In the beer family made up of the North Texas cities known as the Metroplex, Fort Worth is that middle child who found success with the current generation of craft brewing before anyone else. Not to be outdone, oldest sibling Dallas quickly jumped on the same bandwagon and has worked hard to outshine its younger kin.
Then there’s the baby of the family — Little D, Denton, that often overlooked third vertex of the Golden Triangle. It’s been going through some growing pains as the North Texas population continues to swell and now, seemingly overnight, Denton is the new hottest location for craft brewing.
Once a city with zero craft beer cred, Denton began to shift about two years ago when the Oak Street Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor opened in 2012 just blocks from the downtown square and its historic county courthouse. A labor of love from Denton native John Williams, he followed Oak Street Drafthouse with another craft beer bar, East Side Social Club (now shortened to just East Side), only a block away. Add to this a Mellow Mushroom on the next street over and, all of a sudden, a four-square-block area offered more than 150 current craft beer taps.
Last year, Audacity Brew House opened their doors in an industrial park not far from Denton’s city center, and Denton now had its own commercial brewery operated by a UNT alum, Scott Lindsey. The past month alone saw the opening of Denton’s first brewpub, Barley and Board, located directly on the downtown square and pulling Chad Kelley away from Meddlesome Moth to run their kitchen and a collaborative team of local journeyman brewers to rotate duties in the brewhouse (first batches pending).
Also this month was an announcement from Lewisville’s very successful growler fill stop, Lone Star Taps & Caps, that they will open their second location in Denton within walking distance of downtown, probably pouring sometime in early 2016. Later in August is the grand opening of Denton’s first dedicated homebrew and winemaking supply, Baron’s Brewworks, just blocks away from Audacity’s location.
The cherry on this big Denton craft beer sundae came just days ago when Armadillo Ale Works announced it had secured a site for their brewery in the same area mere blocks from downtown. Technically the “first” Denton microbrewery, owners and brewers Bobby Mullins and Yianni Arestis founded AAW in 2010 but struggled with finances and lease locations. They found a flash of success with a very successful collaboration with Deep Ellum Brewing of Dallas, who worked to brew and package their Little D beers down in Big D until they were able to open a physical facility of their own.
Now Armadillo Ale Works is coming home to Denton, benefiting from a recent change in local zoning laws and opening fully sometime next year. Their new 18,000-square-foot brewery will be located about two blocks east of downtown, not far from Oak Street Drafthouse and steps away from a DCTA rail stop with connections to the DART system. A 5000-square-foot taproom will also be featured at the brewery.
In the blink of an eye, downtown Denton has a very walkable craft beer footprint unlike anything else in either Dallas or Fort Worth, maybe even unique to the whole State of Texas. Not bad for the baby of the family.