Durty Bull Brewing Co. is the newest brewery to open its doors in Durham, North Carolina, and its goal is to become the venue best known in town for their barrel aged and sour beers. I am nowhere near developed enough in my beer tasting adventures to have acquired significant beer snobbery, but I do hold high standards to any place that specializes in sour and barrel-aged beers. Performing my requisite pre-travel online brewery stalking, my curiosity was peaked, making Durty Bull my first stop on my self-proclaimed “Great Beer Tour of Durham”. They opened their doors to the public in May of this year and just began pouring their own brews this summer.
Durty Bull Brewing Co. is located in the industrial district of downtown Durham, right around the corner from other popular watering holes and another brewery that will be mentioned in another post (I hope that intrigues you). Typical to most breweries that I have visited, they are located in a former warehouse facility that’s been converted for craft beer production and distribution. The brewing facilities are well kept and I was so happy to see two large foeders in the production area amongst the sea of stainless steel. The tasting room is pretty low key and unpretentious, offering a bar area and picnic bench tables to sit and enjoy the beer. If you want a bit of nostalgia, they also have a Nintendo 64 for a riveting game of Mario Kart.
Owner/Manager/Beertender/Brewer, Matt Pennisi was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to chat with me a bit about the brewery and their beers. I also picked his brain about his personal relationship with craft beer. I asked Matt what was his favorite thing about the craft beer community, and he responded by saying that he enjoys the small percentage of assholes that he has to work with on a daily basis. He elaborated by saying that people that work in the beer industry love what they do, which in turn generally lends to a happy demeanor while working. I guess that old phrase, love what you do and you never work a day in your life really works in this case.
I am always curious about “THE BEER” that got someone into craft beer. For Matt, it was either Weyerbacher Insanity or Reserva. He went to college close to the Weyerbacher brewery so he was lucky to have access to good local craft beer. When I was in college I was happy to drink whatever was on special for a quarter. Needless to say, we had both had a very different collegiate beer drinking experience!
Matt is understandably proud of the beer that is being created at Durty Bull and that pride and passion was well portrayed in the beers that I tasted. The beers will not be rushed and will only be served when they are 100% ready. Matt mentioned that much like a fine wine, a lot of their processes will require more time and attention than others, but the end result is worth the wait. Locals of the Durham area will have the benefit of trying small-batch and limited beers not available to the masses.
Okay let me tell you about the Rhubarb Berliner Weise… first off, hats off to the clever use of rhubarb in a sour beer. I tried this beer before and after it was carbonated for its grand debut. I was really impressed with the final result.
I also tried the Kettle Sour, which is a brett fermented sour. The beer smells strongly of pineapple, which is all compliments of the brett yeast used in the fermentation. There is a batch of this tasty beer aging with blackberries in barrels and I was so heartbroken that it was not ready for me to taste, but it certainly makes me want to go back when it’s ready.
The next beer I tasted was the Brett IPA. This beer was still in the fermentation process when I tried it, but it shows excellent potential for the finished product. The beer had a peachy/cantaloupe fragrance and was developing a wonderful flavor. I look forward to a trip back to try this fully fermented creation.
The final beer I tried was the Dark Mint Saison. This beer is interesting and oh-so-tasty. This beer has a great framework with the saison, a beautiful dark color and mint throughout the nose and finish.
I really enjoyed my visit to Durty Bull and will definitely stop in the next time I am in the Durham area. I like to follow all of the breweries that I visit on social media, and I’ve already seen them post a lot of fun events including a sidewalk chalk contest. I was really impressed with the beer and the integrity in their process. I look forward to witnessing the growth and development of Durty Bull as they make their mark on this wonderful world of craft beer.