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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beer Review - Curieux

Allagash Curieux - 11% ABV

Do you know what an 'Oh my God' moment is?  The first time you try a freshly made fettucini alfredo...the first time you see your significant other naked (in which case 'oh my god' may be a cry of joy, or horror, it depends upon where you put the emphasis) or the first time you try Allagash Curieux.

Curieux (french for curious) was first created by the wizards at Allagash in 2004 and is a Belgian style trippel ale, then they place the ale in emptied Jim Beam bourbon barrels (I love bourbon, bourbon makes me happy) where it is allowed to age in their cellars for 8 weeks.  That is where the magic happens.

The head is huge and is quite persistent, you will have to wait a bit to let it settle.  While it settles, have a smell the yeast, and the boubon and that is about it.  The color is cloudy, golden.  The flavor is that of a great Belgian trippel...bread, toffee, banana and bourbon...lots of boubon...and a bit of oak.  This is a magnificent beer made even better with the bourbon.  It was such an 'Oh my God' moment for me that I abandoned my Christmas party and went to find a quiet place where I could have a private moment with my new friend.  Great beers are about sharing, but not this one...this one was for me and me alone.  I have had Allegash brews before and found them to be quite delightful, but this one brings them up to near the top the favorites list.

50 Industrial Way
Portland, Maine 04103
Tel: (207) 878-5385
Toll Free (800) 330-5385

Friday, December 17, 2010

Road Trip Dining - Ball Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que

Ball Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que - McAlester, OK

The Beer Snob loves roadtripping and several times a year I get to roadtrip through eastern Oklahoma.  Normally, road trips through Oklahoma are sheer bathrooms, crappy beer and fast food dining.  At least that is the way it was until I was told about Ball Bar-b-que in McAlester, Oklahoma.  There is nothing really special about McAlester, which is about 1/2 way through the state and a bit larger than most of the speed-trap happy villages you pass through on your way home.  Along US 75 you will see the normal fast food joints, WalMart, a stray auto dealership or 2, but if you are adventurous and are wanting the best barbeque you have ever had, go off the the main road and find Ball's.

When you finally find the restaurant which is truly off the beaten path (a local cop led me to it the first time I tried to find it), somewhere off Business 75 in a non-descript neighborhood, you will be treated to what may be the finest quality meat I have ever had.  Have you ever listened to someone bragging about their 87 ingredient rub that they use to hide the fact that their meat is gamey, tough and barely edible?  Not here my frends, just the highest quality meat, that's it, no seasonings, then a long session in the smoker using hickory wood to finish.  The brisket, you ask?  Tender, moist, delicious.  But don't stop there, it would be a crime to stop there...beef ribs, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, bologna, ham, chicken and hot, hot, hot links...and all the finest quality of meat you have had.  The sauce is so good that I have been known to have a gallon or so of it in my fridge so that I can pretend that the local Dallas barbeque is edible.  And damn it all, they even have great frigging hamburgers as if all that is not enough.  Oh my aching gut.  Potato salad, coleslaw, french fries, bbq beans....I guess I can stuff in a bit more.  "Pickle bar?  You make your own pickles?"  Groan, I think I can do it.  "Homemake blackberry cobbler?  Peach, too?"  Oh god make it stop!

I have become so enamored with the quality of the food and the friendliness of the staff that I make sure that my driving schedule takes me through McAlester at lunch time on one of the 4 days that they are open (Thursday through Sunday only) both coming and going.  Be forewarned, it is dangerous driving through all of the revenue challenged small towns loaded with Barney Fifes and their radar guns while battling a meat coma, but my oh my it is worth the battle.

Ball Bar-B-Que
319 West Shawnee Avenue
McAlester, OK 74501-6247
(918) 423-4430

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beer Review - Samichlaus Bier

Samichlaus Bier - 14% ABV

Castle Eggenberg is the oldest family owned brewery in Austria and dates back at least to the year 999 A.D. Beginning in 1681 the Castle Brewery Eggenberg began brewing on a commercial basis. About 200 years ago the ancestors of the present owner bought the castle.  Bastards.

Samichlaus (Austrian for Santa Claus) is brewed once a year on December 6th, and only on December 6th, then allowed to age for 10 months and bottled.  What a confusing beer, described as 'the World's Strongest Lager', Dopplebock, Christmas Ale....bah...I know a malt liquor when I taste one.  The clear reddish-brown beer pours with almost no head, and what little you get rapidly dissapates.  The smell is of molasses and honey and there is enough alcohol included to give you a bit of nasal burn.  Sweet, with malts, caramel and hazel nut coming first and then the alcohol burn taking over the lead in the closing act.  This beer is a stand alone to be enjoyed after a good meal, perhaps instead of cognac, which is what it reminds me of.  Enjoy it now or allow it to age a few years in a protected location, and don't forget that you may use what you don't drink to fuel your jet.

Stohr GmbH & Co KG
Eggenberg 1
4655 Vorchdorf

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heart Attack of the Month - Chili Cheeseburger

Chili Cheeseburger at Maple and Motor Burgers and Beer

Heartburn.....indegestion.....the it what you will, this month's delight was a tough one to stomach (nudge, nudge). 

Maple and Motor "A Grease-stained Tribute to Low Class Cool" is an increasingly popular burger joint located at....tah dah!....Maple and Motor (clever bastards).  If asked (though I would not recommend it) they will readily admit that this is not a place to find healthy food.  Their 1/3 pound beef patties are a wonderfully greasy blend of 70/30 beef.  Their chili is made in house and is also rich, greasy and delicious.  Their is really nothing super special about their burgers...just old fashioned, greasy, delicious burgers.  Then why add the chili?  Oh well, if you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly bear, right?

