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A burger goes well with a Deep Ellum beer. Photo by Lee Chastain.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Funky Fermatorium,, 611 S University Dr, FW. 817-873-3322. 11am-11pm Sun-Thu, 11am-midnight Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.

I purposefully waited a bit to review the Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Funky Fermatorium, which opened back in January within walking distance of Fort Worth Weekly’s offices. It wasn’t until last month that the Dallas-based brewery’s Fort Worth outpost started serving its full menu. Before that, drinkers and craft beer enthusiasts were forced to subsist on a sparse selection of pizzas and appetizers to soak up the pub’s selection of lagers and IPAs. Now that a fuller selection is available, this establishment is better worth your visit.

There is only one interesting thing to say about the bar’s industrial-chic sports-bar decor: It has a window looking into a back room housing large steel vats where the beer is brewed. Granted, a brewery is not the hive of activity that a restaurant kitchen is, but it’s still a comforting little detail.

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My appetizer order was probably a tactical error: I picked the brisket mac ’n’ cheese. Not that there was anything wrong with the dish itself, which arrived sizzling in its own skillet festooned with large chunks of meat co-mingling with precisely cooked noodles. With its wallop of flavor, it could probably serve as an entrée for someone on a budget or watching their portion sizes. For my purposes, though, it was too overpowering. I should have ordered the pretzel instead. I wanted to follow the brisket mac with the Texas AF pizza, which is loaded with more brisket and barbecue sauce, but my server recommended that I order the prosciutto pizza instead, to change the flavor profile.

It was a good call — even if the nuances of the cured pork were drowned out by that app, I still appreciated the relative lightness of the meat. I also enjoyed the wild tangle of arugula atop the pie, countering the prosciutto with its woodsy, peppery flavor. I wasn’t such a big fan of the thin crust, which turned out to be excellent at soaking up the grease from the cheese, though it robbed me of the visceral crunch that I enjoy from pizza crust. I agree with last week’s Chow Baby feature (“Ghost Chasers,” May 8, 2019): a restaurant’s food doesn’t have to be inhumanly greasy to whet the customer’s appetite for beer.

I had better luck with my Ordinance burger, sporting goat cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon jam. I don’t ordinarily go in for goat cheese, but in this context, it provided much-needed creaminess and sweetness to play foil against the richness of the patty. The onions and the jam added different kinds of sweet flavor, and I found myself agreeing with a recent post on TheTakeout.com: When it comes to sandwiches, bacon jam is better than actual bacon, adhering better to the bread and offering greater complexity from its brown sugar and spices.

I washed that down with Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Play Date beer, brewed with Medjool dates and Middle-Eastern spices. Though the fruit tinted the color to the point where you might mistake it for a dark beer, it drank up as crisp and refreshing as any pilsner. 

All the desserts on offer feature beer in their recipes, including my butterscotch budino, which was cleverly served to me in a snifter. The salt caramel lacing the dish was made with Deep Ellum’s Dallas Blonde ale, which imparted a, uh, funky note to the sauce that kept the dessert from becoming too cloyingly sweet.

Fort Worth’s craft beer scene has been active enough to inevitably attract brewers from the other side of the county line. If we’re going to have a Dallas gastropub occupying prime real estate in the Cultural District, it’s well that we should have a good one. On the strength of its burgers and brews, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Funky Fermatorium can stay.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Funky Fermatorium

Brisket mac ’n’ cheese $10

Ordinance burger $11

Prosciutto pizza $16

Butterscotch budino $5

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