A Tale of Two Breweries in Tyler, Texas

Tyler, Texas is only two hours away from us yet it seems like I am constantly being introduced to new things that draw parallels with our very own Shreveport-Bossier City. They have a growing downtown scene, some incredible food, and even a couple of breweries. And that’s what I’m here to talk about. Beers, breweries, Tyler.

One Saturday I went on a trip with several other media folks to see what the buzz was about. We visited two breweries: True Vine Brewing Co. and ETX Brewing Co. I was really excited because I’d never knowingly had anything from these breweries and I’m always one to try something new. So first stop was True Vine.

Based on appearance alone, True Vine is all about the beer. Their brewery looks like it was an old garage on an industrial strip. They’ve created a distinct “backyard” vibe with a stage for musical acts, picnic tables, and even have trees for you to hang your hammocks on. I immediately felt at home. I went in looking for the restroom, since I overly hydrated on the ride, and bumped into Ryan Dixon. He is a co-founder and a former home brewer turned pro. He seemed super excited to see us and was extremely welcoming.

Ryan Dixon, Co-founder, talking with passion about inspiration, art, and beer.


After we all got settled and had beer in our hands, we were treated to a delicious meal from Aspen Grill(also in Tyler). Each course was paired with a True Vine beer and a menu item regular available at Aspen Grill. My favorite beer, which happens to be East Texas’ favorite True Vine beer, was the Mermaids & Unicorns Mythical Blonde. It was a super crushable beer with low IBUs(20) that was clean, slightly citrusy with a little bit of yeast and honey on the nose. The pairing was A+ with the Pow-Wow Shrimp.

My other favorite beers were the Bon Hefe Wheat, the Round Table English Style Amber, and True Culture Oatmeal Porter. Bon Hefe is a great beer to introduce a non raft drinker to because its not hoppy or bitter. It’s slightly fruity, light bodied, and very clean. Round Table is a solid Amber. I say that because over the last couple years, I’ve had some really underwhelming amber or munich style beers. Round Table hit every flavor profile I was looking for and did it with grace. Caramel, toasty, and malty with a medium body. The True Culture is made by infusing cold brew coffee from neighbors Porch Culture Coffee. This is a fall seasonal brew that I highly suggest you snatching up when you see it. I know I’m going to make the drive to Tyler for a sixer once fall hits.

Over all, the crew at True Vine is really committed to “make Tyler a better place with craft beer.” You can tell that to be true because of Ryan’s passion and commitment to his craft. I really enjoyed my visit and am excited to go back.

Our second brewery stop was in downtown Tyler with ETX Brewing. As soon as we got there, you could tell there was a lot going on. A food truck was backing into some prime real estate in front of the brewery and there were people walking all over the side walks on our side of and the other side of the street. I’m already impressed with the downtown vibes.

The building is night and day different from True Vine. The building actually used to be a oil change place which I think creates a really great, causal vibe for it’s customers. There is a bar inside that serves as a filling station for everything they have available. It’s indoor seating is a hair larger than True Vine.

I was greeted upon arrival to ETX Brewing with a ice cold pint of Brickstreet Blonde.


Aside from the building, the beer right? ETX has an extensive line of brews that are available. Their flagships are Brickstreet Blonde, Hitching Post, 1847 IPA and Red House Wheat. With a lot of self imposed effort on staying ahead of the game and to always be creating, ETX brews a new beer each week. That is a commitment.

I got a flight of beers that I could choose. I landed on Brickstreet Blonde, the Double Dry Hopped Brickstreet, 1847 IPA, and Root Beer. I did say Root Beer. I was blown away by the consideration for families since children are allowed to be there. It says a lot to offer something like and to take the time to make it on site. Kudos to ETX for that. The Brickstreet Blonde(Flagship) was my favorite of the day. There were multiple versions of the Brickstreet(Passion Fruit infused as well as the 2x dry hopped mentioned earlier) on the menu meaning they are very happy with the recipe and enjoy playing with it. It is also their most popular beer.

The Brickstreet Blonde stood out to me from all the beers I had. Little citrus notes and a hop balance make this a great beer to drink while your figuring out what to drink next. Can’t go wrong with that.

There was a warm(not only from the 193 degree heat) vibe radiating from patrons and employees alike. You can see the downtown culture thriving in this building. Come to find out, the owners were the first business to commit to the downtown location and more business owners followed suit. Now, next to the brewery there is a pretty cool record shop, a boutique retail shop that sells local goods(cloths, artwork, soaps, etc.), and a coffee shop. There was even a trio of talented young musicians set up outside the record shop providing music for the whole block.

I think the culture that ETX has created with it’s beer is also mirrored in the downtown vibe. It’s only the beginning. Brian, co-owner and brewer) even says they haven’t gotten crazy with their beers because they are introducing people to craft beer everyday. This is a common tactic a lot of breweries use when people aren’t used to having a local brewery. Seasoned craft beer drinkers can get their fix and the brews will remain approachable to the novice.

