Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Armor honored with three medals at 2024 Indiana Brewers' Cup

Image credits: Armor Brewing Co., Indiana State Fair.

Armor Brewing Co. of Allen added to a growing list of competition wins this past weekend, as the 10-month old brewery brought home three medals from the 2024 Indiana Brewers' Cup. Counting wins from the 2023 and 2024 installments of the Texas Craft Brewers Cup and U.S. Open Beer Championships, Armor has now been awarded eight medals for its beers before even reaching its first anniversary.

An annual event held in association with the Indiana State Fair, the Indiana Brewers' Cup is in its 26th year after first being established in 1999. For the 2024 gathering, over 500 entries were received for evaluation across 40 categories covering a range of beer, cider and mead styles.

The winning recipes from Armor are listed below. Click here for a full competition summary.

Armor Brewing Co., Allen

  • First Place for Wheat Wine in the Strong American Ale category.
  • Third Place for Easy Co. in the Pale European Beer category.
  • Third Place for Smoke Session in the Smoke-Flavored Beer category.

Cheers and congratulations to Armor Brewing Co.!

Monday, July 8, 2024

North Texas has best ever showing at 2024 U.S. Open Beer Championship

Image credit: U.S. Open Beer Championship.

Winners were announced today at the 2024 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

Based in Oxford, Ohio, the U.S. Open is now in its sixteenth year. The event, billed as the second largest annual beer judging competition in America, has been a popular testing ground for local brewers for more than a decade. 

Looking back, the first win for a North Texas brewer occurred in 2012, but the region has celebrated wins for multiple breweries in each of the last 12 years - 2024 included. And now with this year's results, 29 area breweries have been awarded 175 medals combined at the U.S. Open since its inception.

For 2024, over 9000 beers were submitted for judging across 152 categories. From the pool, 11 breweries from North Texas were awarded 21 medals total (4 gold, 11 silver, 6 bronze).

This represents the best showing ever for the region, besting the 19 medals won by North Texas breweries in 2022. First time U.S. Open honorees for 2024 include Flix Brewhouse - Mansfield and Three Wide Brewing Co. of Fort Worth (though, the brewer in question here does have a bit of U.S. Open hardware from the Rabbit Hole days).

A complete list of winning beers from North Texas is provided below. Click here for a full competition summary.

  • Gold for Enigma in the Historical Beer category.
  • Silver for Blood Orange Gose in the Fruit Gose category.
  • Silver for Sherpa's Secret in the American-Style Lager category.
  • Gold for Kashmir (a collaboration with Mox Nix Brewery) in the Mixed-Culture Brett Beer category.
  • Silver for Satellite in the American Light Lager category.
  • Bronze for It's All Happening in the English Barley Wine category
False Idol Brewing, North Richland Hills
  • Silver for Eight One Seven in the Munchner Dunkel category.
  • Bronze for To Live & Die in L.A. in the New Zealand-Style IPA category.
  • Bronze for Overgrown Frenzy in the Field Beer category.
Flix Brewhouse, Mansfield
  • Bronze for Tmave Pivo 13 in the European Dark Lager category.
  • Silver for Lion's Share XI in the American Barley Wine category.
  • Silver for Hydro in the Non-Alcoholic Hop Water category.
  • Silver for Sun, Moon & Stars in the Belgian Quadrupel category.
  • Bronze for Battle of Britain in the English Barley Wine category.
  • Silver for Barrel-Aged Vanilla Porter with Tart Cherries in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Fruit Beer category.
  • Silver for Tejano Pecano in the Nut Beer category.
  • Bronze for Festbier in the German-Style Oktoberfest category.
Odd Muse Brewing Co., Farmers Branch
  • Gold for Shoot the Moon in the New Zealand-Style IPA category.
  • Gold for Harlequin Dancer in the English Pale Ale category.
  • Silver for Berry Optimistic in the Fruit Wheat Beer - Mixed category.
Union Bear Brewing Co., Denton/Plano
  • Silver for Union Bear Stout in the American Stout category.

Cheers and congratulations to all!

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Guild and Method Architecture announce 2024 grant recipients

Image credits: Texas Craft Brewers Guild, Method Architecture,
Toasty Bros., Village Creek Brewing Co.

Recipients have been announced for the fourth year of a grant program awarding aspiring craft brewers with membership in the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Grantees listed below will receive a one year "Brewery in Planning" membership - a $300 value - in the trade association that represents small and independent craft breweries in the Lone Star State. These grants are funded by Method Architecture, a Texas-based firm that's also a longtime member of the Guild.

