Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beer Review - Duvel/Ommegang Beer Tasting

Beer Snobbery

Living in Texas where most restaurants sell Shiner Bock (a forgettable Texas beer) as an import, you really have to give kudos to those who try to educate the Bud Light swilling masses to appreciate beers with flavor.  Hats off to Keith Schlabs and the friendly folks at the Meddlesome Moth for sponsoring a beer tasting featuring rare beers from the Duvel Moortgat Brewery which also owns the Maredsous line of abbey ales (the pinnacle of Belgian Ales), La Chouffe Ales (and it's weird elf fixation), and the Ommegang Brewery in New York (one of the, if not the, finest breweries in the U.S.). 

Duvel Triple Hop - 9.5% ABV

Duvel is typically classified as a Strong Pale Ale while the Triple Hop is called a Holiday Beer.  As is typical of a Holiday Beer the Duvel Triple Hop is quite similar to the Duvel Ale but with 3 "special hops" added; 2 from Europe and 1 American, and a bit more alcohol.  The additional hops added a bit of interest to the taste but does not over power.  The cloudy, golden ale had a earthy nose, slightly yeasty.  It tastes a bit sour, slightly citrus with a long bitter finish that you would expect with the additonal hops.  While the Duvel Triple Hop a fine, fine ale, it is not so dissimilar from the Pale Ale to justify the $30 per bottle price tag.  We would suggest sticking with the Duvel Pale Ale.

Ommegang Biere de Mars - 6.5% ABV

Oh no!  Dissention in the ranks!  This belgian style amber ale was the subject of much discussion at the snob table and was either loved or hated by those tasting with no one pleading indifference.  The Ommegang brewers are experimenting with secondary fermentation and this is one of the results.  The yeast used in the second fermentation is a wild strain which gives it a "a bit of zing and some farmhouse funkiness".  The ale is cloudy with a golden brown color and you can slightly smell the sourness imparted by the wild yeast.  The flavor was really different...woodsy, ferny, lightly sour, dry, malty, peppery....almost undefinable....oh my.  This is a very interesting beer, very balanced, and will surely create conversation at your next get together.

Ommegang Triple Perfection - 8.9% ABV

Ommegang's Triple Perfection is a Belgian style triple ale and is their limited edition Christmas Ale.  It's cloudy with a glowing gold color and a persistant head and has a wonderful yeasty, fruity nose that you would expect in a Christmas Ale but with a additional hint of alcohol.  The flavor is spicy and peppery with hints of locorice, coriander and alcohol.  Not truly a Belgian triple but worth exploring and alas, you can only find it in their holiday multipack.

Maredsous Triple - 10% ABV

Maredsous Triple is an abbey ale produced by the monks at the Benedictine Abbey in Denee, Belgium so it is truly an abbey ale.....well.....kind 1963 they were recruited by Duvel to produce an abbey ale for them.  So yes, it is and abbey ale, but....but....but I digress.
Also a seasonal ale, or a 'special occasion' ale as they call it, it has the the rich flavors, the maltiness, the alcohol that is typical of a Belgian triple.  The cloudy golden color and rich nose hints at what is to come...and that is magnificence.  Sweet and malty with a hint of citrus, balanced, creamy smooth...oh my goodness.  This one will warm your belly and dull your senses.  Relax, enjoy.

Ommegang Cave-Aged Abbey Ale '06 - 8% ABV

What annoying thing could a beer snob do to push the limits of snobbery?  To create the uber snob?  Hmmmm...I know!  I'll review a beer that you can't even get!
Ommegang Abbey Ale in and of itself is a magnificent classic Belgian style abbey ale.  Dark, rich, intensly flavored.  The smell is of molasses and malts and an insignificant head that rapidly dissipates from the cloudy, mahogany brew.  Taste the malts?  Yeah, and the spice along with the sweetness.  Coriander...maybe orange..and.....prunes?  Superb.  How could it be any better?  I'm glad you asked...well you put it in a cellar that averages 55 degrees for 4 years. Mother of god this is a good beer.....and you can't have any.

N'ice Chouffe - 10% ABV

Odd, or rather....different.  Everything about Brasserie d’ Achouffe’ and the Achouffe Brewery is different...odd.  The brewer is odd, crediting the success of their ales to the 'magic water' (magic water?  I shudder to think what he means by that) they use in the brewing process.  There is also the odd fixation with strange little elves (  Their beer is absolutley different, odd, but good.  N'ice is their winter ale...strong, dark and delicious.   It is spiced with thyme and curaƧao and lightly hopped....a well-balanced beer. Strangely, or rather oddly, there is little or no aroma, but why does that surprise me?  The beer is unfiltered and allowed a second fermentation in the bottle (and keg) so you will have a bit of sediment to deal with.  The best thing about this ale is that it is available on tap during the winter months, so go, now, and enjoy.

