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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Beer Review - Community Legion

Community Beer Company Legion Imperial Stout - 10% ABV

Let's talk about wow.  Wow is what happens when you have a brewery that makes what is by in large, fairly average beers and then WOW, a great beer is introduced. 

Community Brewing (located at 1530 Inspiration Dr., Suite 200 in Dallas) has never created a beer that has blown us away.  In fact, we have been distinctly underimpressed with their offerings.  Not that their beers are bad, mind you, just not memorable.  This one, however, is not like the rest, it is in a word, outstanding.

The beer has a creamy, smooth texture and a delicious, roasted malt aroma.  You will taste the coffee and chocolate notes from the roasted malts along with quite a bit of sweetness.  The considerable alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering.

Our tasters this month were a respected commercial brewer, an award winning home brewer, and a couple of snobs.  Here were their comments:
- "Solid".
- "Great Imperial .... love the balance".
- "Very well balanced traditional stout.  A nice Imperial".
- "Good warmth from the alcohol.  Good roasty notes".

One a scale of 1-5 the panel gave Legion a 4.33, which is quite puts in in the "very good" category.
We applaud Community for their efforts and will be expecting more great things to come.

Community Beer Company
1530 Inspiration Dr., Suite 200
Dallas, TX 75207

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ballast Point Event at the Bird

The Snobs were invited to attend the Ballast Point Beer and Spirits event at the Bird Cafe in Fort Worth.  Our very own Flanders Redale attending and hereafter are his thoughts and musings. - Bon

Hiddely-ho people of beer!

Yours truly got a special invitation to an event out at Bird Cafe in Fort Worth on Wednesday 2/4/14. Normally Fort Worth is a bit far to stray for this good Dallas boy, but it was an invitation too good to pass up. Ballast Point had a combination tap takeover and mixology event, and I was lucky enough to sample some of both offerings.
Ballast Point has always made delicious (Victory at Sea) and fascinating (Indra Kunindra) beers, and I was not disappointed with the choices. Piper Down is not an uncommon beer, but it is something that I hadn't tried until this event. A delectable Scotch ale, it will be on my list to acquire for the beer fridge in the near future. I'd also love to find room for the Sextant Oatmeal Stout...but I doubt anything out of a bottle will compare to it on nitro. Thick, perfect pour with all sorts of mouth feel...I was tempted to ask them to just put my head under the tap.
Then I got to the cocktail menu. As delicious as it sounded, I passed on The Dude Imbibes (Fugu habanero vodka, espresso-vanilla cream, and almost a full pour of Sextant) in order to try the San Diego Street Cart and the Remember the Padre. Elotes (Mexican street corn) is one of my guilty pleasures, and with Ancho Chili liqueur, lime, egg white and corn water, this drink sounded like a moonshine-liquified meal in a glass. It was quite good, though I would have liked to try it with an aged whiskey (like the Devil's Share Bourbon) instead of the moonshine. Remember the Padre was a rum-based play on the traditional Manhattan, with cherry brandy and absinthe to add additional complexity. While delicious, I would have loved to taste this with a whiskey instead of the Three Sheets aged rum.

The real star for me, however, was the location. As I mentioned, I don't venture to Funkytown all that often, so I was not aware of the Bird Cafe. It exudes more of a cocktail bar vibe than a beer bar, but that doesn't mean beer is an afterthought. Any place with Christmas Bomb! on tap and Black Crack and Prairie Noir in the cellar has some serious designs on beer. It did not surprise me to learn that the owners of Bird Cafe also own Meddlesome Moth in the Design District, among other notable local restaurants. The charcuterie board my fellow bar denizens ordered looked delicious, and the menu left me drooling.

The next time you find yourself in Sundance Square and in search of a beer, don't immediately default to the Flying Saucer. Give Bird Cafe a try...I suspect you will not be disappointed.
- Flanders Redale

The Bird Cafe
155 E. 4th and Commerce
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Mon - Thurs: 11am to Midnight
Fri & Sat: 11am to 2am
Sunday: 10am to 10pm
Tel. 817-332-2473

Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits
9045 Carroll Way
San Diego, CA 92121
Offices: (858) 790-6900
Restaurant: (858) 790-6901

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Official Beer of Winter - Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier - 5.1% ABV

We are often asked what are our favorite beers, which is an impossible question to answer.  Our typical answer is 'the one that I am drinking now'.  Yes, it's a bullshit answer, but that is only because it is a bullshit question. The real answer is that we have many different favorite beers, and the situation determines which beer we will be enjoying.  So perhaps trying to pick a favorite winter beer is also a lesson in frustration .... or maybe not.

Winter warmer?  Thick, rich, malty and usually very high alcohol content.  Yes, very good choice, but after one beer it's bed time.  Christmas beers?  Spicy, rich, flavorful and again, one and done.  Dopplebock?  Winter whites?  Porters?  They seem to always follow along the same path of high alcohol and intense flavors which are just fine if you like sipping or staggering.  But a great beer is one that you may enjoy again and again, and perhaps having more than one in an evening which is not possible for the great majority of winter beers, but there is one that is a bit different, and available year around.

Braurie Schlenkerla was first mentioned in 1405 and was said to have been around for many years before ... making it one of the oldest breweries in existence.  Their flagship brews, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (rauchbier = smoked beer) are still produced using their traditional methods.

You remember the 4 ingredients that are used to create the vast majority of beers, don't you?  Oh come on now, you remember ... water, yeast, hops and malts, the ingredients that are identified by the German beer purity law, aka Reinheitsgebot.  Simple and elegant.  Water, yeast and hops are easy to define, but do you really know where malts come from?  Let me give you the short version.  Barley grains are allowed to germinate where enzymes convert the starches contained in the grains into sugars.  The germination process must be halted for the grain to be used in brewing by either air drying or kiln drying.  The earliest methods used birch wood fired ovens (or oasting ovens) to halt the sprouting of the barley which crystallizes the sugars that were produced during germination.  This crystallized sugar product is what we refer to as malts.

The birch wood fired ovens gave the beer a smoky flavor which the Germans call a Rauchbier.  Later as brewing technology changed, brewers found a way to divert the smoke so that the beer flavor was not overpowered by the smoke flavor.  The brewers at Braurie Schlenkerla chose to not use the new methods and have, for over 600 years, used the traditional methods to produce their smoked beer.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier are bottom fermented (ale) urbock/marzen or weizen beers.  They pour a rich brown and creates a substantial creamy head (marzen) or relatively little head (weizen).  You will smell the slight sweetness in the marzen but the over riding smell is that if smoke.  Close you eyes and gently inhale, imagine yourself sitting next to a fireplace with Birch wood gently crackling away.  Now taste.  Rich, mildly sweet and malty and ... now what is that flavor again?  Smoke.  Oh yes, lots of smoke, which many find to be overpowering.  Remember those chilly nights sitting next to a campfire?  Then then when the breeze shifted and blew the smoke right at you, did it take anything away from the magic of the evening?  Of course not.  And neither will the smokiness take away from the magic of this beer.  Enjoy it for what it is ... traditional, rich and oh-so-delicious.

Braurie Schlenkerla
Dominikanerstrasse 6
96049 Bamberg, Germany