Ryan Pyle bought his first homebrew kit at age 21. In just a few weeks, the Oklahoma native will open his own commercial operation, Bankhead Brewing Co. in Rowlett, with partner Kevin Lefere. It's been more than 20 years and numerous accolades since that first brew and Pyle credits his skill to hours of listening to the Brewing Network, a series of podcasts that cover everything craft beer.
"That's where I kind of transitioned from amateur homebrewer to award-winning homebrewer," he says. "This was how I was going to learn how to get better."
So when Pyle had the opportunity to hire someone from the network to help him in the brew house, he jumped.
Chad Moshier, formerly a producer at the Brewing Network, joined the Bankhead team as brewer in the spring and has since been working with Pyle to fine-tune its eight debut beers.
The brewpub opened Sept. 1.
Like many, Moshier's route into brewing was not direct. The former IBM engineer moved to the West Coast about 12 years ago and when looking for a place to live, landed in a spare room belonging to none other than Justin Crossley, founder of the Brewing Network.
"Literally, on the other side of my bedroom wall was this Brewing Network studio," Moshier recalls.
He quickly became a disciple of craft beer, brewing incessantly and ramping up involvement with the radio shows. Anyone with a penchant for homebrewing has likely heard Moshier interview some of the industry's celebrities on "Sunday Session," such as Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing Co. If you passed through the Bay Area, you may have caught him working at Drake's Brewing, Triple Rock Brewing or Sunol Ridge Brewery and Restaurant. Moshier is also a certified cicerone.
In his new role at Bankhead, Moshier will be responsible for daily brewing operations. The brewpub boasts a 15-barrel brewhouse, which was custom built to fit the space and allows for step mashing and decoction, a brewing technique Pyle says has been the difference between a losing and winning beer in competitions he's entered.
Pyle first met Moshier at the Bluebonnett Brew-Off in Irving. Moshier was in town with his wife to visit Dallas after finding out her company would relocate their family here. The original plan was to fund and open his own brewery in Texas -- even though Moshier admits he doubted the existence of the Lone Star State's craft beer scene -- but the couple used the business' would-be investment to purchase a home instead.
Once Pyle and Moshier brewed a few batches together, the Bankhead founder felt their styles and techniques meshed well not only with one another, but also with the concept of the brewpub.
"We want to keep that homebrew vibe," says Pyle. "You don't want to get stuck on one beer the rest of your life, it gets boring."
"We'll have some core [styles] and have some fun," he adds.
For starters, Bankhead will serve a Bavarian hefeweizen, Munich Helles, English extra special bitter (ESB), blonde ale, raspberry wheat, Vienna-style lager, IPA and a brown ale. The brown is a recipe borrowed from the Brewing Network's Mike "Tasty" McDole called Janet's Brown, which Pyle and Moshier brewed as a tribute to their mentor.
Take a virtual tour of Bankhead Brewing Co.:
Bankhead Brewing Co. will serve more than just suds. Partner Lefere helms the kitchen, which will serve health-focused dishes cooked almost exclusively in wood-fired ovens. That includes pizzas, brisket-stuff portabello mushrooms and meatloaf alongside cold-prep items like salads and sandwiches.
The brewpub is named for the historic Bankhead Highway, which was developed in 1916 and runs cross-country from Washington, D.C. to San Diego and through downtown Rowlett where Main Street and the restaurant now reside.