Beer nuts

Like a cruise with brews: Lakewood Brewing Company does Saturday tours

Like a cruise with brews: Lakewood Brewing Company does Saturday tours

Lakewood Brewing Company
Roll out the barrels at the Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland. Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, Texas
The facilities at Lakewood Brewing Company include a bar with all of its beers on tap. Photo by Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company
Wim Bens, of the Lakewood Brewing Company, seated. Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company
Jo and Ron Hartwick with Nona Chumley offer a toast at Lakewood Brewing Company. Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company
Founder/brewer Wim Bens offers a tour of the brewing room at Lakewood Brewing Company. Photo by Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company
William Paden and Austin Knight came in from East Texas to take a Saturday afternoon tour at the Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland. Photo by Marc Lee
Lakewood Brewing Company
Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, Texas
Lakewood Brewing Company
Lakewood Brewing Company
Lakewood Brewing Company
Lakewood Brewing Company

With new breweries being announced almost daily, Dallas is swimming in stout. But Lakewood Brewing Company was one of the first out of the gate, part of a pioneering trio along with Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Peticolas Brewing Co.

LBC founder Wim Bens, a home brewer who apprenticed at Rahr & Sons Brewing Company in Fort Worth, began his search for a brewery location in earnest in early 2011. As you might guess from the company name, he wanted Lakewood, but the neighborhood had no suitable space.

He found what he needed in a small industrial park in Garland — "just on the other side of Lakewood," he says, stretching the truth a bit. It's a 10,000-square-foot former carpet and flooring warehouse, with 9,000 square feet dedicated to the brewery room, where five fermenting tanks gleam.

In front sits a 1,000-square-foot tasting room, with a set of taps dedicated to Lakewood's brews. It may not be as centrally located as Deep Ellum Brewing Co., but it's convenient for home brewers on the eastern side of town, and there's plenty of parking.

Brewery tours began in September and run every Saturday afternoon from noon-3 pm. It's a real deal: For $10, you get a tour of the brewery, a souvenir glass to use there and take home, and four complimentary beers to sample.

The tours are laid-back by design. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, and kids are welcome as long as they're in a stroller or seated on a lap. Benches and tables in the brewing room are made from old shipping crates. The tasting room has polished concrete floors and walls made of pallets recycled from the former tenant. There's almost always a musician and foodtruck vendor. One week it was fried catfish; another week it was Belgian waffles.

The tour itself took barely 10 minutes, which was thoughtful because it allowed more time to focus on the important act of beer consumption. Bens explained his past — born in Belgium, raised in Mansfield, "the best of both worlds" — and added a few salient bits for the beer nerds about beer-making and yeast, calling it a "liquid bread" and the process like making a cake.

Lakewood does four year-round brews: Rock Ryder rye/wheat, Hop Trapp, Imperial Milk Stout and Vienna-style lager. And then there are seasonal beers, including a Belgian-style pils in the early summer, a pale ale in the late summer and a pumpkin-spiced dunkel for Halloween.

LBC officially began distributing on August 4 and already is available on tap or via growler at approximately 60 bars and retailers, from Acme F&B to Whole Foods. The beers have an enthusiastic following at beer-savvy haunts such as Common Table. Bottles and six-packs will be available starting in November, initially at Whole Foods, Central Market and HEB stores.