2024 Grantees:

Cottonwood Creek Brewery & Smokehouse - Hutto
Point City Brewing Co. - Houston
Toasty Bros. - Denton
Village Creek Brewing Co. - Rendon
Weber Brewing - Victoria

More on the two projects hailing from North Texas...

Toasty Bros., Denton

  • Founded by Brian "Toast" Tiensvold, Toasty Bros. has been active in North Texas since debuting its first commercial beer in March 2019. From that point on, the company's beers have been produced as part of an alternating proprietorship agreement with Hop & Sting Brewing Co. of Grapevine.

    A permanent location is on the horizon, though, as construction is currently underway on an existing 1200 square foot space at 104 N. Bell Ave. in Denton. Pop-up events are a regular occurrence on site, as Toasty Bros. continues to raise funds as it works towards opening.

Village Creek Brewing Co., Rendon

  • Art and Sunny Anderson began working to bring Village Creek Brewing Co. to fruition in early 2019. They first appeared on the local radar in April of that year after participating in LUCKapolooza V at LUCK in Trinity Groves.

    By early 2020, they had secured a 4.7-acre site at 6670 Levy County Line Rd. in Rendon, where they've been building a brewery from the ground up ever since.

Click here for the full press release from the Guild.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Exploring the local breweries of Erath County

Flight trays at Lucky Brewing Co. and Bosque River
Taphouse (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I can again say I've visited every active brewery currently residing in the North Texas coverage area. This, after making a trek to Erath County in the far southwestern corner of the region to check out Lucky Brewing Co. of Dublin and Bosque River Taphouse of Stephenville.

Now, given the remote locale, and the fact the breweries sit just 12 miles apart on a stretch of US-377, it stands to reason that anyone making the trip is likely to take the opportunity to visit both on the same day. With that in mind, I decided to cover the two together.

As for any similarities, both breweries have portfolios designed around stylistic and approachable offerings with moderate ABVs. And, as you might expect based on their proximity to the factory, both stock sodas from Dublin Bottling Works as a non-alcoholic option.

Lucky Brewing Co., 675 Co. Rd. 497, Dublin (operating hours Friday-Sunday).

Owned by Jeff and Kimberley Hutchins, Lucky Brewing Co. is a partner project operating on the grounds of Lucky Vines Vineyard & Winery. The company's branding plays off elements of that other Dublin destination, so the company's logo is a four-leaf clover, and the predominant color you see on merch, marketing materials and beyond is green.

House beers, which debuted in August 2021, emerge from a tap trailer adjacent to a covered outdoor patio with views of the adjoining vineyard. Patrons might also catch a glimpse of an adult pet tortoise on the grounds, as it comes ambling by while you sip on your selections.

On that note, recipes on tap this weekend included a bock, Kölsch, red ale, and West Coast IPA, along with my preferred pour, the peach blonde ale. They also serve wine, of course (in a separate, climate-controlled building), a michelada, and hard seltzers (cherry limeade, vanilla cream), and it's perhaps worth mentioning beer flights come with a finger bowl of pretzels for your snacking pleasure.

Servings of Chips & Salsa are available for purchase as well.

Bosque River Taphouse, 1050 S. Graham Ave., Stephenville (operating hours Tuesday-Saturday).

Named for the Bosque River, whose largest branch flows from Stephenville, Bosque River Taphouse has been in business since late 2023. Founded by the father-and-son team of Sean and Brett Mosher, Bosque River is currently working out of a temporary location while a permanent spot is under construction just two miles away on the southwest corner of S. Harbin Dr. and W. Swan St.

The brewery's current surroundings consist of two-story metal structure, with additional seating outside next to a pair of on-site food trucks, Buckin' Grizz BBQ and Taqueria La Chaparrita. As for the future, Bosque River is looking to upgrade to a 15,000 square foot location at the aforementioned coordinates sometime in the first half of 2025.

On the topic of beer, Will Tubbs (formerly of Revolver Brewing in Granbury) is the chief production officer at Bosque River, whose products are marketed under the Maverick Brewing Co. moniker. Tubbs' creations pour from upwards of a dozen taps, with one or two of those allotted to hard seltzers.

