As a lover of IPAs (before it was cool), I’ve had to face some hard truths about them in the last few years. Recently, it feels like, for every new brewery discovery I make, there are even more options featuring a ton of IBUs dumped in barley that would leave me feeling like I didn’t even know what beer was anymore. The brewing process for an IPA is simple, and the strong ingredients are not only useful for proving how many hops your manly palate can take, but also for covering up shortcuts or mistakes in the process. IPA is the king of craft beers and the backlash was inevitable, but I’ve been finding myself looking for other beers to round out my choices at home.
So, when Traveler Beer reached out to our team offering a chance to try the Traveler Grapefruit IPA Shandy as a follow up to my review of the non-IPA offerings from last summer, I jumped on it. I was intrigued, but cautiously optimistic about it. Best case – I pick up a new guilty pleasure for a summer beer; worst case, I continue cursing the availability of hops to everyone with an idea, some free time, and a brewing kit.
The answer was: somewhere in the middle.
First, this is a very low 4.4% beer, so it’s not going to wallop anyone out of the gate. (Which was kind of what I was looking for. I have two kids now, I can’t sit around all day guzzling beers with buddies waiting for a buzz. And I’m too lazy to walk to the bathroom that much. Efficiency is key.) This is not a heavy drink, and, if you’re not into beer, this is a lower ABV than most of the hard sodas that became a thing last year. (More on that to come, I’m sure.)
Second, “IPA” may come first in the title, but this was still very much a shandy. The grapefruit taste was front and center and the hoppy, beer flavor was very much buried underneath it. None of this is a bad thing – in fact, if you like a good shandy or fruit-based beer in general, you’ll like this. I shared with a friend who very much fit this profile and she really enjoyed it.
I know you’re reading this because you want a yay or nay, but all I can do here is give you facts. If you want a bold, bitter beer taste, this isn’t for you … but then again, you’re the one who opened something with grapefruit shandy in the title, so maybe you need to realize words mean things. If you’re a fan of citrus and are looking for something you can enjoy all day long, this is a solid pick up.
If there’s one thing I don’t undervalue it’s the art of convenience. Particularly, when it comes to tailgates, beach-side sipping, or floating the river, I want a drink that travels easy and carries the party with it. Enter: Don Chelada. Between this company’s bottled michelada mix and rimmed Styrofoam cups with pre-packaged spices, all you really need is your favorite beer to achieve optimal day-drinking status.
I have to say Don Chelada’s Styrofoam cups are a fascinating thing. It’s one of those million dollar ideas I wish I would have thought of. Offering three flavors of Lemon Lime, Spicy, or Original, the rather large cups come with a “Mega Moist Rim” of natural ingredients, including chili powder, lemon powder, sea salt, chili powder, sugar, pepper, citric acid, and silicone dioxide (for, you know … “anti-clumping”). Inside you’ll find the corresponding spice mix, depending on awaiting an introduction to your beer of choice, which may depend on your cup flavor. Bonus points: the rich formula allows the addition of another beer, which you will obviously want to add. The key here (and make sure you read this carefully) is to pour slowly and let the drink sit for a minute afterwards. This allows for the suds and spice mix to settle into the beer.
The cups serve as a great product for the right kind of consumer. Personally, I had a bit of trouble blending the package of spices into my beer, but I could envision this as a staple for enhancing your average beer at tailgates, fraternity parties, trips to the lake, or even as a hangover remedy. Out of the two products, I enjoyed the liquid mix better as I found it was easier to incorporate with my beer – but, maybe I just need to work on my pouring technique.
You can go a step further personalizing this with even more spice, garnishes, or maybe an additional splash of alcohol. It’s your michelada and you can drink it how you want to.
Check out Don Chelada’s website for more recipes, such as the below, Tequila Tropical. Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching and this might just be your best move.
Don Chelada Tequila Tropical 1.5oz tequila
Lemon Lime Soda
Add to your Don Chelada Michelada Cup: ice and 1.5oz tequila. Fill with equal parts mineral water and lemon lime soda. Stir lightly, let sit for a minute and enjoy.
