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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Beer Review - Gavroche

Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre Gavroche French Red Ale - 8.5% ABV

Farmhouse ales originated in northern France and what is now Belgium and were traditionally brewed in winter, then served during the summer to hard working farm hands.  Fracturing of the beer styles has led to the creation of 2 similar, but quite distinct beer styles; Saisons in Belgium and Beire de Garde in France.  Most of us are quite familiar with the saison, unfiltered, yeasty, big alcohol, but few are familiar with the French version.

Saint Sylvestre Cappel is an ancient village situated on a Roman military road between Cassel and Caestre. Its present name is not the original one. In the middle Ages it was called Hillewaerts Cappel and became Saint Sylvestre Cappel in 1538.  There was a brewery on site from before the revolution due to the presence of a fresh water spring but modern beer production was started in the 1920's.  While the Belgian version tends to be dryer and hoppier while the French version is stronger and sweeter.

The beer pours a hazy amber with a significant head that persists for a good bit.  The nose is of the German Noble Hops and toasted malts with a bit of earthy mustiness and fruit.  The flavor is lightly carmel sweet and roasted malts.  The hops in the nose are not evident in the flavor but the earthiness form the yeasts are there.  It is hard to believe that this beer has 8.5% alcohol because it is really light and really easy to drink.  I highly recommend this beer but be very, very careful because it will gently take you from 0 - drunk much faster than you expect.  I am quit anxious to try their other offerings.

Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre
121 rue de la Chapelle
St-Sylvestre-Cappel 59114

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Event Review - Christmas Beer Tasting

Idle Rich Christmas Beer Tasting

This event is rapidly becoming an annual holiday tradition with the snobs.  7 Christmas beers and a cheese tray for only $25.00.  This year's selection included a mix of old world traditions and new world flavors.  Anchor 2011 ("Smooth, not as hoppy as expected", "Dry and mellow") and Anchor 2012 ("Watery", "Nothing special), Avery Jubilation ("Hoppy as a hell", "Good ale, but not really a Christmas ale") and Sierra Celebration ("Hoppy and dry", "..tastes like a Christmas tree") represented the American holiday beers.  Delirium Noel ("Slightly sour and slightly sweet, nice balance", "I would go out of my way to find this beer), Scaldis Noel ("Dark fruits and sneaky alcohol", "Tastes like Christmas") and St. Bernardus Christmas ("Boinggg", "This is what Christmas should taste like","&*$#@ this is a good beer") representing the old world styles.

The relaxed atmosphere was created by allowing you to arrive whenever you like and to drink at your own pace.  You want to slam and dash?  No problem.  You want to hang out, sip and talk beer with the other geeks?  No problem there either. 

The most surprising discovery of the evening was the crowd, who were mostly women.  Tables full of females sipping, discussing, photographing and taking notes about what they were enjoying.  No longer is beer the realm of the grunting, sweating male.  Oh you can still find them, hanging out in parking lots swilling their fizzy, watery beers.
"Look, I drank 42 beers!" 
"What kind?" 
As that more than half of the population are women it is in the direct interest of the craft beer movement to attract and involve that ignored segment of the beer drinking market.  I was so very surprised by the demographics of the event and am so very pleased to see our better half enjoyng the evening, without my fellow knuckly draggers.  Bravo ladies.

The Idle Rich Pub
2614 McKinney Avenue
Dallas, TX 75204

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pub Review - World of Beer

World of Beer

Once upon a time in a strange, distant land known as Florida there was a beer store.  This beer store was my joy.  Nearby you could find gleaming white beaches, swaying palm trees, and theme parks galore, but nothing gave me greater joy than spending my Friday afternoons browsing the hundreds of beers from around the world where you would create your own mix and match 6 packs to go.  Except perhaps visiting the original Hooters across the street.  There is some correlation there that I am missing, but I digress.

This store was really not much to look at ... small, less that 15' wide, with rows of coolers lining the walls on both sides.  At the door was the check out counter manned by a friendly, knowledgeable beer geek who could, and often would, chat with you for hours about your favorite beverage.  The concept was purchased by the Glazer brothers (the guys who brought you the Outback Steakhouse, and you know how wonderful that is) and taken franchised. 

The new World of Beer in Dallas bears very little resemblence to my beloved Clearwater hangout.  The new concept is quite simply a pub which unlike the original, serves food, drafts beers and about 500 bottles to be consumed in house.  The 20 or so drafts are surprisingly uninspired, but at least there was no fizzy pissy water beers on tap and no Stella which was very disappointing to the 2 twits next to me who ordered both.  And that knowledgeable beer geek behind the counter?  He also did not make the transition.  There are a few servers who know a bit about beer, but for the most part you have vacuous, indifferent servers who are happy to tell you that Kronenbourg tastes virtually identical to Chimay.  I suspect that they will learn. The biggest surprise was the clientele which I expected to be power drinkers from SMU, but I was amazed when I found myself sitting amongst grizzled beer veterens asking questions of the servers that they were completely unable to answer. 

I hope that the WoB lives up to their promises of having the biggest beer selection of any bar in Dallas and also hope that they find the wisdom to provide seasonal selections, which were very scarce on our visit.  Several of the staff have great potential and were excited about learning beer, much like I was all those years ago.  I will visit WoB from time to time because I see the potential, but they will have to improve considerably to make our heavy rotation list.

