Many of the stories behind folks opening North Texas’ newest craft breweries and brewpubs have a few common strains.
It’s not uncommon to see a brewery owner with a kegerator full of medals from homebrewing competitions, for example. There’s usually some sort of business or executive professional background, of course, and there’s almost always a great deal of enthusiastic moral support from family and friends before any large equipment is purchased or any leases signed.
Of course, that’s often where the similarities end. In this burgeoning golden era of craft brewing in Dallas-Fort Worth, the strategy and overall approach to entering the increasingly competitive marketplace takes on many forms, with new avenues seemingly developed on a regular basis.
Before opening their own doors, some young operations shoot for supermarket space by contracting through an existing brewery and canning their beers as quickly as possible. Other spots have opened as large, glistening restaurants, where the beer is equal to the house-ground burger or brunch menu.
Bobby Diaz, the 37-year-old co-founder of the soon-to-open ODD Muse Brewing Company in Farmers Branch, indeed possesses an esteemed hobby brewing background as well as an occupational history in economics and analytics, not to mention a passion for craft beer.
But he and the ODD Muse team — which includes his wife, Nickie, 37, and his University of North Texas roommate and co-founder, Charles Roffino of Dallas, 39 — have developed their own philosophical yet strategic vision for what comes next.
“While planning ODD Muse, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the industry, both locally and nationally,” Diaz says. “And I feel that it’s trending toward a more hyper-localized market. We’re moving toward a more European-style market where there are neighborhood breweries. People have a sense of pride, as they should, in their local breweries.”
Amazingly enough, there are indeed nooks and crannies of the Dallas-Fort Worth area that don’t have a brewery-to-church ratio of 1:1. Picking a location seems to have been every bit as vital to Diaz and crew as sourcing the perfect hops and grains for its brews is.
“Our approach was to enter the market with a focus on community and our local area. With that in mind, we wanted to find an area we felt was underserved based on a hyper-local model, and we think we found that with Farmers Branch and North Dallas. Additionally, we plan to grow organically, focusing first on our taproom and local bars and restaurants, then expanding as demand requires and our production allows.”
With Addison’s Bitter Sisters Brewing, the recently relocated 3 Nations Brewing in Carrollton and the Breaking Brew meadery in Farmers Branch all currently operating (and with construction on the Cedar Creek Brewhouse and Eatery quickly progressing in Farmers Branch, as well), no one will be able to call the strip of I-35 just north of I-635 underserved for much longer.
Regardless, breweries with a “hyper-local” aim is a trend that’s been gaining genuine traction across the country, and it’s not a terribly new one. Though it's perhaps still a fresh idea in this market, which is still in relative infancy compared with many other major American beer markets.
In 2016, The Boston Globe did a deep dive into some New England brewers fixed on a vision similar to ODD Muse. The paper quoted Bart Weiss, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, where he proclaimed, “Today, it’s hyperlocal … Local used to be in your town. Now it’s not just your town, but on your block.”
According to Bobby Diaz, even the brewery name is inspired by a combo of what’s close to the heart and unique from the rest of the pack.
“ODD Muse has multiple meanings,” he says. “It’s a direct representation of my own personal inspiration, my daughters, Olivia and Daniella Diaz [ODD]. It’s also a nod to the idea that inspiration can come from pretty strange places. It can be unconventional, abnormal and unexpected, and we encourage everyone to recognize and embrace it.”
But this is a business, and the founders have plenty at stake, of course. Taking a unique approach to entering the marketplace doesn’t mean throwing all caution and measure to the malt-scented breeze. To start, Diaz says their taps will pour “a lineup that will satisfy everyone.”
With a 10-barrel brewing system, Diaz has his sights set on crowd-pleasing beers first. A blonde, a Hefeweizen, a Russian imperial stout and a couple of IPA offerings will make up the charter beer lineup when the doors open, which they aim to be in December.
“We’re just waiting on TABC at this point,” he says.
The brewery and taproom, located on Spring Valley Road, will be filled with local art, including a number of murals designed by a couple of local artists, who have also assisted in designs for branding the individual beers.
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In keeping with the hyperlocal theme, ODD Muse will aim to take deliberate, individual steps geared toward doing something well before progressing beyond its own walls and neighborhood. You might one day be able to grab a sixer of ODD Muse beer in an Arlington supermarket or in an Oak Cliff gastropub, but not yet. First local things first.
The idea to open a brewery appeared to Diaz back in 2012. Seven years later, he’s likely a few weeks from seeing it happen. For all of the talk around inspiration and marketing and strategy, neighbors need to show up in order for ODD Muse to begin serving its corner of North Texas.
“From the beginning, I’ve planned as if this was a ‘sure thing,’” he says. “However, it never really seemed real. There have definitely been milestones along the way that made it feel more real, like signing our lease and realizing there was no turning back. All in all, it still feels like a dream, and I don’t think it will feel real until we open the doors.”
ODD Muse Brewing Company, 4488 Spring Valley Road, Farmers Branch. Planned to open December 2019.