Five years ago, Dallas-Fort Worth was home to just two craft breweries: Rahr & Sons (opened in 2004 in Fort Worth) and Franconia (opened in 2008 in McKinney), both working in the German tradition. Now the area is home to more than a dozen craft breweries, pouring beer in styles informed by Belgian, American and British beer ways. Here’s a roundup of active North Texas breweries, as well as what you should know about them.
Community Beer (Design District): We knew Community was great, but were still surprised when its Public Ale won gold at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (the Oscars of beer). While the Mosaic IPA takes its name from the eponymous hops variety, other kinds of hops are thrown during brewing. Perhaps this is why Mosaic is the freshest IPA in town. CommunityBeer.com.
Deep Ellum (Deep Ellum): Central Dallas’ first craft brewery, it opened its doors way back in 2011 and has come to be known for its hops-forward American beer, among them the tooth-enamel-disintegrator, Dreamcrusher Double Rye IPA seasonal release, and the infamous Dallas Blonde. The limited release Wealth Taste takes a nap in chardonnay barrels and comes out jammy with a kick. DeepEllumBrewing.com.
Four Corners (Trinity Groves): The operation isn’t flashy — the brewery puts out solid, go-to suds, especially popular are the Local Buzz, a blonde ale made with local honey, and El Chingon, a crisp IPA. It’s signature beer labels inspired by Mexican loteria cards, on the other hand, are as attractive as they get. Four Corners is also notable as a favorite about foodies. The West Dallas operation has hosted many a culinary shindig, including Meat Fight and TacoCon (Cerveza) in 2013. FCBrewing.com.
Peticolas (Design District): Peticolas scored a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Royal Scandal English style ale before its first anniversary, but it’s the Velvet Hammer, a calm, cool, collected imperial red ale that harbors a dirty little secret (a 9 percent ABV) that’s the best beer in town. Moreover, the Hammer has its own song, a Facebook page and a spouse. PeticolasBrewing.com.
Fort Worth and across the Metroplex
Martin House (Fort Worth): This 9-month-old Cowtown brewery’s Day Break, made with a quartet of grains, honey and milk sugar, has us chanting: Beer, it’s what’s for breakfast! The River House saison, plays in the Belgian farmhouse ale romper room, and keeps Texas’ late summer scorch at bay. MartinHouseBrewing.com.
Rahr & Sons (Fort Worth): The Big Daddy of DFW’s craft beer culture opened its doors 10 years ago, but owner-founder Fritz Rahr’s beer history goes back to 1847. But the operation is certainly no relic, with packed tours and long lines for anniversary parties. The brewery releases stellar beer, including the limited-release Snowmageddon imperial oatmeal stout and Bourbon Barrel Winter Warmer, one of the best barrel-aged beers in the country. Iron Thistle is a GABF medal winner, and the flagship Ugly Pug Black Lager remains an area bestseller. RahrBrewing.com.
Armadillo Ale Works (Denton/Dallas): Denton-based but working out of Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s headquarters in Dallas, Armadillo produces the bear-hugging Quakertown Stout. ArmadilloAleWorks.com.
Cobra (Lewisville): DFW’s latest brewery has fine beers on tap at its headquarters and 15 in development. We’re excited to raise a pint of the Hopanero smoked habanero IPA and the unnamed prickly pear ale. Until then, we’ll go for one of the Hop Series brews. CobraBrewingCo.com.
Firewheel (Rowlett): The Midnight Ninja, an American black ale, is a stealthy, potable weapon. FirewheelBrewing.com
Franconia (McKinney): One half of the original guard (along with Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons), Franconia owner and Germany native Dennis Wehrmann specializes in classic old-country biers. Prime among them are Kolsch and Dunkel, but Franconia isn’t afraid to play with other styles. Its Double IPA, released last year, was a stunner. It also operates completely off the grid. FranconiaBrewing.com.
Grapevine (Grapevine): Finally something useful can be done with Gaylord Texan’s holiday ice sculpture extravaganza. GrapevineOnTap.com.
Lakewood (Garland): Everyone goes bananas for the flagship Temptress, a creamy milk stout. But it’s what Lakewood does with Temptress by way of adjuncts (extras) and a barrel program that has us reaching for another pint. Particularly memorable are the sin mint Temptress and the best-selling bourbon barrel-aged Temptress, newly available in bottles. LakewoodBrewingCompany.com.
Rabbit Hole (Justin): Hopped out of the gate in late 2013 with Mike Modano’s 561, a collaboration brewed with the eponymous Dallas Stars hockey great. RabbitHoleBrewing.com.
Revolver (Granbury): Cocked and loaded with bee nectar, the Blood & Honey wheat ale is a perfect introductory selection for the craft beer novice. We wouldn’t mind if Mother’s Little Fracker, year-old Revolver’s winter seasonal stout, were available year-round. RevolverBrewing.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 7, 2014.