As I headed up to Freetail Brewing Co.’s location on 4035 North Loop 1604 W, I wondered whether their micro-brewed beers were worth the 20-minute drive from campus. I had never tasted Freetail before, mainly because brewpubs aren’t allowed to sell to wholesalers, but I was excited to give it a shot.
The inside of Freetail Brewing Co. is a hodgepodge consisting of one part brewery, one part restaurant and one part bar. Old oak barrels and sacks of malt are piled in one corner next to an open flame pizza oven, and through a window behind the bar it is possible to see the brass-colored vats in which all of the beer is brewed during the day. The place has a spacious warehouse feel to it, and there is a pleasant smell of comfort food and hops in the air.
What caught my attention the most was a large projection screen on the wall featuring an ever-changing selection of their in-house beers on tap. The day I went, there were fourteen varieties, ranging from the lighter Rye Wit wheat beer to the dark Vanilla Porter. Next to each beer on this digital menu, there was an IBU (International Bittering Unit) rating that helped me approximate how bitter the beer was going to be.
“It’s definitely a place for people who know more about beer,” said Nikki Lopez, one of the waitresses at Freetail. As I sipped their signature Freetail Amber Ale, I listened to her talk about the place. Among other things, she told me that the name Freetail was a tribute to the free-tailed bat, which in 2006 was proclaimed the Official Flying Mammal of Texas by the state legislature.
In addition to the Amber Ale, I tried out the Old Bat Rastard and the Tadarida IPA, as well as their green chili artichoke and goat cheese dip, and a pizza carbonara. Though the food was a bit overpriced for its quality (my small pizza costing around $15), all three of the beers were very enjoyable. The Amber Ale was perhaps lacking a bit in boldness, but the Old Bat Rastard made up for any lost “oomph” with its deliciously thick caramel flavors.
While the beer itself was good, there is also something to be said for drinking beer in its own brewery. Seeing all of the equipment and listening to Nikki excitedly talk about all of their creatively named seasonal varieties made me really appreciate all of the work and pride that’s invested in the beer’s creation. Overall, I’d say the experience is more than enough to justify an excursion to 1604 West Loop.