Don Chelada Michelada Cups 6 Piece Party Pack, $13.74
Party Pack Case – 36 Pieces, $64.44
Vet – verb \vet\ the careful and critical examination of quality
Vetted Well, the new bar above the recently-opened Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, may be one of my new favorite places. Damn good food, a great beer selection (complete with 10 perfectly-paired boilermakers), one of the best rooftop patios in Dallas, themed private karaoke rooms, and a location directly above a quirky movie theater make for a great experience.
While Vetted Well does a lot … well … they have done well in not specializing in anything at the expense of others. Perfect example: they have a damn good (local) beer selection (cans, bottles, and a bunch of drafts), but also have awesome cocktails and a small (but thoughtful) wine list. They have some healthy food, but also some food that makes you want to break your Lenten commitment not to eat fried food (oops …).
My review was actually my second visit … my first visit was with a couple girlfriends after a movie to catch up a bit. We enjoyed a shit ton of popcorn (which, if you order in the bottomless popcorn in the theater, you can continue working on finding the bottom upstairs), a Darker & Stormier (a seriously delicious take on the Dark & Stormy–apply brandy, Black Seal rum, ginger, lime, and crushed ice) and The Traveling Man (Eagle Rare 10 Yr. & Karback Weekend Warrior whiskey). I was so excited to come back, that I nearly died when I saw the email inviting me in for a review.
I was spoiled with a couple boilermakers, a couple cocktails, and alllllllll the food (more on that later because, cocktails). Their Moscow Mule was the traditional recipe (vodka, lime, ginger beer) and was well mixed, but the copper vessel was badass–because I’m kind of over copper mugs. Next out was the Kentucky Buck (bourbon, strawberry, lemon, bitters, ginger beer), which was completely refreshing and I cannot wait to sit on their patio and sip one three of these on a warm, spring afternoon.
Let’s get back to those boilermakers. Ten options, all decidedly Dallas with names like The Grassy Knoll and The Big Tex, make for a good challenge. I’m four down so far, (… not as accomplished as Kevin, but I’m working on it) and I’m enjoying the progress. Paired thoughtfully, my favorite so far is The Sears & Roebuck (Gran Classico & 512 Pecan Porter), but I look forward to trying the remaining six to see if it stays on top. (There was talk about the technique behind drinking a boilermaker. Do you take the shot of whiskey then sip the beer, sip both at once, or dunk the shot?)
Now … the food. Everything they make is as homemade as possible from the mustard to the … other delicious stuff, and they also source from local vendors like Empire Bakery. They’re currently serving lunch from their kitchen with brunch and then dinner to follow, but if you’re up there for dinner now, you can get items from the Alamo Drafthouse kitchen. They bring it up with a dumbwaiter, which they claim can hold 200 pounds … and I’m still upset they wouldn’t let me ride in it. (Read: stay tuned for a staged dumbwaiter incident complete with live Twitter feed.)
We started with the Biscuit Beignets. They hit the table and I knew my Lenten “no fried food” pledge was in trouble. I figured that, as my mom says, Sundays are cheat days … and I’d been to church earlier. So, I dug in. I’m damn glad I did. These fluffy, fried nuggets are perfectly light and come with dippable cinnamon sugar, raspberry syrup, vanilla bean crème, and spiced rum caramel. Hot damn. Next up was more fried goodness (because why just be a little bad?), Croquettes with smoked gouda, potato, bacon, and green onion, and served with a dill-lish dill ranch. (Terrible joke … sorry.) To round out the first “course”, they brought out the Panzanella Salad which, aside from the Brussels sprout I snuck off the plate while taking a picture, was snapped up before I could take a bite.
