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Tapping into good times

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Brad Trapnell creates a hangout for beer connoisseurs at What's On Tap in Highland Village. (Photo by Bill Castleman)
Brad Trapnell creates a hangout for beer connoisseurs at What’s On Tap in Highland Village. (Photo by Bill Castleman)

A beer connoisseur would find What’s On Tap in Highland Village the perfect hangout. A novice would be intrigued by how much there is to learn about beer.

Tucked inside the District of Highland Village development off FM 407, What’s On Tap brings an assortment of local brewers’ yields all into one location where Brad Trapnell has created a business based on a lifelong love of the yeasty beverage.

A brewer himself, Brad dabbled in home brewing as he worked in the mortgage loan service industry, realizing recently that a dream could become a reality if he just sat down and drew up a business plan.

“My wife and I would drive to downtown Dallas,” he said of the couple’s jaunts south to find places serving local brews. “Our thinking transformed from ‘why can’t we do that’ to ‘why don’t we do that.’ ”

So he did. And what he created is a blend of brewing history mixed with local flavor from the 36 assorted beers to the hand-hewn tables from a local Flower Mound High School wood smith. A logo on the wall features a veritable history lesson on the brewing industry from Prohibition through today. And, if you look closely, the business name is cleverly placed amid the photos of old-time saloons, World War II soldiers enjoying a cold brew and runners beside their trucks loaded with homemade brews ready to hit the road.

The most eye catching element, besides the multiple taps lining one wall behind the bar, is the large assortment of growlers – another historical element gaining in popularity in the brewing industry.

The term, growler, is derived from when CO2 (carbon dioxide) escaped from homemade brews, creating a sort of growling sound. It later referred to the containers used to cart brews home. Over the years, growlers evolved into 32-ounce and 64-ounce bottles with darkened glass to limit the effects of sunlight on beer.

At What’s On Tap, a person can buy a flight for $10 to taste four 4-ounce beers before filling a growler with the beverage of his or her choice. Brad and his crew keep tabs on the popular selling brews, seasonal brews, new brewers and more to change up the menu every three to four days, ensuring visitors a different selection on almost every visit. Prices generally range from $5-$7 for pint to $7-16 for a growler. Visitors can even bring their own growlers to be filled.

“We decide carefully,” Brad said, adding they consider exotic, popular and seasonal brews. Also available for those not into beer is a list of several wines, maple root beer and even HolyKombucha Blood Orange Basil tea.

A number of taps line one wall, offering a variety of brews. (Photo by Bill Castleman)
A number of taps line one wall, offering a variety of brews. (Photo by Bill Castleman)

Now listed on a ceiling-to-floor blackboard, the menu will soon be digital, allowing people to see which beers are the most popular, which ones are almost sold out, which people like what beers (if they care to share), what beers staff suggests and more.

The idea, Brad says, is to make it fun. Soon after he began working on the business at 2570 FM 407 in Suite 170 and before it opened, people would stop by asking when the opening date was. “It blew me away,” he said, adding the interest in a local place to sip local brews was evidently quite strong.

Soon, he had kickball, softball and singles groups planning meetings and after-game gatherings at What’s On Tap.

Though he’s only been open a short time, Brad is already working on expanding services such as delivering growlers to people who can order online. He also plans to offer catering to private parties, corporate gatherings and other group events.

“With beer catering (of local brews), they’re getting something that’s unique and different,” he said.

Cans and bottles of beers will also be available soon, adding to the wide selection of brews at What’s On Tap.

Along with sipping brews comes a desire to eat. So Brad worked with a Dallas friend to bring in jumbo pretzels, hot dogs and brat dogs. More food choices could be possible soon, he said. In addition to indoor seating, Brad plans to add outdoor seating on the patio in the back. Near the back, another ceiling-to-floor blackboard with a pail of chalk nearby serves as the perfect outlet for a family with children in tow.

Behind the bar, Matthew Alan Howard regales visitors with the history of breweries in the region and how different brews attained their flavors. His appreciation for beer shows in his enthusiasm for what he calls his perfect job.

“This is definitely what I want to do,” he said.

Look carefully to find the logo embedded in the photos from years past. (Photo by Bill Castleman)
Look carefully to find the logo embedded in the photos from years past. (Photo by Bill Castleman)

Listen awhile and you’ll learn about the Rabbit Hole Brewing in Justin or the Cobra Brewing Company in Lewisville. “If they have a question, I’m always glad to talk to people about it,” Matthew said.

“Every brewery and every beer has a story,” Brad said. “This is a community of beer.”

On his website, whatsontapbeer.com, Brad writes: “We are collectively known as The Beer Tribe. We may not be easily recognized for we come in many forms (neighbor, college student, avid aficionado, runners, cyclists, teachers, pilots and more).  We refuse to accept the status quo of average and plain beers, are always looking for the perfect pour and will scour the world to find it. … We value that wherever there’s great beer, there is community and know intuitively that beer tastes better when shared with a friend.”

The list of beers piques the interest of passersby with names like Dawn of the Dank, Hung the Moon, Blood and Honey (with blood oranges and local honey flavoring), Operation Collaboration, Velvet Hammer, Rhapsody Blackberry, Midnight Ninja, Somethin’ Shady and many more.

But you’d better be quick as the menu might change. After all, there are so many brews from which to choose, Brad said.

“This is a beer renaissance we’re living in right now.”

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