With seven breweries serving up multiple beers, it was hard to sample every beer, but we tried at least one beer from each brewery. Oak Cliff Brewing is partial to German styles; their grapefruit gose deftly wed the tartness of gose to the pithy bite of Texas grapefruit. Hop and Sting Brewing Co. also opted for Teutonic tradition with a kellerbier, an unfiltered lager style that’s the most common daily drink in Deutschland. According to a fellow drinker just returned from a beer-soaked European vacation, Hop and Sting pretty much nailed it.
Elsewhere, Fort Worth’s Cowtown Brewery tapped a different vein of tradition with a burly, blueberry-laced milk stout. So did Pantego’s New Main Brewing, serving up a pleasant, floral-nosed witbier. This being America and all, there was ample experimentation offered as well. Royse City’s Thirsty Bro scored big on the fruit front with Getting’ Figgy Wit’ It, their fig-and-apricot-infused pale ale. Arlington’s Dirty Job Brewing was no slouch themselves in the pitched-with-produce department, pouring both a raspberry hefeweizen and a watermelon IPA.
We must say, though, that Fort Worth’s The Fort Brewing (which, sadly, will eventually have to trade in their name due to a trademark from Dogfish Head) took the far-out cake with an ale inspired by the Peruvian kitchen-sink beverage chicha. It's brewed from ingredients you could buy from a grocery store, and we tried an iteration that had been further augmented by chiles. It was spicy, subtly carbonated, and light-bodied. Funky Town should be proud of these guys.
As befits Trinity Groves’ restaurant-incubator model, all seven of these brewers have yet to open to the public. Most everyone we talked to were aiming for a brewpub license — some with a kitchen, some partnering with food trucks — to capitalize on the slow unclenching of the TABC’s stranglehold on independent brewers. When asked what advantages North Texas' geography brought to the brew scene, their answers ranged from the social to the scientific.
According to The Fort's Samantha Glenn, the water is remarkably fine for brewing.
“I think one of the best things about being in DFW, and Fort Worth in particular, is that your water is amazing for brewing beer,” Glenn said. “Even down in Austin, they have to chemically change their water in order to make their beer, whereas we can just filter it and take it straight from the tap.”
For others, the camaraderie and support from other brewers already in operation have been invaluable as they navigated the nitty-gritty of small business ownership. “We went out and talked to local brewers — Wayne and Sean at Division Brewing, Shannon Carter at Shannon, and a couple of other folks, and really just got to see where they got started,” said New Main’s brewer, David Clark. “We started realizing ‘Their stories are very similar to where we are right now.’ We thought we would regret it if we didn’t at least look into it — and the more we did, the more we realized this is the time to do it.”
Ultimately, of course, the success of this septet of new brewers derives from the love (and thirst) of the masses. As Hop and Sting's Jon Powell pointed out, the demand for our own friendly neighborhood brewery is what has kept (and will continue to) keep DFW's craft beer scene in bloom.
“The biggest barrier to entry was that you had to buy a big piece of equipment, produce a lot of beer, and distribute that beer far and wide," he said. "Now, more and more people are getting into craft beer, which means that our local neighborhoods are looking towards that. They want that in their neighborhood. No one wants to travel far for beer. Now you’re seeing all those little voids being filled by craft beer.”