The heavy hitters of the meal were still to come–the 24-Hour Brined Pork Chop, Chicken Fried Chicken with Local Honey, Carved Turkey on Hippie Bread, and the Cubano sandwich. All delicious and all recommended. They mix it up by serving the pork chop with a waffle–take that chicken and waffles! I’ll be having this one again thanks to the incredibly flavorful chop. My other favorite was the Cubano (roasted pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, house pickles, and beer mustard served with traditional tostones).
I’m actually upset with myself for not requesting the Vetted Well Burger … this thing is a work of art–a burger with pork beans and pork belly? That’s some genius shit right there.
Overall, Vetted Well is quite the delight. The patio is unreal–both the front and back one. The front patio has a great view of Downtown Dallas and the back patio is complete with locally made furniture and a giant outdoor screen where they’ll show classic movies a couple times a week. If that’s not enough entertainment, check out one of their four themed private karaoke rooms for rent by the hour to accommodate 6-20 people. You know I’ll be hitting those rooms hard with some hardcore Hall & Oates. The karaoke rooms will be open to the public starting Thursday.
I can’t wait for the next rainy weekend when I can commit to spending an entire day bouncing between the theater and Vetted Well to get my hands on their burger. Who’s with me?
Overall, I think their name is deserved. I was told that “vetted” is used often in the military as a quality check. While I’m not military, I feel as though I can still give this place my seal of approval–it has been vetted … and it’s gooooood.
“I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…” This Ron Burgundy quote definitely embodied the day leading up to the delicious #DramAndDraft pairing event at the Meddlesome Moth presented by Highland Park. Some argue that scotch must be served neat … others would argue that scotch should be served on the rocks. But after this wonderful evening, I would suggest pairing it with a great craft beer.
Garrett Youngbloog and US National Highland Park Ambassador, Steph Ridgway made it loud and clear that Highland Park Scotch Whisky goes great with craft beer. I have to say that it’s more than just a fancy boiler maker. The great craft beers they paired with the great scotch whiskies opened up flavors in both beverages that are perfectly complimented by other.
We greeted with a cocktail by Austin Gurley of High and Tight,the Lady of Shalot (Highland Park 12, Four Corners Local Buzz Honey Rye Ale, citrus bitters, Cardamaro). Then the tasting began …
Imagine drinking your favorite drink, then having someone offer you the same drink, but better. That’s what happened.
I definitely urge you scotch fans out there to pick up some craft beer the next time you pick up your favorite bottle of scotch. Not only should it compliment your scotch … but you might even find yourself not wanting one without the other!
Did you know that the Snuffer’s on Lower Greenville is haunted? Well, it sure is. Just ask the servers and they’ll send over one of their staff members that have had a paranormal experience pop by your table and tell you a couple ghost stories. … or they’ll just tell you about the scary good deals they’re now offerings during happy hour on their Happy-Tizer Menu.
Y’all know that I love a good happy hour, so when I was invited in to try out their new options, I didn’t shy away. Monday-Friday, 3-7pm you can now get select mini-apps for as little as $2. That’s right … two buckaroos … a pair of greenbacks … just a couple Washington’s … you get the idea.
As always, the Dallas favorite offers happy hour beers and margs as low as $3 to make your visit truly happy. Think $3 house margaritas (frozen or on the rocks) and drafts (Bud Light, Samuel Adams, & Dos Equis) and $4 house wine and shooters. While I’m not a huge beer drinker, it felt right ordering one to sip … and then a house margarita … and then another beer.
The real excitement as of late is their new happy hour food offering, a.k.a. their Happy-Tizers. Check out the picture below. All that goodness can be yours for $22. And for that price, you can try all of them … and you should. Their fried pickles and mushrooms are legendary* and these small servings are just enough to satisfy your craving but not take over the meal. (Though, really, what’s wrong with a meal of fried pickles and mushrooms?) Their tortilla chips were seasoned just right and the onion rings and buffalo wings were perfectly satisfactory.
If you’re trying to decide what to order on this little menu, skip the burger quesadilla and the queso … save those options for Blue Goose down the street. They’ll get an “E” for effort on those, though.