Add these two breweries to what Keipersol Winery & Distillery is doing and you literally have something for everyone in Tyler, TX. Next time you’re in town swing by either place and have a pint.

I’d really like to take a second and thank both True Vine Brewing and ETX Brewing for their hospitality and their time. Great people and delicious beers. It’s always rejuvenating to meet people that are so passionate about something that you can hear it their voice. Also, a big thank you to Chris Jay with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and Holli Conley with Visit Tylershre for setting up this great trip.

Side note: It is incredible important for people to support local business but these are very important to actually go to their breweries and support. The breweries can’t sell packaged items on site. That means only pints to drink while you are there. This can be their life blood. Who knows, you may even meet some like minded folks or find out about a local charity, artist, or event that you could love. Get out there and drink some beer.

Advertisements

Kiepersol Winery: The Real Deal in Texas

A while back, a got a call from one of my wine reps telling me he just gotten some wines from a winery they just picked up and wanted to taste them with me. He tells me they are a Texas winery and I, like most people, didn’t have much experience with Texas wine. For all I knew, it could have been some good ole boy mashing up grapes in his backyard and putting the juice into an old Jack Daniels bottle. (That wasn’t the case for the record) I do trust this rep and know he wouldn’t bring me something he didn’t think had potential with the shop so I took the meeting. He stopped by introduced me to the Kiepersol Winery out of Tyler, Texas.

I tasted through the wines and I was very impressed. What I really liked about them was that they weren’t trying to be something they weren’t. The wines were truly a reflection of the terroir. There wasn’t any funny business about trying to make their Cabernet Sauvignon taste like a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or having their Syrah be a chewy monster like an Australian Shiraz. They were authentic. I picked a couple up and even put the Syrah by the glass at one of the restaurants.

Kiepersol is a winery and distillery (they make Dirk’s Vodka, Pierre’s Rum, and Jimmy’s Bourbon) in Tyler, Texas with a Bed and Breakfast as well as a steak house on property. They are an estate winery, which means all of the wines they produce are make from grapes they grow. In the words of Marnelle de Wet Durrett (Winemaker and Estate Manager), “If we don’t grow it, we don’t make it.” That philosophy goes hand in hand with their selection of varietals they produce. For example, the climate and soil aren’t good for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay so they don’t grow it. Seeing that a majority of wineries produce those varietals but most fall short of having actually good Pinots and Chards because of natural conditions, I respect the hell out of that decision. They produce somewhere around 18 labels (Blends and single varietals).

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to take a Saturday trip with my wife over the state line to see Kiepersol’s facilities. The trip was a pleasantly under two hours and was an easy drive. When we got there, we went straight to the distillery tasting room to check out some of the spirits. We were greeted with Moscow Mules made with Dirk’s Vodka and homemade ginger beer. They were delicious. We were introduced to all of the spirits and even got to see a bit of the distillery and the barrel room. As it turns out, the distillery was built on a salt dome that happens to be on top of a Jurassic aquifer so there is water coming out of the ground that is more pure than the water the city purifies at state regulations. (At the time of this article, the actual distillery tour that takes you into the distilling area is closed to the public because it is harvest time at the winery)

IMG_2648

IMG_2585

Getting schooled on Kipersol’s Distillery’s history and processes. And of course tasting.

IMG_2589

IMG_2640

Specialty cocktails at the distillery.  Highly recommend the Blackberry Bourbon Sour.

After that tour we hoped over to the winery’s tasting room and started moving through the wines that we don’t have access to in Louisiana. I was impressed by their Rose made of Malbec; the “Steen” which is a South African Chenin Blanc/Loire Valley Vouvray style white blend, and their “Stainless Steel” series of reds which is a true reflection of the Texas terroir. Shortly after we got there, the winery tour started which took us through the vineyards and into the actual winery to see the tanks, barrel room, and bottling line. We even got to pick some Sangiovese grapes off of the vine and eat then in the vineyards.

IMG_2609

IMG_2610

IMG_2621

Neck deep in some Texas Sangiovese.

IMG_2626

Those tanks though.

IMG_2633

Cellaring some Texas juice.

We finished off the day eating dinner in their steak house, which was incredible, and took a snooze in the B&B. The whole experience from start to finish was great. Kiepersol is the real deal. Do us all a favor and taste some Texas wine with an open mind. Do it or I’ll blind taste you and you won’t even know.

 

Shreveport Green’s Feast 2016 | Photos

The restaurant group I work for has been involved with Feast for at least 3 years. It’s a celebration of local ingredients, farmers, and purveyors with the backdrop of a Louisiana landscape. Our community in Shreveport-Bossier has been very supportive of local farmers as well as breweries(Great Raft Brewing was a sponsor).

The context of this event is a dinner and this four course dining experience was created by collaborating chefs cooking in a park for well over 100 people while it was 97 degrees outside. So many thanks should always go to the people that prepare the food and cultivate the experience.

