Open since September 2019, Westlake Brewing Company joins Deep Ellum Brewing Company and BrainDead Brewing in making the ever-evolving entertainment district of Deep Ellum as much of a top-tier craft beer destination as it has ever been.
Unlike the larger Deep Ellum Brewing and the more food-focused Braindead, Westlake is prominently beer-forward.
On a recent Saturday afternoon visit, 10 draft options were available (it would’ve been 11 choices had the imperial stout been available that day). While 10 house brews didn’t initially seem like an impressive volume, that impression changed favorably thanks to the admirable range of styles and profiles the menu offered.
Inside of the space, there's plenty of seating amidst an industrial-style designed room with exposed ceilings, wood, brick and metal.
I found that each of the eight beers I tasted offered a dependable, if somewhat straightforward, example. Funky experimentation and boundary pushing with concoctions brewed with pickles, bacon burnt ends, marshmallow peeps and breakfast cereals isn’t what Westlake is about; not yet at least.
On our visit the most unusual beer, and we’re using the term insanely loosely, was the Cherry de Garde. At 8.5% ABV, the copper-colored Belgian-style brew didn’t give off strong cherry notes in the smell, although natural fruit sweetness was evident as it mellowed out the funk of the unmistakable yeast flavor.
A couple of other offerings on the Belgian end of the spectrum also proved to be admirable efforts.
This Many (7.9% ABV), a Belgian tripel, offered a slight sweet punch thanks to the Belgian candi sugar, while Westlake’s take on the winter warmer, the Welkom (9.5% ABV) had the complexity of a Belgian beer but with a malty, delicately spicy flavor, preceded by a whiff of burnt sugar.
The Leg Day Scottish wee heavy ale (7.5% ABV) finished cleaner than expected but provided the satisfying malty sweet notes so closely identified with the style.
The lightest beers we tried are ideal gateways for any craft beer newbies or Miller Lite devotees who might be tagging along. At 4.2% ABV, the crisp, clean Arm Day hoppy pale ale is perhaps even more approachable than many of the lagers and pilsners being brewed by so many local breweries these days. The Blonder Ale witbier (4.6% ABV) was refreshingly light yet featured that signature bubblegum-like aftertaste many great wits finish with.
The pair of IPAs we sampled packed the most flavor into each sip. The citrusy Rainout Hazy IPA (6.6% ABV) was indeed hazy, though still plenty bright and yellow. The prominent notes of pineapple on the nose gave way to a juicy, sweet sip.
The Y’all Star IPA (7.5% ABV), billed as Westlake’s “all-American IPA,” gave off a slight pine flavor yet managed to finish far smoother than the average pine-forward IPA that often brings a bit of a sting to the tongue.
Westlake doesn’t ignore food completely. Taking an approach of offering a small amount of food items and making them shine means carb-loaded accompaniments such as the appropriately named “hugenormous soft pretzel,” a dinner-plate sized, beautifully salted twisty prize was nothing short of blissful, stomach coating perfection.
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The equally satisfyingly salty, spicy, cheesy pretzel ball, oozing with melted cheese and peppers, is the bar snack we’ve always dreamed of but didn’t know existed until now.
What founder Art Harvey and head brewer Peter Hemmingsen have done is created a spot that would fit into any nook or cranny of the greater Dallas-Fort Worth region, thanks to a pleasing range of well-developed beers served in a colorful, open space that would serve as a destination regardless of how trendy or active its home base neighborhood might be.
Put simply, the brewery itself is worthy of patronage. It’s not a Deep Ellum brewery as much as it is a quality brewery that happens to be in Deep Ellum.
Westlake Brewing Company, 2816 Commerce St. (Deep Ellum)