Now that many of us are drinking at home a lot more than usual, it’s officially time to step up your at-home beer game. In this new series, we’ll be looking at five different beers from North Texas breweries — some brand new, some a little older, and some classics — that beer enthusiasts should be drinking right now.
Some of these beers will be widely available at bottle shops and grocery stores all across the region, while others might require a trip to the brewery to pick up a four-pack. We’ll also try to mix up the breweries each month, as the DFW area is home to an almost uncountable number of craft brewers.
Peticolas Doctor’s Orders
10.5% Imperial IPA
Tired of just drinking New England-style IPAs? At this point, it seems impossible to find an IPA that isn’t part of that trend, but there are a few newcomers out there that move beyond the juicy, fluffy IPA that dominate the craft beer scene, starting with Doctor’s Orders from Peticolas.
Brewed with Azacca and Denali hops and clocking in at a hefty 10.5% ABV, there are some nice tropical notes with this beer, but the hops are the star. The bitterness is a throwback to the bold, West Coast IPAs that were everywhere in the early 2010s. This isn’t the most accessible IPA in the world, but for the hop heads in DFW, this is a must-try.
Symbol Red Hazy IPA
7.5% Red IPA
This is technically a hazy IPA — it’s right there in the name — but it’s much, much different than any hazy IPA that you’ve had before.
For one, it’s a red IPA, a style that’s essentially a mix between an amber ale and an IPA. It combines the hoppiness associated with the IPA with the maltiness of an amber ale, creating something that’s closer to an English IPA than most American IPAs are.
Symbol — a line of beers produced by Carrollton’s 3 Nations Brewing that is described as the brewery’s “innovative, rotating line of beers focused towards craft beer lovers” — has been producing some of DFW’s most unique beers, like an Ocean Water-inspired sour and a raspberry cheesecake stout. Red Hazy IPA fits right in with those because of its uniqueness.
You get the expected bitterness and maltiness of the red IPA, but the use of Citra, Ekuanot, Amarillo, Simco, and Mosaic hops helps add some of the juiciness that’s associated with hazy IPAs. The end result is a completely unique drinking experience.
903 Brewers Chupacabra Batch 4
12.8% Imperial Stout
With the first cool front of the season hitting DFW, it’s time to start thinking about stouts. It can be tough to drink something as heavy as Sherman-based 903 Brewers’ Chupacabra when it’s 100 degrees outside, but stock up on a can or two if you see them around DFW, as this is always a rare release.
Each version of Chupacabra is different from the last one. This batch, the fourth from 903, is an oak-aged stout with coconut, marshmallow, hazelnut, and white chocolate. The marshmallow notes come through particularly strong while also adding some heft to the mouthfeel of the beer. All four of the adjuncts come through well in this one, and the flavor profile opens up as the beer warms a little, particularly the coconut notes.
5.5% Spiced/Herbed Beer
September is the time when pumpkin beers start showing up on the shelves at grocery stores all over the country. And there’s been a lot of divisive talk about pumpkin beers over the years, with many beer snobs looking down on the style for its reliance on the adjunct flavors that make up pumpkin pie spice. But beer should taste good, and pumpkin beers taste good.
Lakewood’s Punkel is exactly what its name suggests: a pumpkin pie-spiced dunkel. Dunkels are a type of dark lager, usually ranging from amber to dark brown in color. It’s a malt-forward style that’s common in Germany and is fairly low on bitterness.
Punkel takes the dunkel style and adds pumpkin pie spice to it, with the end result being a beer that’s not as sweet as pumpkin pie-spiced beers tend to be, plus maltiness that helps to balance everything out. The nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove flavors come through to varying degrees, but don’t overtake the base style.
Manhattan Project Oktoberfest
The beginning of Autumn means that not only is it time for pumpkin beers, but it’s also time for Oktoberfest beers.
The majority of beers labeled as Oktoberfest beers are märzens. Usually pale or amber in color, märzens have been around since at least the 1500s. Traditionally, it was a style brewed in March. Bavarian brewing ordinances forbid the brewing of beer in the summer months for safety reasons. Because of this, märzens were stored and drank at the end of summer, with the higher hop and malt content helping to preserve the beers longer.
Manhattan Project’s Oktoberfest is a strong example of a märzen. It’s a malt-forward beer with a strong bread flavor. It’s a crisp brew that has a nice touch of sweetness on the finish. It’s not the most unique beer in DFW, but nothing beats a well-done classic.