Here are a few photos from the event. Most are behind the scenes. The photos cut off about half way through the event because my memory card got corrupted. Apologies but I thought the ones from before show the excitement and beauty of the scene and the event.

DSC_3603.72

DSC_3593.72

DSC_3606.72

The table is set

DSC_3594.72

DSC_3607.72

Chef Gabriel Balderas of El Cabo Verde

DSC_3632.72

DSC_3608.72

DSC_3626.72

DSC_3612.72

Chef Jason Brady and Chef Zach Schmidt of Parish Taceaux

DSC_3669.72

DSC_3690.72

DSC_3665.72

DSC_3657.72

DSC_3662.72

DSC_3720.72

Cline Cellars Tasting

Yesterday I was able to sit down with the regional rep for Cline Cellars. Now, a lot of people know Cline because of red blend called Cashmere. Cashmere has kind of been the iconic Cline wine in this area of Louisiana over the last couple of year. It’s a blend of mainly Mourvedre(53%), Syrah(25%), and Grenache(23%). Cashmere is so named because of how silky, smooth it is. It absolutely lives up to the name. It also is a wine with a cause. Fred and Nancy Cline have donated over $270,000 to breast cancer research and have an active partnership with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Since I’ve sold Cashmere for years, I was looking forward to tasting some of the other wines I’d never had. I was very pleasantly surprise at their drinkability and value.

ClineLineup

First off, lets take Rosé. It’s made from Mourvedre and is part of their “Ancient Vines” series because the vines have been producing fruit for 80-100 years. Super impressive for it’s price point. It has balance to the extreme. Beautiful acid structure complemented with fresh strawberry. This little ditty definitely falls into the Patio Pounder category. For around $10, it’s tough to beat.

Cline also makes a pretty tasty Pinot Noir as well as a Chardonnay. The grapes for both are Estate Grown in Sonoma. Which means Cline actually grows and maintains the grapes on land they own. They aren’t buying their grapes from another winery. Aaand fun fact: La Crema sourced their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline until very recently. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s. 

The Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a crisp one. No oak or butter bomb. Light vanilla and baking spice paired with that golden apple flavor. It’s kinda Cali Chard 101. A good, everyday value for a Cali Chard drinker priced around $12.

ClinePNPinot Noir. Every one loves it so every one wants to grow it. Unfortunately, not every one does a good job of it. That’s not the case here. Cline’s Pinot Noir really delivers for under $15. It’s got all the things I love about Pinot without punching me in the throat. Cola, cherry, and a hint of smokey bacon fat(yeah, I said it) with a silky pajama pants finish. Definitely my favorite of the group.

Fun fact: La Crema used to source their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s.

Give me shout if you’re into or have questions about these wines.

Wine Review: 2013 Vending Machine Winery ‘Peep Show’

Anyone that has spent any significant amount of time in the bottle shops I work at has heard me talk about or had me try to sell them a wine from Vending Machine Winery. Monica and Neil, the husband and wife owners, are crazy passionate about three things: wine, New Orleans, and tennis. Oh, and darts. They are probably the most disarming people to talk to about wine. Literally, they make you want to love wine whether you already do or not. They are wine distributors for Neat Wines of Metairie, Louisiana and sell some of the finest wine you can think of. So think about that for a minute. Their job is to sell killer wines…. They make killer wines…. Do the math…  I’ll just leave that thought right there and move on to their first release of Peep Show.

Monica and Neil

Katy Touchstone of Southern Fork Catering, Monica & Neil of Vending Machine Wines and I after an incredible Robert Foley wine dinner we hosted at Wine Country Bistro a couple years back.

 

Starting out, I’ll tell you this isn’t your normal white wine. No Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc over here. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it though. It means, with a varietal break down of 34% Roussanne(roux-sann), 33% Marsanne(Mar-san-aye), & 33% Viognier(Vee-yan-yay), you should try it without any preconceived notions about what you think it should be. Cote du Rhone style white blends can be intimidating if you’ve never had one before but this one, haling from El Dorado, California, is not. It’s just delicious.

peep showNose: Tropical fruit, peach, super floral, and honey suckle.

Palate: At first is was a little subdued. My fault for tasting it while it was too cold. A wine this expressive doesn’t need to be drunk ice cold. You’ll miss so much if you do it wrong. (Pro-tip: Pull your white wine out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to drink it for an unrestrained taste) Fresh peach is definitely there up front. Great balance all around. Peep Show drinks easily and super clean. Caution: This is a dangerous wine. Only buy in multiple bottle increments. You’ll be mad if you only have one.

This is probably on the best offerings you’ll find in this category at $20 a bottle. Also, you’re kinda drinking local cause Monica and Neil are from New Orleans. As is the artist that does the art work for all of their labels, Grant Schexnider. The juice is actually made in California by Sarah and Christopher Vandendriessche, of White Rock Vineyards.

Hit me up at beardandbarrel@gmail.com if you’re in the Shreveport-Bossier area and want to get a few bottles or have any questions about any of their other incredible offerings.