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.
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.
Armadillo Ale Works Honey Please With A Cherry On Top
12.75% ABV Honey Beer
A few years back, Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works released an easy-drinking honey beer called Honey Please. That beer won the Gold Medal at the 2018 World Beer Cup in the honey beer category, and it’s a nice, easy drinking blonde with some faint mesquite bean flavor to it. Now, there’s a stronger version, called Honey Please With A Cherry On Top, that’s fermented with Kveik yeast and cherry puree.
While it’s still a fairly easy drinker, it checks in at a much heftier 12.75 percent ABV. If the normal Honey Please is a perfect day drinking beer, Honey Please With A Cherry On Top is the bottle to split with a couple of friends at the end of the night. The sweetness of the honey comes through nicely just like in the regular version, but the hint of cherry really rounds things out nicely.
False Idol Return of the Stack
14% ABV Imperial Stout
It’s not exactly stout season anymore thanks to these ridiculously high temperatures, but don’t tell that to the brewers at North Richland Hills’ False Idol Brewing, because high ABV stouts continue to pop up on the menu there.
Return of the Stack is an imperial stout with maple and cinnamon that’s meant to evoke breakfast food classics. It’s got a very cinnamon nose and is a smooth drinker for a 14% stout. And while a lot of these heavy stouts brewed with things like maple tend to wind up way too sweet, this beer is really well balanced. The maple is certainly present, but with that cinnamon there to balance things out, drinkers aren’t left with that syrupy aftertaste that can ruin a good stout.
Hop and Sting Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale
5% ABV Golden Ale
Grapevine-based Hop and Sting has been making cookie-inspired beers for a few years, starting in 2019 with its Christmas Cookie Ale, and then adding Red Velvet Cookie Ale in early 2021. But the third addition to the series, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale, might be the best of all.
Described as a golden ale, this beer drinks more like a cream ale thanks to its thicker mouthfeel. That helps create the “dough” part of the drinking experience, while the “chocolate chip” part comes through near the end via faint chocolate notes. It’s not dominated by the chocolate, which makes for an easy drinker.
Martin House Lemon IceBox Pie
5.4% ABV Fruited Sour
This Fort Worth brewery has an uncanny ability to produce wacky flavored brews that somehow taste exactly like the food that inspired them. A lemon sour ale that’s brewed with lactose and graham crackers, the Lemon IceBox Pie is nice and tart up front, with plenty of richness and a smooth mouthfeel thanks to the lactose and graham crackers. It’s basically a boozy pie in a can, and at just 5.4%, it’s a nice entry point for someone who likes sweets but might be scared off by super-strong dessert stouts.
Turning Point Quencher (Lemon Lime)
6.5% ABV Berliner Weisse
Summer is officially here, and there’s really nothing more summery than a lemon-lime flavored thirst quencher. Officially described by the brewery as a “electrolyte infused lemon-lime inspired sports beer,” this one has that distinct, classic Gatorade aroma, with a flavor to match. The word “refreshing” can often have negative connotations when talking about craft beer, but not here, as this brew feels like the perfect “sit by the pool” beer without sacrificing anything in terms of flavor.Not feeling lemon-lime? Turning Point also makes Quencher in fruit punch, grape, and “glacier frost” flavors.