Good beer isn't relegated to Dallas proper, which people living in the suburbs have long known. Some of Dallas' most interesting new beer is coming from beyond 635. In honor of North Texas Beer Week, we headed to one of these suburbs to find the town's best-kept beer secrets:
506 E. Main St., Arlington
Cooled by an industrial-sized fan, a long-haired black and white pooch lay on the concrete at the family-and-pet-friendly Division Brewing as co-owner Sean Cooley poured Frankenfroth on tap.
The open-concept brewery shares an outdoor back patio and sometimes live music, with Cosmic Crow Collective, a vintage boutique and gallery on Abram Street, allowing beer lovers to shop, drink a beer or play a board game at a place where the tastes and aromas of craft beers are appreciated much like fine art.
Pointing toward a stack of wooden wine barrels that houses the beer as it ages, Cooley said the brand’s RosaLee is a top seller.
Out of curiosity, I tried the Onion Man, a light, oniony soup-flavored cold beer which Cooley said did not include onions but experimental hops.
“Ahh,” said a satisfied patron who was bellied up to the bar. “I’ll be back,” said another.
207 S. East St., Arlington
Kool Keg serves a variety of 30 craft beers, and bartender Tad Loftis recommended the Digital Pour app to manage the menu. Yellow Rose by Lone Pint is a best seller, Loftis said, describing the brew as a single-hopped, single-malt IPA with a simple flavor that is well-balanced and well-drafted.
The bar’s Red Bud Cucumber was served at precisely the right cool for its crisp cucumber flavor, and Loftis pointed out that one of the good things about craft breweries is that since most are small, the fruits and vegetables used are mostly local and fresh.
Loftis said he believes there is plenty of room for expansion in the craft beer market. He also talked about the art behind the beer labels and how people come together for the brew while also sharing their passions for art and music.
“It’s not just selling beer,” he says. “It’s getting people into the culture. It’s a lot better than just the beer. It’s all the people that come with it.”
Legal Draft Beer Co.
500 E. Division St., Arlington
Owner Greg McCarthy, an attorney for 30 years, said he was looking for the next thing in life when he founded Legal Draft Beer Co.
“The great state of Texas simply doesn’t have enough great craft beer,” reads the brand’s website. “We’re here to help.”
Legal Draft, whose brew is crafted by a German-trained brewmeister, sells a lot of Legal Blonde, but this fall, a bestseller is the Roasted Pumpkin Spice which “smells like pumpkin but tastes like beer,” McCarthy says.
Presumed Innocent, Chief Justice Stout and Accused Amber, which goes down smooth, were among the lineup at a craft beer tasting event held recently at Viridian’s Farmer’s Market. During the pour, McCarthy shared how his wife, Sherrie, isn’t a beer drinker, but that doesn’t stop her from whipping up a mudslide using the stout, some ice cream and a bit of Baileys.
Dirty Job Brewing
Dirty Job Brewing is looking to open a brewery in downtown Mansfield, which owner Derek Hubenak says is hopping.
“It’s a dirty job,” Hubenak says through a handlebar mustache. “And someone’s gotta brew it.”
Hubenak, along with his wife, Lashawn, and Justin Watson, were among the craft brewers pouring at Viridian’s Farmers Market this October. 'Tis the Saison, “a golden saison with a cantaloupe kick” was among the samplings. Some of Dirty Job’s creation’s contain fruit such as the Agave Davida, a wheat beer mix of agave nectar and blueberries, an award-winning Raspberry Beeret and Pear Bear.
“That’s the one that’s going to put us on the map,” Watson says of the cucumber IPA.
New Main Brewing
3533 Marathon St., Pantego
Although its location has been announced, the two-story New Main Brewery has not officially opened, said owner David Clark. But anyone who wants to help hasten the process can get paid in – you guess it –booze. The couple currently makes their homebrew at home and pours at craft beer events around North Texas to get the word out about their brand’s pale ale, stout, IPA and Bigger NTX.
Dr. Jekyll’s Beer Lab
2420 W. Park Row, Pantego
Although Dr. Jekyll’s does not concoct its own, the beer lab provides a variety of 40 craft beers on tap. The beer house also stocks homebrew starter kits and provides dartboards and foosball tables to accommodate those farther from the bar. The brew comes standalone or in a flight of four served on a wood tray that could pass for an old school paddleboard clone.
Stifling a grimace, I tried the pineapple cider, Rahr pumpkin, BrainDead and Love Street, which all went down with distinction. A quick lengthwise glance down the bar revealed a row of suds-lined empty beer glasses while Clear Eyes and Alka-Seltzer stood ready on a nearby shelf.
700 Six Flags Drive, Arlington
Humperdinks Restaurant and Brewpub first opened in Arlington in 1995. According to its website, the first family of brewpubs was ahead of the craft beer trend and brewing its own before craft breweries were cool.
General manager Robbie Connell, who has been with the pub since day one, said its most popular brew is Texas Blonde, which he described as “very drinkable” and somewhat similar to Budweiser or Miller.
“So many breweries are opening up, and a lot of them have good beer.” he says. “But we’ve been here a long time, and a lot of people know our beer.”
Hooligan’s Growler Bar
310 E. Abram St., Arlington
Hooligan’s offers 25 draft beers on tap and more than 80 bottle varieties with an evolving beer menu that rotates new and different styles weekly, according to its website. Bartender Keigan Smith suggested a freshly tapped Sleigh’r by Ninkasi, which was a robust, dark ale in a souvenir glass.
Among Hooligan’s selections were craft beers from Legal Draft and Lone Pint, as well as staples like Samuel Adams and Dos Equis. The English-style pub with its rich wood panels and upstairs event room also has an outdoor fireplace on the patio and menu items from neighboring restaurants Flying Fish and J. Gilligan’s.
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Tom’s Burgers & Grill
1530 N. Cooper St., Arlington
This classic diner, which uses lots of draft beer in their beer-battered onion rings, may hold the best kept beer secret in town. Since the restaurant does not have a liquor license, or want to waste beer, they give it away to their customers at no cost.
“We like to say ‘it’s cold, and it’s free,’” says manager Chad Mayfield.
The beers — Bud, Miller and Coors — are served in a cold, retro-style beer mug. And while the brew is not craft, that could soon change. Mayfield said the restaurant, which gives away two beers per customer (or a glass of wine, if they prefer), is looking to strike up a deal with local craft beer makers seeking to gain more recognition for their brands.