(Edward Brown for Fort Worth Weekly, May 7, 2019) I first wrote about Legal Draft Beer Co. two years ago (“Legal Draft Beer,” April 27, 2017). The pristine brewery and taproom was only a year old then, but it had already made a regional name for itself with beers like Legal Blonde Lager, Accused Amber Lager, Chief Justice Stout, Hung Jury Hefeweizen, and Presumed Innocent IPA.
On a recent visit, I learned that the now three-year-old business has released 36 beers, including a new line of barrel-aged brews. Developing new beer recipes is an “organic” process, Legal Draft co-founder Greg McCarthy told me.
“Sometimes, one of us will take the lead on a new idea,” he said. “Sometimes our brewing staff suggest a style. Now, we have an entire year of beer releases planned out.”
Legal Draft Beer hit the pavement running when it opened three years ago. Within its first year, the Arlington brewery had distribution across the Lone Star State.
“Now that I’ve done it, I understand why nobody had tried that feat before,” he said with a laugh. It was like running a marathon without the advantage of years of training, he added.
McCarthy, Legal Draft Beer co-founder Curt Taylor, and brewmaster Henryk Orlik took me in the back of the brewery for a tasting in the barrel-aging room. Orlik gave me a small pour of Ginned Up Charges, made from Smash and Grab IPA aged in Waterloo gin barrels. Surprisingly, the hops were barely discernible. Aging an IPA in wood barrels, McCarthy told me, mellows the hops. The citrus-y aroma of hops remains, and the interplay between those characteristics and the gin herbals creates something that is warm, boozy, and tropical.
The barrel program launched 18 months ago. Some of the barrel-aged brews are on draught in area pubs or in two-can boxes sold at specialty stores. The idea is to provide something unique for any palate, McCarthy said. Legal Draft launched with solid beers that covered the spread for most casual craft beer drinkers. Since then, the brewery has released lighter beers like Nowhere But Texas (4.2 ABV American lager) and decidedly heavier brews.
“The beer nerd can bring his or her friend who only drinks domestics or the person who drinks cider,” McCarthy said. “Having options helps everyone feel included. You can’t be everything to everybody, but you can try to have something for everyone.”
Click here to read the complete On Tap column by Edward Brown in the May 7, 2019 of Fort Worth Weekly. Photo courtesy of Legal Draft.