Eric Johnson plans to bring North Richland Hills its first brewpub.

In my two years penning this column, I’ve chatted with brewers and beer industry folks at all stages of their careers. I particularly enjoy meeting people at the beginning of their beer journey. A few days ago, I added Eric Johnson and Brutal Beerworks to that list.  

I interviewed Johnson in the garage/brewhouse of his North Richland Hills home. Johnson, a youngish looking, stoutly built man, was cool and collected in his comments. But under his genteel demeanor was an undercurrent of excitement when it came to talk about beer and brewing.

An automotive paint technician for a major corporation by day, Johnson spends much of his free time brewing. He admits his small town, East Texas roots didn’t make him a likely candidate for the craft brewing world. While most of his friends were content to guzzle watery lagers, Johnson steadily ventured into stouts and bolder brews throughout his 20s. It naturally followed that he’d venture into making beer, he said.

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“I’m hands on,” Johnson said. “Since I was a kid, I was always making stuff. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to learn the ins and outs of it.”

His first endeavor, a coffee stout, turned out surprisingly well, he said. The self compliment was one of the few I heard that night. Johnson is constantly critiquing his beers. He pointed to a Belgian ale I was sipping.

“That beer is very dry,” he said. “It has some good flavor but not much body. That style doesn’t have to have body, but I want it to have more mouthfeel. Maybe I can knock down the carbonation and add a little bit more wheat. There are small little things I can do to make these beers better.”

Johnson recently medaled at Deep Ellum Brewing’s Labor of Love Homebrew Festival and Bluebonnet Brew-Off. Seeing the faces of beer fans light up as they sipped his suds was like “nothing he’d ever felt before,” he said.

By mid-2018, Johnson plans to open his own brewpub in his adopted home of North Richland Hills. He will forgo large TVs and blaring music in favor of a “low-key” environment that’s calming while offering a wide range of craft suds and cold brew coffee. As for the beer offerings, Brutal Beerworks will have around eight flagship beers. (Expect plenty of IPAs and Belgian-style brews.)

“Whatever else goes on tap will be me having fun messing around or something I’ve made before with a twist,” he said. “I want people to come in and be excited about new things.”

The beer industry can be brutally hard, he said toward the end of my visit.

“I know what I’m doing is going to be a grind,” he said, referring to the next two years. “I’m going to have to work my day job and start this brewery. It’s going to take every bit out of me, and it’s going to be brutal. But I’ll always be the hardest worker in the room. In the long run, it’ll definitely be worth it.”

Don’t forget to follow On Tap in Fort Worth’s Facebook page.

On Tap this Week:

Martin House Brewing Easter Egg Tour

This Saturday from 2 to 5pm, “bring out the family and the kiddos. We will have Easter egg dying for the kids as well as an Easter egg hunt. One egg will contain a ‘spend the day with the brewer’ ticket. Luck at Trinity Groves will be slinging their delicious grub.” Join the event page here.

Rahr & Sons Celebrates Cinco de Mayo
Time to plan ahead. Rahr’s May 3 event includes a limited-edition Cinco de Mayo pint glass, three Rahr & Sons beer samples, music from Tejano band Latin Express, and food available for purchase by Taco Heads.