Stop in and check out the new happy hour serving sizes at any of their locations, but don’t forget the beers and things. Oh … and make sure to order at LEAST the personal-sized Cheddar Fries. (Because it’d be rude to leave without a helping of them. After all, they’ve been around longer than you … if you were born after 1978.)
*at least to me. For nearly my entire college career, when I was in a bad way the day after a good party, I knew Snuffer’s fried pickles and loaded Cheddar Fries were my saving graces. They never failed.
***Snuffer’s invited me in to enjoy selections from their Happy-Tizers free of charge.***
Think you can bartend? Interested in raising money for charity? Well … you can raise money for a charity of YOURchoosing by simply having drinks with friends. Yup, you have the chance to drink for a good cause … Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warrior and Scottish Rite are just a few of the organizations who have already benefitted.
The guys who were now serving up burgers, fries and one hell of a margarita, long before many others in Dallas, Pat and Mike Snuffer (yes, of Snuffer’s*), opened a burger joint with their cousin, Steve Cole, in North Dallas in November 2014. Now, if you have ever met these guys, then you already know how genuinely nice and caring they are, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they have a way to give back to the community that also helps spread the word about their new place, Pat’s and Mike’s. (Hold tight … I’ll have a full review on the new eatery for you shortly.)
So here is how it works…
Every Tuesday night from 4 pm to 7 pm, Pat’s and Mike’s welcomes a “Guest Bartender(s)” to mix it up and support a charity of their choosing. For obvious legal and liability reasons (not to mention cost), “Guest Bartenders” won’t be pulling a Tom Cruise in “Cocktail” and mix up drinks and serving up shots. “Guest Bartenders” will help pour some beers and assist in the bar area in other ways – meaning no special experience behind a bar or in a restaurant required.
You raise money by inviting friends, family, coworkers … heck, anyone you know to come have a drink while you “bartend”. Hopefully, your stellar service will encourage tips from your group and 100% of the tips “Guest Bartenders” earn go directly to the charity they selected. Seriously, take a look at what a few “Guest Bartenders” have easily raised for their charities over 3 hours on a Tuesday.
Habitat for Humanity– $1,600
Scottish Rite Hospital– $2,000
Wounded Warrior– $1,000
LPC Charity– $2,000
Whether you are looking for a new way to help raise funds for an charitable organization or just want your drinking to benefit one, check out Pat’s & Mike’s “Guest Bartenders” on Tuesdays. Give them a call to book your Tuesday and have some fun!
When it comes to bars, it’s nice to see that more and more are placing an emphasis on including Texas-brewed craft beer. A few weeks back, I had the good luck to try out the latest addition to Addison’s bar scene that does just that, Ron’s Place.
Take a proven recipe for success, add in copious amounts of beer and hard liquor, and you have something worth talking about. Ron’s Place opened July 23rd and is the latest on Addison’s restaurant row (a.k.a. Beltline). Ron’s Place is the brainchild of twins Mark and Dirk Kelcher, and these guys are seasoned professionals; they’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years. Locals may be familiar with their other bars (The Hubalso in Addison and Ron’s Corner Tavern in Bedford). I have gotten to know The Hub since it’s the home to football watching parties for my alma matter, Texas Tech (GUNS UP!), so I was eager to see what they had in store.
The Kelcher brother’s newest endeavor is a smaller scale bar that focuses on craft beer and also has a vast selection of bourbon, whiskey and scotch . Inspired by their eccentric Uncle Ron and his obsessive beer can collection, they’ve created a friendly little neighborhood bar. (You know, like one of those places where everyone knows your name.) There is plenty of character packed into the place, given the modest size of the bar. Dimly lit, the walls are flanked with rustic-looking bookshelves displaying their booze and some of Uncle Ron’s famous international beer can collection. It’s a welcoming bar where you can go as you are, get a good drink and probably strike up a conversation with a fellow patron.
