Thursday, November 24, 2016

13 Colorado Brews in Texas

The ski season is starting in Colorado but the weather in Texas still hasn't made up it's mind.

Texans are lucky enough to have a variety of Colorado born beers distributed at their local watering hole.

Even though Colorado may be a thousand miles away you can have a taste of it with the 13 Colorado breweries that are distributed to Texas.

To distribute in Texas is not the easiest task to accomplish because of the antiquated and archaic TABC laws. Due to the endless paperwork, and the $5-10k cost for application fees, it is impressive seeing a out of state brewery make it across the border.  

This is a list of independent Colorado craft breweries you can find in Texas. Some are regionally specific, such as DFW, but many of them are distributed across the entire state. 

1. Avery Brewing Company | Boulder, CO 
A photo posted by Avery Brewing Co. (@averybrewingco) on
     Avery Brewing was founded in 1993 by Adam Avery when the craft beer scene was just getting started. Due to capacity restraints, the brewery left 18 states in 2010-2011 but returned in 2015 when Avery expanded it's operations doubling the capacity and allowing their classic artisan style beers such as "The Reverend" to be distributed to Texas and many other states.

2. Backcountry Brewery | Frisco, CO 

A video posted by Backcountry Brewery (@backcountrybrew) on
         Backcountry opened operations in 1996 and branched out to Texas in August of 2015. The beers where so well received the owners looked into opening a satellite brewery/taproom in Texas. A former brewery that closed its door in Rowlette, Texas allowed Backcountry to take over operations and brew their beer. In January of 2016 Backcountry officially opened its door in Texas and became a satellite brewery.  

3. Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. | Edwards, CO
     Crazy Mountain Brewing's founder was a former brewer at Anchor Brewing in California before he returned to Vail Valley in Colorado to open his own brewery in 2010. Crazy Mountain ramped up production in 2012 and distributed to several different states along with Texas. If you like West Coast IPAs mixed with a Colorado style of rich maltiness, this is your beer.

***Update - Sadly Crazy Mountain is not currently distributed in Texas.

4. Epic Brewing Company- Denver, CO

     Epic Brewing is Utah's first brewery since prohibition to brew exclusively high ABV brews. After a larger demand for their award winning beers, they expanded operations to Denver in 2013 and distributing to Texas in 2014. For those that need soul cleansing, be on the look out for the Big Bad Baptist, the 12.7% Imperial Stout. 

5. Elevation Beer Company |  Pagosa Springs, CO
A photo posted by The Elevation Team (@elevationbeerco) on

      Elevation Beer Co. is an artisan microbrewery located in Poncha Springs, Colorado. Elevation teamed up with Favorite Brands in 2013 to distribute 750ml bottles to DFW, Houston, and Austin. Texas was Elevation's first out of state distribution and is known for award winning beer. A crowd favorite, the "Bourbon Stout Oil Man" is here to warm your spirits during this cold winter season.

6. Funkwerks | Ft. Collins CO 
A photo posted by Funkwerks (@funkwerks) on

      Distributed exclusively in the DFW area in 2015 with Andrews distribution and recently signed on with FLOOD distribution in 2016.  Many a Texan have mistaken Funkwerks to be "That Fort Worth Beer" because of the FW on the tap handle. Funkwerks is one of the premier Saison breweries in the nation and is a staple in Ft. Collins.
You can find limited Kegs and Bombers in DFW and Austin markets.  

7. Great Divide Brewing Company | Denver, CO

      Great Divide was born in 1993 in Denver when the craft beer scene did not exist as we know it today. Great Divide has won 17 GABF metals over the years and is rated one of the top breweries in America. Great Divide was originally brought to Texas through Ben E. Keith and you can request it at many bars in Texas.  You can find seasonals as well as their Expresso Oak Aged Yet in your local beer stores.

