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.

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