At any given time, his draft lineup may feature an American wheat ale, gose, Kölsch, milk stout, or an IPA variety, with Firewheel American Light Lager and Top Goat Texas Bock being available on tap or to go in four packs of 16-ounce cans. My favorite, though, was Floral & Green, a bright and refreshing dry-hopped blonde ale.

Bosque River also serves a selection of wines and specialty cocktails.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sample an award-winning stout at Soul Fire - Cleburne

Snaps from inside and out at Soul Fire Cleburne Brewing Co. - Cleburne (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Upon hearing the news that Soul Fire Brewing Co. - Cleburne had brought home its first award, from an international competition no less, it seemed there was no better time for an inaugural visit to one of the newer brewing operations in North Texas.

Owned by James Brown, the Cleburne spot is the second for Soul Fire, the original having been in business in Roanoke since the fall of 2019. The branding is the same, but the two locales differ slightly in approach. Soul Fire Roanoke is a resident of The 206 - a brewery and food hall concept, whereas Soul Fire Cleburne is a standalone arcade/brewery/pizza kitchen.

Located at 6 N. Caddo St. in the heart of city's downtown district, Soul Fire Cleburne sets up in a renovated two-story 1900s-era building, with available space comprising 8400 square feet. Downstairs is the main dining area, along with kitchen and brewing ops, while the upstairs has arcade installations and an event space which can be closed off for private functions (note: the arcade is temporarily closed until July).

On the subject of offerings, as alluded to above, hand-crafted pizzas are the main culinary draw at Soul Fire Cleburne, with starters, salads and desserts appearing on the food menu as well. Beverage-wise, the brewpub serves soda, root beer and a non-spiked Soul Fire Slushy as non-alcoholic options, though a spiked Slushy can be had as well for an additional charge.

As for the beer, head brewer Rhantu Gamiño is tasked with keeping upwards of 16 taps flowing on a daily basis. During my visit, the lineup featured three lagers, four IPAs (American, hazy, double hazy, imperial New England), a Kölsch, hazy pale ale, strawberry sour and others.

Those sampled, including Mexican and Vienna lagers, were solid and stylistic. A couple of stouts were the highlight, though, one of which being the award-winner at the aforementioned competition. Cleburne's Goatman (5.6% ABV), a proper oatmeal stout, won a bronze medal earlier this month at Copa de las Alturas 2024 in Bogotá, Colombia.

The other stout was a variant of the winning recipe called The Goatman of the River. Identifying as a nitro coffee oatmeal stout, it was brewed in collaboration with Nolan River Coffee of Cleburne and Enduro Coffee Roasters of Fort Worth. The River sibling is even richer and roastier than Cleburne's Goatman, which in and of itself was certainly one of the better straightforward oatmeal stouts I've had in recent memory.

And yes, we drink stouts in summer. You can too at Soul Fire Cleburne, with daily hours beginning at 11:30 a.m. The two Goats are on tap now, but the latter is limited. You can also grab Cleburne's Goatman to-go in four packs of 16-ounce cans.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Rollertown partners with Ben E. Keith for North Texas distribution

Image courtesy of Rollertown Beerworks.

Rollertown Beerworks of Celina has entered into a distribution agreement with Ben E. Keith Beverages, with the Fort Worth-based company set to deliver Rollertown products to both on and off-premise accounts across 37 North Texas counties beginning July 1, 2024.

"This partnership will significantly increase our availability across North Texas while infinitely improving our level of service," says Jonathan Rogers, CEO of Rollertown. "Not only is Ben E. Keith consistently recognized as being best-in-class, they have a strong track record of building brands. We are thrilled to partner with them to get our fresh, local beer out to more North Texans."

Working with Ben E. Keith will enable Rollertown to tap into a vast distribution network, significantly enhancing their ability to address the growing demand for their beers across the entire North Texas region. The 37 county territory includes all of D-FW and stretches from Bowie County at the Arkansas border to the east along the Red River to Wilbarger County on the Oklahoma border to the west and down to Johnson and Ellis counties in the south.

"We are excited to partner with Rollertown Beerworks to expand their brands in the greater North Texas area," says Steve Olkewicz, business development manager at Ben E. Keith. "As a distributor, we recognize the outstanding job Rollertown has done in creating and developing exceptional beers. We look forward to supporting their continued growth and success for many years to come."

