Drink This Now: Fear of the Gods at Deep Ellum
When Max Toste first sipped Beer of the Gods as he was preparing to open his first bar, Deep Ellum, it was unlike any other local brew headed for his future draft list. The 4.5 percent ABV blond ale by High & Mighty Brewing—a now-defunct brewery that, at the time, hadn’t even officially launched yet—was crisp, hoppy, vegetal, and drinkable.
“It was rad,” Toste recalls.
The brew was the first effort from Will Shelton, whom Toste and his business partner, Aaron Sanders, knew from his role importing beers with the boutique distributor Shelton Brothers. Sanders was temporarily based in Western Mass., on the opening team at Northampton beer bar the Dirty Truth, while he and Toste finalized the plans for Deep Ellum. The Holyoke-brewed High & Mighty came in as a sample to the Dirty Truth, and Sanders made sure Toste got a taste, too. It was exactly the type of beer they were hoping to feature at Deep Ellum.
“I wanted to try to separate ourselves from other beer bars,” Toste says. At the time, “extreme beers,” like face-meltingly bitter double IPAs, and astronomically boozy imperial stouts, ruled the craft beer scene. “I was really enamored with historical styles like English bitters, German lagers, all that kind of stuff, and I wanted to feature those products at Deep Ellum. And then here comes this local beer,” he says.
Beer of the Gods was sessionable before “session beer” was a thing, and it had a unique dryness—it was made like a German-style kölsch, but then hopped more liberally with aromatic, noble varieties, particularly Hallertau.
“It was really unusual at the time to make a beer like that, and that became a keystone on our draft program,” Toste says. “I want people to come in and drink big glasses of delicious beer, and drink a bunch of them and not have them wasted or feel weird.”
Shelton disbanded High & Mighty in 2014, which devastated Toste, he says. “I was blown away by [Beer of the Gods] and personally liked it a lot, and it’s pretty much the only beer we sold continually,” he says.
To celebrate Deep Ellum’s 10th anniversary, which was officially January 4, Toste called up Shelton to ask if he’d be willing to share the recipe. He obliged, and Mystic head brewer Charlie Cummings and founder Bryan Greenhagen helped revive it at their Chelsea brewery.
They brewed one batch of the stuff, changing the hop character a little with more Tettnang and Saaz hops, and dubbing it Fear of the Gods. It yielded about 20 kegs, so it should stick around on draft through February, and maybe into March, Toste says.
The first pours are very green, mineral-driven, and grassy, he says. But the beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, so as it’s kept cool for the next couple of months, the character will change. “In about three weeks or so, it’s going to really round out and get a little more refined. I’m looking forward to tasting it as it progresses,” Toste says.
Fear of the Gods is available at Deep Ellum and both locations of its sister taqueria, Lone Star Taco Bar, by the half-liter ($6) and liter ($12)—and Toste broke out a few “vintage” High & Mighty mugs especially for the occasion.
Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-2337, deepellum-boston.com, Lone Star Taco Bar, 479 Cambridge St. Allston, 617-782-8226, 635 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 857-285-6179, lonestar-boston.com.