Deep Ellum Brewing Company looks to be on pace to be the city's first non-brewpub microbrewery, but it may not be the only one for long.
Attorney and homebrewer Michael Peticolas was looking into investing in a new brewery in another city. Yet the more he investigated, the more he wondered why Dallas doesn't have any breweries to call its own.
"Finally, my wife just said, 'Why don't you do it yourself?'" he says. "I investigated, and Dallas seemed feasible. It's one of the largest cities in the U.S. that doesn't have [a brewery]."
Peticolas Brewing Company is taking a different approach than Deep Ellum Brewing Company and other Texas breweries, with plans for opening as a much smaller operation. While DEBC owner John Reardon plans for an initial capacity of 5,000 barrels per year, Peticolas estimates that he'll start with 700 barrels in year one.
"My biggest problem may be not meeting demand," he says.
But by his way of thinking, that means his biggest problem will not be the No. 1 killer of small businesses: debt.
"I don't want to have shareholders," he says. "Instead of raising capital by selling shares, I want to keep it in the family."
So for now, that means Peticolas Brewing Company will be a one-man operation, with Peticolas as brewmaster and paying for everything out of his own pocket. Homebrewing experience aside, he has completed the American Brewers Guild course and brewed commercially at Harpoon Brewery and with a friend who purchased a brewery in Denver, and owns all the equipment necessary to get started.
All he has to do now is find a site -- not an easy task, as he is facing the expected difficulties with zoning. DEBC managed to be classified as light industrial and as a food manufacturing plant in the Deep Ellum district, and Peticolas is considering a warehouse in the same neighborhood. However, a more desirable location in the Design District would require a change to the city's development code.
"The thing is, property districts have their own regulations that don't adhere strictly to Dallas development code," he says. And he hasn't ruled out setting up business in a nearby suburb if the task of working with the city proves too difficult, though he would prefer to be in the city limits.
But enough about the red tape: What about the beer itself?
"I want to do two per quarter, and brew beers I enjoy," he says. "Big beers, Belgian beers that are appropriate for the season -- heavy and dark in the winter, lighter and yellower in summer -- and let the customers, bar owners, tell me what's taking off."
Initial offerings include a Belgian dubbel, a Belgian tripel, an imperial red and a Vienna lager. But he doesn't want to label any one of them a flagship beer right out of the gate, recognizing how the craft beer market rewards the trendy, the new and different. Initially, at least, he plans to be a keg-only operation like Franconia and build the brand locally before expanding distribution to bars and restaurants outside of the Dallas area.
The brewery is now his primary focus. But, just in case, he's keeping his law practice open.
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