8. Left Hand Brewing | Longmont, CO

A photo posted by lefthandbrewing (@lefthandbrewing) on

      Left Hand Brewing is Colorado's 4th largest brewery and exploded on the craft beer scene with the Nitro Milk Stout. Known for their bold brews and creative artwork, Left Hand is well known and distributed in most states. Distributor Ben E. Keith originally brought Left Hand to Texas and 2016 marks a important year as they transition to a canning line.  

9. New Belgium Brewing | Ft. Collins, CO
A photo posted by New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgium) on

      When you think of Colorado beer many people think of New Belgium and Fat Tire.  The brewery was founded in 1991 after the founder came back to Ft. Collins from a trip to Belgium. Known for their creative culture and eco-friendly practices, New Belgium strives to be a model company that is dedicated to it's employees, environment, community, and craft beer fans. Today, New Belgium is the 4th largest American craft brewery and the largest Colorado craft brewery distributed to Texas.

10. Odell Brewing Co | Ft. Collins, CO

       It's not a coincidence that 3 of the 13 breweries are from Ft. Collins, CO which is also home to the Cache La Poudre River.  Known for it's excellent water quality, it was an easy decision for Doug Odell to move to the area from Seattle in 1989 and open up the brewery. Texas was a enormous undertaking for the brewery as they expanded operations in 2014. On a brewery tour they show their two storage coolers for distribution. Both of them are the same size, one is for Colorado and the other states/countries they distribute to, and the other is entirely for the state of Texas. 

11. Oskar Blues Brewery | Longmont, CO

      In 2012 Oskar Blues expanded operations to Brevard, NC and in 2016 they opened a brewery and taproom in Austin, TX. Following their success that started in a pub basement in 1999, the brewery has consistently raised the bar for other craft breweries by pioneering in canning (first for craft beers) and the Crowler. The owners have not forgotten their roots even though they are one of the largest craft breweries in America. Today you can go by and visit their original pub in Lyons, CO with 45 beers on tap.

12. Ska Brewing | Durango, CO

       Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 by two friends who had two similar interests- Good craft beer and Ska music. After much success with their award winning beer and they expanded operations to Texas in 2009 and signed on with Ben E. Keith distribution.  

13. Upslope Brewing Company | Boulder, CO

       Upslope Brewing was founded in 2008 and quickly rose to popularity. Along with many other Colorado breweries, they package their beers in aluminum cans to accommodate the active Colorado lifestyle. Upslope choose Texas as their first out of state distribution in 2013. You can find their beers in DFW, Houston, Austin, and East Texas markets.

* I left out the Macro Breweries and Corporate owned (ie. Coors, Blue Moon, and Breckenridge) that are easily distributed in most states. 

The Happy Chappy (Jeff)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Invading the Lone Star State: An Interview with Great Raft Co-Founder Lindsay Nations

Craft beer fans in East Texas are finally able to enjoy a fresh pint from Great Raft Brewing without leaving the Lone Star State. The Shreveport, Louisiana based craft brewery is making the leap over the state line after first making sure they took care of the growing demand in their home state. Reasonably Corrupt™ black lager, Southern Drawl™ pale lager and Commotion™ pale ale, Great Raft’s original, flagship beers, will be available on tap and in cans throughout the East Texas markets beginning today, November 14. In celebration of launch week the owners and sales team from Great Raft will host launch parties in Tyler, Longview and Marshall.

     Since 2012 Co-founders Andrew and Lindsay Nations have worked tirelessly to make Great Raft Brewing the nationally recognized brewery it is today. Chief brewer Harvey Kenney has supplied the brewery with a seemingly endless string of hit brews. Great Raft sold the first locally brewed beer in Shreveport on October 15, 2013 and on December 20th of that year they gave us the perfect Christmas gift by opening Shreveport’s first local brewery taproom to the public.

     Over the past few years Great Raft has continually impressed craft beer lovers across the country with their excellent seasonals and keeps fans coming back with special events at the taproom. Great Raft has shown no signs of slowing down as they recently launched their Belgian program. In 2015 Paste Magazine named Great Raft one of the “8 Best Breweries of 2015” and earlier this year Southern Living proclaimed Great Raft to be one of the “South’s Best Breweries.”

