With all the attention on so many of the new breweries opening, I realized that I had never been to the second oldest brewery in DFW, Franconia Brewing Company. So this past Saturday, instead of watching OU blow UT out of the water while drinking buckets of schwill, we opted for the 11am brewery tour in McKinney. Franconia has done a good job of getting their beer out to the public, and you can find at least one of their brews at almost any decent bar in the metroplex. They make German style beers and quality is their number one priority. There are many things that make Franconia stand out, but the first is that their brewery tour actually includes a formal tour. Many if the other brewery tours are really just a way for the brewery to have customers out and legally drink on their premises. Franconia does too, but instead of simply hanging out in their facility, the owner and brewmaster, Dennis Wehrmann, gives an approximately hour tour full of brewing knowledge and Franconia’s history. I won’t give it all away, but Dennis was born into the brewing tradition and takes it very seriously. He is also very entertaining and likes to keep the tour full of jokes. I walked away from this tour with a ton of respect and admiration for this brewery and I highly encourage anyone to check them out. Now, to the beer! They were pouring their Kolsch, Wheat, and Dunkel to begin the tour, and after we got the opportunity to try their Fallenbock. I had previously tried their Kolsch and Wheat, so I started with the Dunkel. It is a dark brown color with light roasted notes on the nose followed by malty sweetness. The flavor is more malt forward with hops balancing out any residual sweetness to produce an extremely drinkable beer that is full of flavor. It was not thick at all and the natural carbonation was moderately-low, which seemed to allow the malt and fruity yeast esters to be more evident. After the tour, I tried the 8.5% Fallenbock which was just being released that day. This seemed to be a doppelbock and was a bit hoppier than I anticipated, yet once again, extremely balanced. Very little roasted character in this one and it seemed a bit drier than the Dunkel, which made it all too easy to drink at its ABV. On suggestion of Dennis, my third beer was half Fallenbock and half Wheat. This was a very enjoyable mix for me, with the wheat adding subtle bannana sweetness to the dryness of the Fallenbock. I highly suggest this blend. I really enjoyed how informative and personal the tour was. The brewery is still only 3 employees, despite their relatively large production (probably around 5000 barrels annually). They are soon to be completely off the grid energy-wise, as they are currently constructing a power plant which will capture heat energy from their brewing processes, as well as methane gas from their spent grains. It is a must visit for any craft beer enthusiast in DFW.
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