Texas beer lovers are about to get a new holiday.
Sept. 1 marks the legalization of beer-to-go sales, meaning customers will be able to buy up to one case (288 ounces) per person, per day of beer directly from the brewery that made it. Dallas craft breweries are planning to celebrate that new right in style.
With something like a dozen parties being planned, the day some brewers are calling Texas Craft Beer Independence Day will be quite a bash. On Sept. 1 and in the following months, just about every brewery in the Dallas area plans to sell beer-to-go in various forms, including dozens of small-batch, specialty brews made just for takeout customers.
We talked to 16 Dallas-area breweries about what beer-to-go means for their businesses — and, in many cases, what their Sept. 1 parties will look like. Here’s the scoop.
If you’re planning a beer-to-go launch day crawl, you’d be wise to start at 3 Nations’ “Straight Outta Farmers Branch” party, which is opening at 10 a.m. and will offer breakfast tacos alongside their brews. Co-owner John Royer calls it Texas Craft Beer Independence Day.
“We will have all of our favorite brands for sale out of our new beer-to-go coolers,” Royer says.
They’ll also be filling growlers of taproom-only specialty brews and hosting bingo, trivia and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Farmers Branch city leaders.
Bitter Sisters’ Sept. 1 party starts at noon, with live music and food available in addition to beer. Head brewer Matt Ehinger looks forward to filling crowlers and growlers.
“I think this will really help enhance what we’ve been doing and add to the overall experience of actually going to the brewery,” Ehinger says.
Corey Dickinson, Community’s marketing director, says beer-to-go changes just about everything for his brewery. The company now feels more ready to brew styles of beer it had previously avoided.
“The last few years, a lot of people have asked us, 'Why haven’t you released a hazy IPA?'" Dickinson says. “Part of the reason is, when you go through your distribution channels and your retail channels, generally it takes a lot of time. Hazy IPAs, you want to drink them as fresh as you can. Through retail, people aren’t drinking those beers as fresh as we want them to.
“Now we can brew, you know, two kegs of beer, and theoretically sell that beer-to-go as a one-off release. It allows us to really mess around and not have to depend on either doing very large amounts, with the risk in that, or very small batches for draft in our taproom only.”
Community’s planning on building a separate to-go sales area in the taproom. The plan is to sell core beers in traditional six packs, and specialty beers in 16-ounce cans rather than traditional “crowlers,” which are 32 ounces.
“A lot of the beers that people tend to gravitate toward for crowlers are sours, or barrel-aged beers, or super hoppy IPAs,” Dickinson says. “To have a 32-ounce crowler is great if you’re gonna go meet up with three other people, but if you’re just gonna drink it by yourself, drinking 32 ounces of a big barrel-aged beer is kind of a lot.”
Speaking of big beers, Community’s celebratory brew, which will be unveiled at its Beer-to-Go party Sept. 1, is Super Mosaic, a version of Mosaic IPA with around 12% alcohol by volume. Dickinson promises the party will also include “slightly crazy promotions surrounding beer-to-go purchases.”
Deep Ellum will be offering six-packs and crowlers to-go starting at noon Sept. 1, including crowlers of their new Blind Lemon hard seltzer.
It’s an interesting day for Deep Ellum for a couple of other reasons. On the evening of Sept. 1, they host their eighth annual Labor of Love Homebrew Festival. More intriguingly still, Deep Ellum is owned by Canarchy, a national craft brewing consortium, and that ownership could make beer-to-go roll out complicated. (The new Texas law only allows to-go sales from breweries under a certain size threshold.) Deep Ellum declined to comment on the legal side of the equation.
The English-themed brewery in Richardson is throwing a Sept. 1 party from noon to 4 p.m., with special, discounted prices on flip-top growlers, growler fills and six-packs. If you want to consume a pint on the premises, it’ll be just $3.
“In addition to filling growlers and selling cans, in the fall, we plan on having some special releases, including several styles of barrel-aged beers which will be sold at the brewery only. We are looking at bombers or Champagne-style bottles," co-owner Jeff Douglas says.
Four Bullets is also opening for happy hour on Thursdays, an extra day for takeout customers to do their shopping.
The long-established McKinney brewery doesn’t actually have a customer taproom, although they plan to open one in the coming months. For now, to-go shoppers will be able to stop by at specified hours, most likely Friday through Sunday, to pick up packaged beer from a walk-in storage area.
Beer-to-go also means the domestic-drinking return of Franconia Wheat, a fan favorite that grows less impressive if it sits on a negligent retailer’s shelves for months on end.
“Our wheat beer is probably our most popular draft, but because we do it so naturally, it’s hard to keep it in a bottle on the shelf for any length of time,” says brand manager Bobby Brown.
He’s excited for customers to get ultra-fresh six-packs of the wheat beer again, and he thinks that Ice Bock, the ultra-concentrated beer with the sky-high ABV, will likely return, too.
“It is very exciting,” Brown says of beer-to-go. “It’s something that I was beginning to think we were never going to get. We were thinking that there was no chance that it was gonna pass. It’s never even gotten close the past few times, so it was a very pleasant surprise for us that it passed and passed so easily.”
The three-door merchandise cooler just arrived at Lakewood, and the crowler machine is being set up to fill 16-ounce cans. Like Community, the staff at Lakewood like the flexibility of a smaller to-go can size.
They also like the ability to dabble in more experimental beers.
“This will allow us to brew some beers that we haven’t brewed in awhile,” founder and President Wim Bens says. “Some that were in the vault or discontinued. Our taproom has always been our R&D place to see what works, to see what people are liking. It allows us to test the waters a little bit before we commit to doing a big run on something, and start building that demand on a small level.”
