The men behind Pilot Point's Western Sons Distillery expanded their sphere of influence as the booze barons of Denton County by launching Whistle Post Brewing Co. on Saturday right next door.
John Straits and Evan Batt have added another wing to the "Old Panty Factory" building in central Pilot Point (hard to use the word downtown, really) and threw a grand-opening shindig to celebrate. The pair and their head brewer Blake Morrison could be seen tenting fingers and murmuring "Excellent" for most of the afternoon, as if they had just bought up all the land before the train came to town.
That's kind of what they did — which explains the naming convention surrounding their brews, like Shoofly Golden Ale and Caboose Rider Saison, or the locomotive monstrosity that screams and chugs on its rails past the premises on a regular schedule.
Pilot Point is actually not unlike a growing western outpost waiting for train tracks or the telegraph lines, which this time around come in the form of the expansion of the Dallas North Tollway, which will one day form the eastern edge of the town. And that brings us back to our booze robber barons.
If the idea is getting there first and staking your claim, Straits and Batt have done it. Though they opened just the taproom Saturday, they now run the only local liquor and beer operations in those rural parts of Denton County, and those parts won't always be as rural as they once were. Morrison, formerly of Cedar Creek Brewing, said they hoped to grow with the town, which had a population of 4,006 in 2013.
"There are a lot of advantages being neighbors," Morrison says of the distilling/brewing combination on what is now 217 and 219 West Division St. "Especially socially, with events."
At the moment, the game is purely on-site for Whistle Post, while Morrison and the owners await their full-scale brewing rig. During operating hours, everything poured in the taproom comes from the five-barrel system Morrison is currently using to support walk-in traffic.
To hear Morrison tell it, everything, including the permanent beer selections and recipes, is still a work in progress. Eleven different small batch brews were available at Saturday's launch event, including all manner of grapefruit and pear and blueberry and apricot variations to satisfy those who don't actually like the taste of beer but still want to hang out in a brewery. The Grapefruit Pale Ale was pretty good.
Morrison is using this early stage of the brewery's development to play chemist while the early adopters play focus group, so he can ultimately perfect both the year-round lineup and the individual beer recipes. But what we do know is that both the NTX Hoppy Pale Ale and the Shoofly Golden Ale are the most likely candidates to become permanent additions to the Whistle Post lineup.
"Right now I get to mess up a little, have fun, create and see what sticks," Morrison says.
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NTX is a very drinkable American Pale with a golden color and the good hop aromas of Citra, Columbus and Cascade hops. At 4.5 percent alcohol in its current formulation, it's not going to ruin anyone's day, either.
The Shoofly still needs work, but at its best it's a little sweeter and even smoother still. The Rooster Shooter lager and the Lizard Scorcher IPA were not unveiled due to Morrison's initial equipment limitations but should be unleashed sometime in late summer/early fall, when Morrison said kegs would be arriving first at local restaurants and bars.
Bottles and cans, just clap your hands, but don't hold your breath for these new beauties to find their way to your nearest convenience store cooler. For Whistle Post, that's one in a long list of things still to be sorted out.
Whistle Post Brewing Co., 219 W Division St, Pilot Point