Rollertown recently celebrated the groundbreaking of its new headquarters in Downtown Frisco. The venue will serve as a family-friendly entertainment destination, while doubling as the company's production facility. Located on Main St. near Toyota Stadium, the site is scheduled to open in the summer of 2025.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Black Hawk Brewery lands in Prosper

The brewery's name is a military reference, stemming from ownership's support of our armed forces (all images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

Black Hawk Brewery is now open in the Town of Prosper, thereby establishing itself as the first business of its kind in the city. Built from the ground up, Black Hawk sits at 390 W. Broadway St. on the western edge of Proper's downtown district, operating inside a 12,000 square foot structure housing a full restaurant and brewery, along with a rooftop deck.

According to a spotlight piece on the Prosper Economic Development website, owner Dan Hawkins moved to Prosper from California in late 2020. With the goal of providing the town a "more distinct, family-friendly, and independent restaurant," Hawkins decided to pursue plans to develop Black Hawk for the community.

As for Black Hawk's offerings, the kitchen serves a variety of shareables, handhelds (thumbs-up on the Shrimp Tacos), hand-tossed pizzas and salads. There are also a few higher-end entrees (bone-in pork chop, salmon, steak frites), along with a kids menu whose selections include fries and a drink for the little ones.

Shrimp Tacos (pineapple salsa, cilantro, spicy aioli) paired with Silo Lights Amber Ale,
which calls attention to Prosper's historic silos visible from Black Hawk's rooftop deck.

From the brewhouse, house beers are the work of Christopher Tidwell, a longtime industry veteran with previous stints at Union Bear Brewing Co. of Plano, Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery of Garland and others. His initial lineup consists of six classic styles (blonde ale, West Coast IPA, German hefeweizen, hazy IPA, amber ale, oatmeal stout), but patrons can expect to see other recipes pop-up as Tidwell works to fill upwards of 18 taps on an everyday basis.

By the way, the beer names at Black Hawk feature an array of meaningful monikers. Hawkins West Coast IPA, Light Hawk Golden Ale and Prosper Nights Oatmeal Stout have perhaps obvious references, but then there's Doggett Wheat Ale, a beer brewed in remembrance of the late Michael Doggett, a co-founder of Obsidian Brewery in Leander.

Black Hawk's brewhouse and main dining area are downstairs, while upstairs is a rooftop deck.

Beyond the beer, Black Hawk has a full bar, so wine, spirits and cocktails are among the other beverage options. There are also mocktails, sodas, juices and the like for those seeking a non-alcoholic option.

Amenity-wise, the aforementioned rooftop deck is sure to be a popular destination for brews with a view of the city's historic silos, especially given that Black Hawk is one of the taller buildings in Prosper. Of course, there are ample televisions as well (over 20 total), both upstairs and down, for those desiring other visual distractions.

Should you be planning a visit, a grand opening event to officially introduce the brand and brewery is planned on Saturday, June 8. After that, Black Hawk will serve customers seven days a week with hours beginning daily at 11 a.m.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Lakewood, Andy's Frozen Custard to build world's largest beer float

Image courtesy of Lakewood Brewing Co.

Later this month, Lakewood Brewing Co. of Garland will team with Andy's Frozen Custard, a popular purveyor of frozen treats, in an attempt to build the world's largest beer float. Happening on Saturday, June 29 at 1 p.m., Lakwood will create the float using a full keg of its Temptress Imperial Milk Stout melded with 50 scoops of Andy's World Famous Frozen Custard.

According to a press release, this effort seeks to break a previous record set in February in Ohio using about 20 pints (9 liters) of Third Eye Brewing’s Higher Purpose Milk Stout and 36 scoops of Graeter's Vanilla Ice Cream.

Andy’s will be on-site at Lakewood with its treat truck from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a fresh full menu of rich, thick and decadent treats, featuring smooth and creamy vanilla and chocolate frozen custard, transformed into luscious Concretes, Jackhammers™, shakes, and sundaes. Undecided treat seekers can get creative and customize their own treats with vanilla frozen custard and topping favorites like fresh fruit, hot fudge, and Andy’s famous roasted pecans.

Those in attendance can also register to win Andy’s for a year, as well as a Lakewood Lion’s Den Annual Membership, which offers one complimentary beer per visit with no annual limit. Both Andy’s and Lakewood will have merchandise available to commemorate the occasion, including a free Andy’s and Lakewood glass for the first 100 guests.

