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Photo by Christina Berger

I’m a Fort Worth snob, born with a natural aversion to Dallas and an equally strong affinity for my hometown. When it was time to spread my wings and (attempt to) fly the nest despite the weight of my college debt, I refused to look anywhere outside of the city proper.

Even so, I know there are plenty of places worth exploring outside of Panther City — which is how I found myself in Keller at Shannon Brewing Co. (818 N Main St, 817-337-9892) one stormy Thursday evening. 

Founded by Shannon Carter in 2014, Shannon Brewing Co. touts natural beer that’s “fire-brewed with pure Texas spring water” — purportedly the only joint in the States to use this centuries-old method, which originated in Ireland, of heating the mash in two separate stages of the process.

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The profession runs in the family. Carter’s great-grandfather was a brewmaster in Ireland, and his handwritten letters detailing the firing process inspired Carter, a longtime homebrewer, to follow in his footsteps.

So why Keller? That’s where the “all-natural” part comes in. Samantha Springs lies just half a mile up the road, and it’s the main reason Carter chose the location. Instead of hauling water to the foundry, they source it themselves. Natural and smart.

The tucked-away brick building resides off the beaten path down a long, narrow dirt driveway. I would have missed the turn had it not been for a wooden barrel on North Main Street displaying its name in a font evocative of Gaelic script. 

When we arrived, my companion and I were the only two women within the modest taproom, which was sparsely decorated for Halloween. Opting to sample several draughts before committing to a single pint, we retrieved flight cards from the laidback bartender and jotted down our choices.

The real shame of the trip was that the wind and patter prevented us from enjoying the partially covered outdoor patio. Perhaps in solidarity, the strung lights gloomily flickered, struggling to remain lit against the elements.

From our barstool perch indoors, my friend and I each worked our way from palest to darkest. The Tejas Blonde and Irish Red were refreshingly light — classic ales, save for a hoppy, almost carbonated aftertaste. Regardless of the subtle, unexpected fizz, they’re the kind of cold ones you’d bring to a barbecue or day of beach-bumming.

Transitioning to a fruity lager, I took a whiff of Peaches ’n Cream and immediately detected vanilla. That same taste overpowered the peach flavor. Not usually one to waste alcohol, I abandoned the drink with an ounce left in the bulb — and instead, cleansed the palate with my friend’s Irish Coffee, a delicious malt with a robust java flavor. 

The final, however, was my favorite. Like my go-to beer, the 512 Pecan Porter, Shannon’s dark Hazelnut Chocolate Stout was deceptively thin and smoother than anticipated. Maybe it was the dreary weather or its subsequent promise of continued fall temperatures, but Shannon’s rich porters gave me the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from drinking tea in your slippers by a crackling hearth.

As the night went on, handfuls of people streamed in and engaged in relaxed conversation. Some dressed in athleisure, probably part of Shannon’s running club, and several brought their tykes and furry companions. One much older dog with milky eyes limped about, donning a birthday hat complete with a pom-pom.

Besides a few initial barks, the pups stayed close to their owners — except for one docile creature who freely roamed the bar, going from person to person and offering his rump for pets. Later, I discovered he’s the brewery mascot and guardian, Arlo.

Arlo, courtesy of Facebook

Online, the Keller brewhouse characterizes itself as “wholesome.” I’d say that’s a fitting descriptor of Shannon Brewing Co. and my experience there. The staff are welcoming, and the establishment is unassuming with an organically tranquil atmosphere. I’d happily venture north and brave the I-35 rush hour again — especially once patio weather returns. 

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