Brunch and Beer at City Acre Brewing

Although it's not set to open until October, City Acre Brewing -- the soon-to-be brewpub on Highway 59 between Tidwell and Parker -- is already drawing huge crowds.

They were out in force this past Saturday morning, when the City Acre team debuted a handful of new beers for its April Ale Thrill tasting as well as a taste of what's to come on its Southern-style menu: a sweet and savory brunch with pan sausage, buttermilk biscuits and more.

The event was BYOC -- bring your own chair -- and guests sprawled happily across City Acre's grassy lawn; a dog here, a Frisbee there, a plate of food in nearly every lap. And in every hand, a pint of City Acre beer.

My first beer of the afternoon was the hop-forward Girl From IPAnema, which meets my requirements for a sunny day beer: crisp, structured and just slightly citrusy. Crowd favorites like the golden Fermette du Saison and the Gulden Squawk (another gold-hued ale, this one a Belgian golden strong) went fast.

I was happy to discover my favorite of the day was actually one of the last to go: Bayouwolf, an India black ale that was sharper (thanks to some welcome hops) and less sweet than a porter, and therefore happily appropriate for a warm afternoon.

Brewer Matt Schlabach told me they'd been working on some other interesting brews, including a housemade, nonalcoholic ginger beer for the kiddies or the random teetotaling friends you decided to bring to a brewpub, and a pecan praline beer that didn't quite turn out as expected. But Schlabach and his team press on, formulating exciting new recipes as October draws closer.

More new recipes were on display at the buffet table, where a sweet and savory brunch spread had been cooked up to show what City Acre guests can expect from the brewpub's kitchen this fall.

Pan sausage, buttermilk biscuits with herbed butter (herbs which came from City Acre's own garden), two kinds of scones and several homemade jellies were on hand, but it was the tangy cinnamon rolls -- which tasted like a cross between monkey bread and sour cream coffee cake -- that were the hit of the afternoon thanks to the malted hop icing.

As we spread out to eat and drink and bask in the gorgeous weather, I couldn't help thinking that City Acre's broad, grassy backyard would be a perfect spot for grown-up camp-outs when autumn's cool nights hit. After all, City Acre already has a bonfire area all set up.

When I made my request for a grown-up camp-out known, City Acre responded in kind on its Twitter account: "Funny you should mention it! It's on our list of to do's."

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Katharine Shilcutt