DFW Brewers Opposing Costly Changes

If you go to almost any brewery (especially in the DFW area), you’ll most likely see a trailer or pallet with wet, used grain on it. Breweries usually sell this grain to local farmers to use as feed. This makes the disposal of the grain easy for the breweries and gives the local farmers cheap feed for their animals. It’s the norm. That may be changing, though.

The Federal Drug Administration has proposed a new act called the Food Safety Modernization Act. This proposal would require brewers to dry and package the grain if it were going to leave the brewery. It would also prevent human contact with the grain. Their reasoning is that it would help limit unwanted exposure to the grain that could potentially harm animals and, in turn, humans that may consume those animals. In theory, that would be good. There’s a downside for brewers, though.

For beer companies, especially small ones, cost the is key. They want to minimize their operating costs to they can lower the costs for the consumers. Having to dry and package grain for sale to farmers could add as much as $10 per barrel of beer. Although it may not seem like much, these small breweries need every penny they can keep. If they were to increase the costs to farmers for the grain, the farmers would most likely find somewhere else to get the feed from. It’s a tough line that they’d have to walk. They have no choice but to fight back.

The North Texas Brewers Guild, which 23 North Texas breweries are a part of, is fighting against the regulations. They submitted a request to the FDA for the exemption of breweries from this proposed law. They cited the reliability of food sources for local farmers and the economic impact the act could have. They also encouraged the other members to submit letters as well. If the act passes without the exemption, it would go into effect next year, and breweries would have to either pay to package their grain for throw it away.

North Texas Brewers Shine at 2014 World Beer Cup

Yesterday at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado, the Brewers Association handed out awards for the 2014 World Beer Cup. The event, which takes place every two years, featured 4,754 beers from 1,403 breweries in 58 countries.Of the 282 winning beers (94 categories with 3 places in each), 8 were from Texas, and 3 were from the DFW area. Now, you may be thinking that isn’t a big percentage. And if you look strictly at the numbers, you’d be right. 3% from Texas and 1% from North Texas aren’t very high numbers. You have to look at the bigger picture.

First, you have to understand something. The three winners from North Texas were Community Beer Co. (Gold – Witbier), Deep Ellum Brewing Co. (Bronze – 4 Swords Belgian Style Quad), and Rahr and Sons Brewing Co. (Bronze – Stormcloud). These breweries were opened in 2012, 2011, and 2004, respectively. So why’s this important? History. Or lack there of.

Brewing is DFW is relatively new, and opening a new brewery isn’t an easy thing to do. Once the brewer jumps through all the legal hoops, they have to build the brewery, find more staff, and actually brew the beer. Not everyone can do it. And even those who do don’t always succeed. Your beer makes your mark. If it’s not a good beer, you won’t survive. Despite the odds, though, the North Texas brewing scene is flourishing. More and more breweries are opening and succeeding. To have breweries less than 3 years old winning awards in categories with international breweries that have been around for much longer is a great thing. So go out, drink local, and help the DFW breweries hone their skills.

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the winners, Beer Pulse has a complete list.

You Have to Visualize to Succeed

Social media is inevitable these days. Facebook and Twitter are used by companies quite a bit to get information out quickly. The question then becomes about who you should be following. This isn’t only to learn information quickly, but to recognize who could help you get information out. Craft and Growler is that for me. They use their twitter to get out information about events and what/how many beers they have (42 currently). They don’t have a blog, but they do provide a wealth of information, and everyone knows information is key.

The Truth In Wikipedia… Beer Style

Wikipedia. From random facts to writing essays, Wikipedia has become a go to website for knowledge and information. Many people used to be very weary of the information that Wikipedia provided. Teachers often deterred students from using it to prevent false knowledge from making its way into papers. If they didn’t follow this instruction, they were often given up by something that wasn’t right and could be tracked back to Wikipedia. Those days are long gone now, though.

Wikipedia includes a vast array of knowledge that is usually correct nowadays. With constant monitoring and use, “facts” that are entered with malicious or joking intent are quickly taken down or replaced with correct information. For instance, for a little bit of time, Jeremy Renner was a velociraptor (see below). That lasted only long enough for people to get screenshots.

Jeremy Renner Velociraptor

Scanning Wikipedia, I found that the page for Franconia Brewing was lacking, to say the least. Not knowing a whole lot about the style or setup of Wikipedia coding, I dove in and decided to help it out some. The changes I made were small, but I’m planning on working on it some more.

When I started, the page only told a little bit about the owner and a little about the when they started bottling beer. First, I added when it opened and when its first batch of beer was produced. Easy enough, you’d think.

For the most part, you’d be right. When you first get to the edit page, it seems like a daunting task. There is a lot of coding information and many things you don’t understand if you haven’t coded before. I do have some coding experience, but not like this. So I dug around a bit. I looked at other pages to see how exactly things were formatted and how to make the correct inline citations. Five minutes later, I had made my first entry. It was only a sentence or two, but it was a start.

So what now? I’m going to try and keep updating it as I can. With school, work, and this blog, it’s going to take some time to get it up to par. But I learned a lot during this process. Wikipedia can be a great tool. Information accessibility is key to developing the world, and the more correct information that is out there, the better off we all are. The downside to this, though, is that almost anyone with a computer and a Wikipedia account can access this information. (There are some pages that require special permissions.) You have to be careful with what you trust, but Wikipedia has come a long way. For the most part, though, it’s a great, historically correct tool.

