Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flying Saucer Addison presents a Firestone Walker Beer Dinner, June 26

Image credit: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Firestone Walker Brewing Company

On Thursday, June 26 beginning at 7 p.m., the Flying Saucer in Addison will host a beer dinner featuring the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. The four-course menu includes two beers from the brewery's highly sought after Proprietor's Reserve Series, as well as the award-winning Union Jack IPA.

Tickets for the event are $65 for the general public, or $60 for U.F.O. Club members. They can be purchased at the Saucer, or you can call 972-991-7093 to make reservations.

Welcome Beer

Easy Jack Summer Session IPA

First Course

Opal (Dry Hopped Saison)
Springtime salad with arugula, strawberry, heirloom tomatoes,
asparagus and bacon with clove-lime vinaigrette.

Second Course

Union Jack IPA
Caribbean jerk chicken street taco with roasted corn elotes and mango salsa.

Third Course

Parabola (Barrel Aged Imperial Stout)
Mole-spiced pork loin and parsnip puree with braised mustard greens.

Fourth Course

Sucaba (Barrel Aged Barley Wine Ale)
Caramel apple funnel cake with dark chocolate and vanilla crème.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A better brand of beer at Brew Riot

Image credit: Texas Homebrew Society
For last year's recap of what is now the Texas Homebrew Society's annual amateur brewing competition, I started out with one simple truth: Brew Riot was getting bigger. This year, I'm going to start out with another: North Texas homebrewers are getting better.

Indeed, the overall quality of the beer served at this year's event was noticeably better than it has been in the past. It wasn't just my opinion, I canvassed a number of others for their thoughts, and found this to be a common sentiment among fellow homebrewers and industry professionals alike.

As for the highlights of the day, to no one's surprise patrons crowded around the booths of those breweries hoping to open in the near future. Four Bullets, Frisco City Grainworks, Noble Rey, Oak Highlands and Steam Theory each served test batches they hope are destined for a North Texas tap wall near you. Of these, Four Bullets has the shortest timeline leading to a planned October opening, with Frisco City, Noble Rey and Oak Highlands looking towards the end of 2014, and Steam Theory targeting the spring of next year*.

For now, though, we'll keep the spotlight on what this festival is all about: the homebrewers. In terms of trends, last year's mountain of milk stouts was reduced to a molehill at best. There was the expected abundance of IPAs and more sours certainly, but I didn't find myself drinking one after another of any particular style.

Congratulations to Panther Street Brewing for taking home the People's Choice prize, and to everyone else among this year's winners.

Personal notables:

Grotto Brewing: While I enjoyed this group's Razz-ma-Tazz raspberry stout as well, they secured my People's Choice chip for their Brett-based Sour Saison.

Mossberg Brewing: These guys may focus on sours, their Purple Drank proved to be another fine example in that category, but I couldn't help but be drawn to their white flame. Otherwise known as La Flama Blanca, their India Pale Lager was as bright and fresh as they come.

High Five Brewing Mumme: This hop-less, herbal beer brewed with rose hips and juniper berries was an interesting departure, though I have to admit some confusion with the name. According to various references, Mumme (pronounced moom-muh) beers emerged in the late 15th century as the first "style" to be brewed without herbs (?).

Ole 47 Piper Down: Last year my chip went to this brewery for their Vanboozled Bourbon Oak Vanilla Porter. This time around I decided to try their Piper Down, a Wee Heavy whose rich, malty and sweet description was spot on.

Trooper Brewing Peanut Butter Stout: More peanut butter than stout, but then again I'm not sure I've ever had a beer like this that wasn't the exact same way. I'm not complaining, in fact I'd like to see a few commercial brewers take a stab at the style.

* Click the "new breweries" tag in the index to the right to see features on Four Bullets, Frisco City Grainworks and other breweries currently in development. Stories on Noble Rey, Oak Highlands and Steam Theory will follow once more information becomes available.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cedar Creek's newest a nod to the working man

Image credit: Cedar Creek Brewery

The Cedar Creek Brewery out of Seven Points has unveiled the newest beer in their Special Release series, a coffee chocolate porter they're calling Spinning Mule.

Regarding the name, a spinning mule was a machine used to spin cotton, invented in 1779. Texas, of course, produces more cotton than any other state in the country. So, how does relate to this particular beer? The porter style, which originated in london during the 1700s, was the favored drink of street porters and other physical laborers. In other words, it's traditionally been looked upon as a working man's beer. Take that inspiration and apply it to one of our state's largest industries and you've got Spinning Mule, which is a nod to the Texas working man.

As for the beer, it's a robust porter brewed with cacao nibs and locally-roasted beans from Buna Bean Coffee in Ennis. Head Brewer Damon Lewis says that while the base beer is the star of the show, the complimentary ingredients give the brew "a nice chocolate presence upfront with a strong coffee finish." It's full-flavored, but the goal was to maintain balance and drinkablity. "That's kind of our thing," Lewis explains, "really drinkable beer that makes you want more than one."

Look for Spinning Mule to be available for a limited time on draft and in 4-packs of 16-ounce cans beginning the week of May 19.

Spinning Mule
Style: Coffee Chocolate Porter
ABV: 7.1%
IBU: 40
SRM: 27
Hops: Apollo, Willamette
Malts: 2-Row, Roasted Malt

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Four Bullets betting on October opening in Richardson

Image credit: Four Bullets Brewery

As first reported by Dallas Brew Scene in late March, the Four Bullets Brewery is finalizing its business plan after receiving a Special Permit to begin construction in Richardson. The permit, approved on March 24 by the City Council, was required due to breweries not being listed as a permissible land-use in Richardson's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

The brewery will eventually occupy a 2,660 square foot building at 640 N. Interurban Street, on a lot located less than a mile from the Arapaho Center Station on the DART Rail. Split into two sections, founders Andrew Smeeton and Jeff Douglas expect to take possession of a portion of the property on July 1. The remaining area is tied up with an existing lease agreement that Douglas says they won't be able free-up until sometime next year. Despite this, they'll utilize the available space and proceed with installation of a seven-barrel brewing system designed by Stout Tanks and Kettles. Drainage and electrical work will be needed beforehand, but if all goes as planned Richardson residents could be enjoying their own brand of locally-brewed beer by this coming October.

English ales brewed in a traditional style will be Four Bullet's calling card. They'll have year-round and seasonal beers, as well as a naturally carbonated cask ale, likely a mild or bitter, to be hand-pulled and available only at the brewery. This approach stems from the fact that Smeeton, who brings 25 years of homebrewing experience to the project, was born and raised in England. Still, the partners recognize the demand for beers tailored to a domestic palate. That means you'll likely see an American IPA among the brewery's initial offerings.

Going forward, Douglas indicated one of the brewery's prime directives will be to maintain a strong presence in the surrounding community. He says they are eager to take part in local charity events, and they hope to continue relationships they've developed with area businesses that have supported them along the way. One idea they are considering involves hand-bottling some of their brews for sale a neighborhood bottle shop. This would give locals unique access to take-home beers otherwise available on a draught-only basis.

For now, though, work is focusing on licensing, lining up equipment and perfecting opening day recipes. Those looking to get a sneak peak of what the brewery has in the works can do so this Sunday, May 18, at Brew Riot in the Bishop Arts District. According to Douglas, Four Bullets will be on hand serving Black Jack Brown Ale, Royal Flush Red Ale and Snake Eyes Oatmeal Stout.

*Stay connected to Four Bullets by way of their website, Facebook and Twitter.