Special thanks to Prescott Carter and Duvel Moortgat USA, LTD.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beer Review - Samual Smith's Winter Welcome

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome - 6% ABV

Fall is progessing toward winter.  It is long past the time of year where you want a lighter, refreshing beer like the lagers or the wiess beers, the ones you crave when it is hot.  The Octoberfest beers are all but drained except for the few brewers that over produced or supply Octoberfest beers year around (poor misguided bastards).  Now is the time for the winter ales, the Christmas ales and the spiced ales.  You are sitting in front of the fire, sipping and nice wintertime seasonal ale (because you know that chugging beers in winter is just sad), you want flavor, you want warmth, you want a buzz and these are the things that the winter ales provide.

The first entry of the season is the Winter Welcome produced by those talented lads at the Samuel Smith Brewery in Tadcaster, England.  There is a lot of tradition at Samuel Smith's, the oldest brewery in Yorkshire (1758) and one of the few independent breweries left in England.  They use a yeast strain developed in the early 1900's and get their water from a well dug 200 years ago.  Their brewing vessels are vats made from huge slabs of slate, which add character to their ales and stouts.

Those of you that know Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome will first examine the label, which is designed anew every year.  The beer is also subject to change year to year, and this years is a decent brew.  A nice golden, brown color will greet you as you pour with a creamy head with small bubbles that give a nice creamy texture.  As is typical with a winter ale, there is a bit more hops, a bit more spice and a bit more alcohol than their brown ale.  It seems very simple at first, but as you get farther into the pint you will notice it is more complex than you thought.  This is a very drinkable ale and is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner (yeah, it will be just dandy with turkey) or for your company Christmas party. 

If you have not tried the other Samuel Smith products I would highly recommend that you do so.  I have tried nearly all that they produce and never had a stinker.  Enjoy.

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery
Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England LS249SB
Located on High Street in Tadcaster

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heart Attack of the Month - The Badwich

The Badwich at Fish's Bar-B-Que

Just thinking about this monstrosity makes me look around in panic for the nearest loo.  This is not your father's BBQ sandwich, this is one of the reasons Americans are FAT.

Take a fried hotlink sausage and place it on a sliced brisket (fatty brisket, of course) sandwich.  "Wow"  you say, "that is quite a mouthfull".  Yes indeed, but it is not close enough to a massive heart attack yet.  Now we add fried bologna.  "Wait, what?"  Yes my friends, fried bologna sandwiches are a staple in the dirty south.  You didn't know that?  Well then you were not trashy enough.  Hmmm, what could we add to finish the coronary?  Well cheese of course!  And not a good cheese, no, no no, we have to add chemical laden, not quite real American Cheese. 
"Surely that must be enough" you say through clenched teeth, as you feel the bile rising in the back of your thoat.  Yes, or rather no.  Hey, it's not a meal unless you serve the sandwich with greasy french fries and sweet tea, now is it?  Just for kicks, lets add a side of baked beans to help things move along.
Fish's Bar-B-Que sells lots o' Badwiches.  If you are feeling the need to get your cholesterol back up above 440 try one at:

Fish's Bar-B-Que
105 E Ballentine Rd
Tahlequah, OK 74464

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beer Review - 60 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA - 6.0% ABV

OK hopheads, this one is for you. 
The folks at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery are mighty proud of their hops.  With "more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil" and "a slew of great NorthWest hops" they create a "powerful, but balanced East Coast I.P.A.".  Quite a lot of braggadocio concerning hops, don't you agree? 

Nice golden amber color with the floral nose that you would expect from a hoppy beer.  Average head that lasts and leaves a lacy pattern on your glass.

You will taste citrus, with earthy notes and just a bit of malt for balance.  Regardless of their claim, it is not as hoppy as many west coast beers and is really quite drinkable.  But as you notice above, it says an East Coast IPA, and compared with most east coast IPA's it is quite agressive.  Not a super ale, but not a dud either and I found it quite pleasant.  This would be a good one for a day to day beer in a hophead's cooler.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Inc.
#6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968

And if you happen to find yourself in Deleware (yeah, right) you may want to stop at their:

Rehoboth Beach Brewpub
320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971