Belly up, Fort Worth: You're about to get doused with a downpour of malt and hops. Craft beer is sudsing up Tarrant and Denton counties, with a bevy of breweries set to open in the next six months.
If you're even a casual beer drinker, you've caught wind of the craft beer trend that has hit North Texas in the past year. In 2012, half a dozen craft breweries opened around Dallas, including Deep Ellum Brewing, Peticolas, Lakewood and FireWheel.
Craft beer is the golden nectar made by independent breweries who have ditched the dull lagers made by mega-brewers like Miller and Bud in favor of ales, stouts and other more distinctive brews. You can find these local brews at restaurants and bars such as Brewed, Pappas Burger and Oak St. Drafthouse in Denton.
That Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities are suddenly ground zero for craft beer is part of a snowball effect, following on the heels of brewery action in Dallas, says Chris Rigoulot, founder of Noble Rey Brewing, a brewery angling to set up shop in Grapevine.
"The trend is moving more towards the west," Rigoulot says. "Like the settlers in the early days of America, it's the same direction with craft brewing. Of course, Rahr and Sons Brewing was one of the first breweries not just in Fort Worth but all around North Texas, along with Franconia in McKinney."
Fort Worth's Rahr trailblazing did beat everyone when they opened in 2004, but soon they will be surrounded by breweries in Fort Worth, Denton, Granbury and Krum.
Below, we offer a taste of what's on tap on the North Texas brewery scene.
And to catch up with many local breweries already in production, you can hit two major beer festivals in April: the Big Texas Beer Fest in Fair Park, and the Untapped Festival Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion. (Click here for details.)
Martin House Brewing
220 S. Sylvania Ave., No. 209, Fort Worth
Martin House fulfills the dream of Cody Martin, who has been a home brewer for a decade. He's partnered with friends David Wedemeier and Adam Myers who left their conventional jobs to join his quest. They spent two months raising funds and will open this spring in a dynamite space. "We really wanted to be on the Trinity Trails -- we're about being outdoors and adventurous," David says. The west side of the facility has a set of garage doors opening onto a patio that will offer prime seating for viewing sunsets over downtown Fort Worth. As a resident of downtown, Wedemeier is especially tickled that the brewery is right off the trails. "I can ride my bicycle to work," he says.
Beers in the works: Of the four Martin House brews, three are fairly novel, and the other is a stout. Those include a River House saison, also known as a farmhouse ale; a double red double-IPA; and Daybreak, a "breakfast" beer made with four grains -- barley, wheat, oats and rye, then finished with honey and milk sugar which Wedemeier describes as "almost like a bowl of cereal." Nobody else is doing that.
Grapevine Craft Brewery
924 Jean St. Grapevine
Grapevine Craft Brewery is to begin construction this spring in downtown Grapevine, which is already known for its wineries. Grapevine founder Gary Humble, an experienced home-brewer, will build a 7,100-square-foot structure where he will offer the usual tours and tastings. To ramp up anticipation, he has begun selling T-shirts and other printed merchandise at Texas Belles and Beaus gift shop in Grapevine.
Beers in the works: Humble's list includes Lakefire Rye pale ale, Monarch wheat, Mustang Brown English-style brown ale and Nightwatch milk stout. Milk stouts are fortified with lactose, which makes them sweeter and richer. Points for the brown ale, which is a unique choice.
5600 Matlock Road, Granbury
Already open for business, Revolver is a collaboration between father-and-son Ron and Rhett Keisler and brewer Grant Wood, who worked at Samuel Adams in Boston, Pearl Brewing and Lone Star. Rhett got the ball rolling after an eye-opening trip to the original beer town, Munich. They have built Revolver on a six-acre lot that they have turned into a destination with horseshoes, Jenga and Saturday afternoon tours (see photo gallery at DFW.com/pics). Gun aficionados might recognize the revolver in the company logo as the silhouette of an 1847 Walker Colt.
Beers in the works: Revolver has three staples including a blonde, bock and its crowd-pleasing inordinately popular Blood & Honey golden ale. The brewery is making a limited-run stout called Mother's Little Fracker that's sweet and only moderately high in alcohol at 7.5 percent.
Drink it at: In Fort Worth, The Flying Saucer, The Live Oak, Woodshed, Magnolia Motor Lounge, Fred's Texas Cafe, Brewed, Rodeo Goat, The Ginger Man and more; in Arlington, World of Beer, Old School Pizza and Suds and more; in Dallas, The Meddlesome Moth, Katy Trail Ice House, The Common Table, Goodfriend Beer Garden, Single Wide, Double Wide, Craft & Growler, Pour House Dallas (Oak Cliff) and more; also in other DFW locations.
