Open during 2014, Dallas-based BRAINDEAD BREWING quickly became friendly competition for neighboring Deep Ellum Brewing.
A no-frills pub with a mind-blowing 30-plus taps of proprietary beers and ales, Braindead’s best fare may well be the one-off barrel aged elixirs, robust Imperial Stouts and brettanomyces-laden sour ales.
Serviced by an 18-stool polyurethane-wooded bar with diamond plate backing and unique refrigerator-doored tap mounts, this roomy freestanding site also features a spacious front deck with fireplace and umbrellas as well as a street-side black railroad engine.
Several wood tables and booths plus two vast community tables and stacked liquor barrels consume the interior. Illuminating palletized drum-shaded lamps light the facility. In the back, large brew tanks hold the serious suds I’ll quaff with my friend, Jeff, during a 2-hour stopover, November ’17.
Out of the four ‘Core’ offerings, only Gritz, a pre-prohibition-styled cream ale, will be missed.
Zesty beige-yellowed dry-hopped wheat ale, Nimbus, brought lemony grapefruit tanginess to grassy herbal notions.
Pleasantly off-dry Red gathered raw-honeyed grapefruit tartness, crisp cereal grain toasting, mild grassy hop bittering and quaint candied spicing.
Easygoing Export Extra Stout coalesced mild espresso bean, dark chocolate and chalky cocoa bittering with dried black currant spicing above dark toffee malts.
Approachable Imperial Pale Ale, P-Wing, let sweet honeyed malts contrast piney hops while orange-juiced tangerine and peach tanginess briskly surfaced.
Fruit Loops-like Belgian Pale Ale, Fumble Brag, allowed dry-hopped floral fruiting to access herbaceous whims as sugared grapefruit, orange and white grape spicing took hold.
Leafy Octoberfest, Gemutlich, let dry fig-apricot fruiting lightly creep into biscuit-y cereal malts and astringent hop resin.
Elegantly tart saison, Good Morning Dave, brought limey grapefruit souring to horse-blanketed hay dryness.
Distinct compost-wafted sour ale, Dr. Dreipricot, regaled orange-peeled apricot puree with sour-candied lemon peel bittering over wild oats.
Softer thirsts should imbibe the three lagers found on this initial perusal.
Simple Mexican Dark Lager, Cerveza Oscura, a mocha-malted moderation with muted mango fruiting and mellow toffee hints sufficed. As did light Polish-style pilsner, Exhausted Nihilist, musky malt liquor-like fodder with mild grassy-hopped astringency and biscuit-y malts. Another, wildflower-honeyed Honey Lager, stayed dry as floury grist consumed grassy hop astringency, unripe fig tartness and herbal notions.
Things got much more interesting with the complex dark ales to follow.
Mincemeat-like Imperial Stout, We Own The Night, draped bitter Blackstrap molasses over spicy dried fruiting, dark chocolate malts, cold-brewed coffee tones and tarry hops (gaining tertiary tobacco chaw, maple oatmeal and walnut illusions by the bittersweet mocha finish).
On the sweeter Imperial Stout side, creamily resilient We Own Brunch poured Blackstrap molasses and dark chocolate syrup atop sweet vanilla, sugared coffee, maple oats and cinnamon spicing, leaving slight burnt wood notions at the back end.
Luxurious Imperial Wheat Porter aged in bourbon, Hammer Of The Gods 2017, seduced its creamy chocolate-coated sweetness with bourbon, burgundy and port tones as well as vanilla-sugared cinnamon and nutmeg spicing.
Didn’t get to try these barrel aged elixirs: Given To Rye To Rye Brown Ale aged in Whiskey barrels; red wine-barreled raspberry-pureed Sexport Stout; oak-aged Memory Hole Barleywine; bourbon-rye-barreled dubbel, Priory Of Orion.