Brutal Beerworks Gusherz: Mango, Pineapple, and Strawberry
5% Fruited Sour
One of the most interesting beer trends of 2021 has been breweries turning to childhood nostalgia as the inspiration for its beers. 903 and Martin House have both brewed beers inspired by breakfast cereals, while North Richland Hills-based Brutal Beerworks is creating sours inspired by juice-filled Gushers candy and Kool-Aid Jammerz.
While both series have produced some stellar sours, the new Mango, Pineapple, and Strawberry Gusherz might be the best. One reason is that it transcends the imitation of the original snack. Brutal’s Jammerz beers taste inescapably like a sour Kool-Aid Jammer. But while this Gusherz brew does evoke the legendarily chewy snack, it’s also just a really good fruited sour. The fruit flavors come through strongly, but you also get plenty of tartness from the base beer. It’s a thick beer that’s perfect for cooling down in the hot August sun.
Celestial Cubist Fragmentation
13.5% Imperial Stout
Summer is supposed to be the time for light beers—lagers, pilsners, sours. It isn’t traditionally the time when you want to crack open at 13.5% ABV imperial stout.
But Celestial’s new Cubist Fragmentation is proof that even when it’s 100 degrees outside, a string stout can go a long way. Cubist Fragmentation is actually a blend of two different imperial stouts, both of which are aged in bourbon barrels. But while some barrel-aged stouts can taste too much like drinking liquor, this one is mellowed out by the addition of hazelnuts, vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and toasted coconut.
It’s the coconut that really shines the brightest here, helping to balance out the burn of the Weller and Maker’s Mark barrels. This is a thick, smooth beer that doesn’t drink like its 13.5% ABV would indicate. Cubist Fragmentation also stands out for the bottle itself, which is sealed with light green wax with different shapes of sequins adorning the neck. It’s a bold look, which makes sense for such a bold beer.
Deep Ellum Blind Lemon
5% Hard Seltzer
One of the preeminent questions for the past year in the craft brewing scene has been about the longevity of hard seltzers. Were they just another short-lived craze, like brut IPAs? Or would these easy-drinking options become ubiquitous, with every brewery making their own versions.
The latter option seems to be where you’re heading. Stop at any brewery in DFW and there’s a good chance you’ll find a seltzer or two on their menu. In fact, a few breweries have even started off-shoot brands for their seltzers, like Armadillo’s Rio Fresco line and TUPP’s Blur line.
But for all the seltzers being brewed in DFW now, Deep Ellum’s Blind Lemon stands out. First brewed in 2019, Blind Lemon—named after blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson—is among the finest. Flavorwise, it’s a light, refreshing drink with some clean lemon flavor, and the use of cane sugar in the seltzer means drinkers don’t end up with the odd aftertaste you get in some of the more mainstream seltzers out there.
Peticolas Rumble In Russia
7% Red Ale
One complaint that people have about the craft beer world is that everyone is brewing the same styles of beer. Every brewery has multiple New England IPAs and sours. Everyone is experimenting with lactose. Every stout is full of sweet adjuncts. All this means that breweries that excel at unique styles stand out. Peticolas Brewing Company, located in the Design District, is making the best red ales in the Metroplex.
The Irish-style red ale is a style that traditionally is built on malt and roasted barley, creating an amber-colored beer that has some mild bitterness from hops, but doesn’t approach the bitterness of an IPA. There’s usually a slight bit of sweetness, which comes from the malt.
Rumble In Russia isn’t the only red ale from Peticolas. It might not even be the best one, because there are a lot of options and everyone has different taste. First brewed for the 2018 World Cup, Rumble In Russia is on the drier side of the style, without too much sweetness, as the hops help it stay on the bitter end. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a well-crafted red ale that will appeal to those who like more traditional brews.
Wild Acre Texas Blonde Imperial Pineapple
7.5% Blond Ale
Fort Worth’s Wild Acre Brewing Company is one of the fastest-growing breweries in the metroplex. In addition to the original location, the brewery has opened a second location on Camp Bowie Boulevard and is working on developing a third location in Fairview.
Part of the rapid growth for Wild Acre? Its incredibly drinkable beers, like the Texas Blonde Imperial Pineapple.
