Franconia Brewing Company
Franconia may not be the oldest brewery in North Texas, but founder Dennis Wehrman deserves recognition for being part of a brewing heritage that goes all the way back to his great-great-grandfather, a German brewmeister who began in 1800. Wehrman got his brewing master’s degree from a school in Munich and brought his knowledge to McKinney. Franconia follows in the German tradition in that they spell it “bier.” Pairs well with schnitzel.
Recommended beer: Franconia Dunkel (dark lager, 4.4 percent ABV). With light-roasted malt, a touch of chocolate, and some toffee and light caramel notes, it’s an easy-drinking dark beer.
Tour: Saturday, 11 am-1 pm. $5, free beer samples
Community Beer Company
This brewery places special emphasis on supporting local creative types, actively inviting artists to set up shop at Community tours and events. Barley, the brewery dog, is also there to welcome visitors (and other dogs who visit). With a taproom open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it might be the friendliest place in the Design District. The beer is equally friendly.
Recommended beer: Community Witbier (Belgian witbier, 5.2 percent ABV). This beer recently won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in its category. It’s a go-to summertime beer.
Tour: Saturday, 2-5 pm. $10 online, $15 at the door, includes plastic cup and three samples, live music, local artists, and a food truck. Taproom (full beers for purchase) opens after 5 pm
Four Corners Brewing Company
Located in the heart of Trinity Groves, this is one of the most accessible craft breweries. The taproom, the All Day Alehouse, is open five days a week. The large glass doors make it so that people are constantly walking by and peering in at what they’re doing. “Daily and every hour,” according to co-founder Greg Leftwich. “It’s pretty apparent that there’s something interesting here to see.”
Recommended beer: El Chingon IPA (American IPA, 7.6 percent ABV). A piney session beer that drinks easy. Plus it comes in a neat, 360-degree-spout can.
Tour: Saturday, noon and 1:30 pm. Free, limited to 50 guests (online reservations)
As the former senior brewmaster from the Samuel Adams Brewery, Grant Wood has quite the résumé. He took his talents to Granbury and brought some craft brewing legitimacy to North Texas. He’s proof that not all brewers are bearded hipsters. Wood looks like the kindhearted dad from any ’80s teen flick. But don’t be fooled. His beers will steal your lunch money.
Recommended beer: Blood and Honey (7 percent ABV). An unfiltered, deep golden ale brewed with local honey and blood-orange peel, this popular beer is complex and goes well with barbecue. Trust me on this.
Tour: Saturday, noon-3 pm. $10 includes souvenir glass and beer samples, live music, and a food vendor on site
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
This is what every start-up craft brewery aspires to be. In nine years, Rahr has expanded from 2,000 barrels a year to 20,000 and proved to every other wannabe brewer that it could be done in North Texas. Fort Worth embraced Rahr. No matter what happens from here on out, it can rely on its city. That makes it the envy of Dallas breweries, where the competition has come fast and hard. Sure, the market is large enough for everyone. We’re all in this together, so they say. But every craft brewery wants what Rahr has—dominion over its city.
Recommended beer: Buffalo Butt (amber lager, 5 percent ABV). It’s a malty beer with hints of caramel and a ridiculous name.
Tour: Wednesday, 5-7:30 pm; Saturday, 1-3 pm. $10 for a souvenir glass and three beers; food is available and, occasionally, so are artist booths
Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Whether by design or by accident, no one is neutral on the subject of Deep Ellum Brewing Company. In its short history, DEBC has already changed brewmasters—Drew Huerter left and was replaced by Jeremy Hunt. It also faced minor controversy over the groan-inducing double-entendre tagline for its Dallas Blonde: “Goes Down Easy.” DEBC seems harmless enough. Beyond the wacky, punk aesthetic, there’s a craft beer company working hard for your affection.
Recommended beer: Deep Ellum IPA (India pale ale, 7 percent ABV). For people who like that hoppy bitterness, it’s all here, but balanced with spicy grains and a hint of grapefruit.
Tour: Thursday, 6-8:30 pm; Saturday, noon-3 pm. $12 online, $15 at the door, includes souvenir glass and three full-size samples, live music, and a food truck
Peticolas Brewing Company
Michael Peticolas loves his mother. It was his mother who introduced him to homebrewing. I think I’m rather fond of her, too. Peticolas Brewing Company is a humble family operation. The beers are only available on draught—no bottling or canning yet. He’s content brewing his set of year-round beers and dabbling with limited releases, exploring the craft. As the Best of Big D Best Brewery for 2013, these beers have not disappointed.
Recommended beer: Velvet Hammer (imperial red ale, 9 percent ABV). This creamy beer features a strong caramel malt and a hint of brown sugar. Built to impress.
Tour: First and third Saturday, 1-3 pm. $10 includes souvenir glass and three samples, live music, and a food truck
Lakewood Brewing Company
Wim Bens was born in Belgium and raised in Texas. Not surprisingly, his brewery reflects a fondness for Belgian-style beers. The approach appears to be working. The brewery has grown quickly, with plans to expand its 11,000-square-foot facility to include an additional 14,000 square feet. It has gone from three employees to more than a dozen. And earlier this year, Lakewood negotiated a deal with Andrews Distributing (which also partnered with Rahr) to increase its reach across North Texas.
Recommended beer: The Temptress (imperial milk stout, 9.1 percent ABV). This dark beer is a delicious and creamy chocolate and vanilla treat. I’m working on a new boilermaker, which involves a Temptress and a shot of TX Whiskey. I call it a “Tammi True.” Spread the word.
Tour: Saturday, noon-3 pm. $10 includes souvenir glass and four samples, live music, and a food truck
Martin House Brewing Company
You have to admire the pluck of Martin House to open another brewery in Fort Worth after Rahr had claimed the city as its own. They even made sure their cans were bigger than everyone else’s—16 fluid ounces as compared to the standard 12. They also win some kind of award for having the Toadies play a concert there. I see what you’re doing, Martin House.
Recommended beer: The Imperial Texan (double red ale, 9 percent ABV). This deep, red beer starts off malty and ends with piney hops—an almost peachy aroma.
Tour: Saturday, 2-5 pm. $10 includes souvenir glass and three samples, live music, and food options