In a detached garage, a group of four friends get to brewing. Using portable fans in the summer to stay cool and try to retain heat in winter, they work through any condition.
The brewing process can take up to eight hours, so guests come in and out of the carport. Playing games, bringing an occasional dog and more recently, a baby, the group keeps brewing.
Teaching techniques and testing out new beers, award-winning recipes and a new brewery come out of this garage.
Collin Zreet and Jenni Hanley were born and raised in Lake Highlands and recently gave birth to their business, Funky Picnic, in Fort Worth.
The two Lake Highlands alumni started brewing together through a mutual friend and fellow Funky Picnic owner, Samantha Glenn. Zreet met Glenn through ultimate Frisbee, and Hanley met her through a kickball team.
Hanley and her husband, John Koch, a fourth co-owner, opened up their Fort Worth garage to the team. Under the name “Panther Street,” the group began entering local brewing competitions.
After winning the 2014 Brew Riot competition, Panther Street’s brewing quickly escalated as they entered more competitions and started to gain a presence in the homebrew scene.
“Beer is part science, part art.”
“Once you start scaling up, and the more technical your system gets, the more money you start throwing at it,” Hanley says. “We kind of did that pretty quickly.”
In the following years, their team won competitions at Riverside Shootout and Iron Mash.
“It was just a combination of entering all of these competitions and finishing really well and thinking, ‘Oh, maybe we can actually build a business plan around this,’” Zreet says.
They opened Funky Picnic Brewery and Café in the South Main District of Fort Worth in June.
Why Fort Worth?
“Our home brew club is Fort Worth-based, so a lot of the competitions and things we were doing were more on the Fort Worth side,” Zreet says. “Since we already had that recognition on the Fort Worth side, we kind of wanted to continue that.”
They’re members of the Cap and Hare Homebrew Club, which has bred several breweries.
“The overall craft beer community is very helpful with each other,” Zreet says. “Even though they’re technically competitors, they’re still willing to help us out.”
The name Funky Picnic is a nod to Fort Worth’s nickname, “Funky Town,” but also to their “outside-the-box” beers.
“The picnic angle, we’ve always really loved being outdoors, whether it’s camping, hiking, ultimate Frisbee, kickball, what have you,” Hanley says. “We really wanted to celebrate that.”
While many breweries are in converted warehouse spaces or outdoor venues, the Funky Picnic is a restaurant-style space. It’s kid-friendly and has air conditioning.
Along with working a full-time job and being a co-owner of the brewery, Zreet also became a certified cicerone, the beer equivalent of a sommelier.
“Beer is part science, part art. You just have to know all the science behind it to be able to hit your numbers and have that repeatability,” Zreet says. “But then also you need the art component to know that the flavors go well together and come up with unique and interesting combinations.”