Braindead Brewings’s P-Wing Has A Strong Citrus-y Nature And Smooth, Hoppy Taste That Makes It The Deep Ellum Brewery’s Best IPA To Date.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Braindead Brewing’s P-Wing.

Fast Facts on Braindead Brewing P-Wing.

Style: American IPA
ABV: 8.4 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 60-ish.
Color: Deep gold/medium orange.
Availability: Limited release – brewery only.

Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum’s weird, uber-friendly neighborhood operation, continues to surprise and delight with waves of new offerings. I think one of the things I like best about Braindead is that it keeps things small and weird. And by weird, I mean that because of its small nature, Braindead has the flexibility to take risks that other larger operations may not. There is, without a doubt, some risk to take when brewing a new beer. However, Braindead’s small-ish size allows it some room for experimentation. So while Braindead does brew a cadre of successful, crowd-pleasing beers, it’s that niche smaller brewpub vibe that excites me. Since I last visited BDBC, it has finished out its expansion into the small space next door. I asked for a quick peek, and boy, it was already a crowded situation. (Thanks, Spencer!) So while Braindead isn’t cranking out 90BBL batches of beer, it is executing smaller 15-30BBL batches, which are at least on par with most of Dallas’ other smaller brewpub operations.

This week’s review focuses on P-Wing, a single malt (plus another sugar source), fresh hop double pale ale. Wait, what’s a double pale ale? Braindead calls this beer a double pale ale. I’m not 100 percent sure on this fitting into the double pale ale style, but I think it’s safe to call this beer an IPA. Hey, Braindead can call this beer whatever it wants. But for taxonomy’s sake, I’m going with American IPA here.

As a side note, Braindead is putting on its third annual barrel and sour beer party real soon. Do you have your ticket yet for this year’s Festicle?

Background on American IPA.
For a primer on the American IPA style, check out our review on Texas Ale Project 50FT Jackrabbit. The American IPA is a subset of the larger IPA style which focuses on American and/or New World hop varieties. According to Beer Judge Certification Program notes, the first American IPA on record was Anchor Liberty Ale, a beer brewed using only Cascade hops. If there’s any hop variety that’s uniquely American, or at least the most widely-known, it’s Cascade. All in all, the American IPA is an aggressively bitter, moderately strong type of pale ale. The fermentation should be clean and it should get out of the way of the hops.

P-Wing is served in a smaller format snifter style glass. I tried to snag a growler of this beer while I was at Braindead, but the brewery charges an arm and a leg for it. Alas, I had to leave this session as a one-beer drinking session. Color is a medium orange. I see a good amount of haze on this beer, but I don’t knock a dry hopped beer for it. As the beer warms and as I near the end of the pour, the beer clears quite a bit.

Unlike a lot of other IPAs out there, P-Wing is a fresh hop beer. Sometimes brewers will call this a “wet hopped” beer, so the two terms are sort of interchangeable. This means that when hops were added to this beer, the hops didn’t go through the normal post-harvesting process of drying and packaging. Instead, they were picked and rushed straight to the brewery. I’m playing it a bit fast-and-loose with the nitty-gritty details on the fresh hop thing, but that’s the gist of it. There’s an intense peel aroma going on here. I get a bittersweet, but enjoyable sense of grapefruit. Others may report a more general citrus aroma like orange. Either way, the initial aroma has a distinct and enjoyable rind and peel aroma.

I get a big citrus note on my first sip. It’s back with the grapefruit and I dig it. Along with the punch of citrus, I get a healthy wave of booziness. I did a double-take because of it because it’s just a boozy IPA, and at 8.4 percent ABV, it teeters on being called a Double IPA. About half way through this pour, my tongue tingles a bit and my face warms. Ah, there it is, that welcoming warming sense that washes over me where I begin to give less fucks. Weirdly, this sensation is more present on helmet beers for me, but I’m rolling with it on this pour of P-Wing. At the risk of sounding cliché, there’s a certain juicy element in play here, but it’s not a cloyingly sweet sort of thing. The hops are pitching in the juicy roundness here, and the beer finishes crisp with a wallop of hop aroma in the aftertaste.

