Dallas Craft Beer Examiner
Opening this past summer, it’s already apparent Wild Acre Brewing came loaded for bear. They seem to not be fazed by typical brewery start-up woes, and unhesitatingly plunged into the growing craft beer market of North Texas behind many but already ahead of a few.
However, such boldness is not surprising when you look at this dream-team of a brewery staff. The owner and founder is John Pritchett, former general manager of Ben E. Keith for the past dozen or so years, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone more knowledgeable about the business of craft beer in North Texas. For his brewer, Pritchett hired Mike Kraft, also a North Texas craft beer veteran with decades of experience originally with the local TwoRows Restaurant & Brewery locations and more recently from California’s Lagunitas Brewing.
Introducing breweries new to North Texas with their first four beers to market
Wild Acre Brewing boldly took over the long-iconic Ranch Style Beans building overlooking the lower part of downtown Fort Worth and have already outfitted a 5000-square-foot taproom in addition to their production space. They are letting no grass grow under their brewhouse and have hit the market with fully formed, developed and balanced products, and slick with marketing polish. Cans should be on shelves soon, if not already.
Overall, their initial portfolio might not look impressive to today’s mature craft beer consumer but, back in the day, this layout would be fairly standard for microbreweries at open. (Only very recently have craft brewers been producing somewhat daring or experimental styles within their first years of operation.) Still, these beers all exhibit solid quality and intent, and each has just enough personality as to not be forgettable amid the crush of new products found on local taps. More importantly, they all have strong character as repeat purchases.
Soul Pleasure. Not long ago, North Texas brewers were called out for abandoning traditional stouts in favor of the strong, flavored or barrel-aged varieties, and happily we now have one worth drinking again and again. Labeled as a “Southern Stout,” this beer pours a dark, opaque brown/black and has a rich, full-bodied flavor that is toasty but not heavy. Hints of bitter dark chocolate and sorghum are smoothed out by a tiny addition of oats. Easy to drink with no alcohol heat at all (6% ABV), its flavor very much reminds me of Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout.
Tarantula Hawk. Wild Acre bypassed the obligatory IPA that every brewery seems to bank on and instead released this “India Red Ale,” a 6.5% ABV hoppy version of a traditional Irish red. It pours an amber brown color with good clarity and a firm, foamy head; the taste is roasty, dry and moderately hopped with a light, almost raw (but not off-putting) grainy flavor. This beer will not go head-to-head with American craft IPAs and may not silence an obsessive hophead, but it is solid and satisfying.
Billy Jenkins. Named with a nod to Fort Worth’s military namesake, this “Session Bock” is a slightly lighter version of the traditional German style. At only 5.2% ABV, the beer has a nice caramel flavor with a moderate roast, and is obviously a lager from its cleaner nature with faint elements of dark fruits and brown sugar but with a dry finish. Long has Texas desperately needed a year-round bock from craft brewers who, like the stout, seem to overlook this naturally very Lone Star style.
Moonlight Shine. Their only beer without an enhanced style designation, this wheat ale (technically, more a blonde krystalweizen) has striking clarity with a clean, smooth wheat flavor and easy body, low on the acidity. The barest hint of vanilla is added along with orange zest—just a touch—edging it in the direction of an unspiced witbier but staying true to the identity of an American wheat. A tad heavy to be sessionable at 5.7% ABV, it should be a great addition to lighter summer drinking during Texas’ hot weather.
Four hits, no strikes. This will be a brewery to watch. SD