Noble Rey Brewing
Chris Rigoulot was your prototypical home-brewer who hated his desk job and dreamed about owning a brewery. When the daydreams started to take over, he got schooled in the art at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont -- one of three major institutions in the U.S. to offer brewer certification. He's been shopping for a suitable space in Grapevine, and hopes to have it locked in by April 1, with a target of brewing beer by the end of the summer. He has two beers for launch and will expand slowly with special-edition selections.
Beers in the works: The forward-thinking Rigoulot is outside the safety zone with his two brews. There's Steam Punk, a "California common" lager, and Hoppily Ever After, an Oktoberfest-Marzen lager, a German-style pale with a little caramel flavor.
106 E. Sixth St., Justin
Laron Cheek, Tom Anderson and brewer Matt Morriss are still a "brewery in planning" but they have a location and are in the process of ordering equipment. The trio met when they worked in IT and discovered their shared love of craft beer. Morriss and Anderson are heavily into the homebrew scene and have dozens of awards in brewing contests. Morriss' hobby is to visit breweries around the world. As for opening, they hope to have beer to market by November. "It's all about the journey for us," Cheek says. "We've been talking about this for almost eight years."
Beers in the works: Rabbit Hole goes avant-garde with a trio that includes an English IPA, which is a little less hoppy than the usual IPA; and then two categories in which they bravely stand alone: an American brown, and a pale, clear German-style kolsch, whose heritage is tied to the German city of Cologne.
Armadillo Ale Works (Denton)
Currently being brewed at Deep Ellum Brewing
Armadillo doesn't have a location finalized, but in an unusual partnership with Deep Ellum Brewing, they already have beer in kegs. Partners Bobby Mullins and Yanni Arentis bring their recipe to the Dallas brewery, and it brews it to their specs. That's a smart move that has given Armadillo plenty of brand recognition; it helps Mullins and Arentis in their efforts to raise funds for the brewery they would like in their hometown, Denton. Mullins has hands-on experience; he worked at St. Arnold's in Houston for three years. Arentis handles the entrepreneurial side. The two partners are huge fans of Denton and want their brewery to reflect the greatness of their hometown.
"We have a Quakertown stout that we named after a historic square in Denton," Arentis says. "We like the arts scene here, the music scene. We just want to be known for 'representin' Denton.'"
Beers in the works: Quakertown Stout, and Bobby's Hybrid wheat saison farmhouse ale. It's smart of Armadillo to start small with just two on the list. Thumbs up to the farmhouse ale, a crisp, fresh brew that is more adventurous than a regular old lager.
Drink it at: Oak St. Drafthouse and Dan's Silverleaf in Denton; The Common Table and Goodfriend Beer Garden in Dallas; Flying Saucer Addison and more.
Independent Ale Works
11555 U.S. 380, No. 209, Krum
Owners Stefen Windham and David Miller are calling themselves the first brewery to open in Denton, although they deliberately opened their facility just outside Denton city limits because that allowed them to get a nice big space. They're one of the few breweries to open on their own dime, without a passel of investors. Windham says their mission is to brew unpretentious, quality beers. They'll celebrate their grand opening with a party at the brewery on Saturday. (Click here for more details.)
Beers in the works: You could call this trio - Independent blonde ale, Amber and a black ale called Dark Intentions -- a blond, a redhead and a brunette. The black ale is notable; when it comes to dark beers, most breweries do a stout, which has more alcohol (and more calories).
Drink it at: Oak St. Drafthouse in Denton; Craft and Growler in Dallas
Wobbegong Brewing Co.
Named for an Australian shark, Wobbegong is probably the furthest down the road from being ready to brew. Founders Kyle Podolanko, Darrell Nadvit and Gini Allums, still in their late 20s, have begun networking, establishing their customer base and devising beers they love. They're targeting the mid-cities, ideally North Arlington, and intend to open "small" and debt-free.
Beers: Wobbegong hasn't started brewing yet but it has big plans for an Imperial black IPA and oatmeal stout, plus seasonal beers like the kiwi hefeweizen they brewed last summer. "Everyone wanted some of that," Podolanko says.
Check out the videos for a peek into the weekly tasting tours at Revolver and Fort Worth trailblazer, Rahr & Sons. (As well as a glimpse at Rahr's 5K Social Run from February.)