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Thursday, May 15, 2008
Musings from the road; Texas Trio (Grapevine, Addison, & Dallas)
On to Texas, or shall I say back (a few weeks ago) to Texas? After jumping into a rental car at DFW, I left the airport property where I was immediately in Grapevine territory and headed to where I thought I might find the best variety of regional beer in the Dallas area. The World Market chain typically has (where allowed by law) a well-stocked inventory of beers and wines for the customer who also happens to be shopping for home accessories...go figure. I've had good experiences in California, Arizona, and Virginia at stores of theirs. (Unfortunately, the closest one to home, their Delaware location, did not carry beer/wine and recently closed....coincidence?!) This Grapevine location was pretty darn decent to say the least. The wine selection was larger than any I'd seen at other World Market locations. Ditto the beer selection. While I came prepared looking for Saint Arnold and varieties of Shiner that I hadn't seen before, I'd completely forgotten that I should be able to find New Belgium as well. And, find it I did. Okay, before you ask...no, they weren't stocking La Folie or any other of the funk house brews coming out of Colorado! So maybe in that case they aren't that great? What I did find, though, was Blue Paddle, Springboard, Skinny Dip, Trippel, and 1554 Black. I was more than happy to bring these home along with Saint Arnold's Lawnmower, Bock, Amber, and Texas Wheat. An oddball I hadn't seen before was Rahr & Sons from Fort Worth. I picked up a black lager of theirs called Ugly Pug and will let you know how that decision turned out. And Shiner's Black Lager (sensing a theme here you should) was a very roastily-decent drinker. But, don't be fooled by the "only Texans get it" label on this other beer called ZiegenBock. If I'd read the label at all, I may not have picked up this beer because the words Anheuser-Busch lurk in small print. But perhaps I'm glad that I did, because I can flatly recommend that you do not do as I did. Because if you do as I did, then you'll done pour that beer down the drain. Thin, devoid of flavor, and nothing more to say about it. I rarely pour any beer out and won't always point out to you what I don't like. Oft times I feel that it could be the current state of my own palate at the time or personal taste or bias that is influencing whether I in turn like the beer. This one deserves for you to hear about my reaction. Its fact sheet says that is "smooth, full-flavored, and easy drinking." Wow. Really? It won a bronze medal at the 2006 GABF for the American-Style Dark Lager category. Hm, must've been a specially-brewed batch for the competition...or the competition was really weak. Either way, consider yourself warned. You're welcome in advance. After finishing a day of work in Irving, I needed to catch game 7 of the Flyers playoff series. Silly of me to think that going to game 6 the night prior in Philly would have seen things wrapped up and wouldn't need to trouble myself in to finding a barstool and TV in Texas to watch Philadelphia and Washington play a hockey game. Alas, with the hotel not carrying the Versus network (not a surprise) I found myself taking The Brew Lounge show across railroad tracks and through tumbleweed to Addison's Humperdinks sports bar. I didn't really inquire too deeply about the state of beer; I was really only there for the hockey game. From what I seemed to understand from the staff, they used to be associated with Big Horn Brewing. Now, they seem to simply be a very good sports bar catering to local professional and college sports (it's very close to Univ. of Texas/Dallas); in fact, they call themselves Hockey Central. After some wrangling (that's a Texas-born term, I believe...I could use horse-trading but I didn't really trade anything), I got myself into a seat with a clear view of the one TV out of 50 with the Flyers game (42 of the others had the Mavericks playoff game on). A few suspect Sierra Nevadas and Shiner Bocks, burrito, and a Flyers win later, I headed back to my hotel. Great sports bar to watch a game, don't set your expectations too high for the beer. The last stop on the Texas swing was The Old Monk north of downtown Dallas on North Henderson Road. Apparently, they've been around for almost 10 years, but has their beer selection only recently improved? I'm not sure. Figured I should stop in and wait out some Texas Toronados that were reportedly ripping through the area. I won't write much about them here today, as I plan to give them a more thorough going-over during my next trip to the area. They definitely have the proper vibe going on at The Old Monk...dim lights, bit of a small and earthly feel to it, and the requisite Belgian drafts. They have some decent American, German, English, Czech, and others thrown in for good measure too. The glassware and service seems to be up to snuff as well. Definitely worth another trip...that you'll be sure to hear about somewhere down the road.