Over the past several years, beer scenes inside the city limits of both Dallas and Fort Worth have come alive in a big way. Once-forgotten corners of the Design District and Deep Ellum are now crawling with locally produced beers and the drinkers that enjoy them. A similar injection of the good life is also evident outside of North Texas' two anchor cities.
Perhaps nowhere else in the region has the local craft beer boom been more obvious and appreciated than in the suburbs north of the George Bush Tollway. Young but successful production breweries, brewpubs, bottle shops and restaurants catering specifically to craft beer drinkers are common where they were once nonexistent.
Here's a quick rundown of our favorite beer-loving 'burbs to the north.
The suburban explosion north of Interstate 635 may not be more apparent than it is in Little Elm. North of The Colony on the eastern shores of Lake Lewisville, Little Elm now features a couple of spots that any discerning craft beer lover will find suitable. Little Elm Crafthouse (not to be confused with the Draft House, a rather generic pool-hall that will leave a craft beer drinker wanting), with 30 rotating taps for growler fills and on-site pints, and a well-picked selection of single bottles, offers special tastings and events where a knowledgeable staff will always employ the proper glassware.
A few blocks down, Towers Tap House is a more unassuming spot where a local craft beer from one of the 16 taps can be ordered along with an icy bucket of aluminum Miller Lite bottles for that person in your group that just doesn't get it. There's a cool beachy vibe thanks to the Hydrous Wake Park body of water Towers' patio sits against. Pair a local IPA with an order of the decadent Philly cheesesteak fries. In 2017, Little Elm will be home to the first Flix Brewhouse Cinema in North Texas. Kicking the restaurant-theater combo to a higher ABV, Flix will feature several in-house brews and dozens of local and regional craft beers to go with a full dining menu and first-run movies.
Not long ago, a trip to McKinney felt equal to crossing the Red River for no good reason. But now, local craft beer drinkers can feel right at home where State Highway 121 meets North Central Expressway. Since spring of 2015, Tupps Brewery has not only offered a more-than-solid line of year-round and seasonal beers, but also a spacious taproom (more like tap-ballroom) filled with intriguing industrial art. It's worth a trip to one of the concerts or comedy nights Tupps hosts to sip a crisp Northbound 75 poblano pale ale amid the unique setting.
And after a well-earned brewery-day buzz, a satisfying burger or an expertly baked pizza is always in order. Uber on over to the historic town square in McKinney and hit either Square Burger, where the striking blue tiled wall of 30 taps is as attractive as the selection of gourmet burgers, or to Cadillac Pizza Pub, where a stellar cocktail program (we love the Award Winning Bloody Mary) complements the small but well-selected list of tap offerings.
More than most other local suburbs, Lewisville has thrived in spite of its seriously split personality. The easily visible development where Interstate 35 and State Highway 121 intersect has long been a bustling jewel of big-box sprawl, but in recent years, the older, less updated section of town has become a district the locals can be proud of and that out-of-towners should visit. Just off the historic downtown, Cobra Brewing has been producing award-winning brews for three years. Often, staff will break out a tub of Blue Bell ice cream to make beer floats featuring Best Mistake Stout.
The Witherspoon Distillery and its stable of rum and bourbon make Lewisville one of the few North Texas cities to have both a brewery and a distillery. Each June, the streets of that pretty downtown area play host to the growing Best Little Brewfest in Texas. And on the northern edge of town, Lone Star Taps and Caps serves as a 50-tap growler-filling clubhouse for knowledgeable drinkers and brewers with special beers to share.
The Lewisville branch of the Drunken Donkey has earned raves from craft beer types for its selection of beers and array of sports-intensive televisions. With well over 100 taps, and well-above-average pub grub, there's enough goodness to go around; but there's something pretty awesome about a place that often offers deals such as imperial cans for $2.50.
Allen has perhaps deservedly drawn a proper share of scorn for its new gazillion-dollar high school football stadium -- only to discover it wasn't built very well -- but there's a lot of good going on for craft beer drinkers. Nine Band Brewing features a sparkling taproom tailor-made for big groups looking for the best barleywine brewed this side of Deep Ellum Brewing's Numb Comfort. (Nine Band's Toad Choker barleywine just won a bronze medal at Great American Beer Festival in Denver.) And with the city's increase of luxurious shopping options, a selection of top-notch craft beer outposts also moved in. The Brass Tap, with 80 taps and an insane number of bottles to choose from, has shown a keen knack for offering wider arrays of stouts and even sours than most beer bars. This is one of those spots where you'll want to sample beer flights before deciding on a single pint or four.
Kelly's at the Village, the northern sister to Kelly's Eastside in Plano, features a custom-designed draft tower where dozens of handles dot the unconventionally cool conversation piece. Kelly's isn't afraid to present special tappings as well, an obvious sign of a craft beer destination.