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Craft beer savants to open BrainDead brewpub in Deep Ellum

Craft beer savants to open BrainDead brewpub in Deep Ellum

Beer sampler
BrainDead Brewing will have 42 taps, most of which will rotate. Courtesy photo
Deep Ellum sign
BrainDead will make its home in Dallas' newest hot neighborhood. Photo by Steve Rainwater
Beer sampler
Deep Ellum sign

Three craft beer veterans have joined forces to open a brewpub in what is quickly emerging as Dallas' hottest neighborhood: Deep Ellum.

The brewpub will be called BrainDead Brewing, and it will open spring 2014 in the 2600 block of Main Street — a few doors down from new decor store Life of Riley and a block away from the new location of Pecan Lodge. Main Street is where it's at.

The trio consists of Jeff Fryman, probably best known from his tenure at Common Table; Sam Wynne, owner of the Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth; and Drew Huerter, former brewmaster for Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

 "A good brewpub needs to be in the community, making beers that respond to the pulse of the local community," says co-founder Jeff Fryman.

Fryman is a savvy beer cicerone who kept the cellars at Common Table and Union Bear stocked with state-of-the-art brews; his affable charm has helped guide countless customers in their beer selections. Wynne is a certified cicerone and a member of the legendary family that owns Flying Saucer and Meddlesome Moth; the beer selection at Rodeo Goat stands for itself. Huerter has a national profile as former brewmaster at Schlafly in St. Louis, Missouri.

Together, they represent a powerhouse. At BrainDead, they'll feature 42 taps, a dozen of which are their own beers made onsite. There will also be food, with a small menu of eats.

Fryman had been dreaming about a brewpub for years: a restaurant-pub that brewed beer, which customers could enjoy onsite along with some snacks — or else take home in growlers.

"I kept thinking, 'Why doesn't Dallas have one?'" he says. "When I was at Common Table, [owner] Corey Pond took me to different cities to study their beer scene, including Portland. They had so many brewpubs. Their idea of beer is different from what we have here."

The only brewpub concepts in Dallas are big chains like Gordon Biersch and Humperdink's, which sometimes enact restrictions and can feel monolithic and corporate. "A good brewpub needs to be more in the community, making beers that respond to the pulse of the local community," Fryman says.

He and Wynne became acquainted when they studied together for their master cicerone exam, the highest level of certification. Both were ready to do something new. Then, in a stroke of good luck and great timing, Huerter became available. Since leaving DEBC, he'd entertained offers and done some consulting with other breweries and startups. But this was a unique opportunity.

"A brewpub gives you a vehicle where you can explore all of the ideas you want, in an economical manner," he says. "It helps being able to sell the beer directly onsite. With the recent changes in Texas laws, beer can also be taken to-go. But you'll always have that outlet of serving the beer you brew onsite for getting to try new things."

Their ambitions are big: They plan to brew a dozen beers, and half of those will be rotators — seasonal beers, special editions, whatever moves them — that get swapped in and out. In addition to their beers, they'll feature another 30 craft beers, for a total of 42 taps.

Meanwhile, they've been interviewing chefs. "We want the menu to be small," Fryman says. "We want to focus on beer. I'm arguing for 11 items, so that we can say our menu goes to 11."

The trio signed a lease with Deep Ellum real estate magnate Scott Rohrman. ("I feel like I just got married to Jeff Fryman this afternoon," quipped Sam Wynne on his Facebook page.) The 5,250-square-food facility, which was previously an office-residential space, will include a bar, dining room and a brewing room with a glass wall that's visible to diners.

"Sometimes I call it the fish-tank arrangement," Huerter says. "Most of the patrons won't bother. But you can tell when you get a homebrewer — his nose is right up on the glass."