On its description, Braindead states that the malt bill on P-Wing is made up of pale 2-row malt and cane sugar. So it sounds like the brewers got the malt situation dialed in just right, but then perhaps wanted to up the ante a little bit on the fermentability, while at the same time keep this beer drinking clean and bright. The cane sugar provides the yeast with more goodies to eat here, so this element is likely what propels the ABV higher than what you might expect. I can’t say that I have seen a simple grain bill like this before, but hey, it works! Some Saison style beers will have a small addition of pure fermentable goodness to likewise help boost the fermentables a bit. And like those beers, P-Wing has been fermented down to a very enjoyable final gravity. The finish is bright and crisp, and I get a little kiss from that boozy feel here again. Overall, the mouthfeel is deceptively smooth for this beer’s ABV.

Overall Impression.
I dig this beer. I think that Braindead has brewed a successful IPA with P-Wing, and I think that this is its best IPA to date. The grapefruit aroma and flavor from the Amarillo hops shines through on this beer and the rest of the hops in play add to its complexity. I’m guessing that because of the grain bill required to push the ABV up to its near-Double IPA status, and the large hopping schedule, this is not a very affordable beer to make. But that won’t stop me from ordering this beer if its on tap when I visit Braindead again.

Score. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Braindead Brewing P-Wing a 9.5.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
• Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
• Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Collective Brewing Project’s Boysenbarrel: 10.
• Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community’s Legion: 10.
• Martin House River Horse: 9.75.
• BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
• Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
• Braindead Brewing’s P-Wing: 9.5.
• Lakewood Brewing Company’s Coconut Temptress: 9.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
• Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
• Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
• Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
• Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
• Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
• Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
• Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.2
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
• On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
• Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
• Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
• Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
• Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
• Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
• Bankhead Brewing Co.’s Giggle Water: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Poblano Paradise: 8.75.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest: 8.75.
• Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Passiflora: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Community Beer Company’s Wit ‘N Wild: 8.5.
• Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
• Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
• Lakewood’s Peach Artsy Tarsty: 8.25.
• Lakewood Brewing Grand Allowance: 8.
• HopFusion Ale Works’ Hairpin: 8
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale: 8.
• Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
• On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
• Peticolas Brewing Company’s Doctor’s Orders: 8.
• Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
• Bishop Cider Co.’s Sour Cherry: 8.
• Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewing’ Nine Volt: 8.
• Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
• Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
• Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
• Pegasus City Brewery’s Cannoneer: 8.
• Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
• Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
• 903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
• Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
• Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
• Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
• 903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
• Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
• BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
• Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
• Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
• Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
• Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
• Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
• Revolver’s Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
• Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
• Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
• Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
• Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
• Four Corners Brewing Company Homie Brew: 7.75.
• Cedar Creek’s Grapefruit Haze: 7.75.
• Martin House Brewing’s Big Hoppa: 7.75.
• TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
• 3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
• Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
• Chimera Dirty Dog: 7.5.
• Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
• Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
• Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
• Texas Ale Project’s Good To Go: 7.5.
• Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
• Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
• Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
• On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
• True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
• Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
• Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
• Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
• Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
• Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
• Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
• Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek Brewery Clover Kicker: 7.25.
• Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
• Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
• Deep Ellum Rye Pils: 7.
• 3 Nations Mango SMASH IPA: 7.
• Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout: 7.
• Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
• Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
• Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
• Wild Acre Brewing Company’s Billy Jenkins: 7.
• Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
• Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
• Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
• TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
• Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
• BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
• Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
• Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
• Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
• BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
• Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
• Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
• Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
• Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
• Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
• Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
• Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
• Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
• Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
• Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
• 903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
• 903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
• Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
• Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
• Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
• Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
• Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
• Martin House’s River House: 7.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
• Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
• Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
• Community Brewing Company’s Silly Gose: 6.75
• Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
• Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
• Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
• Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
• Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
• Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
• 903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
• Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Cedar Creek’s Maui Wowie: 6.25.
• On Rotation’s Mexican Barleywine: 6.25.
• Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
• Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
• TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
• Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
• Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
• Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
• Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
• Cobra Brewing Company’s Dawn of the Dank: 6
• Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
• Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
• Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
• Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
• Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
• Legal Draft Beer Company’s Smash & Grab IPA: 5.
• Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
• Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
• Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
• 903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
• Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
• TUPPS’ Day Off: 4.75.
• Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
• Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
• Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
• Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
• Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
• Good Neighbor Brews Slim Sweetness: 3.
• Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• 903 Brewers’ Mythical Creatures: 2.5.
• Miller Lite: 1.

All photos by Ben Smithson.

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