[UPDATE June 28 at 1:20 p.m.: Beer drinkers can visit Wild Acre for the first time over the holiday weekend. The brewery will be having a party on July from 12:30-4 p.m. with live music from Phil Pritchett. Tickets cost $20 and include three beers.]
John Pritchett graduated college and went straight into the beer business. As a longtime facility general manager for Ben E. Keith distribution company, the Fort Worth resident saw the craft beer movement taking shape from the ground up. And if there's one thing he gleaned from the scene's growing popularity, it's that he wanted to be a part of it.
"I really kind of fell in love with that industry," he says, "not just the beers themselves, but the breweries and the whole vibe."
So in the fall of 2014, Pritchett bid Ben E. Keith adieu and began work on his own craft brewing venture, deemed Wild Acre Brewing Co. This weekend, his dream becomes a reality when the brewery celebrates its local launch at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium Saturday and the Woodshed Smokehouse on Sunday.
Wild Acre inhabits a 32,000-square-foot space south of Interstate 30, across the railroad tracks from the Glenwood Triangle neighborhood in Fort Worth. It houses a 30-barrel brewing system with 10,000 barrels worth of fermentation space.
There's also a little bit of history embedded in the business — the brewery's name is a tip of the cowboy hat to Hell's Half Acre, a stretch of its hometown that earned the reputation as the rough and rowdy red light district in the 19th century.
Pritchett's vision for the business is as a commercial brewery, meaning beer for local drinkers that's widely available in bars and restaurants as well as retail stores. To make that happen, he knew the beer needed to be good, so he enlisted Mike Kraft, a local brewery consultant and former brewer at Lagunitas Brewing Co., to helm operations.
When Wild Acre's suds hit taps this weekend, drinkers will be able to try four recipes:
- Billy Jenkins Bock, a sessionable bock style named for William Jenkins Worth, after whom Cowtown is named;
- Moonlight Shine, a dry-hopped wheat ale;
- Tarantula Hawk, a hoppy brew that Pritchett calls an "India red ale" because of its color;
- and Soul Pleasure, an American-style stout.
All will soon be available on draft and in cans at select locations in Fort Worth primarily, though Pritchett hopes to expand throughout the region, too. He also anticipates growing Wild Acre's portfolio shortly — "That's just the reality of the craft beer industry," he says.
While you can drink Wild Acre's beer, you can't visit the brewery just yet. Pritchett anticipates the 5,000-square-foot taproom and outdoor beer garden onsite will open by mid-July.