A six-pack and bottle from Armadillo Ale Works located in Denton County at the Made in Denton exhibit at the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, Texas on Dec. 29, 2014.

A six-pack and bottle from Armadillo Ale Works located in Denton County at the Made in Denton exhibit at the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, Texas on Dec. 29, 2014.

Rose Baca/Staff photographer

Armadillo Ale Works has a storied history as D-FW's little brewery that could, as plans for a proprietary brewery have shifted from on-again to off-again over the last several years. It's been tough going, but the owners finally anticipate having beer back on shelves by late summer.

There's just one catch: Armadillo Ale Works' brewery won't yet be open.

Exclusive: Armadillo Ale Works lands lease in downtown Denton

Instead, the Denton company has entered an agreement with North Texas Brewing Co., a subsidiary founded by Gary Humble of Grapevine Craft Brewery to help Texas brands expand their footprint. Armadillo plans to contract brew a few recipes to get its beers back on the hands of local hopheads.

Armadillo Ale Works was supposed to open its 18,000-square-foot facility near the Denton square in summer 2016, but plans were delayed by a construction permit, says co-founder Yianni Arestis. He says Humble approached him about the opportunity a while ago as a backup option, in case development took longer than expected. Alas, such is the nature of small business.

"We'll be opening up in the fall instead of the summer, but our beer has been off the market for about a year now," Arestis says, adding he and partner Bobby Mullins continually get inquires about where to find their products. 

"We've done [contract brewing] before, and we know we can maintain the quality and create a product we're really, really proud of," Arestis says.

So what exactly will that product be? Not anything fans have seen before, Arestis promises, but he's not spilling the beans just yet.

"It's one we're really, really proud of," he reiterates. "We're confident people are going to love it."

[UPDATE April 18 at 10:22 a.m.: According to a distribution partnership announcement with Andrews Distributing, Armadillo Ale Works' new beer will be Honey Please blonde ale, which is brewed with Texas wildflower honey and mesquite beans. It will be available on draft.]

Since its inception, Armadillo Ale Works has been exclusively contract brewing. In 2013, it inked a deal with Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and was able to commercially produce and sell four recipes, including the Great American Beer Festival award-winner Quakertown Stout. Arestis and Mullins relinquished that partnership after securing a proprietary facility in Denton. But when that fell through, the duo sold the remainder of its inventory and went back on the hunt for a new space.

How a Grapevine brewery expanded into a hotbed for Texas craft beer

Armadillo landed its lease at former pop-up music venue The Hive, where the owners still plan to open. Arestis and Mullins recently purchased a 15-barrel system from Southern Star Brewing Co. in Conroe, Texas and hope to build out the rest of the brewery by fall.

North Texas Brewing Co. will begin production on Armadillo's beer this summer, in hopes of distributing it by late in the season. Arestis is excited and thankful for the opportunity to once again reach people where they're drinking.

"We're going to come out with a couple of new beers at North Texas Brewing Co. and let people know, 'Hey, this is what we've been working on,'" he says. Contract brewing "is not that prevalent in Texas and it's cool for them to do that and give other brewers that opportunity."

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