Home for the Holidays 122813web

The SO and I travelled back to my hometown in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for XMas this year.  As always, when traveling, I look forward to the local fare but especially this trip because who doesn’t love the taste of home?  I could finally get some good (read: real) barbecue and get a first hand view of the nascent craft brewery scene.  Admittedly, I knew next to nothing about the recent developments beyond Rahr & Sons (the staple).  I didn’t even really know if there was a “nascent craft brewery scene.”  Seeing as though, Dallas & Ft. Worth is a huge urban/suburban area with some great food, there had to be something shaking out there.  Come to find out, there is!  And as Luck would have it, my parents had saved me a recent set of articles from the culture/nightlife/food circular, DFW.com Ink Edition as a primer to fix my ignorance.  The series in question: The DFW Craft Beer Battle.

32 beers, 4 categories: Hops, Easy Drinking, Dark & Malty, & Specialty.  I wasn’t able to find the bracket online but I Photoshopped scans of the print edition…

dfw.com craft beer battle bracket_med

To close out the Battle, they pitted the top 4 beers from each category against each other in a taste-off.  This is, of course, an apples-to-oranges situation but the result was a 2-way tie between Revolver Blood Honey (American wheat with local honey and blood orange zest) and Lakewood Temptress (milk stout),Peticolas Velvet Revolver (imperial red ale) was 2 votes back, and Community Public Ale (ESB) took 4th.  Of note: Community’s Public Ale had just taken gold at GABF.  Basically, there are no losers, here.

(from dfw.com)

 As is the case for this time of year, there are many family obligations, so we did not get to test-drive all 30 or so new breweries.  We only had time for one. Martin House Brewing Co. was chosen because you have to start somewhere and they were the closest.  They had 4 beers in the Battle: There Will Be Stout(a “pretzel stout”), Imperial Texan (an imperial IPA), River House (a “Texas saison”), and Day Break (a 4-grain golden breakfast beer made with wheat, oats, rye, local honey and lactose sugar).  Day Break made it the farthest: 2ndplace in the easy-drinking bracket.

Starting out, it was $10 for 3 pints and you got to keep the glass.  Living in L.A., I honestly did not think that price was even possible but they seem to be in a state of solid growth since their founding in February 2012 and the taproom was packed.  It was an open-house type event so maybe it was a special promotional price but I don’t know…they made it work.  There were 6 beers on tap, the 4 aforementioned plus Sugar & Spice (a spiced winter warmer barleywine) and SeptemberFest (a hoppy, oatmeal brown ale with cherry-smoked malt).  I tried all but Sugar & Spice; I didn’t want to get drunk in front of my family.  To my taste buds, River House and There Will Be Stout were the winners.  When I went up to get a glass of Imperial Texan, the bartender warned me that it should be the last beer of the day because it’s a “palate wrecker.”  I didn’t mention I was a West Coaster beer-snob-raised on “palate wreckers” aaaand it was, indeed, my last beer so I played along.  I thought it was great but my palate was left intact.  My least favorite was SeptemberFest – I applaud their effort to try something different but the result was distinctively olive-ish (one of my least favorite flavors), perhaps an unfortunate mix of an elevated level of hops and smoked malt.

Overall, I enjoyed this scrappy little brewery quite a bit.  The staff was cordial (aka “southern hospitality”), they brought in a young bluegrass/country band for the open house, and there was great beer at a great price.

The only other Texas beer I had the chance to try was Shiner’s Holiday Cheer (dunkelweizen with Texas peaches and toasted pecans).  While killing some time before an Xmas evening movie, the only bar the SO and I could find open was Hooter’s.  As always, keeping it Klassy.  The beer was served ice cold in a frozen mug (bad form but who’s really surprised?) so my initial tastes were a bit overwhelmed by the peach addition but once it warmed up, it balanced out to a pretty nice little brew.  I’m not certain what is winter-ish about peaches (I would have thought to add these to a late summery/autumnal beer), but it worked well enough here.

P.S. DFW.com did something called The Brewski Awards that expands their list beyond the bracket

P.P.S. For those not in the know, Dallas/Ft. Worth is not in the desert as drawn above (it’s predominantly suburbs and suburbs of suburbs).  It worked better for the image, in a Snoopy’s-cousin-Spike-kind-of-way.