As exciting as a local craft beer boom is for drinkers seeking a wealth of flavors and styles, the same certainly can be said for an aspiring brewer.
In terms of beginning a commercial brewing operation, what seemed unlikely, if not impossible a few years ago is now a viable path, thanks to an exponential increase in craft breweries around the region.
Trinity Forest Brewing Co., one of North Texas’ newest craft brewers, just rolled out its first two brews, an IPA and a blonde.
It wasn’t too long ago, however, that Ricky Del Bosque, Trinity Forest’s co-founder and head brewer, didn’t really think commercial brewing was even an option for him.
His home brewing efforts began not with ales, pilsners and stouts, but with kombucha. Only after tinkering with the barely alcoholic, fermented sweet tea did Del Bosque get into brewing beer, thanks to the prodding of a friendly hophead.
Over time, his home brews became popular with friends to the point where he was showing others how to get hopping through instructional demos and even making special beer for his group to enjoy at the annual Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Avenue.
Had he been looking into expanding his hobby a decade ago, regardless how much skill and passion he possessed, it almost certainly would’ve been a rockier road to local taps than today. Opening an actual brewery seemed too far.
“I never considered the idea,” Del Bosque says of starting his own brewery. “Because I just assumed a home brewer with no commercial brewing experience couldn’t do it. At the time that seemed unrealistic.”
Del Bosque enjoyed getting to know other brewers and picking the brains of those who had opened breweries of their own. He found a supportive community, willing to share experiences and ideas as freely as the brews they crafted.
Upon getting to know Misty Sanford of another relatively young Dallas brewery, Manhattan Project Beer Company, Del Bosque found the path his beers would take into the increasingly competitive, elbow-throwing local craft beer landscape.
Manhattan Project has been brewing its beers though a contract brewing agreement since 2016 with Bitter Sisters Brewing in Addison before moving to Grapevine’s Hop and Sting Brewing.
Del Bosque describes the conversation with Sanford as an “aha! moment.”
“(I) found out we didn’t need a brick-and-mortar (building) to start brewing legally. We decided that we wanted to do either a contract agreement or an alternating proprietorship agreement,” he says. “It just so happened that I met Jon (Powell) from Hop and Sting at Best Little Brewfest in Texas, and we talked about Trinity Forest Brew Company and he seemed very interested. And the next week, we were sorting out the paperwork for an (alternating proprietorship) agreement.”
If all goes well over the next year or two, Del Bosque and his group of co-founders have their eyes set on a more geographically appropriate location for the kind of brewery building and taproom he didn’t feel was within reach only a couple of years ago.
The company is named after the Great Trinity Forest, a 6,000-acre forested urban park in southern Dallas. Basing a beer brand around what he calls “one of the city's best kept secrets,” might be a bit of a gamble, but Del Bosque is convinced it can be a genuine differentiating factor for his new operation.
“What we have going for us is a local brand that is centered around a completely untapped area in Dallas, the Great Trinity Forest,” he says. “This forest is one of the largest urban hardwood forests in the country, and it's just 15 minutes south of downtown Dallas. … Our whole team enjoys hiking, wildlife and being outdoors in general, and we just felt that what was missing from the brewery scene in Dallas was a brand tied closely to the often overlooked natural beauty of this city. We have plans to give back to this area of Dallas through volunteering efforts, donations and eventually opening our brewery in the Great Trinity Forest.”
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Something else a new brewery must have in its favor, lest we forget, is a knack for making some pretty good beer. For now, Trinity Forest is starting slow, rolling out only a couple of beers to a small number of bars in town, beginning with its Smash IPA, brewed with both German pilsner malt and Mosaic hops.
Thanks to its partnership with Hop and Sting, there are plans for Trinity Forest to can its beers for retail sale at some point. Seeing their beers go out to the various corners of North Texas is a key part of the business plan for Trinity Forest Brewing, eventually at least. But Del Bosque has a simpler hope for what his beers can mean for people down the road.
“Our goal is to be the natural and eco-friendly brewery that brings people out of the city to unplug, get in nature and have a beer.”
Find Trinity Forest Brewing Company's beers at places such as Green Door Public House in downtown Dallas or District 9 Draught House in East Dallas.