It’s getting to be beer weather in Texas. OK, yes, it’s always beer weather, but the summer heat calls for something refreshing, light and well made, a beer that will make me tolerate the outdoors, a beer that’s cool consolation for the face-melting misery of the Dallas sun.
Luckily, a relative newcomer to the local scene rises to the occasion. This summer, my fridge will be stocked with a lot of beer from Pegasus City, a Design District brewery that just celebrated its first birthday. Pegasus City has already gained a deserved reputation as a purveyor of classic styles: lagers, ambers, porters. There are no IPAs at Pegasus City, nor are there sours, wild-fermented brews or barrel-aged experiments. Nothing it makes could be remotely called trendy. That’s what makes it good.
“The classic styles, while being relatively simple and not flashy, to do one well is still a job,” says Adrian Cotten, Pegasus City’s creative director and part-owner. “It’s still a reason for a brewmaster to be around.”
That brewmaster is her husband, Will Cotten; together with friend Chris Weiss, the couple run an operation that, by Dallas’ standards, is tiny.
“We’re a skeleton team,” Adrian Cotten says. “The owners are the team. We’re a family- and friend-owned brewery. We didn’t have big outside investment or anything. So it’s really what we are able to produce and make and what we are able to do with the small team that we have. It’s made us be very conscious and very specific with our choices. We don’t just push out stuff because we have money and we want to get stuff out the door.”
My summer go-to is likely to be the Woofus, a strange beast that just made its canned debut. It’s a hybrid of a kolsch, steam beer and cream ale. Will Cotten’s idea was to combine the light, easy-drinking character of a kolsch with the thicker mouthfeel and tiny bubbles of a cream ale. It drinks a little like an uncloudy hefeweizen, or like a kolsch that wants you to remember it five seconds after you drank it. The Woofus is immaculately balanced and clean-feeling.
“We do make new and different things,” Adrian Cotten says about the beer. “Just not crazy flashy, I guess.”
Balance and just-rightness are hallmarks of Pegasus City — so much so that tasting notes can be difficult to write. Each beer is tuned right to the heart of its chosen style, especially the Belgian-style tripel Nine Volt, a spot-on interpretation, never cloying, uncannily like the tripels I’ve had in Antwerp and Bruges, Belgium. Pegasus City’s amber dials up the maltiness to conceal a sneakily high ABV (7.4 percent). The brewery’s black lager has roasted coffee and toffee notes typical of a porter, but paired with a light texture that’s easy to swig.
Black Magnolia, a “winter farmhouse” style beer, might pour deep black, but it’s still fresh and easygoing enough to drink in summertime — just maybe in the shade. The same is true of Pegasus City’s porter, Sixth Floor.
“We call it the easier porter,” Adrian Cotten says. She believes that its adaptability to hot weather is a byproduct of Will Cotten’s focus on drinkability. “We don’t ever want you to walk away from having our beer and not want another.”
Only a limited release of imperial porter, the one Pegasus City beer that leaves a strong alcoholic after-burn, is in danger of failing that standard.
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Although the owners are all locals, they didn’t plan their lineup of easy-drinking everyday beers around the Dallas summer days when all we want is a cold thirst-quencher. There will be an Oktoberfest in the fall, and Will Cotten is pondering some more ideas that, like the Woofus, take his favorite traits from disparate beer styles and yoke them together into something new. One idea bouncing around in his head right now: a golden pilsner, but with a sky-high ABV.
“I like the idea of a higher alcohol but lighter bodied and golden type high alcohol lager beer,” he says. “I think it’s an interesting concept.”
I know what will be in my fridge in June 2019.
Pegasus City Brewery, 2222 Vantage St., Dallas