Texas Connects Us: Lakewood Brewery

A North Texas man went from the advertising industry to launching one of the most popular breweries in Texas.

Wim Bens, 38, has always enjoyed tinkering with home brews.

"It's something that gets under your skin," he said. "And you just go with it."

His original brewing equipment was set up in his driveway. He built the metal frame in a welding class.

To fully understand Bens's passion, you have to appreciate where he's from.

"I'm from Belgium originally," he said, with a smile. "Everyone wishes I had a lineage of brewers, stirring the pot back in the 1800s, but I don't."

Bens moved to Mansfield when he was seven years old and his parents transferred to work in Fort Worth.

He went to college at Southern Methodist University and graduated with a degree in advertising, eventually working his way up to creative director.

"It was a good job, it was a great paying job," Wim recalled. "But my interest in beer and in home-brewing was coming up as my interest in the advertising industry was kinda going downhill, and it sort of came to a head."

So, just for fun, he applied to the American Brewers Guild. And he got accepted.

"It required a five-week, unpaid, full time, apprenticeship at the very end," Bens said. "So, do I want to keep my job, or do I want to jump head-first into this brewing thing and see where that goes?"

He and his family took the plunge.

"Right after I quit my job, I found out we were pregnant, so ... yeah," Bens joked.

But the risk led to a big reward.

He is now founder and president of Lakewood Brewery.

Over the past four years, Lakewood has grown into a multi-million dollar company and is one of the top three breweries in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The brewery employs 30 people who brew beer 24 hours a day, five days a week.

And you can find their beer in more than 6,500 bars, restaurants and stores across Texas.

Bens has come a long way since those initial beers in the driveway, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

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