Monday, May 11, 2015

BrainDead brings on the beer

Gritz among three BrainDead brews now on tap in Deep Ellum (Brian Brown).

Without actually intending to, it turns out that I was the first person to order a pint of house-brewed beer at BrainDead. I'm sure you've heard of's this new brewpub thing happening down in Deep Ellum, a place that's been devoid of brewpubs since Copper Tank closed in 2001. I mean, of course you have, it's been the talk of the town since partners Sam Wynne, Jeff Fryman and Drew Huerter first announced their intentions back at the end of 2013.

Now, if we're talking history, other than Copper Tank and the currently operating Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Deep Ellum has been home to two other brewing operations over time. One was a short-lived brewpub by the name of Moon Under Water, which was around for all of two months in late 1996, while another was the Main Street Brewing Company which closed in 1998. Interestingly enough, BrainDead's address at 2625 Main Street lies at roughly the halfway point between where Copper Tank and Main Street Brewing once existed at 2600 and 2656 Main, respectively.

Of course, that was then and this is now, and most local beer geeks would be lying if they said they haven't been anticipating head brewer Huerter's newest creations since BrainDead opened in March. As for what sort of styles he has to offer, the initial focus appears to be on easy-drinking brews of a type you don't necessarily see every day.

The first of BrainDead's opening day trio of beers is Gritz, an unfiltered pre-Prohibition-style cream ale whose description is meant to imply that it's a little bolder than a traditional take on the style. In that respect it surely delivers, as it has the sort of more-forward flavor profile you might expect in a cream ale that's been imperialized. This one stays sessionable, though, with its 4.4% ABV, while its mix of grainy effervescence and a lightly-hopped finish makes it one of the more enjoyable cream ales I've had in quite some time.

As for beer number two, 75 Shilling is a straight ahead Scottish ale with a number designation that puts it between the "heavy" and "export" versions of the style as defined by the BJCP. It's got a full-flavored malt backbone with a doughy element, hints of caramelization and an earthy undertone that hits the mark on all the basic style descriptors. It's an easy drinker as well, having a light-to-medium body and an ABV under 5%.

The last beer on the list is an Export Stout, something that's rarely seen locally whether you be talking a domestic or import. In fact, the only other one I can remember of any consequence is Guinness Foreign Extra, though Rabbit Hole did release one earlier this year with a fruit infusion. Huerter's version was still carbonating over lunch, so I just had a quick taste, but that was enough to get a feel for how its slightly bitter cocoa character will pair well with the Chocolate Stout Popcorn that Chef David Pena was sampling during lunch.

Out of the three, Huerter says the Gritz and the Export Stout will be regular offerings, while 75 Shilling is currently intended to be a one-off. The latter being something we should probably get used to, as that's the beauty of a brewpub embracing a small-batch approach - something Deep Ellum has been missing for a long, long time.

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