Lakewood is still considering more options for beer-to-go sales, including the possibility of a subscription club for limited releases. One option that’s definitely going to be available: The merchandise counter will stock insulated growlers, the better to enjoy a drinking picnic.
Manhattan Project’s new taproom in West Dallas isn’t open yet — expect it in six to eight weeks — but they bet big on beer-to-go, and won. Co-owner Misty Sanford explains that the taproom was designed and built with a separate storage area and point-of-sale for to-go sales, even though the new law hadn’t passed yet when construction began.
“We built assuming it would pass,” Sanford says.
Manhattan expects to sell crowlers, growlers and bottles of limited-edition brews.
Nine Band plans to make six-packs and growler fills available immediately.
“The addition of crowlers is likely to follow shortly,” representative Wayne Arnold says.
There will be special taproom-only beers, too.
“We always have customers that come from out-of-state/town and would like to purchase product to take back with them,” Arnold says. “It’s a real inconvenience for a person who has limited time in the city to shop all over for our product versus buying straight from the brewery.”
Founder Joel Denton says Oak Cliff will be taking things slowly, starting with growler fills and limited-release bottles before moving forward with canning and selling the brewery’s core pours.
“We thought about fast forwarding our canning plans to meet the beer-to-go launch, but decided to stick to our draft-only plans for a while and make a more deliberate move to packaging,” Denton says.
Still, beers like the Export Lager will eventually be available in six-packs.
“We’re stoked about the ability to sell beer-to-go, whether by growler, crowler or whatever format,” Denton says. “It’s hard to nail down what the economic impact will be. We get requests for beer-to-go daily but haven’t spent a lot of time trying to quantify that.”
Oak Highlands is planning an almost-all-day party from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1. They’ll be selling cans of taproom-only specialty beers, including one made especially for the day. There will be food around, too.
Long term, Oak Highlands expects to produce more taproom releases, and with the expectation of “a lot more business,” they’ll start opening on Wednesdays and Sundays. Crowler fills will use the smaller 16-ounce can size.
Lewisville’s brewery plans to sell growlers, crowlers and six packs to-go starting Sept. 1, but the day also means another big change: Their Sunday schedule will flip to new opening hours, from noon to 6 p.m., for the rest of the fall, so beer lovers can spend their weekends at Old Town watching every afternoon football game.
Outfit’s story is the opposite of Manhattan Project’s: The small space at West Mockingbird Lane and I-35 got a brewpub license rather than a brewery license because they wanted to sell beer-to-go from the day they opened. The brewpub license, however, restricts Outfit’s maximum output, which could necessitate a licensing change if the company grows.
“We got licensed that way because of the law,” co-owner and head brewer Jordan Young says. “We would be a brewery if not. If we get larger and grow, we might change that, but right now, we’ll definitely stick with the brewpub.”
Pegasus City co-owner and brewmaster Will Cotten says there will be “at least three bottlings” of specialty beers available from the taproom starting Sept. 1. Future editions of his Relic series, which attempts to revive centuries-old recipes, may wind up in taproom-only bottling runs of “just a couple cases,” as well.
Cotten says he’ll fill a growler, but his thoughts on crowlers are more complex.
“I’m wanting to do the 19.2-ounce cans,” he says. “I was thinking about doing those for our crowler. The big 32-ounce can — personally, as a consumer, I’d rather get two smaller volume cans so it stays fresher. From a quality standpoint, I would say (crowlers stay fresh) a week, at most. It depends on how they purge the air out of it.”
Peticolas has never canned or bottled a drop, and that will change Sept. 1. After years of selling its beers exclusively in kegs and in its own taproom, the brewery will roll out big, 16-ounce cans of its core classics: Velvet Hammer imperial red ale, Golden Opportunity kolsch and Sit Down Or I’ll Sit You Down imperial IPA. Expect cans of more of Peticolas’ offerings to follow in the months to come.
“A lot of the handcuffs have come off,” says founder Michael Peticolas, who’s helped lead numerous legal fights on behalf of local breweries.
He’s expecting his Sept. 1 party to be one of the biggest days in the taproom’s history. The taproom will be outfitted with a cooler for to-go purchases and a crowler machine to fill 32-ounce cans of anything on draft.
“I think our crowler is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen,” Peticolas says. “It’s very cool and it’s very Peticolas.”
Thanks to social media posts on Friday, we know what that crowler will look like: an adorable tiny keg.
Texas Ale Project will be rolling out a variety six-pack of core and seasonal beers for sale to-go, along with growlers of TAP WTR, its craft hard seltzer. The brewers here are also creating limited-edition taproom-only beers for growler sales, starting with an American wheat ale called Wonder Boi.
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The McKinney brewery is throwing what might be the biggest Sept. 1 party in the Dallas area, a 12-hour extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with food trucks and live music at meal times and additional opening hours on Labor Day. Marketing director Katie Baker says TUPPS has built a beer-to-go sales room in the brewery’s taproom space, which also sells merchandise and “local food items like salsa and jam.”
There’s also a new crowler machine behind the bar, and growler fills are welcome, too. TUPPS is also planning to roll out a series of special new releases Sept. 1, including return appearances for Northbound 75 Fire-Roasted Poblano pale ale (of which this author has fond memories) and Double Dry Hopped IPA Series 2. There will also be draft-only specials like Hop Oil and a “key lime pie IPA,” if that’s what you’re into.
Want to try a number of these breweries in one place? Come to Brewfest!