Photo by Matthew Shelley


Beer With a Brewer: Barrett Tillman at Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

The story behind the prettiest beer of the season.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co., one of the flagship breweries that brought craft beer and all its communal weirdness to Dallas, keeps pushing itself further. In October 2015, founder John Reardon brought Barrett Tillman on board to head up a dedicated sour beer program. Tillman is a bit of a mad scientist, as we noted back in July 2016, cultivating his own proprietary yeast blends and scouring the landscape during his travels to discover new flavors and possibilities to use in his beer making. In the last 19 months, he’s worked on several brews, but today we’re talking about the latest seasonal beer: Deep Summer. Tillman, with endless, but somewhat guarded enthusiasm, shares the tale.

“I guess the most interesting thing about the beer is that is has a f—ton of flowers in it. I actually brewed the first batch of this at my buddy’s place. It was a big home-brew batch. He runs a parts company that supplies a lot of parts to home-brewers, and he has a property out in Princeton, Texas. It was during the summertime when all the sunflowers were out. I drove out there for Father’s Day. My dad has passed and these guys that I used to home-brew with just became my fathers, so I called him my ‘brew father.’

We hung out and made the first batch of this, but even before then, the concept was to create a hippie-inspired beer that was gluten free. I wanted it to be a flower-power beer, flip-flops and sandals at a summer concert. Fast forward and getting it to production, it was a different beer. It was a beer we talked about for a year. How can we make a gluten-free beer that still has flavor? It’s a standard malt bill, like a saison. It has some pale malt, some Munich, and it has very little hops. It has a lot of flowers–hibiscus and chamomile as well as lemon peel and coriander. Just building a beer like that is like summertime tea. Just thinking about summertime, something refreshing and easy to drink.

The color comes from the hibiscus. Some hibiscus beers are bright fuchsia. This one is more of a plum color. The spicy, refreshing notes come from the coriander, and then the lemon peel is there to act as a baseline since there’s very little hops. We used the hops for the preservative quality. With the flowers, you’re getting a lot of astringency, so this beer by itself would be a little sweet on the palate if it didn’t have all of the that.”

Tillman is a blessing to beer making and especially beer drinkers. The Deep Summer is a remarkable seasonal ale with bite, fruity sweetness, and a balance that begs to be devoured. It is currently available in a variety 12-pack and will be going out on draft this week. Aside from its amazing taste, the beer is one of the prettiest in Dallas. With a ruby, plum shade and outstanding clarity, it desires a to be poured into a glass. It’s truly stunning to behold, and it only gets better as you drink it down. You have until late August to get your hands on this. Go forth.