Monday, August 25, 2014

Cedar Creek taps Gone-A-Rye for full-time status

Image credit: Cedar Creek Brewery

Despite the name in the center of the label, the back-story printed to the left promises that everything has gone right with what will be the Cedar Creek Brewery's fifth year-round beer.

Gone-A-Rye, originally released as a one-off in association with the brewery's first anniversary in 2013, trades in its temporary status for a full-time gig beginning this week. The fan favorite represents a move by Cedar Creek to broaden "its repertoire from the original lineup of session ales."

Brewed with a blend of four different hops, Gone-A-Rye uses some the same varieties as Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus (Apollo, Bravo, 05256). Of course, consumers should expect Gone-A-Rye to be bigger and bolder than its smaller sibling, especially considering hop additions totaling twenty pounds are a full five pounds more than those in Dankosaurus.

A flavor profile provided by the brewery notes that the choice of hops "creates a complex flavor profile that includes hints of peach, pear, citrus and pine," with a bitterness "balanced by the sweetness of the malt and spiciness of the rye." It goes on to say that even with an ABV of 8.5%, Gone-A-Rye is a beer that remains "extremely drinkable."

Look for Gone-A-Rye on tap and eventually in four packs of 16-ounce cans. The first kegs will hit Dallas on Wednesday, August 27, at Lakewood Growler (Keep the Glass Night, starting at 6 p.m.) and Friday, August 29, at Luck (special tapping at 5 p.m.), with deliveries to other Texas markets occurring in the next two weeks. Packaged products will arrive at retail in early October.

Style: Double Rye IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 90
SRM: 6.0
Hops: Apollo, Bravo, 05256, Willamette
Malts: U.S. 2-Row, Pilsner, Rye

Monday, August 18, 2014

Local pours among the pits at Ten 50

Photos by Brian Brown
I'm not saying there's a correlation, but thinking about Dallas and the surrounding area, it sure seems like the respective renaissances going on with craft beer and BBQ started around the same point in time. Perhaps it's no coincidence, then, that the two continue to come together in new BBQ ventures around town.

The latest to bring better beer to the table is the just-opened Ten 50 BBQ in Richardson. Set up along North Central Expressway just north of Arapaho, Ten 50 joins other north side notables like Frisco's 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House and the Plano location of Lockhart Smokehouse in offering up a bevy of craft beers to pair with your pile of smoke-soaked beef.

Ordering lines run next to the pits, meaning smoke-filled clothes are in your future.
A total of 24 taps grace the side wall of an expansive bar space, which sits alongside what can only be described as a cavernous dining room. Among the handles are a half-dozen macros offset by a solitary cider and a mix of 17 different craft brews.

Opening day options included beers from five North Texas-area breweries, with selections available from Deep Ellum, Franconia, Lakewood, Rahr and Revolver. Joining locals on the board were national brands like Stone Arrogant Bastard, Ska Modus Hoperandi and Odell 90 Shilling Ale. Given the choices, I'd likely pick the Odell beer for my mealtime accompaniment, though I'd be just as likely to go with Franconia Dunkel given that beer's roasted malt undertones.

Look to the left for local brews like Rahr's Blonde and Deep Ellum IPA.
Style choices favor pales, blond ales and IPAs, with the only other dark beer besides the one from Franconia being Lakewood's ever-popular Temptress. Wording on a printed menu and the makeup of a magnet board by the register implies some beers will rotate, so I'd expect to see some slight shuffling over time. Either way, the bartender seemed more than willing to provide a sample or two for those on the fence about what to order. Speaking of which, I'd recommend ordering beers from the bar since the magnets posted in the service line don't always single out which beer is on tap from a particular brewery.

As far as the food is concerned, I'll leave a review of that aspect of the business to those more skilled in that particular art. From what I could tell, though, the place offers everything you'd expect from a BBQ joint built around a Central Texas theme.

Ten 50 BBQ
1050 North Central Expressway

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sizing up Spiegelau's new Stout glass

Image: Sampling stouts in a variety of glassware (Brian Brown)

This past April, glassware-maker Spiegelau announced the launch of the "world's first stout-specific beer glass," a drinking vessel designed in collaboration with Oregon-based Rogue Ales and the Left Hand Brewing Company of Colorado. As was the case with the successful release of their IPA model in 2013, Spiegelau took a similar approach in determining the makeup of the new glass. Hundreds of different shapes were evaluated over the course of a year, with taste testers narrowing down the choices to a number of prototypes before selecting the glass that would ultimately go into production.

Curious to see if Spiegelau's newest creation delivers on the promise of a more profound stout-drinking experience, I along with Matt Dixon of Dallas Brew Scene obtained samples from the company in order to put the product through its paces. Appropriate test subjects were chosen, which for me meant a bottle of Great Divide's Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, while Dixon opted for a classic in the form of Founders Breakfast Stout.

Compared to its predecessor, the Stout glass has a similar, though more voluminous shape than that of the IPA design. Its fuller fashioning allows it to hold just over ten percent more liquid than the IPA glass with a capacity of 21 1/6 oz. This makes for a rather weighty pour considering you can nearly empty the contents of a 22oz bomber into the glass.

Surveying the incurved rim at the top, the diameter measures 2 1/4 inches. This exactly matches that of the IPA glass, and is also on par with the incurved rim of a 10 oz snifter. Not surprisingly, like the snifter this design serves to concentrate aromas more so than say the outward flare of a tulip glass. Taking note that this effect is among the many touted features of the glass, at least in this case it would appear to live up to expectations.

In terms of other elements, product literature claims the "wide, conical bowl" provides "superior flow" to the palate "improving the taste, mouthfeel and finish of a complex stout." While we are both on board with the liquid delivery portion of that statement, some may find that the idea that it helps to "improve" the taste is somewhat harder to swallow. There's no disputing the clarity of the glass, though, as the "ultra pure quartz material" would seem to provide the "true color" appearance it promises.

Thinking about the drinking experience as a whole, honestly it doesn't seem all that different than what can be had with a snifter (my choice) or a Belgian globe glass (Dixon's choice). That said,  the only downsides we can see with Spiegelau's product might start with the price, though at roughly $20/pair (at it doesn't seem all that exorbitant compared to other "proper" glassware. Another minus might be that the Stout glass is no less dainty than its IPA brethren. Packaging boasts "improved breakage resistance," but we'd still recommend careful clinking.