Lindsay was gracious enough to allow us to ask a few questions in anticipation of their Texas launch.

ETBREWS: What most excites you about distributing in Texas?

LINDSAY: We’re excited to have the opportunity to share our beer with more people. We hear from so many Texans who drive over to visit us at the tasting room, and they have been asking for Great Raft beer for years. It makes us happy to finally be able to send beer next door and hopefully turn more people onto craft beer in general.

ETBREWS: What stores/chains will you be focusing on distributing to?

LINDSAY: Initially, our distribution will target the shops already supporting craft. We won’t be able to fully saturate all target accounts from day one, but we’ll be working to fill in the gaps over time. Above all, the focus is on getting to accounts who support craft beer and keep fresh product on the shelf.

ETBREWS: We know R&K is distributing Great Raft in East Texas but do you have distributors lined up for other parts of the state?

LINDSAY: Not yet. We’re focused on East Texas for now, but hope that interest in our product grows, eventually spilling over into nearby markets like Dallas.

ETBREWS: Can we expect seasonal beers as well as your flagship beers during the early launch period?

LINDSAY: To start, only flagships will be available. We will be able to sell Dry-Hopped versions of flagships and other variants, but right now those three brands are the only to be approved by TABC. We’ll work on approval for the others over time.

ETBREWS: Should we expect to see your seasonal and small-batch beers available regularly in East Texas?

LINDSAY: We hope that in early 2017 we can introduce a few additional brands to the market.

ETBREWS: What does the East Texas beer market look like to you? Is there a lot of potential? Is it a market that will need more developing?

LINDSAY: We see a lot of potential in East Texas. It’s not too different from Shreveport – a similar percentage of the market is made up of craft beer sales. The South in general is the last frontier for craft beer. Education is key. We will continue to present approachable, but refined, beers to folks and hopefully over time, we’ll create new craft beer consumers.

ETBREWS: Do you have any ideas on ways to get more people to drink your beer/craft beer and get away from Big beer?

LINDSAY: Don’t be pretentious. We take what we do very seriously, but at the end of the day, you aren’t going to make a new craft consumer by acting like you know everything and throwing intense Double IPA or barrel-aged barleywine at them. Listen to the consumer. Understand what they like and know about beer. Present them with something that is similar to what they like, but made by a quality regional company. Help them understand the story of why this beer is important to you, and why they spend an extra dollar to buy craft. Because at the end of the day, even if someone loves Great Raft beer, it’s likely going to cost a little more than their go-to “big beer.” Net-net is be nice, make a high-quality and consistent product and listen.

ETBREWS: How hard has it been to get into the Texas market? What challenges have you faced from TABC?

LINDSAY: It was a time-consuming process. There are a lot of particular nuances that we didn’t get right on our first application. The turn-around time is a little long, but likely due to the high number of people interested in selling beer in Texas. Once we submitted the right info, in the right level of detail and got connected with the right people, we were in good shape.

ETBREWS: What benefits will the new centrifuge have in the quality of Great Raft beer? 

LINDSAY: The centrifuge, simply put, is the biggest investment in quality that we could make. As a young brewery in an ever-changing industry, it is critical that we do everything we can to produce the best beer we possibly can, consistently. We work tirelessly to ensure the quality of our beer, but there are many variables we can’t control. By putting our beer through the centrifuge, we reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the beer and vastly improve shelf life. As our beers begin to travel further from home, it’s important that the beer be durable for a life on the road. The centrifuge helps to ensure the quality you have come to expect from enjoying our beer on tap in the tasting room is the same on the shelf.

ETBREWS: How much did you have to ramp up production to meet the demands of distributing to Texas? How much longer before you outgrow your current brewhouse?

LINDSAY: We’ve been gradually adding capacity to account for growth in Louisiana, and also prepare ourselves for new out-of-state markets. It’s been a slow, but steady growth model for us. Our brewhouse is a 20 bbl, and we’ve in good shape with our output there. Our cellar capacity is currently around 8,000. In 2016 we expect to do between 6000-6500 bbls, so we have room to grow. Drink up, y’all.

