Ale on the trail

Photo by Kathy Tran

White Rock Alehouse owners Greg Nixon and Dave Kirk’s first batch of home brew tasted so bad they decided it would be their only. When these craft beer connoisseurs entered the brewery business, they enlisted an expert. Blake Morrison, previously of Cedar Creek Brewery and Whistle Post Brewing Co., joined the team to concoct the perfect IPAs, ales, lagers and blondes. Now the spot offers eight of their own brews and 36 total on tap. Instead of dismissing White Rock Alehouse as an East Dallas hangout, consider that Nixon, Morrison and Kirk are all Lake Highlands residents. Nixon and Kirk scoured our neighborhood for potential locations before making Gaston Avenue the brewery’s base. 

What was the first beer Nixon and Kirk made like?

Morrison: These guys brought me a beer one day. They said, “You guys gotta try this. It’s a beer a guy home brewed. We don’t even know who it’s from. They dropped it off at the alehouse.”  It had some carbonation, but I was like, “This is not good. This is actually pretty awful.” It just so happened that it was the only batch of home brew they ever made. It was about four years old. They claimed that it tasted just as good as the day that they brewed it.

Kirk: Or just as bad. However you want to describe it.

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So why do two guys with little experience open a brewery?

Kirk: Like a lot of people, we’re converts of the domestic beer world. We were at the point in our careers — late 40-something guys who wanted to do something differently. We wanted to start a new business from the ground up, so we chose craft beer. We thought East Dallas, Lake Highlands and the Lakewood area really needed something like this. 

How do you name the Alehouse’s beer?

Nixon: Our goal is to have our name somewhat connected to the lake. Bonnie Barge (brown ale) was a social boat that floated on White Rock Lake 50 years ago. Even Bringin’ Mexi Back (Mexican-style lager) has the pump house in the background [of the label]. Big Thicket (blonde) is an area around the lake. 

What are the rejects?

Morrison: So I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the term “white-girl wasted.” When we put out our hefeweizen, we didn’t have a name for it yet. [One of our servers] was like, “What about “Wheat-girl wasted?” First of all, no person that’s not a millennial is going to understand that. 

Let’s talk about the menu.

Kirk: The menu, just like a lot of things we’ve done, is collaborative. We give a lot of credit to the general manager, Brad Miller. The week before we opened the original chef we hired quit. Brad has a culinary background. He helped come up with the menu, execute it, get the doors open. To this day, the majority of the items he came up with stay on the menu. 

Nixon: Our current chef, Ben Zimmerer, came to us about two weeks in. He was at Rex’s Seafood down in Farmers Market. It’s become a little more seafood-focused.

What’s your favorite Lake Highlands restaurants?

Nixon: That’s a dangerous question. 

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Kirk: We love Tony’s. The bolognese— whew. We love that Lake Highlands is starting to get more restaurants. We’re in that family now, and we want everybody to succeed and do well. The more places that pop up, the better. 

White Rock Alehouse

7331 Gaston Ave., suite 100

whiterockalehouse.com

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