Checking in at 7.5%, this isn’t one of those all-day sipper blonde ales. But the mixture of pineapple juice and Azacca hops makes this a drinkable, summer-y beer, even with the hops creating a little more bitterness than you’d usually expect in a blonde ale. It’s one of the more unique beers in DFW right now, as it subverts the expectations of its style.
Armadillo Ale Tetherball Deathmatch
5.3% ABV Hefeweizen
Originally brewed for the brewery’s third anniversary party in June, Tetherball Deathmatch is the first hefeweizen from Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works.
The can’s art is hard to miss on the shelf of a local craft beer store, as it features a tetherball wearing black eye paint and also a lot of marks from the perpetual beatings that a tetherball takes. Armadillo has become known for cans that prominently feature the brewery’s logo and are fairly minimalist. Teatherball Deathmatch is not that.
Tastewise, Teatherball Deathmatch is your traditional hefe. It has the same clove and banana flavors that virtually all Hefeweizens have, but the banana is a little more pronounced in this one. It’s also a little bit lighter in color than most beers in the style, with this beer tending a little toward the Kristallweizen style.
Franconia Silver Star Bock
5% ABV Bock
When you think about bocks in Texas, your first instinct is likely to think of a certain brewery down in Shiner. But you can get a really solid bock here in the Metroplex from McKinney’s Franconia.Franconia is known for making German-style beers and boast on its website that the brewery adheres to the Reinheitsgebot, the 1500s Bavarian regulations that governed the ingredients in beers.
Because of that, you won’t find the adjunct-heavy, experimental beers at Franconia that you find across DFW. Instead, you’ll get a lot of traditional beers, from its year-round kolsch and dunkel to seasonal options like an Oktoberfest or the Bordeaux-aged Chicken Dance.
But when it comes to a highly-drinkable, malt-forward beer to get through the hot days of July, Silver Star hits just right. Brewed with Two Row, Munich, and Caramel malts, this beer ends up with some slight sweetness, with a slight hoppy note at the end to bring it all together.
Manhattan Project Superfortress
10% ABV Triple New England IPA
It seems like every brewery is making New England-style IPAs these days, but Manhattan Project’s Superfortress rises to a level above most of the other local options in this style.
Clocking in at a heavy 10% ABV, Superfortress isn’t the kind of beer that you can crush in the summer heat, but this juicy, citrus-forward brew is a sterling example of one of the most popular beer styles around right now. New England IPAs are given the “hazy” moniker because they’re usually unfiltered, which allows the yeast that’s used in the brewing to stay suspended in the drink. That helps create a beer that’s a lot softer than the IPAs that used to dominate the DFW area—think Deep Ellum IPA or Four Corners’ El Chingon, beers that havea more intensely bitter flavor profile.
In contrast, Superfortress can almost be described as fluffy. There’s a thick, cloud-like quality to the beer itself, making it a lot more approachable than a West Coast IPA.
Martin House De Nada
6.7% ABV Agave and Guava Sour Ale
This is the fourth year that Martin House has released an agave-and-guava sour ale. Each year, the name of the beer has changed—it was previously released as El Chuco, La Cura, and Mi Casa.
Releasing the same beer under different names might seem odd, but it’s appropriate for a brewery as weird as Fort Worth’s Martin House. This is the same place that released a buffalo wing-flavored sour and that just released an IPA inspired by former Creed singer Scott Stapp. So really, this is just par for the (weird) course. As for the beer itself, De Nada is heavy on the guava flavor, with the agave sweetness coming through on the end after an initial taste that’s salty and sour, making it perfect for the pool.
Lakewood Tangerine Queen
5.7% ABV Wheat Beer
Right now, there are few beers that can more adequately embody the summer vibe than Lakewood Brewing’s Tangerine Queen. Like a lot beers being produced right now, Tangerine Queen is full of citrus flavor. But because it’s a wheat beer, it doesn’t have that slogginess that comes with a citrus-forward IPA, and it doesn’t have those banana and clove notes that often appear in a hefeweizen. Instead, Tangerine Queen delivers a lot of easy-drinking tangerine flavor.
Sometimes beers don’t need to be overly complex, and that’s why Tangerine Queen is a perfect July beer. It’s hot outside. Sometimes, you just want to drink a beer that’s refreshing but that also has some flavor to it. If that’s the case, reach for one from Garland’s Lakewood Brewing. While best known for its stouts, Tangerine Queen is proof that the brewers there can make a great every-day drinker as well.