In 2010, Karl and Misty Sanford were looking to brew a special beer for their upcoming wedding. They needed something that met certain specifications, so they got together with their friend Jeremy Brodt. Together, the trio finally made a cross between an American brown ale and a Belgian beer over an eight-month period. The result was more than just a wedding beer; it was the start of a business venture that culminated in 2013 with their formation of The Manhattan Project Beer Co. While they're not atomic scientists, they do take an experimental and scientific approach to their beer. Plus, as they point out on their website, "the plethora of cool beer names like Half-Life and Superfortress," also helps.
Once the three decided that they wanted to start a brewery, looking for a location to work in started to overwhelm them. They got in touch with Matt Ehinger at Bitter Sisters in Addison, who leased them space in his brewery. While the current setup limits their production, it allowed Manhattan Project to launch faster than most. After a coming out party that saw them win seven awards for all seven beers they brought to BrewRiot, Manhattan Project Beer Co. is finally on tap at craft beer strongholds like The Common Table, LUCK and Eno's.
At their LUCK launch party on Wednesday, three of Manhattan Project's beers were on tap, a coconut porter, a hoppy wheat and a West Coast IPA. Hoppenheimer, the West Coast IPA, is a pale copper color that is incredibly hoppy in both aroma and taste, as well as the aftertaste. There are also hints of citrus and pine. At 7.4 percent ABV, it's right on par with most IPAs, and because of its medium body, it's sure to be enjoyed by fans of hops. Half-Life, their wheat ale is medium-bodied and comes in at 6.2 percent ABV. With a cloudy yellow coloring, Half-Life has a well-executed citrusy taste that is balanced with a pine flavor that follows through in the aftertaste. The most interesting of the three available on Wednesday was Plutonium-239, a coconut porter that has a distinct deep brown color and typical porter aroma. The coconut flavor is there but does not overwhelm the chocolate and roasted coffee flavors that are typical of a porter; think of it being coconut-y like coconut oil — the smell is stronger than the taste. With a medium body and smooth feel, this is another well-made beer from the group. The fourth beer that the group is offering, which started the whole venture, is their Belgian brown ale, Inception. While not available at LUCK on Wednesday, the beer is 7.1 percent ABV and is described as being "daunting with its brown color" and having an aroma of "toasted nuts, banana, caramel and raisin."
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It's becoming harder and harder for breweries to distinguish themselves in the crowded DFW market, but the unique beers like those from The Manhattan Project Beer Co. should stake out a place for the hearts and palates of local beer fans.