Wim Bens founded Lakewood Brewing Company in 2011, riding one of the early craft beer waves to wash over North Texas. He sold his first keg of beer in August of 2012, and his brews now pour through busy taps all over the city.
Bens was born in Belgium but moved to Texas when he was 7. He's traveled back to Belgium often and developed an appreciation and taste for the beer there. After graduating from SMU, he moved to East Dallas, where he fell in love with the vibe and decided to make really good beer for the neighborhood.
Here's a recent chat as part of a series of interviews with local brewers:
What's the greatest misconception about being a brewery owner? I think the greatest misconception about brewers in general is that we just drink beer all day. We take our jobs and safety pretty seriously so we don't drink till after our shifts.
In 2010, there were just two local craft breweries. Now there are more than a dozen. What do you think about the explosive growth of craft brewing locally? It's awesome to be part of the growing brewery community and it's a great time to be a craft beer drinker in North Texas.
What's in your beer fridge right now? Baby bottles mostly. We just had our daughter in February so I'm not drinking that much. But it's Till & Toil season so I'm taking full advantage of that. It's a beer I really look forward to every spring.
Ever had a colossal brewing mistake? Like a situation where you wanted to laugh and cry all at once. Yes. Thankfully those things don't happen very often.
Details? No comment.
You're no fun. What about the April Fool's joke posted on Facebook on Monday where you announced that Bourbon Barrel Temptress was going to be the next year-round release, "All the time," instead of limited special releases. Learn anything from that? Ha! Yeah people got a little perturbed when they realized it was an April Fool's joke. I got calls from the media and the sales team was herding calls all day with people wanting to order immediately. I think next year we'll go with something a little less believable. Or maybe not. There's no way we'd be able to make it all year round. It takes half a year to make just one limited release worth.
Do you have any advice for budding brewers? Clean. Clean. Clean.
Have you found any invaluable brewing forums that are great resources? The Brewer's Association is a great resource for us brewers, as well as The Master Brewers Association of America (MBAA). But, I think great brewers find inspiration outside of the brewing world to come up with the next great beer.
What's the hardest part of your job, and, at the other end of the spectrum, the best part? The hardest part is balancing family and the brewery. It's an all-consuming adventure that we're on, but I'm fortunate to have an incredibly patient and supportive family. The best part of my job is talking to people who are just so excited to have a local brewery. When someone tells you that your beer changed their life, and means it, that's what keeps me going.
Are there any styles, ingredients, trends or brewing processes going on right now that you're really excited about? We're expanding our barrel program to include more than Bourbon Barrel Temptress. We'll be releasing some very interesting beers throughout the year that we're aging in all types of wood barrels from rum, to wine to tequila.
What's the best beer you've ever had? I can't think of any particular beer, but I love drinking Belgian beer in Belgium. Beer is best consumed the closer you are to the brewery.