Brash brewery vcmvev

Ben Fullelove (tall, center) celebrates a visit from Greg Koch (to Fullelove's left), former CEO of Stone Brewing, at Brash Brewing Company, which recently opened its tap room in Independence Heights.

Ben Fullelove has been a pioneer in Houston's craft beer scene ever since his Garden Oaks pub, Petrol Station, starting pouring craft beers in addition to coffees. These days, the coffees are long gone and Petrol Station—now regarded as one of the city's best bars—has expanded significantly since first opening in 2007. Fullelove's career also expanded in that time, from a bar owner to a brewmaster, creating his own beers under the label Brash Brewing Company.

And as of today, the Brash Brewing taproom is finally open to the public at 510 W. Crosstimbers. It's been a long, strange journey for Brash and Fullelove, who was dismayed to find when he first began brewing Brash in 2012 that the state of Texas wasn't exactly supportive of the venture. In fact, thanks to outdated laws that prevented brewery owners from also operating bars, Brash was actually illegal.

"I wanted to have a full-production brewery, to can and distribute it so you can find it all over," Fullelove told Houstonia last summer. But in order to do that and continue running Petrol Station, he had to move Brash's brewing operations out of state—way out of state, it turns out, all the way to Ipswich, Massachusetts. For over a year, Texans couldn't purchase Brash anywhere in Texas; in order to enjoy Fullelove's beers, they had to pick up bottles of the stuff while on trips to Colorado or California and ship it back or pack it carefully in their luggage, sweaters swaddling bombers of Texas Exile, as I once did.

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It's on like, well, you know.

But in June 2013, sweeping legislation that changed the way beer was sold and distributed in Texas and, happily, Brash was welcomed back from its brief exile. Fullelove purchased a 13,000-square-foot facility in Independence Heights to house his brewery and tap room, which he planned to have open last fall. While the brewery itself has been operational for quite some time, with Brash's beers popping up in bars across town, the tap room hasn't been open to the public until now.

A sold-out grand opening celebration this past Saturday officially christened the tap room, which pours Brash as well as an assortment of other craft beers from around the country. Inside you'll also find a jukebox (heavy on the metal albums, as per Brash's own catalogue of metal-influenced beers such as Vulgar Display of Power) and a wide assortment of 80s arcade games including Donkey Kong and Space Invaders.

The tap room is open from 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday and from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday. In addition to the heavy-drinking Vulgar Display of Power, a Russian Imperial Stout that weighs in at 13 percent ABV, look for the comparatively lighter Cortado, an American Imperial Stout that's said to taste just like a cup of cold-brewed coffee, and EZ7, a crisp American Pale Ale that should help us all pass these last few hot weeks of "fall" in Houston.

Brash Brewing Co., 510 W. Crosstimbers, brashbeers.com

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