World of Beer
5600 SMU Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75206

Beer Review - Blood and Honey

Revolver Brewing Blood and Honey Wheat Ale - 5.5% ABV

Granbury, Texas.  I can't say that I had a lot of confidence trying a beer from Granbury, Texas.  Small town, Granbury, and not known for having a plethora of cultural activities.  So I imagine that the beer is a typical small town beer... watery, over carbonated and under flavored.  I was wro ...... what was that?  Grant Wood is the brewmaster?  Grant Wood, master brewer from Sam Adams?  You're kidding, right?  Why would he come to Granbury to brew? *insert huge, slow shug here*

The beer pours a cloudy, golden yellow with a small, white head that doesn't persist.  The odor is slightly citrus with a bit of grain.  The first sip is huge orange and a little sweet.  The malted grains and yeast are there, but quite hidden in the background.  Acidic with a some spices .... coriander?  I found that I liked it from the very first sip.  The blood orange zest that they use provides quite an orangey blast.  The local honey from Fall Creek Farms is what provides the sweetness.  Oddly, the more I drank the funkier the taste became.  No, not some much the taste that became funky, but the effects of the acid.  The acids kept building up in the back of my throat until the effect kind of reminded me of the acidic burn you get when you consume massive quantites of beer  and it exits from the same hole you poured it down.  Delicious indeed, but I absolutely could not drink more than one at a sitting.

Revolver Brewing
5600 Matlock Road
Granbury, TX 76049

Monday, December 10, 2012

Restaurant Review - Taco Republic

Taco Republic

So there I was in Richardson a few days ago around lunch and thought that I would drop by an old haunt.  Lo and behold the restaurant was no longer there, which is not so odd in our world, but the shopping center that it was a part of was also no longer there.  Bare dirt, except for this lone outpost.  Oh boy, another taqueria.  But it was noon and I was famished so in I went.  Stand in line, order a taco, wait for you name to be shouted out, eat.  Yeah, we've seen this before. 

I ordered the 3 Taco Platter which included the Baha, a fish taco on a corn tortilla, the Tinga Chicken which is also served on a corn tortilla, and the Street taco which is brisket, french fries on a flour tortilla.

The fish on the Baha taco was grilled perfectly, tender and juicy and delicious.  TheTinga chicken, which is chicken stewed in veggies and spices, was wet, leaving a puddle on the tray.  Wonderful.  The Street taco fries were crispy McDonald's style fries in the taco with the tender brisket and a spicy cream sauce.  Dandy.  Maybe, just maybe, that tacos are like sex .... even when they are bad the are pretty damn good .... nevermind, I forgot Taco Bell *shudder*.  I don't know that I would make this a destination restaurant but next time I am in Richardson at lunch I will not hesitate to stop.

One more thing, skip the chips and salsa.  Waaaaaayy too much salt. 

Taco Republic
760 South Central Expressway
Richardson, TX 75080

Beer Review - Saison du Buff

Dogfish, Victory and Stone Breweries collaboration Saison du Buff - 7.7% ABV

Mmmmm ..... Saison.  Damn I love a good Saison.  The saison began as a pale ale brewed by farm workers for drinking in the hot summer while they worked in the field.  They often would add spices to the brew for a change of pace but you could always count on a saison to be fruity, bready, carbonnated and delicious.  Most saisons these days are tyified by bready, earthy Belgian yeasts and are subtle and fresh.

This version is also called Scarborough Faire Saison due to the addtion of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and I could not wait to give it a taste.  'Surely', I thought, 'Surely these breweries (all of which are known for their hops) wouldn't try to overhop something as subtle as this."  I should have known better.  Parsley?  Not evident.  Sage?  No way to know.  Rosemary?  No clue.  Thyme?  Who can say?  Cascade hops?  Oh yes, yes indeed.  Why these guys would call this a saison is beyond me.  Why they would waste adding the herbs is even farther from comprehension, because unless you have a really perceptive palate you will never know that they are there.

Do you like Victory Golden Monkey?  If so you will likely enjoy this beer, but if it is a saison you are after just skip on to Saison DuPont or Boulevard Tank 7.  The overpowering hops makes this more of an IPA and a not very inspired one at that.  I really can't recommend this beer.  Cheers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beer Review - Poperings Hommelbier

Brouwerij Van Eecke Poperings Hommelbier - 7.5% ABV

The Earldom of Yedegem was founded in Watou, Flanders in 1629 where they build a nice castle and shortly afterward constructed a fine brewery.  Flanders, I am sure you know, is part of today's Belgium, which may lead you to believe that they know how to brew a good beer, and you would be right.  150 years later during the French Revolution rampaging French troops burned the castle, and the brewery to the ground.  Bastards.  Wisely, the family Yedegem ran off to England to avoid the guillotine.  In 1820 the brewery was rebuilt by a local farmer, under the slogan "Revolt all you want, but we still need beer here." The brewery was then named "In de Gouden Leeuw" (In the Golden Lion).  1862, The Family Van Eecke became the new owners of the brewery by marriage, and started brewing top fermenting country ales.

The brewery created Hommelbier (hommel in the local dialect means hops) in 1981 specifically for a local festival and it was very well received.  It's popularity has since spread far and wide and has won the brewery many awards for this magnificent beast. 

I suggest that you look at the beer in the bottle before you even open it.  Notice all of the goodies in suspension?  They are going to add interest and flavor to your experience.  The beer pours the color of honey and caramel and with a huge mushoom head that hangs around for a while.  Be patient, enjoy the show of the tiny floating bits hanging around in the glass.  The nose is of yeast and hops and a bit of fruit in the background.  When you finally get to taste you will be blown away.  Amazing flavors of yeast and a good deal of hops, but no overpowering bitterness.  Slightly sweet, malty, bready and bitter ... balanced, perfect.  Very refreshing and light considering the high alcohol content.  Incredible beer, undoubtedly one of the best beers on the market and one of the best that I have had in a long while. 

Brouwerij Van Eecke
Douvieweg 2
Watou 8978 Belgium

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Battle of the Beers Part 2 - Stingo Ale

Boulevard Brewing & Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Collaboration Stingo, 8.5% ABV
Samuel Smith's Stingo, 9% ABV

Stingo.  Until a few months ago I had never heard of this beer style whatsoever.  Then, out of the blue, I find not one, but two versions of this unknown strong ale. The ale is quite ancient and is mentioned in old English literature and specific to the Yorkshire area; Stingo is the kind of beer that gives beer historians wood.  The funny part is that these two breweries seem to be the only ones making it.

