I first met Roger Wall in the extensive, well-stocked beer aisle of Granbury’s Kroger store. Along those 150-ish feet of adult beverages, Roger and I engaged in the awkward beer-buying ritual of crisscrossing in front of and behind each other, exchanging “excuse me”s until I finally struck up a conversation with the guy lingering over a chocolate stout for five minutes. Roger, as I quickly learned, was no ordinary Sunday afternoon beer hunter. He and wife Jessica Wall had just bought a bunch of land a block north of Granbury’s excessively stereotypical town square. This was the summer of 2016, and the Walls had big plans.
Fast forward to fall 2018, and we find Roger and Jennifer have turned their considerably skilled hands to serving world-class cocktails to the residents and visitors of Granbury. Having served his country for 20 years, Air Force Fuel Specialist Roger has a long-held passion for making high-quality liquor. Jennifer, on reaching her 20 years of service in the Air Force in 2016, was itching to be her own boss while utilizing her emergency management skill-set. Put together Roger’s love of handmade liquor and Jennifer’s logistics experience, buy a three-quarters-of-a-block lot just north of Granbury Town Square, and mix with 18 months of cash, sweat, tears, and joy, and the result is Local Goat, a high-end distillery and tasting room with big flavors to match its ambition.
The travails of turning a derelict car lot originally built by “good old boys,” as Roger says, for the notorious gangster Billy Sol Estes were many and varied. Roger best sums them up as “needing to have a strong relationship” to deal with remodeling delays, family bereavements, the birth of their son, and regulatory headaches. Roger is, as I found him in 2016, a master of understatement. The result? “Burning the candle at both ends and in the middle –– in fact, just throw out the candle,” Roger said, not at all wearily as he tacked on the nugget that, all the while, he and Jennifer “ran the goat farm.” The goats in the name of the distillery are actual creatures, and they feature on the labels of the good stuff now coming from the still.
Local Goat opened in February, and the tasting room is unrecognizable from the run-down place of 2016. Inside, you will find a 3,500-square-foot distillery, producing some of the finest vodka, rum, and gin in North Texas, all served in the 1,000-square-foot tasting room. The drinking emporium has a homely yet high-end wood cabin feel, with a statement bar and space for around 100 guests. Add a wrap-around patio outside that is home to live acoustic songbirds on Friday and Saturday nights, and you have the perfect setting for fabulous adult beverages made with love by a dedicated and knowledgeable team –– or so the PR blurb might say. As I see it, Local Goat is like the old venue for The Bearded Lady but with smooth and attentive service. (In the tasting room, you can set drinks on a piece of West Coast college sports lore in the shape of tables made from a UCLA basketball court.)
Business has been brisk from the outset, Roger said. The cocktail menu showcases all of the in-house distilled liquor. Particular highlights include the Prickly Pear Mojito (rum, sugar cane juice, prickly pear, lime, mint, soda), TX Peach Mule (peach vodka, peach puree, lemon, ginger beer), and Love Potion #9 (Citron vodka, blueberries, strawberries, orange liqueur, prickly pear, pomegranate, orange blossom water). Drinks are mixed with juices, bitters, tinctures, and even barbecue sauce made in-house. I detest Bloody Marys, but Roger insists that he did too until he tasted one from his own place.
“Get one,” he told me recently. “I’ll finish it if you don’t like it.”
Alcohol of all types can be soaked up with a range of deliciousness from a menu loaded with local ingredients. Do not leave the building without trying the street tacos, bacon-and-brie grilled cheese, and, my personal favorite, the locally sourced cheese board.
Roger said that he and Jennifer “never imagined it would be this busy from the start,” though they feel entirely vindicated in their ambitious three-year plan. July saw the newest addition: a twice-monthly farmers’ market, on first and third Saturdays. Expect to see a small, highly specialized craft beer operation, cigar lounge, and a live music stage appear on the property, too. Go there. It’s a straight shot down 377 and a lovely drive to boot. Then come back and thank me in the comments section.
Editor’s Note: Two names were misspelled and corrected in this post.
Local Goat Distillery
607 N Houston St, Granbury. 817-776-4889.