This was certainly an exciting year for craft beer in North Texas. With a few more brewery openings, new laws and shiny awards, there was a lot to crow about in the local craft beer scene, and it's not all hangover related (although we have that too).
As we complete another whirl around the sun, we reflect on the top craft beer stories of the year and anxiously await the next.
A Shake-up at DEBC When Deep Ellum Brewing Co. started pouring beer in an old industrial building in downtown in the summer of 2011, one of the key figures was brewmaster Drew Huerter. He came with an impressive craft-beer background and gave the brewery some street cred. So when he decided to leave in April of this year, it sent a bit of a ripple through our pints. DEBC lured Jeremy Hunt, who among other things studied under the highly distinguished Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head, to replace him.
Huerter Teams with Wynne and Fryman for New Brewpub Recently it was announced that Huerter will be working at a new spot, BrainDead Brewing, in Deep Ellum, along with Sam Wynne of Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth (who is the son of Shannon Wynne -- Meddlesome Moth, Flying Saucer) and Jeff Fryman, formerly of the Common Table. This brewpub will over a dozen of their own beers, in addition to other craft beers with 42 taps in all. And with new laws customers can get growlers filled or potentially grab a six-pack at a store.
New Laws Open More Taps Brewers from around the state put on their best starched white shirts and packed into a committee room at the Capitol in Austin this summer to plead their case on a six-pack of bills that would loosen decades-old restrictions. And, finally, the Texas Legislature listened. While not the full and complete package of what they hoped for (thanks, John Carona), several new laws made brewing more lucrative for craft brewers, particularly now being allowed to sell a limited amount of beer for on-site consumption.
Dallas Gets Growlers Although Craft and Growler technically opened in late 2012, 2013 was the year the concept really took off. Customers can buy a growler, get it filled with craft beer and take it home to enjoy in their comfortable abodes. Since some local breweries still don't bottle (including Peticolas and Four Corners), and laws still don't allow sales for off-site consumption, growler shops fill a void in the market. Whole Foods and The Bottle Shop on Greenville also offer growler fills. Lakewood will get one of its very own soon too.
DEBC Gets Called Out for its Hot Pink Truck It takes a big beer to wear hot pink and get away with it. And for a while, DEBC's Dallas Blonde did. But then they got a little too relaxed about it and put the slogan "Goes Down Easy" on the side of their hot pink delivery van. DEBC was called out for using a "tired, sexist pun," and relying on "rape culture to sell alcohol." They reconsidered and pulled the sticker off, while John Reardon of DEBC admitted "double entendres are only funny when they're out of the spotlight." Dim the stage lights, please.
Great American Beer Festival Awards Ten Texas craft beers took home awards from the Great American Beer Festival this year. Locally, Community Beer Company won gold for Public Ale and Cedar Creek won gold for Belgian Style Dubbel. This is followed by Peticolas and Rahr medals in 2012. Texas isn't just making craft beer, it's making good craft beer.
Franconia Goes Off-Grid In what might be the most environmentally inspiring and, at the same time, under-the-radar brewery story of the year, Dennis Wehrman took Franconia Brewing completely off grid. Using a mix of solar, biodegradable and natural gas, the entire operation subsists off the power it creates. It also reuses 85 percent of the water it takes in.