Bar Review: Intrinsic Brewing

It's a family-run oasis in downtown Garland.

What isn’t awesome is making the long haul from Oak Cliff to a part of Garland you didn’t even know existed only to realize the object of your journey is closed for a private party. But my second attempt to visit Intrinsic Brewing, a family-run beer-and-barbecue brewpub amid Garland’s sea of chain restaurants, produced better results. I couldn’t be grumpy once I glimpsed the big, shiny brewing tanks in the window and the shelf of board games by the door.

My friends (my bearded companion and an engaged couple who, fun fact, met on Tinder) grabbed a seat at a polished wooden table. The place looked promising: clean and well-lit, with exposed brick walls, colorful art, and a food counter near the back. Seated at the bar were two leather-clad biker dudes eating barbecue and two soccer moms in gym attire. On the wall behind the bar was a mural depicting the tanks, tubes, and barrels of the brewing process. It evoked a colorful mad scientist’s lab.

Intrinsic serves bottles and cans, plus a modest selection of wine. On tap, they offer guest beers (like Wild Manimal from Lakewood and Mosaic IPA from Community) and about six of their own brews—plus a “pub sangria” and a good old-fashioned root beer. 

When we finally decided on drinks, the impressively bearded dudes at the bar were happy to serve up the amber-hued Knock Knock Doppelbock and dark-toned Picker Porter for the Tinder couple, a root beer for my bearded friend, and the lovely Hibiscus Wit for me. After a few swigs, my friends decided to raid the board games. They selected the tabletop basketball game. There was some assembly required, so
I escaped to the bar to chat up Casey, the red-bearded bartender. 

I pointed at a spiral staircase leading up to a camouflaged door at the front of the room. “What’s in there?”

“That’s our secret dungeon.”

I didn’t believe him—proper dungeons are in basements, obviously. Next, he explained that Intrinsic did well at Deep Ellum’s 2014 Labor of Love home-brew contest. The brewpub opened in December 2015, and the owner, Cary, constructed the tables and chairs. His mother contributed stained-glass decorative art, and his father painted the mural. Also, Casey is Cary’s brother-in-law. 

Intrigued by such close family collaboration, I asked if they ever fought.   

“We had an argument while working on the ceiling,” said
Cary, who was busy at the taps. 

“But we took a break, got a cup of coffee, and it was fine,” Casey said. 

Meanwhile, my friends had assembled the basketball game. The pretty blond half of the Tinder couple expertly sunk her ball, but my bearded friend’s shot fell painfully short. The game mysteriously collapsed, and the blonde’s fiancé suggested we switch to the less dangerous trivia cards. Opting to dodge the competition, I admired Intrinsic’s seven-barrel brewing system. Casey pointed out that the orange bicycle near the brewing tanks powers the mill, which grinds the malt. 

“There’s beer in the tanks right now,” he told me. 

When the soccer moms from the bar stopped to check out the brewing tanks on their way out, I asked them what they thought of Intrinsic. 

“The best part is that it’s not a chain,” said Renee, who had the smile of a person who has discovered a secret treasure. “Coming here is a unique experience. It’s like going to a bar in Dallas.” 

I don’t know if Intrinsic will trigger a brewpub renaissance in Garland, but I do know that it’s a bright spot with a vibe worth the long haul. 

I glanced back at my friends. It was about time for another round. Besides, I couldn’t escape that trivia game forever.    

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