When many people hear about Denton, they think of music. If not music, maybe the local food, art or people.
But Denton is becoming known for another passion: beer.
With watering holes peppered throughout the city, both on the Square and around the infamous Fry Street area, Denton has something for everyone. Local brewers and bar owners are prepping for an explosion of homegrown greatness during North Texas Beer Week.
So where does one start in the Denton beer scene? Maybe with a beverage at East Side Denton or the house-turned-bar Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor. As staples of the bar scene for the last few years, both places sport patios, beer gardens and a friendly atmosphere.
As owner of both East Side and Oak St., John Williams knows just how much Denton cares about staying local.
"Local beers do really well," he says. "We have anywhere from 32 to 35 Texas craft beers at Oak Street and around 55 at East Side."
Of those, more than half are from Dallas-Fort Worth, and Denton's first in-town brewing operation, Audacity Brew House, is a local favorite, Williams says. But the bars have a lot more beer than that, with 72 total taps at Oak St. and 89 at East Side.
For beer week, both locations are looking to go big.
"We'll have some tap takeovers, special tappings and meet the brewer events," Williams says.
Newer, but no less beer-centric spots, such as Harvest House on Hickory Street and Barley & Board on the Square, provide a comfortable atmosphere to raise a pint. Harvest House has an outdoor area with a stage for live music, while Barley & Board serves up house-made brews alongside some killer food.
On the other side of town, Audacity Brew House knows beer week means giving people a chance to try something new. Staff will spend time around the city, rather than at the taproom.
"People want to understand what they're putting in their body and where it comes from," Audacity owner Scott Lindsey says. "We want people to try things they've never tried before. They may not be your favorite, but we want you to try them."
In addition to its staple offerings, Audacity plans to spotlight some of its more inventive recipes, including Black Widow, an imperial chocolate stout, and a chai Munich lager, which tastes as it sounds, just like chai.
Most surprising of all might be the Evil Cream Soda Spiced Ale.
"It's a 7 percent alcohol beer brewed with a bunch of spices and flavors," Lindsey says. "It's vanilla with a little kick."
Even though one of Denton's other local brewers, Armadillo Ale Works, won't have beer ready for the week of events -- the brewery recently leased a local space in hopes of opening summer 2016 -- it plans to have a presence in the area.
"We will be participating in spirit as beer drinkers," Armadillo co-founder and head brewer Bobby Mullins says. "We'll have some of our sodas on tap, but it's really about going to the events and enjoying the beer."
Both breweries agree on a common goal: getting as many people as possible to relax and drink a local beer.
"We are competitors, but we're all working to get better beer out there," Mullins says. "There's more flavor and more heart behind it. With all beer there is a mix of art and science, and with craft beer it's more on the art side."
Map the local beer hotspots
5 can't miss beer week events
Deep Ellum Tap Takeover, Pint Night and Meet the Brewers (Nov. 6)
Head to Oak Street Drafthouse. Friday night to meet the infamous Deep Ellum brewers and check out six different beers from their brewing company. It's a drink the beer, keep the glass event, too. Deep Ellum Breweing Co. has been a staple of North Texas for awhile now, so you won't want to miss this one.
A Night of Pumpkins and Pumpkinators with Saint Arnold (Nov. 6)
What better way to celebrate the end of October than with a whole mess of pumpkin stuff? At the Bearded Monk, try the past five years of Pumpkinators from Saint Arnold Brewing Co. and compete in a pumpkin pie baking contest and eating contest. There's something for everyone.
Texas Craft Brewers' Legislative Town Hall (Nov. 7)
Why would I want to learn about laws, you ask? Well, to start, there will be beer. Go figure. Join homebrew aficionados from around North Texas at Harvest House for a discussion about Texas craft brewers rights, including changes in beer law, different suits from around the area and a whole bunch of beer. Proceeds benefit Open the Taps and Texas Craft Brewers Guild.
NoLabel Ridgeback for the Denton Animal Support Foundation (Nov. 10)
Your Tuesday night drinking at the Bearded Monk also helps save some animals' lives. No Label Brewing Co.'s Ridgeback Amber will be on tap and the Denton Animal Support Foundation will be raising money for adoption and medical programs for animals in the shelter. Good beer, great cause.
New Belgium Brewing Co. Beer and Bike Ride (Nov. 10)
Beer and bikes, what more could you ask for? And no, you cannot drink and ride at the same time. Go on a rad bike ride around town and then head to Harvest House for some rare taps from New Belgium.