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First sip: Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire Rye Pale Ale

Posted 12:00am on Thursday, Dec. 05, 2013

Grapevine Craft Brewery launched its first beer, the Lakefire Rye Pale Ale, on Nov. 27 in various bars and restaurants in Northeast Tarrant County and Dallas. But its big coming-out event in Tarrant was a launch party Thursday night at Southlake’s Wildwood Grill.

It was also our first time to try the beer (an earlier attempt at another restaurant turned out to be premature -- the place got it on tap too days after our Nov. 27 visit). The DFW.com North Texas Craft Beer Battle has been going on since early November, well before the Lakefire made its debut, but had it been around, it would have been a contender.

It’s a hoppy beer, but it would fit just as easily into the “Easy Drinking” region, thanks to a malty start and a subtle finish -- there was some bitterness, but nowhere near as aggressive as in some other hoppy beers we tried during the Beer Battle. It’s what a lot of brewers have told us they’re aiming for -- a beer that won’t scare off novices but will please aficionados.

“The hop character in the Lakefire is very forward,” GCB founder Gary Humble says. “You get it in the nose, and you get it up front. The little bit of bitterness you get on the end is mostly spice from the rye malt. The reason it goes away so clean and so quickly is because it’s malt.”

Response at Wildwood and elsewhere has been good, he adds.

“We’re getting a lot of check-ins on Untappd, the beer app,” Humble says. “Some of the beer nerds are looking for, ‘Where’s the hops?,’ but then they’ll say, ‘But man, for their first beer, amazing.’ And I appreciate those comments. It’s hard to come out with a great product the first time out, but I feel like we accomplished that.”

Currently, the Lakefire is GCB’s only beer. But Humble says that the brewery’s Monarch Classic American Wheat is awaiting Texas Alcoholic Beverage label approval, and he expects to launch that beer before year-end. He’s got a March target date for his other two beers, the Sir Williams English Brown Ale and the Nightwatch Dry Oatmeal Stout.

“We went back and forth quite a bit about releasing the stout in the spring,” Humble says. “But our stout’s a year-round stout. It’s a foreign stout, it’s 6 percent, it’s light-bodied, it’s easy-drinking, so we’re going to go for it, see what happens. Make all the year-round drinkers happy.”

GCB is still brewing out of a facility in Farmers Branch, but Humble says that he hopes to begin construction of his Grapevine brewery in January. If all goes well, the brewery -- about a block off of Grapevine’s popular Main Street -- will open by mid-summer.

“We own the land,” Humble says. “We’re gunning hard. Grapevine Craft Brewery belongs in Grapevine. We have our permits, everybody’s behind us, we just have to get our finances in place. It’s a great spot, and we’re determined to get over every obstacle.”

For more on GCB and its beers, check out its website or its Facebook page, which is a good place to find where else it’s on tap.

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