Unless you're a horse rancher or an equestrian hobbyist, there's a good chance you've never been to Pilot Point, Texas. Even entrepreneur Evan Batt admits he had never heard of the 3.4-square-mile town that's home to about 5,000 people until he opened two businesses there, and his ventures may be reason some drinkers in North Texas visit the town at all.
Batt and his partner John Strait own and operate Western Son Distillery and neighboring Whistle Post Brewing Co., the latter of which opened June 25. Western Son relocated to Pilot Point, which is about 20 miles north of Denton, in 2011 and the owners figured since they had extra real estate, why not try a hand at craft beer, too?
"Since we're out here a kind of hike away, we wanted to create the best tour experience for anybody coming to visit from Dallas or Fort Worth or even Frisco, whatever," says Batt.
"Nowhere else in North Texas can you see a brewery and a distillery in the same effort."
Whistle Post is, by many accounts, an homage to its location. The name was derived literally from the brewery's location near the railroad tracks where patrons will intermittently hear conductors blowing their whistles as trains pass through downtown Pilot Point. The beer names, too, stick with the theme, including the Rooster Shooter lager and Caboose Rider pale ale.
Both Batt and Strait previously worked for distribution companies, so they plan to get Whistle Post's beer to market in bottles and cans widely -- eventually.
Right now the doors are technically open, but Whistle Post is still growing into its space. For example, brew master Blake Morrison, formerly of Cedar Creek Brewery, is currently brewing on a 5-barrel pilot system while he awaits the full 20-barrel brewhouse to arrive later this summer. Onsite is the only place you'll be able to taste what Morrison is currently brewing, meaning new and different recipes may be available each time you visit.
"This is kind of nice because I get to mess around with the recipes and work out the kinks and get to experiment," he says. "We get to do some market research before we get our big equipment and get to play."
What to expect from a visit
As previsouly mentioned, Western Son Distillery and Whistle Post Brewing Co. are directly adjacent, so you can have a beer or a cocktail while in Pilot Point and all you have to do is walk next door to choose your preferred poison. Or you can take a glass of whatever into the shared beer garden, where the owners built a rustic looking stage for live music.
Whistle Post's taproom also has a rustic-chic vibe with wooden furniture and accents, plus sports bar ammentities like darts and several televisions. It's tentatively open Friday and Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m., and beers are purchased individually by the pint ($5-$7) or as a flight.
Western Son's bar and lounge area is open Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., with tours at the top of every hour. During those times, patrons can buy a cocktail ($5), but those interested in a bottle of gin, whiskey or flavored vodka can stop by any day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to purchase one.
Enticed? Stop by during the Western Son Summer Concert Series beginning July 2. Featured performers include The O's, Mickey and the Motorcars, and Dirty River Boys. See full calendar and ticket info on Prekindle and Facebook.