A new Dallas brewery that's in the works has settled on the coolest location ever: a vintage building in Deep Ellum. Westlake Brewing Company will open at 2816 Commerce St., near the intersection of Malcolm X Boulevard, across the street from Zatar Lebanese Tapas & Bar.
With a targeted opening of late 2017, Westlake Brewing will sit between the neighborhood's two other breweries, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Braindead Brewing — a fact that greatly pleases Art Harvey, co-founder of Westlake with partners Bill Parker and Larry Picchiotti.
"We'd been looking for the right location for a year," Harvey says. "The reason we picked Deep Ellum in the long run is that we would love to make it the No. 1 spot for a craft beer tourist. It will put three breweries all within walking distance of each other, and I'd love to see even more."
Westlake's story is prototypical, including a now-closed crowd-funding campaign to help get them rolling. Harvey previously worked in the semiconductor industry, and is a longtime a home brewer.
"I was burned out on the semiconductor business, and decided to get serious about the idea of opening a brewery," he says. "We've seen a lot of breweries open locally, but if you look at a place like Boulder, they have seven times the number of breweries per capita. I think Dallas-Fort Worth has a long way to go before we hit saturation in terms of small craft brewers, which is what we'll be."
He describes his taste in beer as "refreshingly simple."
"But I'm an equal opportunity brewer," he says. "I believe in good ingredients and a good process. We'll have a good variety, with some overhopped IPAs and a few unique flavors with citrus and berries. We'll have a few creations for the craft beer nerds, but most will not be overly complicated. We have a strong guild in North Texas, where brewers and owners talk about which of their beers are most popular, and why they brew what they brew. You don't really have a choice in which ones become popular. People pick their favorites."
They'll start off only selling kegged beers to other bars — no room for a canning operation for now — and maybe consider cans down the road.
Their space was previously home to a video and graphics company that moved, and has been empty for more than a year. In addition to the building itself, Westlake also leased the adjacent parking lot, and is considering various scenarios.
"One of the reasons I'm excited about the space is that it has multi-function capabilities," Harvey says. "We can use it for a parking lot, or maybe turn part of it into a beer garden. It could serve as an event space, where we collaborate with other breweries, maybe something with us and Braindead that would really draw people in."