The flavor should be a bit sweet, rich, malty and strong and with a bit of sourness in the background.  Oh yes, and alcohol, lots of alcohol.  This is a magnificent style of beer and either one of these is great on it's own, but here are the comment from the snobs when asked to compared and choose a favorite in a head to head competition.

Samuel Smith's
- "Sweeter, very smooth, excellent."
- "Slightly sweet and creamy."
- "Sweet, more complex."
- "Not bitter and no aftertaste."
- "Great depth w/ carmel sweetness."
- "..because it's just better."

Boulevard Stingo
- "Bitter, complex and excellent.  I can't really decide which is better."
- "Caramel taste."

So, as you can see Samuel Smith's Stingo was preferred by the panel 6-2, but both were very well received and everyone agreed that they would buy either of these beers to enjoy at home.  You can find both of these at several location around town, but for how long...?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beer Tasting with The DBS

Join us for the Christmas Beer Tasting at the Idle Rich Pub.
XMAS_TASTING_CC Taste the best of this year's Christmas beers at our casual Monday night tasting. There is no formal presentation. We provide you with tasting notes, informational materials, an individual cheese plate and of course the beers. Enjoy and discuss these seasonal brews with your friends. Brewery giveaways also.
Cost - $25
These tastings do sell out, please email for reservations at
Are you tired of our snobby beer reviews that are not, in your mind, fair and balanced?  The good folks at the Idle Rich have agreed to allow you to join us at the Christmas Beer Tasting.  Time is short and space is limited for you to reserve a space with the Dallas Beer Snobs at this event.  Everyone who joins us will be offered the chance to add their voice  to the regular panel of reviewers.  IF you would like to join us contact them and let them know that you would like to be added to the Dallas Beer Snobs list.  Remember, this offer is open for a very limited time.  We are looking forward to meeting you and value your opinions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mysterium Verum Beer Dinner

Real Ale Beer and Food pairing @ the Meddlesome Moth

Attention UBER Snobs.  On Monday, November 4th the Meddlesome Moth will be hosting a beer and food pairing with Real Ale Brewing Company from Blanco, Texas.  Their Mysterium Verum beers feature aged and experimental beers that very, very few people will ever see, much less taste.

-WT3F?!, a barrel-aged version of Real Ale’s Devil’s Backbone made with brettanomyces
-Devil’s Share, another Devil’s Backbone aged in Cabernet Barrels
-Highlander, a wine barrel-aged wee heavy scotch ale
-Empire, a barrel-aged version of Real Ale’s Lost Gold IPA
-Kraken, Real Ale’s Sisyphus Barleywine Ale aged in French oak
-Vol. X5, a Maker’s Mark-barrel-aged version of Real Ale’s 15th Anniversary Stout
-Scots Gone Wild, a wee heavy scotch ale aged six months in American oak and wild yeast (available for purchase at the bar)

While the cost is a bit of an eyebrow raiser you can be sure that the dished prepared by Moth executive chef David McMillan will be every bit as amazing as these one of a kind beers.  $90/ per person and $80/ per person for club members.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Restaurant Review - Our Favorite Sports Bar

Walk-On's Sports Bar

So there we were, out and about, driving around and decided that we should find a place to watch some Saturday football.  Since we were not really in our neck of the woods we were a bit flummoxed.  Yelp and Trip Advisor are, as you are well aware, fairly worthless for finding good sports pubs since no matter where you go Buffalo Wild Wings sits at the top of the list.  But the guy at the gas station, he knows where to go.

What is it that you expect to find in a sports bar?  TVs, duh. Yep, Walk On's has TVs.  Dozens of TVs in fact.  HD in every direction. 

Beer?  Yep, and not just fissy pissy water, they have a large selection of regional brews that will satisfy most every taste. 

Great service?  Hordes of pretty women (Hi Christy!) who are actually nice, competent and personable.

Good food?  Oh my, here is the magic of Walk On's.  Oh sure, you can get wings, but imagine if you will instead, a gumbo.  No, not a can of Campbell's gumbo dumped in a bowl and freshly nuked, just for you.  This gumbo is made in house and made with duck and andouille sausage.  Dark,rich and delightful with a thin layer of grease floating on top.  How about shrimp, stuffed with an oyster, wrapped in bacon and fried.  Yes, you can get that.  Oh, you want a burger?  How about a burger stuffed with bacon and cheese.  You heard me right, the cheese and bacon are stuffed inside the frigging patty.  Holy poop on a stick.  Something lighter?  Try fresh, blackened mahi on a wheat bun with chipotle mayo.  Lighter still?  The seared Ahi Tuna salad has ahi set upon Napa cabbage with mixed greens, avocao, mango, peppers, fresh jalepeno, cilantro, edamame and a sesame dressing.  Pastas, wraps, po-boys ... and so much more.

I can't tell you a how much we enjoyed our afternoon and how much we enjoyed the experience of Walk-On's, but I can tell you that I will return.

Oh, there is one HUGE problem with Walk--On's that you should know about ... it's in Lafayette and you will need to drive about 7 hours to get there.  Rat fart.  You can visit their locations in Baton Rough or New Orleans if you wish as well.

Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar
2336 Kaliste Saloom Road
Lafayette, LA 70508

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Battle of the Beers Part I - Chocolate Ales

Boulevard Chocolate Ale, 9.10% ABV
Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Stout - 7% ABV

If you have never been to a chocolate and beer pairing you may be (or may not be) quite surprised to find out that beer and chocolate compliment each other quite nicely.  So the Snobs thought that it may be fun to sample a couple of beers with chocolate added to them and then took on the task of comparing these two to see which we thought was better.

