A few weeks ago, I was presented with another free Saturday, as Rebekah was working. After a great time the previous month checking out some new Fort Worth-area breweries, Shannon Brewing Company and Bearded Eel Craft Brewery, I knew it was time to trek to the Dallas side of the craft beer scene. I met up with my good friend J-Higs, and had a tasty beer crawl across the eastern part of the Metroplex starting at Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, and finishing at FireWheel Brewing Company (now closed), 20 minutes east in Rowlett.
First on the agenda, Lakewood Brewing Company. I had heard great things about this brewery, and I remembered enjoying its flagship beer: The Temptress. This brewery, producing great beer since 2011, is becoming big in the Texas craft beer scene and I wanted to know more!
Let’s take a look at Lakewood Brewing based on our Brewery Grading Scale.
Logistics: 5 In early March, Lakewood expanded their brewing operations, opening their new brew house and taproom. Production was doubled, and the taproom is awesome! The new expansion comes with some logistical changes. Instead of an open house feeling, the brewery now feels like a bar that brews their own beers. The taproom is open Wednesdays & Thursdays (3:00 PM to 8:00 PM), Fridays (3:00 PM to 9:00 PM), Saturdays (12:00 PM to 9:00 PM) and Sundays (12:00 PM to 6:00 PM). Lakewood offers guided tours of the brewery only on Saturdays (1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 PM) and Sundays (1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 PM). No reservations are available, so pick up a tour pass from the merchandise booth as soon as you arrive. Tour sizes are limited and are first come, first serve. Contrary to the name, Lakewood Brewing is not located in Lakewood, but in Garland. The brewery is conveniently situated near the intersection of Jupiter Road and I-635. Free parking is available in front of the brewery.
When to go: If you want to catch a tour, visit on a Saturday or Sunday. By arriving early on Saturday, we easily secured tickets on the 1:00 PM tour. The plentiful taproom hours give Lakewood Brewing a 5 on Logistics, as you can sip their beer straight from the source most days of the week.
Atmosphere: 4 While the old building had an industrial warehouse feeling, the new brew house and taproom have a very contemporary atmosphere. Once inside, you enter a huge space. Behind the long bar, a glass wall at least 25’ tall shows off their stainless steel fermentation tanks in the adjacent production area. We enjoyed sitting at the bar and interacting with the friendly staff. Plenty of tables offer groups a comfortable setting to grab a drink and talk with friends. As the afternoon progressed, the taproom filled up quickly. The taproom addition includes new and clean restrooms, which is a huge plus! If you are hungry, a vendor sells food out back. At the bar, you can purchase a container of fun-flavored nuts from the Dallas-area company Lord Nut Levington.
Value: 3 Beers are available for purchase by the glass. Depending on the ABV of the beer, prices and sizes vary. Expect prices similar to a local pub. While flights are not offered, you can order 5 ounce tasters of any beer for $2 or $3, depending on the ABV. If you want to try most of their brews, the tasters are a great option! Logo pint glasses ($4.50 to $6.50) and other gear are available for purchase in the merchandise booth. The value is not the best, as you will likely leave the brewery with a $10 to $15 tab (or more), plus tip, and without a pint glass.
Beer – Taste: 4 J-Higs and I did our best to sample as many of their beers as possible. All the beers we tried were solid within their style, and I would happily drink any of them again. However, I did not find that one beer that spoke to me personally. My favorite beer I tried is their spring seasonal, Till & Toil. The saison had a unique citrus and hop taste, without the bitter aftertaste. Very surprising! A variation of the original seasonal, the Red Wine Barrel Till & Toil tasted completely different. Somehow, the wine barrel seemed to transform the consistency into a thicker, fuller taste, reminding me of a cider. The red wine notes overpowered the citrus notes of the original version. Unfortunately the beer that led me to this brewery, The Temptress, was not on tap. However, two variation of the imperial milk stout, the Mole Temptress and Sin Mint were available. J-Higs’ favorite beer was the Mole Temptress, with a great smell of cinnamon and a strong, yet pleasant taste of chili peppers that combined well with the milk stout base.
Beer – Variety: 5 Lakewood featured a stunning 12 different beers on tap during my visit! While 12 beers may be a happy anomaly, you can rest assured that great variety will always be flowing. One of the 12 taps is a nitro tap, a nice touch. Expect the 5 year-round offerings: Rock Ryder (American Rye Wheat), Lakewood Lager, Hop Trapp, Hopochondria and The Temptress. Another amazing anomaly during my visit: all 4 seasonal beers were on tap at the same time! This was a unique way to really get to know a brewery, as the seasonal beers are often my favorites. In addition, you may find one of their Legendary Series beers on tap, or their Seduction Series, special variations of The Temptress such as the Mole Temptress. Overall, great variety!
Tour: 3 As mentioned above, tours are given on Saturdays and Sundays, but make sure you grab a ticket. Meet your guide 5 minutes before the start time at the end of the bar near the glass door leading into the production area. The tour is not as comprehensive as other breweries at only 15 minutes, however you are quickly taken through the process, from cracking the grains to distribution, both canning (3 beers currently) and bottling. An interesting last step prior to distribution sends the beer through a centrifuge, preventing the beer from further fermentation in the bottle or can. Lakewood prides itself on being one of the cleanest craft breweries around. Looking at the facility and equipment, you could certainly see a major capital investment was required during the recent expansion that increased production from 330 barrels to 670 barrels. The guides are very knowledgeable, so if you want more from the tour, ask questions.
Other Noteworthy Items: In addition to beers on tap, Lakewood Brewing offers bottled selections as well, but these must be consumed on the premises. Lakewood is not able to sell growlers, bottles, cans or kegs to go.
P.S. While not related to the brewery, J-Higs and I found a great Salvadorian food restaurant, Pupuseria Lilian, between Lakewood Brewing and FireWheel Brewing (now closed). Order the pupusas, and you will leave happy!
To find a local Texas brewery around you or for your next trip, check our updated Texas Craft Brewery List.