You are afraid that the burger may not sit well?  Afraid of perhaps spending the afternoon on the porcelain throne?  Well then you need to counterbalance it with the cheese covered tater tots.  Not grizzly bear enough?  My, you are an adventurer,  Well then you need to add the bacon and jalapeno to the top of the cheezy goo and ranch dressing for dipping.  If you are really lucky, the mass of cheese will counteract the effects of the chili and perhaps the worse side effect you will have is the dreaded acid reflux... but it is well worth the risk my friends.  Wash it all down with an ice cold PBR and you have reached bubba nirvana.  Enjoy.

Maple and Motor Burgers and More
4810 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219-1005
(214) 522-4400

Beer Review - Avery Reverend

The Reverend - 10% ABV

This Ale, in the style of a Belgium quadrupel, was created by Avery in tribute to the life of Sales Manager Tom Boogaard's grandfather, an ordained Episcopal Reverend.  They describe it as "strong willed, assertive, and pure of heart, a heart of candy sugar".  I describe it as frigging delicious.
The cloudy, orange-amber color and sweet candy smell gives no hint whatsoever of the powerfull taste to follow.  You will smell vanilla, banana and malts along with a full head that leaves nice lacing throughout.  The fine carbonation gives you a silky mouthfeel as you enjoy the flavor of fig, plums and raisins.  You will get undertones of banana, cloves and the caramel malts with the alcohol lightly coming through at the end, well disguised and ready to pounce.  This beer is a wonderful winter ale that would be perfect for a cold night sitting next to the fire. 

Avery has done their trappist brewing forefathers and Reverend Boogaard right.  Let me assure you that this one will end up on my regulars list for as long as it lasts.

Avery Brewing Company
5763 Arapaho Ave.
Boulder, Colorado 80303

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beer 101 - Belgian Ales

Belgian Ale Styles

While sitting in a pub the other day drinking a superb Belgian quadrupel (it is what I do, drink) a drinking buddy asked me, "Snob" (yes, that is my real name) "What is the difference between a dubbel and a tripel, and how does a tripel differ from a quadrupel?"  "Well" I stammered, "I think it has to do with the length of the brewing process....or is it the number of fermentations?".  Bloody hell, I hate being called out.  So here, my friends, is a breakdown in the different types of Belgian Ales so that you don't get caught looking like a noob when asked about something you should already know.

Belgian Ale - The every day beer of Belgium, similar to an American Pale Ale, or Amber Ale or an English Brown Ale.  Typified by a lower alcohol content (say around 6%) that far most Belgians it is meant for daily consumption.  (No children, Stella Artois is not an ale, it is a lager and a mediocre one at that.  The locals refer to it as 'wife beater' beer and would be compared to PBR or Milwaukees Best by a Belgian.)

Belgian Strong Ale - Add candy sugar to the ale brewing process and you get an ale that is stronger, sweeter, full flavored and insidious.  The sweetness and light mouthfeel hide the fact that the beer is stronger (7% +) and will slap you down.

Abbey Dubbel - The Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel distinctions were originally reserved for the Abbey brewed beers.  Many secular beers, even here in the U.S., are brewing these styles of ales.  The dubbel is an ale that is allowed to go through a second fermention, sometimes in the brewery, sometimes in the bottle.  They are usually richley malted and are brown to dark brown with a persistent head.  Candy sugar is used to strengthen the brew and the style overlaps with Belgian ales or strong ales.

Abbey Tripel - This style was created by the monks at Westmalle abbey, so if you want to try the original, the best, the superior tripel ale, try the Westmalle, which can be found in many parts of the U.S..  Tripels are ales that have gone through a third fermentation and are usually golden or light amber in color and usually have long lasting, lacy heads.  The use of candy sugar and high carbonation can easily hide that fact that you are consuming lots of alcohol.  The biggest difference between the tripels and the other Belgians is that the tripels are usually hopped and have the floral nose that you would expect with hops.

Abbey Quadrupel - Also created by monks and copied by many secular breweries these ales go through the fermentation process 4 times.  This creates the richest, strongest, most complex flavors and are dark brown to red brown in color with a creamy mouthfeel.  Typically very high in malts with a background taste of yeast, fruits and chocolate and lots of alcohol (10% or more) to ruin your drive home (was that a mailbox?).  Whenever you mention Belgian ales and see a beer snob start drooling like Pavlov's dogs they are probably thinking about this style of ale.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beer Review - Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter

Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter - 5.7% ABV

I am continually amazed by the quality of beers coming out of Colorado these days.  The west coast in known for having a large selelction of mirco-breweries and craft brewers...but a great deal of them seem to be intent on trying to out hop the other trick ponies so to speak.  The Colorado breweries on the other hand, are putting out a stunning variety of craft beers of superior least most of the breweries...the swill being produced by Coors brings down the average somewhat.
As you drive west from Denver and start your seemingly unending climb up into the mountains, one of the first towns you come across is the historic mining town of Idaho Springs, the place where gold was first discovered in Colorado.  You can stop and see the quaint little shops, the cute little boutiques....or screw all of that and stop at the Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub and get tanked.  Yeah baby.
Tommyknocker Brewery has been producing above average beers since 1994 and continue that tradition with their Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer.  The smell of cocoa is quite evident along with the roasted malts and the brew is quite dark...chocolaty even.  The creamy tan head does not persist. 
The flavor is of lightly sweetened chocolate with just enough hops to make it slighly dry, reminiscent of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout.  The texture is a bit lighter that you would expect considering the sweetness and the finish gives you just a hint of bitterness from the unsweetened cocoa used in the brewing process.
A nice holiday treat but I don't think I could drink more than one at a sitting.

Tommyknocker Resturant, Pub & Brewery
1401 Miner St
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
(303) 567-2688