Beer and music. To steal an oft-used Twitter cliché, we’ll wait while you attempt to name a more iconic duo.
The bands and breweries of Fort Worth have embraced that most holy of unions rather excitedly.
Panther Island Brewing’s newest beer, Queso Blanco Mexican lager, a collaboration with local Southern rock band Quaker City Night Hawks, is the latest proof that Cowtown suds and songs are rather pleasant bedfellows.
For years now, local coolers and tap walls on the western side of our region have featured a number of brews inspired by music. Pickle beer-making Martin House Brewing Company and iconic rock band the Toadies have released four beers together in recent years, with the Rubberneck Red imperial red ale and the Bockslider German bock remaining popular.
But this new lager wasn’t merely inspired by the music. One of the more popular Quaker City Night Hawks songs is a groove-infused, funk-rock tune called “Queso Blanco,” but that name is also shared with a previous culinary collab. In 2018, the band partnered with Mrs. Renfro’s Gourmet Salsa to produce an actual queso product.
Lead singer Sam Anderson tells us crafting a beer was “naturally the next step,” so there would be something to wash his group’s queso down with. Panther Island Brewing founder Ryan McWhorter is a musician, as well as a brewer, and this sort of teamwork was bound to happen sooner than later.
“The brewery is centered around music being a big part of what we do and how we create styles,” he says. “I wanted to do something that could marry the artist and beer together — celebrate each other’s creativity in a can or glass, I guess you could say.”
Although a meeting of creative musical minds surely lends itself to any sort of wild, artistically driven, beer-making scenario, McWhorter explains that a good bit of functional planning went into deciding what kind of beer would be best at this point.
“When we sat down to talk style,” he says, “we took into consideration the timeline the beer would be released. Being that it is August, it's Texas and it's literally hot as hellfire, a clean, crisp, sessionable, easy-to-drink and refreshing lager seemed perfect. We talked about incorporating the theme of the beer around one of their songs. And with ‘Queso Blanco’ being Sam's nickname and one of their hits, it was a perfect match for a Mexican lager you can drink while eating chips and Mrs. Renfro's QCNH Queso Blanco.”
The sorts of sweat-drying, crushable beers McWhorter mentions are certainly all the rage these days throughout North Texas.
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Accessible pilsners and lagers such as Manhattan Project’s Necessary Evil and Four Corners’ El Grito are flying out of breweries at a rather remarkable rate. But as far as McWhorter sees it, this swaggering new lager has something the others simply can’t.
“Our Queso Blanco Mexican lager was not just brewed,” he says. “It was made by artists coming together and putting their creativeness into a can. We like to take our time and get inside the mind of the beer. Immerse yourself into the style, what it takes to brew the beer, where the beer will take you and what memories you'll create while drinking it.”
Panther Island Brewing, 501 N. Main St., Fort Worth. The Queso Blanco Mexican lager release party, featuring a performance by Sam Anderson of Quaker City Night Hawks, will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.
Want to taste more of Panther Island's beers? Get your tickets for the 2019 Dallas Observer BrewFest, coming to the Dallas Farmers Market on Sept. 7.