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Tasting Offerings From Two Prospective Dallas Breweries

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Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Peticolas Brewing Company are both making progress toward opening and making their wares available to the general public, with DEBC completing the hire of Saint Louis' Andrew Huerter as brewmaster and making inroads with distributor Ben E. Keith, while Michael Peticolas' one-man operation (using equipment purchased from Fort Worth's late Covey) is narrowing down location options.

But for now, with DEBC's production equipment still being manufactured and Peticolas still site-shopping, their beers are still limited to small runs. Lucky for me, both brewers recently let me try some samples -- a blond ale and an India pale ale from DEBC and an imperial red from Peticolas.

Thankfully, they did not disappoint.

I sat down with John Reardon of DEBC at the Common Table a couple of weeks ago to try but two of the many beers he is working on. The recipes are likely to be tweaked, he says, once they begin producing on their professional equipment and because brewmaster Huerter is certain to have some ideas of his own.

Reardon said the IPA and blond ale aren't going to be the brewery's defining beers, and he and partners Jim Piel and Scott Frieling hope to go in a more artistic direction. Nevertheless, he believes they are exceptional for their respective styles and thinks that they could be good introductory beers for Texas palates not accustomed to craft beer.

The blond ale proved to be very effervescent and light-bodied, with some faint fruity yeast esters and a very crisp, refreshing finish. Right at 5 percent ABV, it has potential to be a crowd-pleasing summer thirst-quencher.

The IPA, with an ABV around 7.2, was quite a bit more assertive, with an interesting blend of earthy, citrusy and floral hop notes from a blend of hops that includes Amarillo and Citra. It had an endearing sort of rough-around-the-edges taste that I associate with homebrews, and certainly has me excited to try future batches as they perfect the recipe.

Even more intriguing, though, are some of the other ideas Reardon has been tossing around, such as Black Sunshine, a breakfast stout to include coffee from a local coffee or roasting company (which will provide the beans is yet to be determined); a Belgian golden strong with white-wine grape juice and honey; a double brown stout; and a California common (formerly known as "steam beers" until Anchor trademarked the term). Perhaps the most interesting is "Dr Dubbel," a Belgian dubbel brewed with Dr Pepper concentrate as a fermentable sugar. Reardon said the 10-gallon pilot batch was "phenomenal."

Along with being artistic and creative with their beers, Reardon says, he wants DEBC to use locally sourced ingredients as much as possible and hopes possible collaborations with local and regional providers ranging from Dude, Sweet Chocolate to Dr Pepper can help cross-promote their brands.

Peticolas didn't have time to chat, as he was on his way to check out a spot in the Design District when he swung by the Observer offices to drop off a bottle of his imperial red.

Copper-red with a beige head, it was a very nice beer, with big, bright floral hops and sweet malt on the nose and a malty sweetness well balanced by the hops. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to try his Scotch ale a few nights later. If it's as good as the impy red, I can't wait to drink one.

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