For our next batch of nominees for the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, we toast the city's best breweries. These enterprises have created craft beer where there was none, brewing up blondes and reds, porters and IPAs, transforming North Texas from a place that drinks Bud into a malty mecca.
The Tastemaker Awards is our annual program honoring the best in local food and drink. It culminates in a celebratory event, this time on May 19 at Hall of State. We've already revealed nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Best Sushi Restaurant, Sommelier of the Year, Bartender of the Year, and Pastry Chef of the Year. We've unveiled the list of Best New Restaurants, the category where you decide who wins (be sure to go and cast your vote), and there are still more categories to come.
These are the five candidates for Brewery of the Year:
Braindead falls under the brewpub category, combining brewery and restaurant into a one-stop destination. Craft beer veterans Sam Wynne, Jeff Fryman, and Drew Huerter have hit all the right notes with good food, interesting beers, and a location in ultra-happening Deep Ellum. Chef David Pena is having a ball making gourmet pub dishes such as chicken drumsticks with Maytag blue cheese dressing, while Huerter mixes up original brews like the crisp cream ale. Oh, and there's a patio. Big, big patio.
Community Beer Company
Brewery takes a prototypical stance, with a lineup of classic and seasonal beers — your lager, your IPA — and a spacious taproom where there are lots of special beer-fueled events such as trivia nights and special tappings. The tours are a hot ticket, thanks to ample parking and a convenient location right off I-35 in the Design District. Extra points for having Jenga and other games, and for being dog-friendly.
Franconia Brewing Company
One of North Texas' original breweries, Franconia was a pioneer when it opened in 2008. Brew master Dennis Wehrman is from Nuremberg, Germany, and his family brewing history dates back to the 1800s, serendipitously connecting Franconia to the region's German settler heritage. His beers, including lager, wheat, and Oktoberfest, evoke the essence of the true Bavarian brew. The McKinney location makes its Saturday tours a fun expedition, and they're a mere $5. Franconia also follows green practices, including recycling its mash into cattle feed.
Lakewood spot is an innovative hybrid of brewery, taproom, and growler fill station. The beer is made in small batches, allowing for creativity in brews such as mango-peach tripel, a Belgian-style ale with loads of fruit. On tap are featured beers by other brewers, some local, some beyond, and all of it as cutting-edge as it gets. You can get the beer in a half-pour, full-pour, or take it to-go in a growler. You can also bring in grub, including pizza from Cane Rosso, next door. For beer nerds, it doesn't get any better.
Peticolas Brewing Company
Highly respected brewery from ex-lawyer Michael Peticolas is all about the beer. It has racked up numerous awards for brews such as its English pale ale and Scottish ale, and its Velvet Hammer red ale is one of the single most popular beers to come out of North Texas. Since current law restricts brewers in Texas from selling beer to be taken off site, Peticolas limits its tour hours to the first and third Saturdays of the month, which only makes the tours more desirable.