Little d joins the macro world of microbrews.

Story and photo by Adam Schrader Denton Live: July-Dec 2014

What happens when you combine two UNT graduates—one an entrepreneur with a master’s in strategic management and another a history buff with a bachelor of arts in radio, television, video and film? Not much. But when you add their love for craft beer, an old keg, two Igloo coolers, a pair of beat-up tables and a turkey fryer to the mix, you wind up with Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins, co-founders of Denton’s Armadillo Ale Works.

The pair, friends for more than 10 years, met on their way to a concert in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood. Before long, their craft-brewing adventure was off and running—one 10-gallon batch at a time.

Yianni, the CEO, always wanted to start his own business. And Bobby, CBO (chief brewing officer), realized after a job at Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston that bringing his love of beer and Denton together would be a great combination.

Now the two run the first—and only—craft brewery in Denton, Their aim is ambitious: Do for Denton what Shiner Bock did for Shiner.

“The motto of Denton is ‘Original. Independent.’ and the things that we like, like the close-knit community, that’s something that Denton really exemplifies,” Yianni said. “What we want our brand to represent is really what Denton represents for us.”

The partners entered the UNT Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship’s 2010 New Venture Creation Contest and won third place. Of course, they blew their cash prize on beer—funding promotional events and ever-important test batches of their brew.

The initial plan was to start a nanobrewery with small batches to have product available in Denton bars. That changed when the owners of Deep Ellum Brewing Company met them at a beer festival and liked what they were doing in Denton. In 2012, they offered to help get Armadillo off the ground in return for a cut of the profits. Working with Deep Ellum, Armadillo brews 60 barrels of beer on any day. Less than two years after placing in the entrepreneurship competition, you can find their beer at more than 150 retailers throughout North Texas, Austin and Houston.

Brunch Money If you’ve never had a beer that fits with your Sunday brunch, get your brunch on with Brunch Money, a stout-inspired golden ale. Perfect for the lightweights out there, this limited-edition, seasonal brew is deceivingly strong with delicious flavor at 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Drink it with some chicken and waffles from local food truck The Waffle Wagon. (It pairs so well that Armadillo Ale Works had them on hand for the brew’s launch party at Oak Street Draft House and Cocktail Parlor!) In order to get stout-like flavors into this brunch-friendly beer without adding dark coloring, AAW used cacao nibs, vanilla and beans from Bookish Coffee Roasters in Denton.

Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale Unlike any ale you’ve ever had, at 5.2 percent ABV this “American-Belgian-Weizen hybrid” is a light-golden brew and the perfect match for an evening relaxing on the porch of a local pub. Take a six-pack to your next pool party and wash down a delicious burger with this easy-drinking unfiltered wheat beer full of flavors of honey, citrus and coriander. They could filter the haze out but “that would take away from the yeast hanging around adding great citrusy and spicy flavors to the beer.” You don’t get all that from the name and might expect a straightforward Saison. It’s more of a Hefeweizen with flavor and funk. If you are out and it’s hot, Greenbelt is better than the Quakertown—especially if you don’t drink a lot of blondes.

Quakertown Stout Named for the Quakertown settlement in Denton, it’s a blend of dark roasted malts, oats and maple syrup with 9.22 percent ABV. This toasty stout is the perfect winter brew but works great in summer when matched with BBQ, bacon or steak. This dark stout tastes of coffee, chocolate, nuts and oats, and Armadillo hops it “with some bitter Columbus hops to help balance out all the malty sweetness.” Quakertown is available on draught and in 22 ounce bottles around Denton.