals can savor exceptional mocktails and celebrate their commitment to a sober lifestyle."

While some of the signature mocktails are year-round staples available on the Funky Picnic menu, the full list of Signature Mocktails and the Build-Your-Own Mocktail Bar will only be available during select dates in January in Funky Picnic’s private event space, The Back Room (check the brewpub's website for details). Funky Picnic’s full food, beer, and cocktail menus will also be available, making it a perfect date night to keep resolutions going strong.