By Meda Kessler
Photos by Shannon Skioss
How a Fort Worth-based brewery and pickle company created a happy marriage.
For those who work in the food and beverage business, collaborations are nothing new. If one person makes bread and the other makes burgers, it makes sense to bake buns for that beef.
Emily Christy, brand manager for Fort Worth-based Best Maid, says she and a buddy who worked for Martin House Brewing Company, used to talk about making IPA pickles or using some kind of beer in a Best Maid brine. It was fun to dream, but nothing ever panned out. This summer, Best Maid not only got their beer-brined pickles, but Martin House, also in Fort Worth, got their pickle beer.
What started as a one-off has ended up a “world-wide” phenomenon. “Seriously,” laughs Christy, “I’ve had friends in Australia ask me for the beer and the pickles.”
Martin House is no stranger to collaboration. This past year, they’ve brewed about 128 different beers, including 53 different types of beers in cans and 75 draft ones served only in the taproom, says Shugg Cole,
marketing director at the brewery. “We do a sour beer festival in the spring and added Best Maid pickle juice to The Salty Lady as one of the festival brews. It sold out first. I knew we had to figure out a way to can the pickle beer. I checked with the Best Maid people, and we came up with a plan for a special release.”
Cole came up with an idea for a can that would make it look like a pickle jar. “I gave our graphic artist a basic idea and, of course, he ran with it.”
The August launch proved to both companies that pickle beer might be worth offering year-round.
On a very hot Saturday, people were standing in long lines to get their allotment of two six-packs. It also sold out quickly at retailers. “Sales and social media went beyond our wildest expectations,” says Christy. “We wanted to make the partnership official and work on longevity.”
One might think it would take a lot of meetings and R&D to get a new flavor on the market. But for Best Maid, which has been around for 93 years, and Martin House, which started brewing officially in 2013, it was surprisingly easy. It simply came down to the Best Maid owners meeting the Martin House owners, drinking a beer together and saying, “Let’s do it.” Included in that meeting was Gary Dalton, grandson of the founders, who still goes to the office every day.
“They’re both family-oriented companies based in Fort Worth, so it made sense to us all,” says Christy.
To welcome Martin House to the Best Maid family, company president and fourth-generation owner Brian Dalton invited the brewery owners and staff to visit the cucumber fields in West Texas. Brian orchestrated a photo shoot while they got to see how and where pickle making gets it start. “It was a quick trip but they got to see a lot,” says Dalton.
Best Maid pickle beer will be available starting in mid-October at bars and restaurants, with cans making their way to retailers in late October. Jars of Salty Lady beer pickles are now available for sale in the Martin House taproom and will be in wide release soon. Also, thanks to the familiarity of the Best Maid brand, the brewery is seeing interest in the pickle beer outside their Texas distribution. Cole says, “It’s good to be part of the pickle family.”
Best Maid Follow the Fort Worth company on social media @bestmaidpickles for the latest
on beer pickles and more. They also ship; check out bestmaidproducts.com.
Martin House Brewing Company The Fort Worth taproom is located at 220 S. Sylvania Ave. Follow them on social media @martinhousebrewing or check out the website, martinhousebrewing.com for information about tours and tastings.