While the quaint nanobrewery/ craft beer bar/ homebrew shop named for Owners Dennis and Kim Middleton has been satisfying the palates of Texas Hill Country residents since the summer of 2011, the brewery’s reputation (and its beer) is about to spread.
Next month, with the help of a small band of dedicated investors and staff who support Dennis’s vision as head brewer, Middleton will move into a new, purpose-built brewhouse a mile down the road toward San Marcos, with plans to expand distribution in Central Texas later this year. While they haven’t decided if they’ll be tackling the Austin or San Antonio market first (we have our bias on that choice), it will be the first time that bottles (750 ml to be exact) and kegs of Middleton brews will be for sale at a variety of bars outside the Middleton taproom.
We joined the team from Middleton this past Saturday to get a glimpse of the new brewhouse, talk about the brewery’s future, and, perhaps most importantly, taste the beer–including several vintages of sours from their developing barrel program. Joining us were Dennis, Assistant Brewer Calvin, Middleton regulars-turned investors Lillian and Jonathan, and Sales and Marketing Director Clayton. There were also no less than six brewhouse dogs present, so we’re not being overly sentimental when we say that the company was just as splendid as the beer.
Dennis started putting his Galena Belgian Dubbel and Black Lab Porter into Jack Daniels whiskey barrels as early as 2011, resulting in a variety of vintages of Sour Brune and Sour Porter, respectively. He was gracious enough to share these with the group on Saturday. Gracious may be a bit of an understatement. Dennis and the folks at Middleton shared no fewer than 8 bottles of sours from differing ages to compare flavor development with us. Full-bodied and even-keeled, the darker, carmel and burnt sugar notes were not lost in the sour yeasts introduced to the beers.
After we polished off the sours (we still aren’t sure how we kept up, as we were juggling 5 different tasting glasses a piece at one point) Middleton introduced us to some of their non-soured beers on tap. They have upwards of 25 rotating recipes that they cycle in throughout the year, including a Belgian IPA with a secret pepper addition, an Imperial Red named after the Texas State University Bobcats, and a whole slew of other tasty brews named after precious stones. We were able to taste both the Galena Dubbel and the Porter to get a feel for the base of the sours, as well as an incredibly herbaceous and delicious Tripel that is worth searching out more of very soon.
While there was a beautiful rendering of Middleton’s future home propped up in the corner of the taproom for us to admire while we sampled, after the tasting Lillian, Jonathan and Clayton kindly took us a mile down the road to see its current state of construction for ourselves.
The brewery is starting to take shape, and it doesn’t take more than a squint and a little imagination (OK, the beer samples probably didn’t hurt either) to imagine what the completed brewhouse will look like. So far, the concrete has been poured, the frame is in place, and the new brewing system is ready to be installed as soon as the walls are up and proper connections are in place. The existing structure on the lot, a fireworks stand, will be converted into a sizable adjacent taproom, allowing for more Middleton brews to be on tap simultaneously than ever before. Plans for the brewery’s grounds include a stage, picnic tables and a fenced in dog run. The walls will be decorated with recycled barn wood and corrugated steel, a nod to the idyllic, rural setting.
While Middleton will officially move into the space when it’s completed this spring, they are planning for a Fall 2014 grand opening celebration to invite the public into the new space once everything is in place.
We will keep you posted on public tastings and tours of the new brewhouse, but if you can’t wait that long, feel free to visit the fine folks at Middleton Brewing at their existing space for these last few weeks. Contact information and directions can be found on their website, and we can vouch for the good time you will have.
-Caroline & Sarah