Beef roast and beef brisket are different cuts of meat that come from distinct parts of the animal. Beef roast isn't just one cut, but can be used to describe multiple cuts that require various cooking methods. Brisket is a specific cut of meat from the lower chest of the cow.
The name "roast" doesn't really give you an idea of where the on the animal the cut came from or how to cook it. Roast can mean many different cuts -- from tender areas that need minimal searing and roasting, to tough cuts that benefit from braising. Consider what you plan to do with your roast before you buy it.
A tough cut of meat, brisket becomes meltingly tender when cooked for long periods of time, which is why it's so well-suited for smoking, corned beef and barbecuing. Brisket boasts a deep, beefy flavor and is sold boneless. Think of it as the breast of the cow.
Brisket cannot be served rare; it must be cooked to an internal temperature of about 200 to 205 F to be edible and enjoyable. Use brisket like a pot roast, braised with root vegetables, or smoked and chopped into a sandwich filling.
A brisket has two distinct parts: the flat and the deckle, or point. The flat portion of the cut has more meat, while the point is fattier. You may purchase only part of the brisket -- the flat or point part -- or a choose a whole brisket to smoke or barbecue. Brisket has a distinct grain, or texture, that many people enjoy.
If you have a fattier piece of brisket, only remove the fat after it's cooked. The fat adds flavor as it braises, smokes or stews.