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Into The Keg

With Derrick Rima, Lead Brewer at Texas Ale Project

· Craft Beer,Texas Beer,Interview

A few weeks ago was Texas Ale Project’s (TAP) two-year anniversary and they celebrated by throwing a party as big as the Lone Star State itself. After sampling some amazing craft brews at TAP Fest, I caught up with Derrick Rima, Lead Brewer at Texas Ale Project, to discuss his love for craft beer and how the craft industry has changed Texas over the past few years.

“I was stationed in Germany and that’s where I learned to appreciate good beer. I came home and had a totally different outlook.”

It’s hard not to have respect for Derrick Rima. Not only has he served our country in the military, but he also is the Lead Brewer at one of the best breweries in Texas. Derrick has been working in the craft beer industry since 2011 with stints at Four Corners, Franconia, and Audacity prior to coming onboard with TAP. His passion for craft beer started as “a hobby that became a passion and ended up becoming a career.” From brewing his own concoctions at home to helping out at various breweries and bars around town, Derrick was determined to break into the industry.

Now, as the Lead Brewer at TAP, Derrick spends some of his time creating new recipes for the rotator beer in their tap room every week. “It was a lofty goal, but it was something that I thought we needed to do. It not only gave us the opportunity to test out new beer ideas, but it also gave the locals something [different] every week.” At TAP Fest, one of these special recipes was showcased – the Barrel Aged Caucasian. It’s the older, meaner brother of The Caucasian, one of TAP’s most popular brews. “We roll the barrels in bourbon before we put the beer in it. It came out like 11%, so the whiskey in the wood came out into the beer. You get a little bit of oak and caramel, plumpish flavors.”

Experiments like the Barrel Aged Caucasian help push the boundaries of the Dallas craft beer scene which has seen enormous growth over the past few years. TAP, BrainDead Brewing, and Lakewood Brewing are only of handful breweries that have recently popped up in DFW. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have approached many craft breweries around the nation in hopes of buying out some of the ownership.

“As brewers, I think we can stand on our own, but it may not reward growth as quickly as it possibly could if you made arrangements with other companies. It’s unfortunate some do sell completely out, but at the same time you got to understand they are looking for ways to grow and sometimes that’s the only way to do it.”

Part of being a brewer is exploring what everyone else is doing and Derrick stays fresh by visiting other breweries around the area. "It always keeps me on my toes to see what the beers are like at other breweries around [Dallas]. I am always interested to see what other people are attracted to and what they would drink if they had the opportunity.” Brain Dead Brewery actually loaned TAP some of the equipment needed to create the Barrel Aged Caucasian. Derrick paints a picture of respect and inter-commerce between the breweries.

“The craft beer industry is a brotherhood. It’s a friendly competition.”

After talking to Derrick, I hit the road and visited some of the breweries he mentioned. I took his advice and asked some of the employees to point me in the direction of their favorites. I took every recommendation, tasted some great beer, and expanded my knowledge of craft in the process.

Cheers!

Marcos Estrada

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