While the hard liquor they offer is worldly, I found that the beer list is mostly American. They pride themselves on taking advantage of domestic brewed beers and, get this … offer at least 12 Texas-brewed beers on tap.
During my visit, I managed to maneuver myself through the packed space to score a seat at the bar. I tried out two different beers I haven’t seen in many other Dallas bars. The first was a beer out of Montana’s Big Sky Brewing Co. called, funny enough, Moose Drool. Despite the name, this brown ale was rich, tasty and full of flavor. It was a bit creamy and could complement a wide variety of foods. The second beer I tried was from even further up north, the Alaskan White. This was a fairly typical style Witbier with hints of citrus and spice.
If you’re anything like me and suffer from analysis-paralysis when it comes to decision making, you will understand my appreciation for the concise beer descriptions on the menu. It won’t make the decision for you, but should help make the job easier. That said, the staff was very personable and attentive, and are glad to help out. The descriptions worked for me as both beers I went with were well worth it. Next time I will probably go for one of their Texan brews and maybe a whiskey (or two).
Tack on a short and sweet menu of bar food favorites and Ron’s Place has a winning combination that Uncle Ron would be proud of.
Maybe it was that I went on Grand Opening Day, or that it was happy hour and The Hub is next door, but parking spots were hard to come by. I ended up finding a spot behind the building without too many problems. Just know, when visiting Ron’s Place, go ahead and take the first spot you see, even if it’s a few doors down. (It’ll be worth the walk.)
Negra Modelo = good
Guacamole = good
∴ Negra Modelo + guacamole = ahhhhmazing
Who says you won’t use math after you graduate!?
The Negra Modelo team came to town last week with celebrity* Chef Rick Bayless in tow. Upon arrival at 3015, a private event space in Trinity Groves, we were treated to as much Negra Modelo as we could (responsibly) consume along with small bites. Whilte warming up, we were challenged to “unlock” swag by tweeting using #ThePerfectComplement–50 tweets for a bottle opener, 100 for branded glassware, 150 for signed cookbooks, and 200 for (badass) cutting boards. Yeah … we got them all.
*If you consider a former “Iron Chef” competitor, author, (multiple) James Beard Foundation award winner, and “Top Chef Masters” Season 1 winner a celebrity. Because I do.
After some mingling time and plenty of light bites, we were invited to visit the buffet featuring various items that were either made to be the perfect complement to a glass of Negra Modelo or were actually made using NM. The beer itself is a medium-bodied beer that’s on the sweeter side with hints of spice and a caramel taste and bouquet — err, nose if you’re not fancy.
After the meal, Rick sat us down for some learnin’. He walked us through his recipes for guacamole and slow cooked lamb shoulder. His guac was a revelation … he used tomatillo and bacon, so obviously he gets me. Check out all the recipes he worked with Negra Modelo to great the perfect menu to make.
Since y’all don’t read my ramblings just to hear about my awesome Wednesday night … I have some awesome recipes to help you jump on the beer cocktail bandwagon.
GRAND MARNIER MICHELADA 1.5 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
6 oz Negra Modelo
Pour Negra Modelo in a tall glass over ice, then stir in lime juice. Carefully float GMCR on top. Serve with a lime slice.
MODELO MIXER 2 oz Mezcal
3 sprigs cilantro
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
Muddle the cilantro and the simple syrup in a shaker, then all the mezcal and lime juice. Shake with ice. Pour over ice in a tall glass then top with Negra Modelo.
Negra Modelo Old-Fashioned Cocktail (recipes by Rick Bayless for Frontera)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 4 tablespoons superfine sugar to taste
1/2 cup bourbon
1 to 2 cups Negra Modelo beer
Maraschino cherries for garnish
Mix lime juice and sugar in small pitcher until sugar dissolves. Stir in bourbon and chill until needed. Fill 4 short “rocks” glasses with ice. Top each with ¼ of the bourbon mixture. Fill the glasses the rest of the way with Negra Modelo. Garnish with maraschino cherries.