You have to hand it Boulevard, they brew lots of different beers of which some are superb and some are, well, not so superb.  Stubborn too, those Boulevard guys.  They brewed up a tank of the ale, bottled it up and released it, then they recalled it because it was funky.  So they brewed up a second batch, bottled it and released it, then recalled it because it too was funky.  So they brewed up a third batch, bottled it and released it, and this is the attempt that we tested.  Famed Kansas City chocolatier Christopher Elbow supplied the chocolate that was added to Boulevard's malty, strong ale.  The chocolate nibs that they used in the process were a famous bean from the Dominican Republic. 

The smell was richly of chocolate, vanilla and the ethers from the substantial alcohol content.  The low carbonation alludes to the creamy mouthfeel that reminds you of the texture of chocolate milk.  The finished product reminds you more of a milk chocolate than the dark that they were attempting.  You will notice the chocolate (duh), caramel, vanilla and espresso as you drink, but then the bitterness of the hops as you swallow kind if makes you think more of semi-sweet chocolate. They probably could have used a bit more malts and a bit less hops, but the brew was interesting nonetheless.

Ommegang began brewing their Chocolate Indulgence in 2007 as special treat on their 10th anniversary.  It was so popular that they continued making the beer and release it yearly as a seasonal.  Whereas Boulevard used cocoa beans and the the raw ingredients that are used to make chocolate, Ommegang used cocoa powder added to a traditional stout.  It poured with quite a large head that took a bit to dissapate and the aroma of cocoa is quite prevalent and a bit of dark fruitiness in the background.  The flavor is quite chocolatey with dark fruits coming through stronger as the beer warms.  Slight coffee flavor finished the quaff and the odd mix of Belgian yeasts with the stout.

I was quite surprised to find that the Snobs liked neither of these beers very much, but when forced to choose they chose the Ommegang Chocolate Seduction 4:1.  There was, however, a unanimous request that I never spring either of these beers on them ever again.  So let it be written, so let it be done.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beer Review - Gnomegang

Brewery Ommegang Gnomegang Belgian Strong Pale Ale - 9.5% ABV

What do you get when you take 2 of the greatest breweries in the world and make a collaboration beer with ingredients from each?  Let's see ...

Brasserie d'Achouffe from Achouffe, Belgium and Brewery Ommegang from Cooperstown, New York are both owned by Duvel, so I guess it is logical that they would collaborate on a project.  The beers, however, are fairly similar and each fantastic in it's own right, so really, what good could come of making a beer with components of each?  Five malts ... Pilsner, Carapils, Flaked Oats, flaked Red Wheat, Special B are used in the mix along with 2 Saaz hops, added 3 times.  "The yeasts" you ask?  Because really, Belgian Ales are all about the yeasts. Well, the distinctive Achouffe yeast is used in the primary fermentation and then the just as distinctive Ommegang yeast is used for the secondary bottle fermentation.  Damn.

The beer pours a cloudyish golden apricot color with floating goodies and a huge head that slowly dissapates leaving lovely lacing.  The smell is sweetish, earthy, fruity, and with the expected bananas and alcohol ethers.  The flavor... Mother Goose... the flavor.  Bready, bananas, pepper, sugar and spice and oh so incredibly nice.  It is a bit dry and the hops only become apparent at the end.  This is one amazing beer and even if you don't particularly like this style it is worth the effort to find.

So what do you get?  A beer that makes you go booiiinggggg ... instant wood (metaphorically speaking, of course).  Grab one, or two ... hell, grab all that you can get your hands on.  My guess is that this one will age very well.

Brewery Ommegang
656 County Highway 33
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taste Test - Shiner Bock, Shiner Oktoberfest and Shiner Bohemian Black Lager

Eating Crow

From what I can find, you can take a cleaned crow and lightly sautee it in butter and garlic, then add a heavy cream and truffle sauce and it will taste like... shit.  So it is always a goal of mine to not have to eat crow.  But I consider myself a man of honor and would willingly eat that crow if I were to find that something I have stated publicly is proven to be false.  So when I found out that Shiner had won 3 gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival I began to wonder if I had gotten too snobbish for my own good. Maybe, just maybe, I have been drinking these high brow beers too long and have forgotten my roots. But how to test whether or not my arrogance has gotten in the way of my adventurous palate.

I decided to test the beers on my fellow snobs at our monthly beer swap night.  I know what you are thinking, perhaps their tastes were too highfalutin' too.  So  I also invited a few unsusptecting victims who have never been to the swap meet and had relatively simple tastes in beer along with the regular snob crew.  The blind taste test was done so that everyone tasted each of the 3 beers without knowing what they were being served, they were only told that they were tasting gold medal winners from the GABF.  Here are their comments (with aliases of their chosing).

Shiner Bock - Winner of the best Amber Lager category.
4 Squares per Inch - "Not much flavor to make it memorable".
The Architect - "Somewhat herbal finish, but generally not much character.  Very average beer".
St. Bernardus - "Boring with little flavor".
1 Pale Hokie - "Generally unimpressive with little flavor".
Hopober Husker - "Smooth, average in flavor".
Matato - "Flavorless, no hops at all".

Shiner Oktoberfest - Winner of the Ockoberfest (Marzen) category
St. Bernardus - "Can live without it.  Soapy aftertaste.  Tastes like an old Fat Tire".
Workaholic - "Not much flavor.  Rather bland with a watery taste".
Mrs. Vivant - "Yuck.  No taste character.  Watery and a bit bitter".
4 Squares per Inch - "Blah".
Matato - "Slightly sweet, effervescent, similar to an Amber.  Mild hops".
1 Pale Hokie - "Slightly sweet with a crisp finish.  Light on flavor but a decent Marzen style."
Hoptober Husker - "Easy to drink, slight nutty/pumpkin spice flavor".

