We sent D Magazine intern Teo Soares to the DEBC’s Brew-B-Q on Sunday. He came back with this report.
It’s Sunday and I’m in line for barbecue at Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Brew-B-Q. Before the day ends, about 800 people will wade through the crowds at DEBC’s beer garden and stand in line for tapped kegs. They wear plaid shirts and shorts and summer dresses that show an occasional tattoo on an ankle or a shoulder blade, and when the sun sets, their Ray-Ban glasses hang from their necks.
This is the brewery’s second Brew-B-Q, but the first to take place at DEBC’s facility. A year ago, this space was little more than an empty warehouse, and DEBC hosted the event at Life at Deep Ellum, a cultural center next door. This year’s event is an opportunity to showcase their facility, which now boasts five tanks and a beer garden that faces Malcolm X Boulevard. “We want people to get to see this place,” says Tait Lifto, the brewery’s “Brand and Sales Ninja.” He continues: “This house is built for people.”
By now there must be a hundred people in line for the barbecue. I’ve moved about ten feet in as many minutes, but I can now see the food, and the air smells of brisket and beer. It also smells of Purell, which the girl ahead of me has offered to share. There’s a sense of companionship that comes from standing in line for forty minutes and being a little drunk. By now people joke and chat and share hand sanitizer.
Our camaraderie matches the spirit of the day. DEBC has invited three other breweries to the event. (512), from Austin, has been on the market for a few years, but Martin House and Armadillo Ale Works are both newcomers. For these breweries, the Brew-B-Q is a chance to promote their brand; for DEBC, it is a chance to spread the gospel of craft beers. In between musical acts, John Reardon, DEBC’s owner and “Chief Evangelist,” takes the stage at the corner of the beer garden. “We fight this war together,” he preaches. The audience cheers. Tait is more prosaic: “We want people to stop drinking crap beer,” and by “crap beer” he means “Bud Light.”
The folks at DEBC are adamant about their dislikes, but they become reticent when you ask about their favorite brew. When I talk to Drew Huerter, DEBC’s head brewer, we are in the cooler off the main brewing area. Inside, full kegs await distribution, and my calves twitch because of the cold. DEBC has nineteen beers on tap at the event, and Drew says he likes them all. For him, beer is about variety and the thrill of exploring different possibilities. “You can chase something your whole life,” he says, “and you won’t get to the end.”
Almost an hour goes by before I reach the serving table and load my plate with corn, bread, coleslaw, sweet pickles, spicy chicken wings, and beef brisket drenched in a tangy barbecue sauce. I eat it all with a glass of DEBC’s Deep Ellum IPA that is dry and hoppy. For a moment I think about going for seconds.