Restaurants / Bars

Bishop Cider Buys Two Fort Worth Area Breweries, Plans a Major Beer Expansion With Cidercade Power

Get All the Insider Details — a PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 05.22.22

When the husband and wife co-founders of Bishop Cider opened their quaint 700-square-foot cider bar in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District near Lockhart Smokehouse in 2014, who would have ever guessed it would lead to this? Joel Malone and Laura Malone are purchasing two Tarrant County breweries — Legal Draft Beer Co. and Wild Acre Brewing — and they aren’t just dipping their toes into the beer world. They are kicking open the door and taking some serious ground

PaperCity Fort Worth has all the exclusive details.

After six years, Arlington’s Legal Draft Beer Co. officially called it quits last March, leaving behind a cool location in downtown Arlington and some coveted brewing equipment. Equipment is very tough to come by with today’s supply chain shortages. Bishop Cider scooped up both the location and the brewing equipment, but Bishop did not assume any of Legal Draft’s liabilities and will not market beer bearing the Legal Draft name.

Instead, Bishop Cider plans to open a Cidercade location in the Arlington space around the end of this year.

The former Legal Draft will soon become Arlington’s first Cidercade.

Bishop currently operates three Cidercade bars ― in Dallas, Austin and Houston.

These adult play lands give customers what it calls “free play” — access to hundreds of video games and activities with a $10 day pass or a monthly membership. There are also dozens of taps of Bishop Cider to choose from as well as a menu of crafty nibbles like 10-inch personal pizzas or wings (the Houston and Austin Cidercades only have food trucks at this time).

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The drinks menu at all the Cidercades “will remain Cider-only,” Bishop Cider and TexBev CEO Joel Malone tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

Wild Acre Brewing

By far, the biggest prize for Bishop Cider is the acquisition of the Fort Worth-founded Wild Acre Brewing.

“I looked at every single winery, brewery, or distillery in North Texas,” Malone says. “I believe there were around 196. By far the Wild Acre location has the most potential for growth. There wasn’t a close second.”

John Pritchett opened Wild Acre in June of 2016 in the former Ranch Style Beans Plant on Fort Worth’s near east side. While Wild Acre repurposed a portion of that iconic building, it still holds vast untapped potential. The property comprises nearly 200,000 square feet of warehouse space and sits on 21 acres.

Wild Acre Brewing brand will live on.

TexBev, the beverage co-packing company owned by Bishop Cider, plans to relocate its operations from Dallas to this newly acquired Fort Worth facility. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of May, Malone tells PaperCity.

The move will allow TexBev to expand its capacity and capabilities with the addition of the equipment from Bishop’s Dallas cidery and Legal Draft’s Arlington brewery.

Wild Acre beer will continue to be produced at the facility, but the beer brand will be getting a refresh. The Malones also plan to make further investments in equipment. The Wild Acre beer recipes will be fine tuned by another big name in Texas brewing ― Grant Wood, who was most recently the co-founder and brewmaster of Revolver Brewing.

“John Pritchett has built a gorgeous facility,” Malone says. “If you are an industrial manufacturing nerd like me, you get it. There’s some serious untapped infrastructure at that location and we plan to exploit it.

“John has built a very impressive facility and the beer can hold its own against other local breweries, but I believe there is potential to compete on a larger stage.”

Malone confirms that Bishop Cider did not acquire either of Wild Acre’s other locations in this deal. Instead, the popular Wild Acre in Fort Worth’s Ridglea Hills, which opened in 2020, and serves delicious sandwiches courtesy of Chef David Hollister will be closing as a Wild Acre within a couple of months, Joel Malone tells PaperCity exclusively. Then, it will become another brewpub with a different owner.

The previously announced Wild Acre, which was planned for Fairview, North of Dallas, will become a location of the same brewpub concept that is taking over the Ridglea Hills location.

A Cidercade Invasion

Along with the purchase of Legal Draft and Wild Acre properties, Bishop Cider has secured sites for new entertainment lands in both Dallas and Arlington, with two more planned for Fort Worth.

Construction is currently underway on the first Cidercade planned for Fort Worth. It will be located just south of downtown at 1813 West Bowie Street. It will be the largest Cidercade to date at 25,000 square feet and is expected to open by the end of summer. Another Cidercade will be eventually installed at the warehouse at 1734 East El Paso Street.

Construction in progress on Fort Worth’s first Cidercade location, the largest to date.

Arlington will get its first Cidercade at the former Legal Draft location at 500 East Division Street. Dallas’ current Cidercade is also going to get relocated. A drastically expanded Cidercade Dallas will mushroom to some 79,000 square feet in its new location at 1555 Regal Row. That is nearly 10 times larger than its current one at 2777 Irving Boulevard, Suite 200.

Expect games and activities that Cidercade does not offer at any location in Texas.

Bishop Ciders beers are currently sold and distributed in Texas, Oklahoma and select states in the Northeast (where it is pronounced si-da).

“Although Laura and I live in Dallas, we’ve been finding ourselves in Fort Worth more often lately,” Malone says. “Fort Worth feels like Dallas’ nicer and more relaxed sibling.”

Bishop Cider is making big moves in the beverage and entertainment world. Be on the lookout for more — including a new entertainment concept in Fort Worth.

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