Community Beer Company started brewing in January 2013 in Dallas' trendy Design District. Over the course of a little more than a year, they've released ten different beers, installed a bottling line, and racked up a half dozen national awards. Every Saturday, they host a Brewery Open House & Tour from 2 to 5 p.m. $10 in advance or $15 at the door gets you inside the brewery, a plastic cup, and tickets good for three beers.
I visited Community on a recent Saturday. It was much more of an open house with a (very) optional tour toward the end, with hundreds of people soaking in the weather and beer.
A young musician played Neil Young covers at the perfect volume -- not too loud. Giant-sized Jenga entertained crowds of SMU girls. There were four corn hole boards set up outside in the shadow of a wonderful food truck. Many well-behaved dogs and a few children, including my own, roamed freely without being glared at.
"Our tours center around the concept of Community," says Community Beer Co. founder Kevin Carr. "Because we have a centrally located facility, we see a diverse group of people on our tours -- families, college-groups, various ethnicities, and representatives from every part of our city."
In one corner, a small gallery was set up, featuring art from five local artists. A cool set of prints caught my eye, and I spent $10 on a decent-sized one for my office. Kevin told me that they've provided space for local artists since opening and don't charge a booth fee or take a cut of their sales.
"We just want to give local guys another way to get their work out there," he says. Many Saturdays feature local charity organizations, who use the venue to fundraise or promote awareness about their group.
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The tour itself started around four, but most people ignored it. A few dozen of us followed Aric, one of Community's brewers with an International Diploma in Brewing Technology, while he described their brewing process. As a novice home brewer, I know just enough about beer production to get bored on most tours, and just little enough to ask intelligent questions about the gigantic equipment I'm looking at. The group asked more questions than on any other brewery tour I've ever seen, which wasn't nearly as annoying as you'd think it would be. Aric gave informative, short answers and handled the crowd well.
During this time, of course, most people in the room simply continued to toss bean bags, or play Jenga, or talk about art, or listen to music, or draw on the walls, or sit around and drink beer. My 3-year-old son busied himself on a mission to pet every single dog in the place.
The Saturday I was there, the magical Ascension Coffee Porter wasn't made available to the tour-going masses. I had to settle for the Public Ale, which won a Gold Medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Fest. The Open House officially ends at 5 p.m., but instead of kicking everyone out, the brewery turns into a taproom. At this point, you can buy one of their seasonal or limited release beers, or pay to continue drinking one of their other offerings.
Community Brewing Company is located at 1530 Inspiration Dr., Dallas, TX 75207.