Where there’s a dill, there’s a way
Travis Bush lost his job at a local brewery a few years ago and decided he didn’t want to work for anyone else.
The East Dallas resident and former brewmaster had experimented a lot with beer in recipes — sauces, soups and even baking with beer. He read about a brewpub in Boston that was making pickles with beer to serve with sandwiches and snacks. So he tried it himself.
He canned several batches of beer pickles for friends, who told Bush they would buy the salty treats.
“I sold them at Deep Ellum outdoor market, and it went from there,” Bush says.
He launched T-Rex Pickles in 2014.
The pickles can be found at farmers markets, including Good Local Market at Lake Pointe Church on Garland Road every Saturday, and at neighborhood grocery stores, including Cox Farms in West Dallas.
T-Rex Pickles use Dallas-based Four Corners Brewing Co. beer. El Súper Bee saison or Local Buzz rye provide flavor to the dill pickle recipes. Notorious O.A.T. oatmeal stout makes bread-and-butter pickles.
Any time the brewery releases a special beer, Bush comes up with a new pickle recipe to match it. And he’s not limited to cucumbers.
When Four Corners released Celebración, a Belgian strong dark ale, Bush pickled pears with it in his East Dallas home.
“Experimenting is my favorite part of what I do,” he says. “I make a lot of dill pickles and a lot of bread-and-butters all the time. So when I get to do something different, it’s a lot of fun.”
T-Rex also has pickled smoked jalapeños, asparagus, roasted baby bell peppers, garlic and rosemary, squash, nopales and cranberries, among other fruits and veggies.
Not all produce stands up to pickling, though.
“I tried doing plum halves, and they ended up looking like some kind of shriveled alien object,” he says.
The most popular T-Rex pickles are the hot dill and hot bread-and-butter, Bush says.
“I have people who come and ask for the same thing all the time,” he says. “One guy buys a half-gallon of the hot dills every couple of weeks.”
The business grew so quickly that Bush’s wife, Liz, quit her job in retail management to join the company.
“I couldn’t do any of this without her. She’s the one who makes the tables look nice at the markets, and she does a great job selling,” Bush says. “She also helps with production and labeling and all the other stuff, so we make a great team.”
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