Food News

Inside the Fermenting Mind of Drew Huerter, Head Brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing Company

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So, he was brewing way before it was cool. He's quite the trailblazer. Is it intimidating to have dad that cool? He could easily show you up, right? Well, there was a time, but lets just say I passed him on the right. He still brews very good beer; I really look forward to going home. Every now and then he's a source of inspiration too. Wealth and Taste being one example. He brewed his first Belgian golden strong, and he named it Wealth and Taste and I told him I wanted to use that name. He was fine with it.

Do you ever ask Dad for advice now? Hopefully next year we'll start doing pro-am beer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and most breweries hold a competition to determine who their collaborators are for each year. I'm hoping we'll just be able to bring my dad down and use something out of his recipe book for that event.

That'd be a nice tip-o'-the-hat to dad. I think it's a cool way to tell our story too.

And what do you consider that story to be? Well, we've touched on a big part of it with my family roots in home brewing. But, we can take it back even further to my grandfather who use to make wine at his farm. Somehow between earning two MDs, running a farm and raising a family, he was able to make wine.

When did you first start brewing? I went to school in St. Louis to study chemistry and about half way through my third year I got pretty jaded about having to work in a lab, and even more so about possibly having to teach it to people. So, I started thinking about what I could use my skills for and thought, "I think I can use this stuff to make beer."

Where did you get your first home brewing system? I inherited my dad's old brewing system. Once he got really into brewing, he didn't want to mess with 5-gallon batches any more, so he made his own 10-gallon all-electric set-up in our basement in Kansas City, while my mom was in Mazatlan on a girls' trip. She came home and dad had built a brewery in the basement.

Ha! I guess she couldn't really complain much since she was at the beach. Luckily, she's really in to beer too and was pretty excited about it.

Your parents keep getting cooler. What was your first batch? I did a year's worth of research before I brewed my first batch. I jumped straight into all grain brewing, which is like making your own stock instead of using Campbell's soup.

I suppose you quickly became the big man on campus? I had to move off campus once I started brewing. We threw some pretty epic parties. We'd do "kegs and eggs" for Mardi Gras.

Eggs? St. Louis has the third-largest Mardi Gras celebration behind New Orleans and Rio. And eggs means it would start in the morning and go all night. So, those were some of our biggest parties. Once word started spreading that we had our own home-brews on tap, the parties got bigger. After school when I moved to a house, I upgraded to a system where I could do even more and the parties got even bigger.

So, while other kids were drinking Natty Light ... Yeah, we were taking the punk rock approach. I ran the numbers though and our stuff was cheaper than the stuff you could buy at the store and the quality was way better.

Did you graduate? No, never graduated. It just didn't pan out. I actually went to work for a lab briefly, then got my first job at a brewery and haven't looked back.

Absolutely. Absolutely. I've realized it's all a debt trap anyway.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.