“Andy’s and Lakewood are brands known for a superlative focus on product quality, using only the finest ingredients and selling what we have carefully made in-house,” adds Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood. “Marrying the two to create one of the most iconic symbols of summer will be one for the record books.”

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Pouring over non-alcoholic beer - navigating taste, style and authenticity: a guest post by Collin Zreet

Non-alcoholic efforts to this point have covered a range of different beer styles (Collin Zreet).

While recently taking a break from drinking alcohol, I have embraced the opportunity to explore the fast-growing realm of non-alcoholic (NA) beers.  This is an especially great time to do so, since there has been a surge of these beers being produced in the craft and macro beer markets.

After trying several different brands, styles, and production methods, it has me thinking: what makes a good (or great) NA beer?  Does it have to be “to style?”  Does it have to taste exactly like a version that contains alcohol?  Does it even have to taste good?  All of these questions have been rattling around inside my brain as I reach for more NA beers from known, unknown, local, national, and international breweries.

First and foremost, any beer has to taste good to you and your own preferences.  Too many times I hear: “It’s good for an NA beer.”  “It’s better than I thought it would be.”  So … is it a good beer then?  Or just not that bad?  Whether you are not drinking alcohol for health or personal reasons, drink what tastes right to you.  Just because someone else doesn’t like it, or someone is shunning the entire NA category, it shouldn’t shy you away from an NA beer that you might end up liking.

On a similar note, I’ve had several people tell me that Guinness 0.0 and Heineken 0.0 are the best NA beers simply because they taste exactly like the regular versions.  While I do agree that those respective NA versions taste incredibly similar to their alcohol-laden counterparts, what if you don’t prefer those beers to begin with?  Does that still make it a good NA beer?  If those are your kinds of beers, then great!  That is the best scenario:  a beer that you enjoy whether it has alcohol or not.  If not, don’t feel obligated to claim those as the best NA beers for you.  Personally, if it tastes good, I am all for it, and extra bonus points if it tastes like the version that has alcohol in it.

But does an NA beer have to be “to style?”  I can see this going a few different ways, but first let’s see how the professional guidelines define NA beer.  While the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) does not list an NA category (as they cater more to homebrewers), The Great American Beer Festival, being a competition for only commercial beer, does.

From the 2023 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines:

  • Non-alcohol (N/A) malt beverages can emulate the character of any beer style defined within these guidelines but with no or nearly no alcohol (less than 0.5% ABV). Ethyl acetate should not be present. Due to their nature, non-alcohol malt beverages will have a profile lacking the complexity and balance of flavors that beers containing alcohol will display. N/A beers should be assessed with this in mind, and should not be given negative evaluations for reasons related to the absence of alcohol.

Essentially, NA beers need to follow the guidelines for the declared base style, but the guidelines do allow for some flexibility in judging for lack of complexity and balance from the alcohol not being present.  This being said, should we hold NA beers to the same strict guideline standards as alcohol-containing beers?  Or should we allow some flexibility and lenience even outside of what the guidelines already state? 

I have yet to find an NA IPA (hazy, West Coast, or otherwise) to completely solve the issue of lack of balance and astringency that occurs when there is no alcohol present.  Some have come close, but none close enough to convince me that it is 100% possible.  The perceived sweetness of the malt and alcohol is needed to offset the bitterness of the hops.  While NA IPAs will never reach the IBUs of a standard West Coast IPA, I believe the term “IPA” here is still valid to use because it implies that the beer contained inside is going to be pale and very hop forward.  The term “IPA” has been used for less than this before in many applications, so I am totally comfortable with it.  I notice a similar imbalance with darker styles (porters, stouts), except in this case the bitterness comes more from the dark roasted grains than hops.  Lighter styles seem to be the best example so far, since they traditionally lack bitterness and don’t have to worry about balancing it out with malt sweetness.

On the reverse, I do see some breweries taking liberties with very unique and nuanced styles, trying to claim those styles attract more savvy and knowledgeable beer drinkers who are above drinking more commonly labeled styles.  A brewery may be trying to label an NA beer as a Kölsch, when some of the key characteristics of the style are missing (light bready sweet malt character, continental European hop character with moderate bitterness), when they could have easily called it a blonde or golden ale.  That being said, there are also plenty of examples of this same misappropriation within standard alcohol-containing beers as well.

