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East Texas Craft Beer Group: Good Friends and Good Beers

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By Johnny Griffith

For many East Texans, if you mention beer what comes to mind is one of the big commercial brews you see advertised ad nauseum during sporting events and prime time TV. However, a growing number of beer drinkers are branching out from the same old same old and embracing the burgeoning craft beer movement. In a forest full of diverse craft beer choices from a myriad of micro-breweries across the country, sometimes it becomes hard to see the individual trees and know which beers are worth trying and which are great to sit on the shelf and look at the groovy can. Luckily, local brew-o-philes Jarrod Maness and Greg Lewis recognized the need for a resource and formed the East Texas Craft Brew Group (ETCBG )on Facebook.

Maness and Lewis both share a love of the brew and have backgrounds that helped expose them to a wide variety of styles and tastes. Jarrod is the manager of Juls Events & Envirocare while Greg has worked for FRESH as the beer and wine specialist, True Vine as head of sales, and is currently working with Kiepersol Winery.

I sat down with both recently to figure out what exactly the ETCBG is and what they’re up to.

Johnny: I guess let’s start off with what exactly is the East Texas Craft Beer Group?

Jarrod: It’s a place where all walks of Craft Beer Enthusiasts/Fanatics/Explorers/ are invited to share, question, inquire, and learn about “Craft Beer From the Local, State, and even National Spectrum.”

Johnny: So when and where was the idea for the East Texas Craft Brew Group born?

Jarrod: Greg and I had tossed around the ideas for a couple of weeks about starting a group on Facebook that would talk about all things craft beer. At the time, I was the GM of Juls Restaurant and Greg was the Craft Beer Specialist at FRESH. So one night over a bottle of Blind Pig from Russian Rivers Brewery, out of California, at my kitchen table, we came up with East Texas Craft Beer Group (ETCBG).

Greg: If I remember correctly Jarrod Maness approached me about the idea while I was frequenting the restaurant he was running at the time. I’m glad he did because I’ve made many friends through this group.

Johnny: How many craft brews had been had that night prior to the idea coming up?

Jarrod: The night we actually cemented the group, surprisingly only one! Very unheard of with most of our bottle shares.

Greg: At that point in my life, it was an ‘off day’ if I wasn’t two IPAs in by 7:30pm. I’ve slowed down since but our conversation about the group was discussed over a few beers and great fellowship.

Johnny: So what do you feel is driving this trend we’ve seen the last few years toward more and more options of beer in the market besides the traditional macro-brews that have dominated the market for so long?

Jarrod: I think a lot! But the three areas I truly believe are most important are: first, how the craft beer community as a whole has embraced teaching and sharing what craft beer is all about. Next, we as a community, want to support our micro breweries and brew pubs, that are locally owned and operated here in Tyler and Longview and other cities throughout Texas. And finally, they taste really good!

Greg: Variety! There have been a ton of new styles introduced including the semi-controversial Hazy IPA – a style of IPA that has a foggy/hazy appearance and a hoppy aroma without all the bitterness of a regular IPA. Many brewers have been introducing fruits to many beers to help reach a wider audience and broaden their marketability to new people.

Johnny: How would you say the general knowledge of craft beer overall is in this area?

Greg: Man, it’s growing a ton. The people from east Texas have become more and more curious because they see their regular beers getting replaced with new beer. Brands like Revolver, Deep Ellum, True Vine and ETX Brewing are taking over tap handles all around east Texas. Its indicative of the growth in knowledge for the area.

Johnny: Is the group primarily Facebook based or are there scheduled meetups to have beer tastings and swap notes?

Greg: I’d say primarily Facebook based, but we do meet up a few times a year in order to raise funds for local charities and have a good time, most notably for “Dogtoberfest” benefiting the SPCA of East Texas.

Johnny: Do you have any organized educational events where you try to enlighten the membership on different new styles, perhaps variations within styles or new trends?

Jarrod: Actually, we had one of our members, Jordyn Rose, host an Off Flavored Beer Class, where she helped people identify off flavors in beer. She is planning on setting up another one. At our bottle shares and through conversation topic starters (on the forum) there are a lot of in depth conversations about styles and variations of the beers being shared.

Greg: The page has become a resource for people who want to learn about new styles. The comment section of a post will always have people asking questions or commenting about what they thought of that beer. It’s fun to see the interactions of people and friendships become built in the group. We have a few members that always make very intriguing posts that will facilitate discussion. Another Admin that we have, James Gillingham, has been a huge influence in facilitating discussion. He is always posing questions for the rest for the group to answer.

Johnny: How has the public response been to the creation of the ETCBG?

Jarrod: We continue to grow each year adding more community members that are constantly sharing, educating the group about upcoming trends, and what’s brewing locally.  The addition of James Gillingham as an admin was huge. He is truly one of the most giving guys I have ever met, and let me go on the record to state, if you are invited to one of his bottle shares – it’s like Christmas, but for craft beer lovers and he is an amazing cook. Great craft beer calls for great food, right?

Johnny: What does the ETCBG have in store for the remainder of 2019? Any special events?

Jarrod: This will be our third year to have our annual fundraiser to help raise money for the SPCA of East Texas. In ETCBG, we love our craft beer and our Furry Family members!