Shiner Bohemian Black Lager - Winner Black German Lager category
The Architect - "Blah.  A little bit toasty, but like the marzen in lacks depth and complexity".
Hoptober Husker - "Light for a dark beer.  Roasty, chocolatley after taste".
Mrs. Vivant - "Smooth".
St. Bernardus - "Over carbonated charcoal.  Watered down, uninspired stout.  The color fools you into thinking flavor, of which is has little".
1 Pale Hokie - "Toasted Almond and cocoa notes.  Finish is more smooth than typical dark beers".
4 Squares per Inch - "Folgers coffee mixes with Bud Light".
Matato - "Sort of had hints of black.  Watered down flavor".
Workaholic - "No aroma at all.  Not terrible, but not nearly as much flavor as you would expect from a black lager".

There you go.  Real opinions from real non-snobs.  Can I go have a steak now?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Could it be?

Chimay 150th Anniversary Ale

I spoke to the folks that distribute Chimay a few months ago and asked them if the Chimay Cent Cinquante anniversary ale would be available in Texas.  The answer was a resounding NO.  So what is this sign at Spec's telling me?  Is it teasing us into thinking that the 150 would be available?  Are we setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment?  We will see on October 27th, won't we?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Beer Review - Newcastle Werewolf

Caledonian Brewing Company Newcastle Werewolf Blood Red Ale - 4.5% ABV

Newcastle Brown Ale holds a special place in my heart because this was the first beer that I drank in my youth that was not pissy fizzy water.  In the last couple of years Newcastle has expanded it lines and has created some specialty beers. Founders Ale, Summer Ale, Winter IPA and Werewolf have all been added. 

Newcastle Brewery becan operations in Newcastle on Tyne in 1890 and began brewing Brown Ale in 1927.  The founder, Lt. Colonel James ('Jim') Herbert Porter, was trying to copy Bass Ale and thought that he had failed.  He was wrong.  Newkie Brown is still in the top 20 best selling ales in the world even after being bought by the most famous of brand destroyers, Heineken.  Werewolf was released in October of 2011 as part of a bid by Heineken to increase market share and is brewed in copper kettles at the 140 year old Scottish Caledonian Brewery.

The beer is an Irish Red Ale brewed with Rye.  It pours reddish brown with the 'blood red' description being quite a stretch and with a creamy head that persisted for bit leaving little lacing.  The nose was almost nonexistent.  Compared to the Broon Ale it is less sweet, less malty, dryer and hoppier.  The rye, while not overpowering, leaves quite a long finish.  The flavor is a bit sweet, a bit spicy and a bit grassy.  It was also dryer than expected and the hops balanced nicely.  This beer is not a powerful beer, but is tasty and balanced and would be quite a nice 'beginner' beer for those starting their journey into the world of craft beers.  Just like I did all those years ago.

The Caledonian Brewery Company (Formerly Scottish and Newcastle)
2-4 Broadway Park, South Gyle
Edinburgh, EH12 9JZ
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beer Review - Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale - 5.7% ABV

Onward with the Autumn beer theme, eh mes amis? 

Have I ever told you how much I hate fruity beers?  Fruity Lambics.  Blueberry Ales.  Hell, I even hate lemons in my pissy Mexican beers.  Abominations under the eyes of the beer gods one and all.

Time for a flashback .... According to the bottle (written in tiny, tiny print) early New England settlers did not have access to malts, so being the rescouceful drunks that they were, they substituted pumpkin for the malts in the brewing process.  And I will be double damned if it doesn't work quite well.  Jim and his hooligans use 17 pounds of pumpkin along with a couple a deep roasted malts, one of them smoked along with traditional pumpkin spices.

So I bought this beer with the intention of taking a sip or two to get the gist of the flavor and then was going to pass it over to Mrs. Vivant, who likes fruity beers so much that she will even drink Purple Haze.  Ewwwww.  What little nose the brew has is kind of malty, kind of pumpkiny (is that a even a word? *Shrug*), not offensive.  Nice color though, deep reddish gold with a tan head that may have lasted a bit, but I didn't give it a chance.  The flavor is deep and rich with the pumpkin and malts blending perfectly and just enough hops in the background to keep it honest.  It was not as sweet as I expected and ended just a tad on the dry side.  The pumkin spice announced it's presence as you swallow creating a long finish.

Again, I am not the biggest fan of Sam Adams beers but their seasonals and special editions tend to be quite nice, and this one is no exception. 

So in short the Mrs. only got a sip as I guzzled the rest, but I still hate fruity beers, right?

This ale is really nice and quite drinkable and available everywhere.

The Boston Beer Company
30 Germania Street
Boston, MA 02130

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beer Review - Bridgeport Witch Hunt

Bridgeport Brewing Company Witch Hunt Spiced Harvest Ale - 5.8% ABV

Let's try some Autumn seasonal beers, shall we?  Something other than an Oktoberfest beer would be nice. 

The Columbia River Brewery opened as Portland, Oregon's first micro brewery in 1984 at the beginning of the craft beer movement in the U.S.  The brewery was renamed the Bridgeport Brewing Company in 1986.  They also were one of the first to join the 'go local' movement and source their malts and hops locally.  As is typical with most west coast beers you will find a good deal of hops in their beers, but Bridgeport is a bit uncommon in that they are not competing to see if they can destroy your palate with a single beer with monstrous hops.

The color of Witch Hunt is an orange/gold with a substantial head that persists for a while.  The nose is lightly of hops and a bit of nutmeg.  The flavor begins with hops and flows into a bit of sweet from the crystal malts.  The cinnamon and nutmeg tickle the tongue as you swallow and the hops, which have been with you the whole time, end the drink with a long dry finish.  I admit to not being a big fan of Bridgport beers but this is a fantastic fall seasonal that deserves your attention.  You may find Bridgeport Witch Hunt almost everywhere, but rest assured that it won't last long.