So, what should one be looking for if a beer is trying to be more to style?  Here are a few things that might be different with a style being tweaked to make it NA:

  • Appearance:  There should be really no change here.  Using fewer base malts, which provide most of the sugars for converting to alcohol, may lighten color, but can be easily adjusted with specialty malts that would not add any significant sugars.  Head retention may be affected by the use of less malt (and therefore head-forming proteins), but once again, specialty malts can be added in to compensate.
  • Aroma:  Changes in malt may slightly affect the aroma, but the biggest difference here would be in yeast-driven aromas, especially fruity esters and spicy phenols that are primary.
  • Flavor:  The most significant change I have noticed here is in the balance between sweetness and bitterness of the beer.  Having less malt and alcohol in these beers, the overall perceived sweetness is substantially lower, leaving a stronger perceived bitterness as well.  This can leave an overwhelming sense of dryness and astringency in the beer, especially in more hop-forward styles, like IPAs.  Bitterness from other sources, like dark roasted grains, can also lead to this imbalance.
  • Mouthfeel:  Because malt adds body to beer, when less malt is used in general, the body tends to be a bit thinner. Also, when there is less body, more hop-forward styles can come across as astringent, meaning that they imbue a drying puckering sensation in the mouth, like sucking on a tea bag.

Taking all of these into consideration, the styles that would be best represented as an NA beer would likely be those definitely lower in overall intensity and especially lower in bitterness.  Pale lagers definitely fit this, as well as similar other styles like Kölsch and blonde ales. 

In the end, it comes down to you and your own preferences.  If you need to have NA beer for personal or health reasons, there are more options out there than ever before.  Not just the macro brewers, but now the smaller and local brewers too.  If NA beer just isn’t the same to you as their standard counterparts, that’s fine too.  Find what fits you best.

Collin Zreet is a former brewery owner (Funky Picnic Brewery & Café) and one of only eight Advanced Cicerones in the State of Texas.  Throughout his experiences in the craft beer industry, he has specialized in sensory and beer quality, judging several professional beer competitions, including the Great American Beer Festival and being an instrumental part of setting the styles and guidelines for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild’s annual state-wide Brewers Cup.  He also specializes in beer and food pairing, creating and leading over 25 beer dinners across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Monster Energy closing Deep Ellum taproom and brewery in Dallas

Image credit: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

After more than 12 years in business, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is closing its doors in the Dallas neighborhood for which it was named.

Founded by John Reardon, Scott Frieling and Jim Piel, Deep Ellum debuted in November 2011, and in doing so, it became the first new brewery to open in the City of Dallas since the late 1990s. The company's opening day manifesto was centered around a bold and unapologetic attitude geared towards "Total Beer Domination."

Over the years, the brand and its popularity grew to the point where Deep Ellum attracted the interest of outside buyers, and eventually a decision was made to sell the company to CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective in 2018. That relationship soon soured, however, leading Reardon to sue CANarchy in mid-2020 for a failure to make payments based on the original terms of the agreement. His association with the Collective was terminated soon after.

In the midst of all this, Deep Ellum launched a second location dubbed as Funkytown Fermatorium in Fort Worth, which opened in March 2019. Due to mitigating factors that venture folded a year later, its closure essentially coinciding with the aforementioned lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Deep Ellum continued to operate, though CANarchy as a whole was acquired by Monster Energy in January 2022. That event notwithstanding, moves made by Monster concerning other CANarchy brands in subsequent months perhaps foreshadowed today's news.

A social media post suggests the production of Deep Ellum's beers will be moved to other facilities remaining under the Monster umbrella:

"After 12+ amazing years of brewing and serving our beers in Deep Ellum, we've made the difficult decision to close our taproom and brewhouse. From the great folks who've worked here to those who've joined us for a pint or a show, we'd like to thank everyone that's been a part of our journey.

Rest assured - the Deep Ellum story is not over. Our beers will remain available throughout Texas, and we look forward to sharing them with our fans for many years to come.

While our hearts are heavy with this news today, our love for Deep Ellum will always run deep."

Saturday, May 25, 2024

A look at 2023 North Texas production numbers

Click to enlarge.

This is an update of the annual breakdown of brewery sizes in North Texas, with 2023 production data added as reported to the Brewers Association and published in the May/June 2024 issue of The New Brewer.

Note, not all brewing companies provide their numbers (assumptions are made for a couple of "Large" tier breweries based on past history), while some report statistics combining multiple locations. Data also includes production from breweries that closed during the course of 2023. As a result, the number of entities represented in the chart is not equal to the total number of breweries open and operating at any given time.

