Made in Fort Worth: Wild Acre Brewing Co.
Wild Acre Brewing Company started brewing beer in the old Ranch Style Beans factory off East Lancaster about four years ago. Later this spring, they are expanding to a second location on Camp Bowie. What’s next for these guys? I sat down with founder John Pritchett to get all the dirt.
How did you get started in the beer business?
I worked for a beer distributor part time while in college at UT Austin and took a job with Ben E. Keith straight out of college… until I decided to pursue starting a brewery of my own in late 2014… I am just realizing as I speak that I have been in beer for a quarter of a century. I have done it all from warehouse work to starting a brewery to serving on the Board of the Directors for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, and very soon, opening a second brewery with a full-service restaurant.
Why Wild Acre? Where did the name come from?
At the time we opened, the two largest breweries in town were named after their founders. I started doing some deep dives into Fort Worth history, and came across the Wild Acre, a term for the district more famously known as Hell’s Half Acre in the days when Fort Worth was truly Cowtown… our location is right on the doorstep of that former district… [and] it conjured up images and feelings of wide-open spaces… I think it is Texas to the core. We want people to say it as often as possible!
With all the breweries in town, what makes Wild Acre stand out?
I think you have to be yourself and have deep belief and pride in what you are doing… down to every detailed step in the process of brewing and packaging to the relationships we build with our customers. It all matters in building the tribe that supports our company by drinking our beer… When we develop regular customers, we have stood out to them, and that is what is important to me.
I know you have a new location opening on Camp Bowie in March. Tell us about it and what we can expect?
For my money, Camp Bowie Boulevard is one of the coolest addresses in Fort Worth. It’s all Fort Worth, and I love that about it. It will be a brewery and full-service restaurant… The ability to serve that same quality of beer in a second location was of paramount importance… To achieve this, we are going to brew at our main brewery, drive it to Camp Bowie, and undergo the two to four week fermentation process [there]… This process allows us to use the water purity system and sophisticated brewing technology in the original brewery and take that show on the road.
We hired David Hollister as our Executive Chef… We are going to have a sandwich-driven menu, but it will not be your typical sandwich shop. We are brining and cooking all the meats in-house… Our sauces will be house made. He will even be making sausages and mortadella. It will truly be a scratch deli.
What piece of Wild Acre are you the proudest of?
Driving onto the property everyday, and just seeing the people working and the equipment in place and operating, etc.… It doesn’t get old. It always brings back memories of what it all looked like before, and of all the hard work it took to get it to where it is today. That always makes me a little proud, but nothing compares to seeing your beer being bought, and receiving a compliment on what Wild Acre is doing, and how great they think the beer is.
Do you have any expansion plans in the future?
Beyond Camp Bowie, we are working to take over foodservice at the main brewery. With David Hollister on board, it makes sense for us to deliver an all Wild Acre experience to our guests in the taproom… We will absolutely consider an additional brewery and restaurant location, but presently, getting Camp Bowie right is the priority.
On a distribution front, we are taking Wild Acre brands to Austin and San Antonio beginning in March… I am super excited about being available in that market.
Do you have a favorite beer? Or would it be wrong to pick?
A lot of planning and work goes into each one of them. My current streak includes Ranch Style Pilsner, Agave Americana, and our newest release, Juicy Bingo… Every occasion needs the proper Wild Acre beer, right?
Angela Weaver is a native Texan, raised in Keller, but she got to Fort Worth as soon as she could. At 17, she joined the Marine Corps and served four years active duty. After her military service ended, she went to work for a hedge fund and then a whiskey distillery, both in Fort Worth. Her most important role started in 2009 when she became a mom. She lives with her two boys in Fort Worth and spends as much time as possible on fun adventures with them. She loves to spend her time outdoors getting the full Boy Mom experience, even if that means being covered in dirt, catching fish, or shooting BB guns. She loves the sense of community she has found in Fort Worth and can’t wait share that with our readers.
Thank you Victoria and Angela for thinking about us! We all appreciate it greatly!