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!