Inside the numbers:

The large-size brewery tier in North Texas, based on production (shown alphabetically):
  • Community Beer Co. of Dallas.
  • Deep Ellum Brewing Co. of Dallas.
  • Manhattan Project Beer Co. of Dallas.
  • Martin House Brewing Co. of Fort Worth.
  • Revolver Brewing of Granbury.
Tier movement
  • Advancing from "Mid-Size" to "Large" tier: Manhattan Project Beer Co. of Dallas.
  • Advancing from "Very Small" to "Small" tier: Fort Brewery & Pizza of Fort Worth, Second Rodeo Brewing Co. of Fort Worth (includes data from Beard Science Sour House of The Colony), and Union Bear Brewing Co. of Denton/Plano.
Year-to-year production change
  • Overall production in North Texas was down roughly 9% for those reporting in 2022 and 2023. This value is influenced somewhat by numerous "Small" tier breweries showing significant drops, though in some cases this involves cuts occurring prior to closing a second location or closing permanently.
  • Comparison: Craft beer volume was down 1% nationally in 2023, according to the Brewers Association.
Significant year-to-year production gains (based on those reporting in 2022 and 2023)
  • For the second year in a row, Manhattan Project had the largest reported year-to-year gain in raw barrels produced locally for 2023. In fact, sales of the brewery's beers have more than tripled since 2019.
  • The largest year-to-year percentage gains for brewing companies with production greater than 1000 barrels were realized by 3 Nations Brewing Co. of Anna/Carrolton, Celestial Beerworks of Dallas (two locations), Fort Brewery & Pizza of Fort Worth, and Second Rodeo/Beard Science of Fort Worth/The Colony.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Guild's grant program now open for aspiring Texas craft brewers

Image credits: Texas Crafty Brewers Guild, Method Architecture.

Continuing an initiative started in 2021, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild is accepting applications for a grant program to support aspiring Texas craft brewery owners. Grantees will receive one year of free membership (a $300 value) in the Guild, the trade association for independent craft breweries in Texas. The grant program is funded by Method Architecture, a Texas-based firm that is also a longtime member of the Guild. 

“Becoming a Guild member in the earliest phases of a brewery project can prevent wasted time, expenses, headaches and heartaches down the road, so the benefits of membership are very real,” says Meg Ellis, deputy director of the Guild. “And from an industry perspective, this grant program goes a long way toward making our industry more inclusive, creating an on-ramp for entrepreneurs who might not otherwise see themselves reflected in our membership.”

According to a press release, Brewery in Planning member benefits include accessing the Guild’s library of recorded and live online educational resources, attending monthly member meetups and annual conferences, connecting with nearly 250 veteran brewery owners and more than 70 in-planning peers statewide, and networking with hundreds of vendors who will be critical to their success as brewers and business owners.

Deidre and Will Amaya, the husband-and-wife team who recently opened Bay Area Brewing Company in Rockport, Texas, were grant recipients in the 2023-2024 cycle. 

“The Brewery in Planning Grant is not just a monetary award. To us it was a lot more,” reflects Deidre. “We [used] the recognition as an opportunity to build our brand and grow our community following as we sought crowd funding and being taken seriously in a lucrative coastal real estate market.”

Entering the craft brewing industry is difficult, and start up costs continue to climb along with rising costs of ingredients, equipment, staffing, and the continued logistics challenges that started during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies have demonstrated that people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and entrepreneurs outside of metropolitan areas experience barriers to credit, capital, and other business support.

“We know the barrier to entry for starting a new business can be tough, especially for minority business owners,” said Jackie Rye, partner at Method Architecture and project lead for breweries including True Anomaly Brewing of Houston and Bear King Brewing of Marble Falls. “Our hope is that the grants allow these entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best and fully embrace the resources available within the craft beer community.”

In the program’s inaugural year, around thirty applications were submitted representing every corner of the Lone Star State, including projects in Prosper, Tyler, College Station, Missouri City, and Allen, demonstrating the reach and appeal of craft beer businesses for residents in rural, suburban, and urban communities alike.  To date, 18 grants have been awarded. This year, the organization aims to award five more grants.

Applications must be submitted by May 31, 2024. Eligibility criteria, award timeline, and the application form can be found at https://texascraftbrewersguild.org/method-bip-grants.

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 2024 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).