Lizard Tail looks forward to their first full year in 2015

Posted: January 27, 2015 by adamauden in Look Back/Look Ahead Series 2014-15

Greetings everyone, Adam from the Bullpen here with the 17th post in our Look Back/Look Ahead series for 2014-15. Click on the category link above in the byline and you will find everything we’ve written so far in this series. We hope to get the remaining entries published by the end of January.

Lizard Tail was one of several new breweries to open in 2014.

Lizard Tail was one of several new breweries to open in 2014.

It was less than six months back when Stoutmeister and I first visited Lizard Tail to preview their opening, but a lot has been going on since then in the corner of this strip mall at Eubank and Montgomery. I sat down with Dan Berry, head brewer and co-founder, to find out more about how things are going and what they have in store for 2015.

Adam: “So how was your 2014?”

Dan: “Lots of learning for sure. We’ve made good headway in the process; I’m really excited for the new batch of recipes. I’m so excited for the new stuff, because it’s coming out (as) ‘That’s what I was going for’. Some of them, the ESB, first shot, exactly what I wanted, well except for the oak, which I’m going to try adding. My long-term plan was to dial in the basic recipes and then I can start playing with it. Hops, fruit, maybe some cocoa nibs in there.”

The plan is for the regular lineup to be these existing beers:

  • Bluetail Blonde
  • Horned Honey Pale
  • Reptilian IPA
  • Sanddigger Dubbel
  • Basilisk Brown
  • Desert Night India Black Ale
  • Black Bearded Rye Stout
  • Belgian Wit
  • ESB (Oaked)

The Berliner Weiss is moving to be a seasonal, with added raspberries, and is being replaced by a new Wit. The amber is being amped up to become an Imperial Red as a fall seasonal. Also added to the regular lineup will be an oaked ESB.

The full lineup is now available at Lizard Tail.

The full lineup is now available at Lizard Tail.

With the core beers dialed in, Dan will be experimenting a little more with the seasonal offerings, looking at some more unusual styles. Look out for a Grätzer this spring and additional oaked beers. Somewhat outside of their more malt-driven approach, they will be adding an imperial IPA as a seasonal. This comes from an old recipe from back when Dan could drink hoppy beers, so he tells me.

A: “Are things as you expected them to be at this point? How far are you from where you planned?

D: “With the brewery, I’m really, really happy with that. I actually expected that to be more of a challenge because, what they tell you at the American Brewers Guild, taking a year to really dial everything in, so I think we did really well on that level. Marketing, I just suck at it and I’m not into it, it’s not my thing. In the Brewers Guild they say there are three things that come before quality, and I’m all about quality because I love beer! Besides marketing there is location — well, it’s not a terrible location, but it could be better — and management — which neither of us [Dan and co-founder Ken Rhoades] have any management experience. I’ve been a manager at Intel, but that’s a totally different animal to running a business.

“I will let this slip — I’m actually going to put in my distributors license, but we’re not going to get that until July. We’ll probably lose money on those kegs since we’re such a small scale, but it might be worth it for marketing value and for the brewery health, keep things moving through there fast, pitching the yeast; that’s probably why the Guild say a year. We’ve got a good grip on that now, even without a yeast lab. Even a basic one would be the last thing to help us really dial in the consistency.”

The equipment has been humming in the back of Lizard Tail.

The equipment has been humming in the back of Lizard Tail.

On top of getting their beers out there via distribution, they are also looking to get themselves out of the brewery, too. They weren’t able to get organized for WinterBrew last week, however they hope to get involved in more festivals and competitions this year and have already signed up for this year’s IPA Challenge.

A: “So are you going to have your Imperial IPA ready for the challenge?”

D: “Yeah, that and we’ll have our English IPA ready, too. That’s summer so hopefully that’s one of the recipes that just comes right in!”

(Author’s note: I’m looking forward to trying both of these!)

A: “I have to ask, how are the new neighbors (The Local Brewhouse) treating you?”

D: “Basically, I’m actually part of it. Steve (Pitt, the owner of Local Brewhouse and the location’s previous incarnations) was always around when we were setting this whole thing up. We just talked, kicking around ideas, and it just spawned this idea. Sounded like a good one to me, so here we are.”

A: “Does this play into the distribution plans you have?”

D: “Yeah, we’ll probably be putting three or four over there. The thing I like about what they’ve done is they have a little bit of everything. Things we don’t have the space to do here. I feel like the more people we bring to the area, it helps everyone.”

Hopefully they’re right and these beers will find their audience over the year. I think anyone who has tried Lizard Tail a few times since the summer will agree the recipes are really coming together and they’re getting into their stride. I, for one, look forward to trying the fruits of their continued experimentation this year!


— Adam

  1. […] Lizard Tail opened their doors in 2014, bringing craft beer back to the far Northeast Heights. They have finalized their regular beer menu now. Expect some new seasonals in the future, plus they have plans for limited distribution later this year, including right next door at The LOCAL Brewhouse. […]

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