Bridgeport Brewing Brew Pub is located at:
1313 NW Marshall Street
Portland, OR 97209

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beer Dinner

So we have this friend who knows everything about beer and whenever we have an obscure question about a beer type we say "ask him, he wrote the book on beer".  Well, he didn't actually write the book, but someone wrote the book.  As a matter of fact, these guys wrote the book.

Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb wrote "The World Atlas of Beer" and are stopping by Dallas on a national book signing tour.  The Meddlesome Moth has put together a tutored beer dinner featuring interesting beers and chef selections. 
shishito and peanuts
fourme d’ambert candied sorghum pork belly
toasted sweet corn, Tabasco aioli and smoked salmon
hen of the woods and faro
with goat cheese and caramel

Beer Review - Choc Gratzer

Krebs Brewing Company Gratzer - 4% ABV


The Gratzer style of beer was last commercially brewed in 1994 and was known as the national beer style of Poland.  Choc was searching for a new beer to add to their signature beer line and settled on this rarity.  My opinion is that they should have let this sleeping dog lie and that perhaps it is no longer brewed for a reason.

 A Gratzer is a light colored, clear, smoked wheat beer with low alcohol and is known as an easy drink.  I don't know if the bottle that we tried had turned, or if it was an aberration, but this was one of the worst beers that I have ever poured in my face.  Honestly, it tasted like burned grass clippings with bacon grease poured over it.  Truly awful.

I will be charitable and assume that it had somehow been damaged and suggest that you try if for yourself.  Nay, I am going to ask that someone try the beer and let me know your thoughts, because I'll be damned if I will try it again.

Krebs Brewing Company
120 SW 8th
Krebs, OK 74554

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Oktoberfest at Flying Saucer on the Lake

Did you have a good time at the Addison Oktoberfest?  Boy I did, I think.  As a matter of fact I am still paying..... What was that?  You didn't make it?  Family stuff?  Damn, that is too bad, but not to worry, it's your lucky day. 

"Flying Saucer on the Lake will host an Oktoberfest celebration on Sunday, Sept. 30 from noon to midnight, featuring seasonal brews from these breweries: Ayinger Brewery; Becks Brewery; Deep Ellum Brewing Company; Erdinger Weissbräu; Franconia Brewing; Hofbräu, Left Hand Brewing Company; Live Oak Brewing Company; Paulaner Brewery; Real Ale Brewing; Rahr & Sons Brewing Company; Samuel Adams; Shiner; Spaten Brewery; Saint Arnold BrewingCompany; Summit Brewing Company; Warsteiner; and Widmer Brothers Brewing."

It is supposed to be a nice cool day, so even if you don't feel like drinking you can go on down and hang out on their patio.  Oh c'mon, who in the hell are we trying to fool.  After you get totally trashed and think that it is time to purge just lean over the rail and yack in the lake, the fish will thank you for the chum.

The Flying Saucer on the Lake
4821 Bass Pro Drive
Garland TX, 75043

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beer Review - Outer Darkness

Squatters Pub Brewery Outer Darkness Russian Imperial Stout - 10.5% ABV

Utah.  Another of those states not particularly know for it's beers.  Controversial religions?  Yes.  Beers?  No, not really.  To this point the only other beer that I have tried from Utah are from the Wasatch Brewery and I was quite a bit less than impressed.  Luckily, I tried the beer before I bothered to look for where it was produced.

Squatters Pub began brewing beers in downtown Salt Lake City in 1989 and now have expanded to 3 locations.  This means that they were producing their beers at the beginning of the explosion of the craft beer movement., so you must expect some innovation. Their line of  year around and seasonal bottled beers is quite impressive and I hope to be able to give a few of them a try in the near future.  Outer Darkness is one of the 4 beers from their Reserve Series which I assure you I will actively seek out. 

The nose of Outer Darkness is quite enticing with chocolate, dark fruits and smoke hinting of what is to come.  Dark and thick, like motor oil.  Old, used, concentrated motor oil.  The head was insignificant and dissipated quickly.  Roasted barley, oak, molasses and licorice root and an extended boil are used to create a unique, powerful brew. Amazing flavor.  Chocolaty, roasted malts, licorice, sweet molasses, yum, yum ,yum.  65 IBU's worth of hops give it punch and balance followed by the wonderful warming from the alcohol.  Buy now, save for a cold winters day.  OR, but several now, and drink one at any excuse you can find until you can't find any more.

Squatters Pub and Brewery
147 West Broadway (300 South)
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Beer Review - Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale - 11% ABV

The Belgian Trappist ales are usually sold as being doubles, tripels and quadruppels.  Why is that?  Well. when the Belgian monks originally brewed their beers they stored them in barrels and marked them with X's.  X for the weakest, around 3%, XX for medium, 6% ish, and XXX for the strongest, around 9%.  Later, after WWII, the beers styles were somewhat more defined.  The single, rarely seen outside of Begium, is a easy drinking, weak session beer.  The double, which is an amber or brown ale, is malty and a bit on the sweet side.  The triple is a strong, pale colored ale which is typically fruity, dry and with more hops.  Lastly, the quadruppel quite strong, dark, sweet and intense.

Bother David's Triple pours a clear, brownish gold. Darker that typical for the style, but acceptable.  It smells of malts, yeast and alcohol esters, and a bit of sour?  Some of the flavors are much as a tripel should be, malty, yeasty, spicy and sweet.  Where are the hops?  And what in the hell is that sour flavor?  The alcohol makes itself known with the warming finish.

Not a bad beer, not a great one either.  I would perhaps qualify if as another of those beers labeled as a style of beer that it really isn't. 