Scary Story, Scary Good Beer

**This Post was written collaboratively with Whitney Worrell**

Normally this blog would focus on the DFW area, but I’m going to do something a little bit different. With a walk on the supernatural side, I’m going to explore a brewery with some alleged “quirks.”

Brewing in Houston has been a ghost story in the making since the founder Brock Wagner started the St. Arnold Brewery in the building that resides at 2000 Lyons Avenue in 2009. The building itself has been around since 1914, which has given it the chance to be many things before, including haunted, but according to city records, the building at 2000 Lyons Avenue, doesn’t exist. Images from 1914 show the building and others around it, but City of Houston records show now buildings having been built there during that time.

A brewery is not the first place that many would imagine to be haunted, yet behind Texas’ oldest craft beer there is an odd story that includes the building being an overall mystery and ghost children possibly from the fire of 1912. On top of their fine crafted beer, a ghost story is lurking in the depths of that brewery. In fact, many stories have been told by employees of the brewery about hearing children’s laughter, singing, and shadows roaming inside.

“Philip Dagger, our packaging manager, and his 2- or 3-year-old daughter Sydney were in the brewery’s beer hall one night. Dagger was sitting at one of the tables while Sydney was playing near one of the corners of the hall. All of a sudden she points to an area near the windows that separates the beer hall from the brewhouse and shouts, “Hey Daddy! Kids!” Dagger looks over to where she is pointing but sees no one. Still, Sydney is insistent that there are children in that corner and continues to say, “Kids!” – Dennis Rhee

It has gathered so much attention that 39 Ghost Hunters visited there just last year to investigate the happenings of the brewery and had quite the experience. While they did not have a huge experience there, there were definite moments of paranormal activities of sorts. There are faces seen and children interacting with them, along with what sounds to be breathing and mumbling at one point. Personally, I am not totally convinced that all these ghost stories are true, and I would have to go down there and take my Ouija board with me and play around to find out, and one of these days I just might.

Another wrench in this scary story is that some of the employees aren’t even aware of the “supernatural” occurrences. When a family member of one of the employees was asked about the story by me, he had never heard of the rumors. He promptly asked his brother (who works for St. Arnold’s) who hadn’t heard of them either. As for now though I will say that there is something different about their story and their building, something eerie.

If the story behind the brewery interests you, there are daily tours every weekday and weekend. During this tour you can see if you have any paranormal experiences yourself and have one of their craft beers while you are at it! There are many skeptics towards this story along with any other ghost story,so whether it is the haunted history behind the brewery itself or just the good ol’ beer, go check it out and you can be the judge.

If you can’t make it down to Houston, though, there are plenty of places in DFW where you can get St. Arnold brews:

I took the liberty of swinging by Central Market this week and picking up some to try for myself. Lack of full six packs made it impossible to get all of the kinds they carried, but he was able to grab Lawnmower, Santos, and Amber Ale. Lawnmower was my personal favorite, and since it seems to be their most popular,  I’m going to go over that.

From their website:

“A true German-style Kolsch. Originally brewed in Cologne, this beer is crisp & refreshing, yet has a sweet malty body that is balanced by a complex, citrus hop character. Multiple additions of German Hallertauer hops are used to achieve this delicate flavor. We use a special Kolsch yeast, an ale yeast that ferments at lager temperatures, to yield the slightly fruity, clean flavor of this beer. Fancy Lawnmower Beer is a world class brew yet light enough to be enjoyed by Texans after strenuous activities, like mowing the lawn.”

Through all that beer specific talk, what you get is a slightly sweet, slightly hoppy beer that doesn’t weigh you down when drinking it. The name definitely holds up in that it’s a good beer to drink after mowing the lawn. It’s not a DFW beer, but I’d definitely recommend it.

 

Big Texas Beer Fest — Something You Don’t Want to Miss

On April 5th in the Fair Park Automotive Building, Big Texas Beer Fest is coming back for its second year, and that’s a great thing for small businesses and local breweries.

With the explosion of craft breweries in North Texas, beer festivals were bound to follow. Chad and Nellie Montgomery didn’t think they were coming fast enough, though. After attending the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in Colorado, they wondered why North Texas didn’t have a festival. They decided to change that, and without entrepreneurial experience, launched Big Texas Beer Fest 2013. With the success of the first year, they’ve brought it back for 2014.

They “want the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to have an event [it’s] proud of”. To do this, they make sure the festival focuses on what they love:local craft breweries, small businesses, charities, and economy. With over 100 breweries (including almost all breweries from North Texas) supporting the festival and plenty of exhibits, they’re definitely on their way to accomplish that goal.

Local bars and restaurants will be partnering and exhibiting with breweries to show their strength in North Texas. The profits will be donated to charities. And, obviously, this is a great opportunity for the North Texas economy. More people will be exposed to beers they haven’t tried before which will help grow consumer bases.

Whether you’ve tried every beer around and want some more or you’re new to the craft brew scene, this event is something you don’t want to miss.