Deep Ellum Brewing Company wasn’t the first local craft brewery to open in North Texas. But with apologies to trailblazing brewers Rahr & Sons in Fort Worth and Franconia Brewing in McKinney, it’s easy to view DEBC’s 2012 opening in Dallas proper as the start of the local craft brewery boom. Deep Ellum Brewing is also the first of the dozens of current North Texas brewers to open a distillery, and as of March, the first Dallas craft brewer to open a Fort Worth location.
Located on University Drive near the Fort Worth Arts District, the Funkytown Fermatorium is so much more than a carbon-copied branch of the original DEBC. Giving the former commercial print shop’s building a colorful, boozy makeover, the Funkytown Fermatorium offers all of the DEBC staple brews, the Dream Crusher imperial IPA and Play Date sour blonde, ale along with a number of Fort Worth exclusives.
The Funkytown Brown (5.5% ABV) was a pleasant, if relatively straightforward, brown ale with just the right toasty malt and caramel notes. The Belgian Squeeze (5.3% ABV), fermented with Abbey yeast for a nice flicker of farmhouse-style funk, managed to still carry a bright juiciness. The 4 Grain Rustic Texas Saison (7.5% ABV) tasted like a cousin brew to the Belgian Squeeze thanks to an earthy aroma and slight floral notes in the initial taste, though its super dry, clean finish certainly set it apart.
With plenty of natural light filtering in, the industrial space with exposed ceilings and tables and chairs built from wood and metal give it a warm feeling despite being an old warehouse. DEBC’s signature yellow and teal colorway was present all around, mixing in with vibrant graffiti-style mural art and inventive light fixtures fashioned out of empty used gunmetal-gray pony kegs. With an array of booths and tall pub-style tables stretching out from the main rectangle-shaped bar, a Cowtown-dweller that hasn’t traversed to the original DEBC outpost will likely feel they’re in a rather hip gastropub designed just for them.
As was the case for many of the Dallas brewers who opened their doors in 2012 and 2013, DEBC didn’t offer its own food menu or even have a true, dedicated taproom until well after it began operating. In Fort Worth, though, the food looks to be a co-star to the beers from the start. According to our server, who couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful, the list of pizzas on the Fort Worth menu are also specific to this location, and won’t be found on the Dallas menu.
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Feeling adventurous, this carnivore allowed himself to be coaxed into trying the Brussels sprout pizza. The white pie, made with thin shavings of smoked gouda and parmesan, pickled red onion and garlic honey drizzle, was indeed a winner.
In a number of ways, the Funkytown Fermatorium is similar in spirit and function to the spacious, gleaming Steam Theory Brewing in Dallas, in that it presents itself as a restaurant that brews its own beer and not the other way around. If you travel to long-established craft beer meccas like Colorado and California, you’ll find brewers have been going in this direction for many years now, to a thoroughly enjoyable effect. Given its well earned reputation for an adventurous local brewery, it’s hardly surprising Deep Ellum Brewing has produced a winning effort in creating a Funkytown presence.
Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium, 611 University Drive, Fort Worth