9 Summer Beer Picks from Craft Beer Cellars, Plus the Bar Is Open Again

Owner Jim Waskow is finally behind the bar again at Craft Beer Cellars.
Owner Jim Waskow is finally behind the bar again at Craft Beer Cellars. Lauren Drewes Daniels
Craft Beer Cellars on Gaston Avenue is a beer lovers’ playground. This small spot opened in 2016 a few years into the local craft beer boom. Owner Jim Waskow spent a career in the paint industry and was enjoying retirement when his friend Stanley Nauman persuaded him to partner with him on this venture.

Craft Beer Cellars is technically a retail chain, but it’s run like it moved to East Dallas just out of college and is sending its kids to school to a nearby elementary. The offerings here, which include more than 600 beers just in the coolers, is hand-selected. Waskow scours social media and websites for new, interesting beers. He bases his picks on customers' requests, which is mostly something "new and interesting."

It can be a challenge keeping up with the fire hydrant of new beers coming out of the tap almost constantly. For instance, Martin House Brewing puts out a new beer every week. Celestial puts out a couple each week. Now imagine trying to watch that across the nation.

Challenging, indeed.

click to enlarge Cooler and aisles of beer - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
Cooler and aisles of beer
Lauren Drewes Daniels
However, the space doesn't feel overwhelming. They'll gladly talk you through your pick(s). And if you're new to craft beer, this is a great testing ground for a burgeoning palate.

Waskow will break apart any four or six-pack in the store for singles. Even better, you can drink as you shop. And if that sounds too tiring, have a seat at the bar and order one of the 16 beers they keep on draft while you ponder your purchase.

When COVID-19 hit, Waskow was able to keep the retail portion of his business going, but had to shut down the bar, to the great disappointment of his regulars. He said that almost daily customers ask when the bar was going to open again. Finally after 15 months, this past Monday he dusted off the bar stools and started pouring beers from the tap again.

click to enlarge A collection of local craft beers selected by Waskow. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
A collection of local craft beers selected by Waskow.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer upon us, we asked Waskow for a few local craft beer suggestions. He was kind enough to pluck a few from his extensive collection. Below are his local picks:

Martin House Brewing
Lemon Icebox Pie (5.4% ABV), Sour Ale

Martin House will put anything in the beer. Rumor has it then even tried to put Creed in a can. Their annual summertime lemon sour ale is brewed with graham crackers and lactose and is one of Waskow’s favorites from the Fort Worth brewery.

TUPPS Brewery
Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV), Bavarian Style Wheat Beer

There’s something about this bright and crisp style of beer, with its notes of clove and banana, that tastes like summer. This is a new seasonal brew for TUPPS.

Panther Island Brewing
Gose Melon, (6.0% ABV) Gose

Gose style of beer hails from Goslar, Germany, and is generally known for hints of salt and coriander. Somehow, it pairs wonderfully with fruit flavors. Panther Islands' watermelon Gose has a tart bite.

Manhattan Project Beer Co.
Supercritical, (5.6%) Pale Ale

Manhattan Project Beer Co. picked their name based on their “creative, collaborative, experimental and scientific approach to beer making.” Supercritical is a straightforward pale ale, the type of beer that is a good starting place for a novice craft beer drinker.

Armadillo Ale Works
WunderMelon, (5.5% ABV) Kölsch Style Ale

Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works opened way back in 2010, an old man in terms of local craft beer. This crisp summer-friendly Kölsch provides a perfect foundation for the watermelon puree.

ODD Muse
500 Pesos, (5.2%ABV) Mexican Style Lager

ODD Muse Brewing is based in Farmers Branch, and this style of beer happens to be Waskow's favorite. 

Bishop Cider
Texas Strawberry, (8.5%ABV, 100% Yummy) Cider

Ciders can be too sweet for some, especially a supertaster. Waskow says this one isn't too sweet. It hits just right. And the strawberries used in the beer are plucked fresh from Poteet.

Westlake Brewing Co.
Y’all Star, (7.7% ABV) IPA

We recently talked to the folks at Westlake and love their community-vibing taproom in Deep Ellum. Their IPA has “pine and tropical fruit characteristics.” And it just makes us all feel like a winner.

Lakewood Brewing
Muy Importante, (4.7% ABV) Margarita Lager

A new core beer for Lakewood — meaning they liked it so much they put it on the regular rotation — this is a Mexican-style lager brewed with agave, orange peel, lime juice and sea salt. It makes for a great base for Palomas.

Craft Beer Cellar, 6324 Gaston Ave. Open Noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.