Kegs are kept in same room as brewing equipment during tasting and tours inside the Grapevine Craft Brewery in Farmers Branch, Texas Saturday September 6, 2014. Grapevine Craft Brewery offers the tasting and tours each first Saturday of the month.

Kegs are kept in same room as brewing equipment during tasting and tours inside the Grapevine Craft Brewery in Farmers Branch, Texas Saturday September 6, 2014. Grapevine Craft Brewery offers the tasting and tours each first Saturday of the month.

Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News

Following last week's news that D-FW microbrewery Revolver Brewing sold out to beer giant MillerCoors, the local craft beer community seems a bit on edge. 

Tuesday night, online forums were ablaze with speculation about another casualty after whoever mans the Spec's Beer Dept. Twitter account seared the words "RIP Grapevine Brewery" across the internet. Could this really happen to a beer scene that thrived so fruitfully in the past couple years? One that welcomed more than 10 new breweries in 2015 alone?

The commotion was so fervent, the business in question, Grapevine Craft Brewery, issued a press release late Tuesday night. Subject line: "We Are Not Closing."

What the brewery says it is doing instead is ceasing distribution of its products immediately. You won't be able to find the company's beers in stores or bars, but you can still get them onsite at Grapevine Craft Brewery in its namesake North Texas suburb.

"This was a hard decision and one that was not made lightly," reads the release. 

"We value our customers and our fans. But at this time, it just doesn't make financial sense for us to continue distributing our brands at a loss."

Grapevine Craft Brewery is still active and in business, the release says, though it plans to focus more on contract brewing through its subsidiary North Texas Brewing Co.

While the release is reassuring, it still leaves many questions unanswered. 

Most intriguingly, what happened?

When asked for comment, owner Gary Humble offered no further details.

Grapevine Craft Brewery opened in a temporary location in Farmers Branch in 2013. Though Humble had run a successful $50,000 Fundable campaign and begun development on a piece of property in Grapevine, construction was slow-going, as it often times is, and he was anxious to get beer to market.

"We told everybody we're coming in the fall ... so we personally feel obligated to make good on that," Humble said at the time. "We've dangled the carrot long enough."

The brewery went on to earn a gold medal from Great American Beer Festival in 2014 and last summer moved into its newly built home in Grapevine (passing on a turnkey facility to 3 Nations Brewing in the process). In 2015, Grapevine Craft Brewery produced about 4,300 barrels of beer, according to data from the Brewers Association.

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

Earlier this year, Humble launched North Texas Brewing Co., a contract brewing operation with a handful of clients, including the revived Armadillo Ale Works.

All things considered, Grapevine Craft Brewery was seemingly in a hot spot, playing different angles of the industry. According to Tuesday's release, Humble isn't ruling out packaged goods entirely -- he's still banking on pending litigation Grapevine Craft Brewery brought against the state in tandem with Deep Ellum Brewing Co. to sell beer to-go.

"We are hopeful to see change happen in this area which would only enhance what we are able to do in our taproom," says the release.

What's unclear, however, is if contract brewing will be lucrative enough to see that lawsuit through. It's also unclear how, if at all, Grapevine Craft Brewery's staff or annual output of original craft brews may change. And as local craft beer drinkers know, "merger" and "acquisition" are two of the hottest words buzzing in the beer scene right now.

"It's no secret that the last year and a half in our industry has revealed a whirlwind of mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances of large and small brewers alike trying to navigate a difficult and rapidly changing landscape," Grapevine Craft Brewery's statement reads. "We continue to promote our local industry by providing brewing services to local brewers who are growing by giving them immediate opportunities to expand in a competitive marketplace. And we're proud of it."

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