ETBREWS: Were there any unforeseen challenges to expanding into these markets?

LINDSAY: Nothing unforeseen just yet. We are pretty well aware of the challenge of selling beer in a market that you don’t call home. The further away from home you get, the harder it is to be relevant. We’re lucky to be so close to East Texas geographically, but time will tell if we will be embraced as a “local” brand.

ETBREWS: Any future collaborations planned with an East Texas Brewery? (True Vine, Oil Horse, Athens Brewing, Cedar Creek, Big Thicket, Pecan Point, ETX Brewing, Tyler Brewing, or Fredonia Brewing)

LINDSAY: We have met folks from a few of those companies, but look forward to building relationships with our fellow craft brewers in the coming months.

ETBREWS: What does it mean to you, being a local Louisianian, to have Great Raft join the 3 other Louisiana breweries distributing to Texas?

LINDSAY: We’re extremely proud to bring a little bit of Louisiana to Texas. I think we’ll be joining some other awesome brands (from Louisiana and otherwise) who are selling in Texas, who have been laying the craft beer groundwork for years before us. We’re neighbors and are excited to be sharing our products with y’all.

The East Texas Brews team will be in attendance at several of the launch parties and we are looking forward to purchasing Great Raft at our local bars, restaurants and bottle shops. Make sure to request Great Raft at your local craft beer retailers. Our new favorite coffee shop, Silver Grizzly Espresso, is serving craft beer and is the first place in Texas to offer growler fills of Great Raft’s flagship brews. Spread the word about the launch parties and make sure you give a big Texas-sized welcome to Great Raft Brewing!


11/17 - Razzoo's @ 7:00

11/18 - Old Chicago @ 7:00

11/19 - Jul's @ 6:00

11/19 - Rose City Draft House @ 7:00


11/17 - Rotolo's @ 6:30

11/19 - Bootlegger's @ 5:30

11/19 - Lone Star Icehouse @ 7:30


11/18 - Charlie's Backyard @ 7:00

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Growler Fills Come to Longview, Texas

Silver Grizzly Espresso is the first place in Texas where you can get your growler filled with Oil Horse Brewing Company and Great Raft Brewing beer! They are also the only place to fill growlers of  True Vine Brewing Company brews so head over and grab some fresh beer to go!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Great Raft Brewing is invading East Texas!!!

Come check out these great launch week events in Tyler, Longview and Marshall and enjoy some beer from Great Raft Brewing!

See you there!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Brew of The Week! Giant Slayer by True Vine Brewing Company

Brewery | True Vine Brewing Company

Name | Giant Slayer
Style | Russian Imperial Stout
ABV | 8.5%
IBU | 55

Giant slayer is a winter seasonal that was first introduced by True Vine in Tyler last year just in time for a early Christmas present.  I was able to sit down at Rotolo's in Longview and try out this years batch.  

"Chocolate, dark cherry and roasted malt flavors from this smooth stout make it perfect for slaying giants and staying warm in the longest winter months." 

True Vines 4th beer to be canned and will be made in limited batches.  For this reason there will be a few kegs floating around (at the brewery) while most of the batch will be canned and shipped in 200 cases that you can purchase at your local grocery/beer store and craft beer restaurants in East Texas.   

The Imperial Stout was created in the 1800's by brewers that where trying to win over the Russian Czar.  The king of stouts, the Imperial style is known for its high alcohol by volumes (ABV) and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavors.

A stout should be enjoyed anywhere from 45-50 degrees and I recommend giving it time to let the ice melt off the can before popping the tab to allow the roasted flavors to be enjoyed more.

First smell is roasty and chocolatey with a hint of 
smokiness.  The body is full and has a appearance of a thick molasses like motor oil.  The flavor is surprisingly smooth for a Imperial Stout without the overally booziness notes of a typical Imperial.  I enjoyed the Giant Slayer and I highly recommend finding one to enjoy for yourself!

The Happy Chappy (Jeff)