Food & Drink

Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works refuses to roll over

Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat, left, and its newest brew, Royal Champ
Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat, left, and its newest brew, Royal Champ

Way back in 2011, when breweries like Deep Ellum, Lakewood and Peticolas were still in development, another brewery got its start. But, while those other breweries have become household names among beer enthusiasts over the past half decade, Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works is still looking to find its footing.

Admittedly started with a “nano” concept — starting small on purpose and growing slowly — Armadillo has emerged several times and made waves in the last few years only to quietly slide away again.

Founded by University of North Texas alums Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins, Armadillo started as an idea to establish Denton’s brewing scene with a plan that garnered enough interest to get them $34,000 in Kickstarter crowdfunding money in early 2011.

But, with Arestis still finishing school, and business plans not exactly panning out, progress went slowly. In 2012, they entered an agreement with Deep Ellum Brewing to contract brew their beers and saw a surge of availability and moderate brand growth during their two years of producing their beers in the Dallas brewery.

It looked like things were finally developing for Armadillo with a location in Denton finally being established and a logo-ed sign even being put up outside.

But, it was not to be. Through some setbacks with getting the business side squared away, Arestis and Mullins had to pull back and wait for a while longer to fully establish themselves.

After a couple of years of lying mostly dormant, Armadillo hired North Texas Brewing Co. — the operation that Grapevine Craft Brewery has shifted much of its efforts to — to contract brew its beers last August. The goal for Armadillo is to jump-start its brand again while finally nailing down a brewery location with an expected opening later this summer.

Part of its relaunch means reestablishing a mainstay and a new beer. Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale (now called Farmhouse Wheat) has been part of the Armadillo lineup for years. Its newest is Royal Champ, a “Texas-style champagne ale.”

Brewed with purple corn nectar and fermented with champagne yeast, Arestis describes it as “accessible to people who might not like craft beer already.” With a dry, crisp, champagne-like finish and a slightly fruity characteristic, he says it’s perfect for pool parties and barbecues.

Both beers will be available in cans in the coming weeks at stores throughout the area.

Royal Champ will launch at events at 6 p.m. Friday at Oak Street Drafthouse in Denton and noon-4 p.m. Saturday at Dot’s Hop House in Dallas and 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Brewed in Fort Worth.

Quick sips

Real Ale has spirit: Real Ale Brewing cracked the list for top-50 largest craft breweries only a few weeks ago and the brewery isn’t slowing down. It joins San Antonio’s Ranger Creek as another of the state’s “brewstilleries” by launching a spirits line this weekend. This is sure to be a development to watch as gin and whiskey are on the menu at the launch in Blanco.

Rahr experiences shifts: Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons brewery has some good news and some bad news. The good news: It launches Dadgum IPA — a delightful West-coast-style IPA — at the brewery this weekend. The bad news: Director of Brewing Operations Craig Mycoskie is leaving to join Austin’s Celis Brewery. Mycoskie was a big player in establishing the consistency that has helped Rahr keep up with a cascade of new competition in the last few years and he leaves behind big shoes to fill.

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