Let’s say you opened a brewery in July of 2012, when only a handful of competitors existed in your local market. Then, seemingly overnight, things started to change. The number of breweries doubled (more competition), the number of bars catering to craft beer began to increase (more potential accounts), and thirsty Texans started clamoring for more (“Hey, when are you gonna brew a _______?”).
What’s a growing brewery to do? According to Brad Perkinson, owner of FireWheel Brewing Company, you just try to keep up.
Keeping up at Perkinson’s brewery in Rowlett meant expanding faster than originally planned. During a visit prior to his grand opening last year, there was talk of buying a second fermenter sometime in 2013. Production demands pushed those plans up considerably, and a new tank was installed and running full-time within the first six months of operation. Now, he’s considering a third tank, so he can offer more seasonal and small-batch brews in the near future.
In that same spirit, back in March came the announcement that the brewery had acquired a number of spent casks from the award-winning Balcones Distillery in Waco. Questions quickly arose as to what FireWheel beer might be in line for the barrel treatment, and while Perkinson was initially coy about the details, he’s now ready to announce his Whisky Barrel Aged Brown Ale.
Special #1, the brewery’s American-style brown ale, has been aging in the aforementioned barrels for the past 2 months. Some of the barrels once housed Balcones Single Malt Texas Whisky, while others come from the distillery’s corn whisky line. Early samples from the brew tucked away in the Single Malt barrels reveal a mellow, warming whisky character with hints of oak and vanilla, leaving one to imagine what flavors await amongst the others.
From these, three sixth-barrel kegs of different varieties are on track to be debuted at area venues around the time of American Craft Beer Week (May 13-19). Jack Mac’s Swill & Grill has already secured the first of these limited releases, with confirmation of the other two locations still pending. Representatives from Balcones will be on hand for the event at Jack’s, which will include whisky tastings in addition to the beer, all happening on Wednesday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m.
As if that wasn’t enough, Perkinson is also planning a summertime batch of his Albino Pumpkin Ale. This too will find its way into craft beer-friendly establishments in the early-to-mid part of May. For still more, visit the brewery during their regular Saturday tour, where recent tappings have included experimental rarities like their Blueberry and Raspberry IPAs. Sometime soon, you might even find brews infused with honey and peanut butter as well.
FireWheel beers are draft-only and available at bars and restaurants in Dallas and points north. In addition to Special #1, year-round products include Photon Blonde and their flagship, Texas Style Pale Ale.
Have a comment, critique, or just want to talk about great beer? Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook. You can also keep up with local craft beer news by visiting my website at BeerinBigD.com.