Original State Fair Brew gets a squeeze of strawberry from Arlington craft beer makers
Cofounders Greg McCarthy and Curt Taylor show off a few of Legal Draft's brews. (photo by Karen Gavis)
A new craft beer, which has been described as strawberry waffle-flavored, is headed to the State Fair of Texas. Strawberry Wheatness will take its place as the Original State Fair Brew this weekend. It’s the second-year-in-a-row that Arlington’s Legal Draft Beer Company has supplied the select brew.
The “wheat makes for, like, a bready flavor,” says Legal Draft cofounder Greg McCarthy. “At the fair this year, they’re going to serve that one with a powdered sugar rim and a slice of strawberry.”
Last year, the brewery supplied a limited edition, pumpkin spice beer which Legal Draft cofounder Curt Taylor says consisted of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin puree, and a few malts served with a cinnamon sugar rim.
It’s a sweet gig that McCarthy says all started when Rudy and Justin Martinez, who live in Arlington and are behind the Original State Fair Brew brand, decided that they wanted to support a local brewery. Rudy and Justin have had a presence at the State Fair for decades. This year, the two men worked with Legal Draft brewmeister Henryk Orlik to create the new strawberry flavor. McCarthy explained that the process can be difficult because the strawberry flavor can sometimes be lost due to temperatures and must be added onto the back end.
“Henryk did a small batch,” Taylor said. “We made a couple of adjustments, but basically, Henryk hit it right on the head as far as what they were looking for in the flavor.”
McCarthy explained that Legal Draft Beer Company can’t sell beer directly to consumers anywhere except at the brewery, which is located at 500 E. Division Street. And even then, the beer must be consumed on premises, which means, unless the law changes, there will never be an actual Legal Draft beer stand at the State Fair of Texas, McCarthy says. However, several of Legal Draft’s beers will be available on the fairgrounds at places like Trio on the Green.
Impeachment, a peach-flavored IPA that Taylor says has “been flying off the shelves,” is another Legal Draft concoction that’ll pour at the State Fair.
While taking a break from kegging smash, McCarthy and Taylor talked about a few of the brewery’s other beers such as Legal Holiday, which is sort of like a Christmas cookie made with six different malts, and the Fall Guy, a coppery ale made with fall spices. Taylor explained how it takes about three weeks to brew a batch of beer, and McCarthy says the brewery produces about 1,500 gallons a day.
Orlik, who grew up in Bavaria, started crafting beer as a teenager and has been brewing about 40 years now. He says when he first heard of Legal Draft’s business plan, he thought the idea was fantastic and wanted to be a part of it. When he first began creating beer at Legal Draft, he wasn’t a fan of IPAs. But now, he is.
“Smash and Grab is my favorite,” he says. “I can drink this all-day long. This beer has so much harmony between bitterness and sweetness. It’s beautiful.”
Legal Draft Beer Company hopes that craft beer lovers will feel the same about Strawberry Wheatness. Taylor says the beer is not State Fair of Texas exclusive and should be available soon in San Antonio and parts of West Texas as well as local taprooms.
Legal Draft Beer Company taproom manager Rene' Muniz. (photo by Karen Gavis)