Anderson Valley Brewing Company
17700 Hwy 253
Boonville, CA 95415-0505

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beer Review - Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale

Stone Brewing Company Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale - 11.4% ABV

Do you get to visit Seattle much?  If so, you may have visited the famed Bottleworks beer store which carries over 950 different beers for you try.  So if you drank 2.6 beers per day you could drink all that they have in a year.... or could you?  They have seasonals, cellared vintage ales, rotating taps, kegs, growlers ..... etc.  My theory is that your liver would explode if you tried to drink them all.  This place is very well known.  How well known?  Since they don't brew their own beer they have their anniversary beer made for them.  Each year is a different brewery and a different style.  That's power. 

This year's anniversary ale was produced by the mad men at Stone Brewery because they wanted a huge beer and boy did they get it.  This monster is a 13 grain and 13 hop Imperial Porter.  Rumor had it that they were quite dissappointed when they were not able to reach 13% ABV. 

Hop Varieties:
Bravo, Target, Columbus, Cascade, Delta, Warrior, Magnum, Apollo, Calypso, Perle, Galena, Chinook, Mt. Hood

Malt Bill:
Pale Two Row, White Wheat, Aromatic, Weyermann Chocolate Rye, Light Munich, Brown Crisp, Oats, Crisp Light Crystal, CaraMunich, Baird's Chocolate, Lightly Peated, Simpsons Dark Crystal, Crisp Amber
This is usually where I tell you here what you should taste while drinking.  Instead put this list of ingredients in because there really is no way to describe this leviathan, but I will try.  Thick, heavy, malty, very malty, boozy, hoppy, dark fruits, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, burnt sugar, pine, citrus ... oh c'mon you get it.  Or rather, you probably won't get it.  This was a very limited run, done as a one timer.  Hell, I don't ever remember where I got it.  If you find it, grab it and store it for a couple of years, it may mellow.  But then again it may not.  Worth the search.
Bottleworks Beer Store
1710 N 45th St.
Seattle, WA 98103

Monday, September 3, 2012

Beer Review - Brux

Sierra Nevada Brux Domesticated Wild Ale - 8.3% ABV

So when do you think that the craft beer movement began in the U.S.?  2005?  2000?  1990? Most believe that the craft beer movement began with the founding of this brewery in 1979 by Ken Grossman.  That's right, 1979.  Hell, even I was too young to drink and even if I could have, surely I would not have appreciated what they were producing.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, their flagship Ale... iconic.  Ever tried Celebration Ale?  Of couse you have ... magnificent, right?  But did you know that they make the Ovila Abbey Ale?  What, you haven't tried it yet?  You haven't even heard of it?  Review to come soon, but let's finish with the Brux first, shall we?  I must be honest now and tell you that Brux is not a strictly a Sierra Nevada product, it is a collaboration with the Russian River Brewing Company.  Yes, another fantastic brewery from California. 

This beer.  Oh my goodness, this beer ... is ... is ... greatness in a bottle!  Too cliché?  Ok, first you take a really, really good ale brewed with Belgian yeasts, then you give it a second firmentation in the bottle using Brettanomyces bruxellensisThere were no additional bacteria strains added to sour things up, just the Brett.  What that means is that instead of a sour ale, this one is only a bit tart, reminiscent of a slightly green pear.  Lemon, banana, grass and spice round out the flavor notes.  It has a good deal of carbonation and a medium body.  The finish is the kicker; you get the flavor of the yeast, which you kind of expect but what you wouldn't expect is that if finishes quite dry.

This is a really good ale that you can still find at Whole Foods, Specs and a few other locations.  Rumor has it that the Bottle Shop is hoarding a few cases for later use.  The brewers say that this one should age nicely so buy a bottle (or many) and set it aside, but get it now because this is a one off batch and when it is gone, it is gone for good.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
1075 East 20th Street
Chico, CA.
Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beer Review - Hop Trapp

Lakewood Brewing Company Hop Trapp Belgian IPA - 6.4% ABV

"This IPA has more in common with its Trappist cousins than with the face shredding IPA's of the west coast. While we still have a healthy bitter backbone and floral hop notes, this IPA is decidedly malty and complex with the addition of our Belgian yeast. It's the thinkin' man's IPA". Says the Lakewood Brewing website.  Let's break this comment down, shall we?

First, what is a Belgian IPA?  Here's the funny thing, Belgian IPA's are not really brewed for Belgian beer drinkers, they were created specifically for the American beer market.  Our friend Chris Bauweraerts, founder of the Brasserie d'Achouffe, told us that he created Houblon Chouffe after taking a trip to the U.S. and observed how our market trended more toward hoppy beers.  Indeed, Houblon Chouffe is his favorite creation but he admits that it is more like a Belgian Trippel than an American IPA.  There are two very distinct differences between Belgian IPA's and American IPA's:  the sugar content, they are usually quite sweet and the yeast, the strong earthy, banana taste which is quite pronounced.  You will also find that most Belgian Trippels have quite a lot of alcohol, upward from 8%.

Hopp Trapp is pours slightly cloudy, golden/orange with a head that does not persist.  The nose is of hops, citrus and a bit of yeast.  The beer is a bit dry, which is typical for a Belgian Trippel, and the carbonation is medium.  You will taste hops first and foremost; not overpowering or face imploding, but significant.  A bit of orange follows along and lastly the yeasts.  There is very little sweetness to speak of and the malts in the background are quite sublte.  This is a really decent beer but because of the lack of sweetness, low alcohol content and, what I found to be, irrelevant malts, I would tend to place it in the East Coast IPA category rather than the Belgian IPAs.  We are looking foreward to trying more of Lakewood's offerings.  Hooooray Beer!

