This week we have Brash Brewing Company in house for a tasting, so we thought we’d hit up the man behind the beer with a few questions. Ben Fullelove is a Bournemouth, England native who moved to Houston, Texas by way of Canada as a child. Fullelove opened a craft beer bar in the city called The Petrol Station (where the beer list is listed by experience level) about seven years ago, and now brews his own recipes at Mercury Brewing under the Brash label.
How did you wind up brewing at Mercury?
We were just named one of the best beer bars in the U.S. by Draft Magazine (shameless self promotion) and get to hang out with guys like Garrett Oliver, Greg Koch, and Mikkel from Mikkeller (shameless name dropping). One person I got to hang out with was Gregg Berman from Clown Shoes. We kind of clicked right away. I didn’t know they were contract brewed until he explained how he got into it and how he built his label. He had heard I had made some beers and asked me about it.
What made you decide you wanted to start brewing?
My goal had been to open a brewery by the time I was 40, so I had recipes and labels when I met Gregg a few years ago. For the record I’m 37 but I easily look 27 (my wife makes me lotion my face regularly and eat right). I showed Gregg what I had been working on, he liked it, and asked if I was interested in talking to Mercury, where Clown Shoes is contracted. Mercury took some convincing but had faith in me and let me join the family.
Contract brewing in Texas wasn’t an option because of the laws there, right?
There are archaic three-tier laws in Texas and I can’t brew there because I own a bar. Contract brewing is difficult to get into. Finding a brewery that can give you space can be challenging. For me, that opportunity became available at Mercury. I’m glad it did because being from England I love Boston, it makes me feel like I’m back in the U.K.
How often do you travel to Mercury and how do you handle quality control over your recipes?
I love Boston and enjoy traveling there every few months to taste test batches, visit the brewery, and do promotions and visit accounts around town. All Brash recipes are made by me and test batched until it’s exactly what I want. I’m a huge beer nerd and think owning a beer bar has given my a pretty good palate.
Are your brews distributed in Texas?
No. I hope to be able to sell my beers in Texas one day soon, but the laws that are changing don’t really help me. It can be frustrating but my ultimate goal is to open my own brewery, at which point I would most likely sell my bar.
You brew big, bold, boozy beers . is that your intent when you formulate recipes?
It’s true I brew big beers but I don’t set out to brew big beers, it just kinda happens. I think I just make beers that I want to drink.
How did you get the name Brash?
My wife came up with the name Brash, it pretty much summed up my approach to craft beer. She has seen how I run my bar. We don’t carry Bud or MillerCoors and have become known for carrying big, bold, rare, and hard to find beers. When we started we heard a lot of “you’re not gonna make it,” but have been successful on our own terms. I’ve been told I don’t have a filter. That might be good or bad, guess time will tell.
Can you tell us about any new beers you’re working on?
Currently, I am working on an RIS, an imperial red, and an IPA as well as my saison (Cold Ass Honky), a rum/whiskey barrel aged imperial brown (Biggie Smalls), a Ska collaboration (Skankin Dirty), a double dry hopped bollocks (DDH The Bollocks), and white Russian smog lifter (Abide). I might make a lower ABV beer soon, too. Sort of like Willie Nelson making a reggae album except not totally shitty.
What are five beers you’re really digging right now?
Right now I’m digging drinking the Stone Enjoy By series, Alpine Exponential Hoppiness, Lagunitas Sucks, Avery Maharaja, and most whiskey barrel aged stouts.
What are your favorite Texas and Mass. breweries?
Favorite Texas brewery? Everyone expects you to say Jester King. They’re great but I’m really digging (512) from Austin, especially some of the crazy casks they’ve been making. Favorite Massachusetts brewery? I really liked Wormtown’s stuff last time I was in Boston, specifically Be Hoppy. However, there are a ton of great beers being made in Mass.
Join us for tonight’s tasting with Brash Brewing Co from 5 to 7 pm!