Greg: Every year our goal is to raise funds for Dogtoberfest and that is our main goal. To be honest, Jarrod Maness absolutely rocks that event every year and I’m just proud to be able to help out in the small way that I can.

Johnny: So what style of craft beer would you say is your current favorite at the moment and why?

Jarrod: Anything where maple is involved in the beer! I’m a sucker for great pastry stouts! Big thick mouthfeel with rich maple syrup in the nose and finish…I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it!

Greg: I spent the better part of two years drinking beer almost everyday and I was drinking every style, IPA, Brown Ales, Bourbon Barrel Aged Stouts and porters, Sours… you name it. Today, you can find me drinking a nice clean lager or pilsner like Hans Pils by Real Ale or Tropic of Thunder Lager by Stone Brewing Company. I’ll get crazy and buy an IPA or two as well.

Johnny: If you had to suggest a good transition beer to get someone from one of the traditional macros to craft beer, what would your answer be?

Jarrod: Yard Bird from ETX Brewing or Smith County Lager from True Vines, both of which are local breweries! These beers offer great flavor with a clean crisp finish.

Greg: Blondes and Lagers are great “in between” beers. I enjoy Hans Pils by real Ale, Love Street Blonde by Karbach, Brickstreet Blonde by ETX or you can take a huge gulp of a Black IPA and fall in love with craft beer, like I did.

Check out the East Texas Craft Beer Group at facebook.com/groups/338376999706636.

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Food

“Cooking: A Way of Life” Cooking Classes Continue Through the Summer

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Cooking classes are available to anyone who wants to both learn to cook and increase their culinary skills. All classes are held at the Harvey Convention Center in Hall 3 from 6-8pm. Pre-registration is required for all classes. These classes include a cooking demonstration and recipes; plus you can enjoy a great meal. These classes are for adults. The cost is $15 per person per class. Registration can be made by calling (903)531-1214 or register for classes at parksandrec.cityoftyler.org. Dates and guest chef information is below. 

  • July 23rd: CLASS VII: “Southern Cooking with a Twist” featuring Guest Chef Cody Baschnagel, The Grove of Tyler
  • August 6th: CLASS VIII: “Four Day Meal Plan in One” featuring Guest Chef Chef Kat Santos, Founder, Food Works of Tyler
  • October 11th: Special Longtable Dinner in the Garden: “Rose to Table” at the Tyler Rose Garden. Tickets are $75 per person. Registration required. Tickets go on sale August 16th.

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Downtown Tyler

Foodie Events in July: Yum Yummy Good

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Ben Wheeler

Farmers Markets Around East Texas

stanleys bbq tyler tx eguide magazine

Everything is blooming, growing, and flourishing in East Texas, and it’s time to head to your local favorite farmers market. Be sure to check one of these out for all kinds of goodies.

Rose City Farmers Market, Downtown Tyler

Saturday mornings, 8am-12 noon, the Rose City Farmers Market is a neat, unique experience for the whole family and even your furry four-legged friends. Located just a block from the Square, in the Unclaimed Furniture parking lot in Tyler (236 S. Broadway), the market brings all that’s fresh straight to you: fruits, vegetables, and herbs all grown within 75 miles of Tyler. That includes pasture-raised beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey, free-range/non GMO eggs, and goat cheeses. Every Saturday, the available selections are different featuring treasures from East Texas fields as the crops come in.  Also, there’s fresh bread, flowers, coffee, jams and jellies, baked goods, Texas olive oil, handcrafted art, and Texas fruit wines on hand. Local musicians will be perform every Saturday. Visit them on Facebook, and foodcoalition.org.

Tyler Farmers Market

Tyler Farmers Market has moved to a new location at 2700 WSW Loop 323, Tyler, adjacent to Peltier Chevrolet. The Tyler Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 7am-2pm. They feature seasonal items under a big white tent. You can visit them online at tylerfarmersmarket.org.

East Texas State Fair Farmers Market

East Texas State Fair Farmers Market, located at the Fairgrounds, 2112 W. Front Street, Tyler, is held under the large pavilion. They are open Tuesdays and Saturdays 7am-1pm. The East Texas State Fair Farmers Market is sourced from 100% local farmers who grow every last bit of food they sell on their own land. This is a covered/open air market, with locally grown fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers. There are also crafters, homemade baked goods, preserves, and fresh eggs. This farmer’s market is located right behind the Rose Garden.

Lindale Farmers Market

Open through August 31st, this ongoing farmer’s market occurs every Saturday (8am-1pm). Lindale Farmers Market will be held at the Picker’s Pavilion, 205 E. North St., Lindale. Fruits, vegetables, artisan wares, and more are featured each week. Everything is home grown, home made, and hand crafted by artisans, ranchers, and growers. For more info go to www.facebook.com/Lindale-Farmers-Market.

Stillwater Farm Market Store

Located at 109 W. Main St. in Chandler, Stillwater Farm Market Store features locally fresh produce, pecans, local meats, baked goods, lunches, and ice cream! This is a destination for “all things fresh” and a great place to pick up locally grown produce. Stillwater Farm is the name given to their family land that is contiguous to the section of Fitzgerald farmland.  The farm features a pecan, peach, and fig orchard. Approximately 10 acres of irrigated row crop vegetables are also grown including onions, watermelons, tomatoes, peas, squash, okra, peppers, and more. For more info call (903)515-3502. They are open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.

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