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Texas brew review: Armadillo Ale Works WunderMelon

Posted 12:00am on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014

Fruit beers get a bad rap.

Not too long ago, many people saw them as a novelty meant to appeal to the fringes of the beer-drinking market — people who don’t actually like beer. And in many ways, that was the truth. Save a few select breweries doing interesting things with fruit to complement traditional beer styles and some traditional Belgian brewers who had been doing it for decades, there wasn’t a whole lot out there for the fruit beer adventurer to explore.

Now, the stigma is gone and fruit has become a major component for some breweries, with Austin’s Jester King leading the way in Texas with a wide variety of sour beers that use fruit in myriad interesting ways. Pineapple is also a favorite lately, with Arizona’s SanTan Brewing and Hawaii’s Maui Brewing both making a pineapple wheat. Peruse store shelves and you’ll see apricots, grapes and peaches making starring roles as well.

For Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works, creating a refreshing summer beer with a twist meant tapping an underutilized summer favorite for its latest seasonal: WunderMelon Watermelon Kolsch.

WunderMelon allows the juice to shine, as it uses a kolsch base. Kolsch is a light, semi-sweet, easy-drinking style, so adding something bolder means the addition comes to the forefront. WunderMelon has a candylike sweetness and prevalent tartness and is sweet up front, but finishes somewhat dry with a welcome bitter snap to finish. It does retain sweetness as you drink it, which keeps it from being too easy-drinking. It’s great for warm weather but not light enough to demand more than a glass or two in one sitting. Appropriately, it will be packaged in 22-ounce bombers after the initial draft launch.

Launch parties for WunderMelon will be held throughout the area this weekend, with events Friday at Oak St . Drafth ouse in Denton and Saturday at Brewed in Fort Worth and Craft and Growler in Dallas.

Quick sips

Panther Island crew changes: With the facility almost completed, beer on tap walls around town and a grand opening approaching, new Fort Worth brewery Panther Island’s founding partners have split. Ryan McWhorter remains with the brewery, while Michael Harper has abruptly departed. Harper was head brewer, so it remains to be seen who will be manning the tanks full-time. But McWhorter remains confident that they’ll have their grand opening in early September and that production will continue.

Shannon getting close: Keller’s Shannon Brewing is close to having beer ready; it’s been brewing for about a week now with hopes of having beer and the brewery ready for visitors at the end of August or beginning of September. Look for the All-American Blonde and Pale Ale to start.

Have a question, comment or Texas beer bulletin for Scooter? Shoot him an email at texasbrew@dfw.com.

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