Lakewood Brewing Company
2302 Executive Drive
Garland, TX 75041

Here is a follow up from the Hop Trapp review. I had a chance to try the Lost Abbey Brewing Red Barn Ale this weekend. It is described as a Saison style beer for American tastes. I was amazing how much it and Hop Trapp resembled each other. I would like to remind you that we have world class beers being produced right here in Dallas. Good show Lakewood.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant Review - The Bowery

The Bowery Restaurant

I love hotdogs.  I'm not kidding, I love hotdogs.  There is almost no other food that compliments a good, cold beer than a good hotdog.  Then why-oh-why am I unable to find a good hotdog joint in Dallas?  Oh, I know, there are some good dogs here and there in Dallas, but they are usually one offs, like the ONE hotdog at the Angry Dog.  There is also the dandy Chicago Dog from the Old World Sausage Company at the Farmers Market, but really, can you name one good hotdoggery that has more than a couple of really good dogs?

The Bowery is the latest introduction into the fickle Dallas restaurant scene where burger joints and taquerias reign supreme.  Billed as an 'upscale' hot dog bistro it rests in the middle of the land of the $30k millionaires where you can flip a coin and be as accurate as the experts in determining whether or not it will survive.  Our experience leads us to believe that it may not.

As we walked in we were accosted by a server who led us to a table and took our order.  It was, we found out a couple of minutes later, an option to have a server, you can order at the counter in the back if you choose and save a bit of cabbage, which you should seriously consider.  The menu is quite extensive with the dogs broken out into 3 categories.  The Classics with standards such as Korn Dogs, Chicago Dogs and Brats, The Traveller with dogs with an international flair and High Brow with with eyebrow raisers like Royal Wagyu and Duo of Duck.  The also give you the option of a Naked Dog that you can load up with anything you wish a la carte.  I really needed a base in which to compare these dogs to those I have had in the past and so stayed mostly with the basics.  The Bowery Brat comes with a beer braised brat, carmelized onions, house mustard and saurkraut served on an oversized bun that they have made for them somewhere in the design district.  The second (which really is overkill regardless of what they tell you) was the Chicago Dog which is a damn fine example of the style but about 1/3 larger than is typical.  The Overstuffed Dutchman is waffle fries, smoked bacon, chives, smoked gouda mornay sauce all on a baguette and, according to my lunch companion, really confusing and not at all worth the price.

The biggest issue that I have with the Bowery came at pay time.  Two hot dogs, potato chips and a soda came out to $25.00 .... for hot dogs.  Admittedly this is with tip, that you don't need to pay if you order from the counter in the back.  The Overstuffed Dutchman? $9.00.  The Chicago Dog?  $7.50.  The question you must ask youself is this version of the Chicago Dog worth twice as much as the Chicago Dog at the Old World Sausage Company?  Oh yeah, here is the added insult, you have to valet, add $5.00. 

The Bowery
3407 McKinney Avenue
Dallas, TX  (nothing there to see at this time)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beer Review - Wealth and Taste

Deep Ellum Brewing Company Wealth and Taste Golden Ale - 9.5% ABV

The trend to ferment beers inside repurposed booze casks continues to grow.  Whiskey, bourbon, wine, pickles ... maybe not pickles, not yet, are used to add complexity to beer with variable results.  For the most part, in my opinion, beers aged in wine barrels are misguided perversions, kind of like a Liger, with the fruitiness of the grapes overpowering the subtleties of flavors that grain provides.  Every once in a while you get one that you can really appreciate, and here 'tis.

Wealth and Taste is based on a Belgian style strong ale.  Yeasts provide Belgian beers with their unique flavor and add a certain fruitiness, mostly bananas, and spice, which the averge beer connaisseur either loves or hates.  Very few beer drinkers are indifferent.  DEBC mixed 3 different Belgian yeasts to achieve their creation.  They then age the beer, brewed with Muscat grape juice, in Chardonnay barrels.  These barrels have not been used to age the wine for as long as is typical.  What this means is that the wine had not saturated the wood so much.  So with less wine in the wood of the barrels there is less of their flavor imparted into the beer, making a sublte undertone of wine flavors rather than overpowering flavors.  But that was not enough for these mad scientists, oh no, they also added rose hips, chamomile flower and grapefruit peels.

The color is a hazy orange-gold with the smell being of yeasts, grapes and vanillla from the oak barrels.  The flavor is extremely complex with the earthy goodness from the yeasts arriving first, quickly followed by the grapes.  The dryness and balance surprised me a bit and there was very little evidence of hops.  My friends, this is a really good beer that deserves your attention.  As it is seasonal you may have a bit of difficulty finding it, but find it you must.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company
2823 St. Louis Street
Dallas, TX 75226

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beer Review - Great Divide Rumble

Great Divide Brewing Company Rumble IPA - 7.1% ABV

A gay friend poses this riddle:  "What is the difference between a straight man and a gay man?  3 beers."  For me it is "What is the difference between a Belgian beer connaisseur and a hophead"?  While I love the Belgians, their cloying sweetness and heavy texture weighs on me when I am trying to enjoy a 'session' on a hot summer day.  By the time I get to my third beer I want something cleaner, brighter and a bit hoppy.  No, no ...  I'm not talking about one of those palate killing hop bombs, I am talking about a nice middle of the road IPA.  That is exactly what we have here.

This beer uses the aggressive northwest hops which could be overpowering, but then they aged the beer 'on Oak' to mellow the brew and adds the vanilla accents.  The color is a golden amber and poured with a decent head that quickly dissipated.  The smell was predictable hoppy with a bit of sugar and vanilla undertones.  Hops also were the predominant flavor but there was a fine balance of caramel sweetness, along with some citrus, pine and vanilla.  Not a great beer but a pretty darn good one and worth seeking out.  Do your seeking quickly as that this one is seasonal and will go away soon.

Great Divide Brewing Company
2201 Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80205