We've arrived at what is perhaps the most exciting category of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our celebration of the talent in the Dallas food and drink community: Best Brewery.
This should not take away from other, previously released categories such as Best Pastry Chef and Best Rising Star Chef, both stellar in their own right. But in the past three years, Dallas-Fort Worth has witnessed a craft beer revolution, with a dozen brewers opening and more on the way.
No other area of food and beverage has seen that kind of transformation or left such a dramatic effect on the local dining scene. Restaurants are adding taps and hosting beer dinners, and entire bars have sprung up that are dedicated to craft beer.
We've gone from a category that might not have had enough contenders to one where we had too many to include. Here's to craft beer.
Community Beer Company
Founded by home brewer Kevin Carr, Community began brewing in the Design District in January 2013. Community has released nearly a dozen beers and racked up some awards, including a Gold Medal for the Public Ale. The most notable recent release is Ascension Coffee Porter, the coffee-flavored beer brewed in association with Design District neighbor Ascension.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Founded by John Reardon, DEBC will always be special because it was first. It opened in 2011, snagging a spot in Deep Ellum before the neighborhood's current revival was underway. They brew about a dozen different beers a year, including seasonal selections such as chocolate cherry stout. You can find the beer everywhere, from bars to supermarkets. The facility has an outdoor patio that makes tours, held on Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons, a lot of fun.
Franconia Brewing Co.
Franconia was a pioneer when brewmaster Dennis Wehrmann, a native of Germany, opened the facility in 2008, back when the only other craft beer operation was Rahr. Franconia is assertively environmentally conscious, employing such "green" practices as reusing water and feeding leftover hops to cattle. Standout beers include the limited-release Maibock, a copper-colored beer with a slightly sweet, toffee taste. Saturday afternoon tours are a fun excursion, and Franconia finally recently began to bottle its beer.
Lakewood Brewing Company
Former advertising exec Wim Bens opened Lakewood in 2012, the third craft brewer to open in Dallas. A native of Belgium, he's a savvy entrepreneur with a clear vision of what he likes. His beers not only win awards, but they also win hearts, whether the Hop Trapp Belgian-style IPA or the hugely popular Temptress, an imperial milk stout with an ABV of 9 percent. He just signed a deal with Andrews Distributing, which means Lakewood beer everywhere.
Martin House Brewing Co.
Longtime friends Cody Martin and David Wedemeier opened Martin House in 2013 in an idyllic spot on Fort Worth's Trinity Trail. Their strategy and brews stand out from the pack. They make creative beers such as breakfast stout with flavors of oatmeal and coffee, and they go eco-friendly by selling their beer in cans. Their latest release, Rubberneck Red, is named for an album by Fort Worth band the Toadies, with whom they collaborated on the beer.
Peticolas Brewing Company
Attorney-turned-brewer Michael Peticolas opened Peticolas in 2012, the first brewery in the Dallas Design District and the second in Dallas. His determination to keep things small has created a tremendous cachet surrounding his beer, for which he's racked up many a medal. Velvet Hammer, his American strong ale-style beer, has a cult following — not to mention its own Facebook page.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Fort Worth's Rahr & Sons is nothing less than a legend. Opened by Fritz and Erin Rahr in 2004, the brewery showed how it's done, with good beer, epic tours every Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon, and mentoring to local brewers such as Lakewood and Martin House. They faced a major setback in 2010 when their roof collapsed, seriously damaging the facility. But they rebuilt and reopened within the year. They embody community with their generosity to charitable organizations and their annual Oktoberfest 5K fun run.
Come celebrate the Tastemakers with us on Tuesday, May 6, at Seven for Parties in the Dallas Design District. To learn more about the event, including information about our beneficiaries, judges, participating restaurants and ticket sales, visit our Tastemakers website.