Brewery openings are tamer affairs these days. When Rahr & Sons opened in 2004, the selling point was clear: beer, beer, beer. The most recent wave of brewpub openings has navigated a more nuanced blend of selling points that include food, cocktails, and music. Bankhead Brewing Co., for example, spotlights chef-driven noshes on its social media posts. The same goes for Second Rodeo, the Stockyards’ lone brewery destination.
When Fort Brewery recently reopened near the Foundry District after its initial iteration on Magnolia had closed, the draw wasn’t just beer. The menu boasts an impressive mix of pizzas, appetizers, sammies, burgers, brats, and wings, among others, but that’s not the only thing that sets Fort Brewery apart.
The vast majority of Fort Worth breweries are owned by former homebrewers who risked it all by throwing their life savings into their dream jobs. Fort Brewery is owned by the twin developers who infamously packed luxury cars inside a building on Magnolia and subsequently drew the ire of progressive Near Southsiders, who generally look down on celebrations of wealth disparity. Fortunately, there aren’t many distracting signs of opulence at Fort Worth’s newest brewery, which is also owned by the twins. Only damn good pizza and beer.
I grabbed a seat on the patio on a recent evening as a band began setting up onstage. Between each table were large heaters waiting to combat the inevitable winter weather.
Four brews came served on a Texas-shaped paddle with a card that read “North, South, East, and West.” Next to the four cardinal directions was the scribbled name of each beer.
The wheat beer, Grey Eagle, is an easy crowd-pleaser. The brew had a pleasant banana-tinged aroma, and it was mildly bitter with light hints of clove that are characteristic of traditional hefeweizens.
Zeppelin is the perfect beer to pair with wintery weather. The märzen was a lovely blend of bitter and toasty with hints of dark candy. Each sip wasn’t too heavy and had a sturdy malt profile.
Hopheads should spring for the Ocho, a bold IPA that won’t leave your lips puckering. In true West Coast style, the hopped-up ale boasts a plethora of flavors that includes citrus, grapefruit, and resiny hops. Warning: This beer is dank AF. Named after the year of Fort Worth’s founding, the 1849 is a clean Irish red ale. Imagine a bready beer that has the profile of toffee without being sweet. The first sip reminded me of George Killian’s Irish Red, a macro beer that remains nostalgically tethered to my college days.
Two appetizers didn’t disappoint. The chicken wings were carved to look like meaty lollipops. The dry rub consisted of a light blend of cumin, sugar, black pepper, and chili powder that left a tinge of heat with each bite. The Heim BBQ wings were coated in a sweet barbecue sauce. The sparse coating put the juicy bird front and center.
The Panther Bones are basically extra-large breadsticks. There wasn’t anything special about the bread, but the infusion of garlic butter and herbs kept me greedily reaching for another bite. The accompanying marinara hit the textural sweet spot between chunky and soupy.
The brewpub appears to take its pizza game seriously. Every slice of the Meat Coma nearly buckled under the weight of generous mounds of sausage, Calabrese, candied bacon, and pepperoni. The meat-centric pie was mildly spicy, and the lightly charred crust was tough enough to hold the ensemble together yet chewy enough to add a complementary texture to the proteins.
The brewpub offers four creative burgers — all served with Wagyu beef patties. Every bite of the Fort Burger was hefty and dense. The two quarter-pound patties were flavorful like a juicy ribeye but with a ground beef texture. Whipped feta added a rich and creamy mouthfeel while fermented jalapenos offered occasional bursts of fiery heat. The homemade focaccia bun was dense yet soft. The overall effect was addictively delicious. The baked spiral-cut fries on the side were thick and generously, delightfully seasoned with black pepper.
Fort Brewery has legitimate ties to the shuttered Magnolia brewpub of the same name which inherited the legacy of predecessors Chimera Brewing and Zio Carlo. In the eyes of many Near Southsiders, the twin owners of Fort Brewery hastened gentrification along West Magnolia Avenue and South Main Street by buying a slew of buildings around 2016 and bringing in popular restaurants. Rent has increased significantly in the area over the past several years, and many of the neighborhood’s service workers are finding it harder to afford to live close to their jobs. Now that the owners of the original Fort Brewery location on Magnolia have set up shop near the Foundry district, there may be a chance to reboot their public image with a new focus on serving great pizza and beer.
Fort Brewery, 2737 Tiller St, FW. 817-923-8000. 10am-10pm Sun, 11am-2pm Mon-Tue, 11am-11pm Wed-Thu, 11am-12am Fri, 10am-12am Sat. All major credit cards accepted.