An old art deco department store in downtown Dallas is the setting for the city’s newest brewery taproom.
Pegasus City Brewery’s downtown location quietly opened last weekend with service exclusively for residents of the Dallas Power and Light Building, in which it takes up much of the ground floor. This week, the taproom opens to the general public.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Dallas to drink a beer. The 1931 art deco Power and Light Building is a historic landmark, and many of its 19 floors are now (and have been for some time) home to apartments.
The brewery occupies a street-level, former department store that was most recently a Jos. A. Bank and then a series of holiday pop-up stores. The ceilings are high and the dozen chandeliers are 1930s originals. Customers can sit in booths in the grand display windows looking out on Commerce Street, or next to a decades-old telephone booth that once belonged to Dallas’ Baker Hotel, which closed in 1979.
Brewery owners Will and Adrian Cotten spent over a year chipping away at interior changes made by various tenants over the years, seeking to restore the original 1930s design of the building.
“I’m not sure that the chandeliers had been cleaned ever, or what else was touched since the 1930s,” Adrian Cotten said. “So we took it down to the bones and revived anything that was original.”
The Cottens’ contractors removed partial walls Jos. A. Bank had installed to display clothing, revealing black granite stripes extending from floor-to-ceiling along the walls and a border running along the floor. They’ve added a central bar to the space, a small glass enclosure around a pilot-sized brewing setup and a door to the patio, but left almost everything else untouched.
“The door to the patio, we made sure that we found exact matches for a seamless transition,” Adrian Cotten said. “And then just kind of let the building speak for itself. We didn’t want to bring anything in that mimicked art deco or make any of our own decorative elements to match it.”
This space is a perfect aesthetic fit for Pegasus City, the 3-year-old brewery that just happened to already have black-and-white colors, art deco can designs and a beer, Nine Volt, named after Dallas Power and Light.
Pegasus City is also, arguably, a good fit for a downtown location near tourist landmarks. The crowd-pleasing beers emphasize drinkability, and even its most unusual brews, like a rye ale or an imperial pilsner, aren’t that far out there.
Besides that, the brewery sees itself as an ambassador for Dallas to visiting beer drinkers and a responsible supporter of the local community.
“Especially since we’re calling ourselves Pegasus City, we kind of feel like it’s our job to do that,” Will Cotten said. “It’s why we play KXT radio and try to support all the local restaurants and local things we can. In our small way, modest means, we try to be part of the community. The history of beer is replete with breweries being just an integral part of a community, part of the identity of the community. We’d like to carry on that.”
Will Cotten plans another community-focused initiative for a 2021 debut: a tap on the wall at the new downtown location dedicated to collaborations with local homebrewers. His hope is that each month he can partner with a homebrewer to scale their recipe for brewing on the new taproom’s pilot system.
“They would come in, I would scale their recipe and we would brew it together and offer a taproom-only experience that would be representative of what the homebrewers of Dallas were thinking,” Will Cotten said. He calls the idea “a taste of the city.”
Pegasus City’s new taproom was supposed to open months ago — but world events and construction setbacks both conspired to cause delays. The 1931 structure’s ultra-thick walls made pipefitting a challenge as the Cottens added their brewing system.
Pegasus City’s original location, its main production brewery in the Design District, will remain open without change. But the new downtown location — opening at a time when downtown Dallas retail has suffered losses to the coronavirus — is ready to become a fixture on the tourist circuit, with its art-deco elegance and casual-drinking beers.
“Since beer was brewed in the central business district, obviously Deep Ellum’s been there for a while, but it’s probably been 60 years plus since any beer’s been brewed over here [downtown],” Will Cotten said. “We were excited to be a part of the history. It’s kinda neat to be included in that in the future, and hopefully, we’re here for a long, long time.”
Pegasus City Brewery, 1508 Commerce St. (downtown). Open 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.