Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Book details history of brewing in Fort Worth and Dallas

If you are at all interested in local brewing, two area writers are publishing a comprehensive history, North Texas Beer ($19.99, History Press).

The authors, Paul Hightower and Brian Brown, go back to the first short-lived attempts to run antebellum suds factories — by a Frenchman who stayed on after the demise of the utopian La Reunion community in Dallas and in Fort Worth by a failed Alabama politician named Nathaniel Terry who used his slaves to build the plant.

St. Louis beer baron Adolphus Busch was quoted by The Dallas Morning News in 1892 as saying, “I would never think of making fine beer in this country,” referring to North Texas. And for long spells, Big Beer held its sway, with various ventures closing down for lack of support, high taxes or both.

In the 1890s, the Dallas Brewing Co. had gone through financial troubles as the Wagenhauser Brewery and later sold out to Chicago interests.

But the authors maintain that by 1891, better lagers were produced down the Trinity at Fort Worth’s Texas Brewing Co., which opened after its founder, James J. Gannon, found well water far purer than the muddy stuff he had used in Big D. Within a year, it employed 160 workers and the plant would become Cowtown’s biggest industrial enterprise, until it closed at the start of Prohibition.

What’s equally absorbing are all the pioneering attempts by micro-brewers in the past 20 years at both ends of the Metroplex. Most vainly tried to attain traction until stalwarts like Fritz Rahr of Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons endured financial challenges and a snowstorm that collapsed its roof to help create a regional beer culture. The writers chronicle other talented brewers who have since put their skills to work, winning national and international awards.

North Texas Beer is a good read, and it goes a long way to explain why there may never have been a better time to be a beer drinker here.

Slim Chickens headed to Tarrant County

Fort Worth native Flint Harris is completing a due diligence review of a site in Keller where he plans to open the first of five Slim Chickens restaurants he envisions for Tarrant County next year.

Harris, a 1998 graduate of Oakridge School in Arlington, said the store will open in mid-2015. The rest will follow and all will be open by the end of 2017, he said. Those sites have not been determined.

Harris graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he now lives. He and a business partner operate six restaurants, including three Bliss Cupcake Cafe franchises in Arkansas.

Slim Chickens offers a menu that includes chicken tenders, wings with fresh-made dipping sauces, waffles and sandwiches. His stores will hire about 50 employees, both full- and part-time, he said.

Harris said he chose Slim Chickens to franchise because “he knows it well” and says Tarrant County will love it. “I’m happy to be back in Texas,” he said.

Slim Chickens has 14 stores primarily in Arkansas, and in Texas in Lubbock and Texarkana.

Zoo baby announcement wins national award

The Fort Worth Zoo has won a top marketing award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for its “See the Biggest Babies in Town” campaign.

“This award provides well-deserved national recognition for the creativity of the staff and marketing savvy of the Fort Worth Zoo in utilizing their resources and expertise to their highest potential,” association President and CEO Jim Maddy said in a statement.

The AZA Marketing Award recognizes excellence in marketing campaigns developed and executed by association member institutions.

The Fort Worth Zoo developed the campaign to surprise the people with the birth of an Asian elephant, positioning it as a special and rare occasion. It was the first at the Fort Worth Zoo in 14 years. It announced a second birth 30 days later.

Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker said, “This campaign stirred great excitement in the community, allowing us countless opportunities to educate people about the importance of elephant conservation.”

Schaefer Advertising in Fort Worth developed the ad campaign, and Track Daddy Productions produced the broadcast portion.