For those of you who know Fort Worth, you know that there is a solid strip of amazing food and bars on Magnolia Avenue. I want to convince you to head out of your comfort zone and head past Hemphill to Proper. You will find easier parking and an amazing hole-in-the-wall bar. Proper put a smile on my face just by walking in the front door thanks to the comfortable, clean environment and seriously extensive drink menu. Not only do they have a lot of craft beers on tap, but they make some mean cocktails.
All cocktails are expertly measured to make sure you get consistent drinks each time you order it. The menu has ten signature cocktails along with thirteen classic cocktails.
My visit happened to be on Valentine’s day, so they had a few Valentine’s inspired drinks as well as beer flights. There was also another list of speciality drinks next to the bar, this week happened to be three drinks all including moonshine. I tried the Tennessee Farmer (sweet tea, moonshine, lime, honey, blackberries, bitters, and bubbles). This drink had a great taste and I would definitely order it again. I would bet that if you tried to stump this bartender … he’d welcome the challenge and rise to it.
If you are looking for a new place with a good vibe and great patio, Proper is your place.
Cook Hall’s grand finale of its 2014 Beer Dinners was grand indeed, and the pairings with Community Beer Company’s local selections made it even better. We were welcomed at the door with a glass of “bonus” beer (score), putting us all in a jolly mood right off the bat.
Roasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup greeted us shortly after we were seated at the community style tables. I felt right at home because this soup perfectly emulated my grandmother’s signature holiday casserole dish (only much lighter, and sans the two cans Cream of Mushroom Soup). It was fresh and light, loaded with freshly-shaven Parmesan and garnished with herbed oil. This was paired with Pepe Nero from Goose Island. I found the Pepe Nero to be fairly mild, and a smooth introduction to the meal.
Out came the Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Black Pepper and Lime Aioli, paired with a Trinity Tripel from Community Beer Company. These nuggets of deliciousness were perfectly juicy, not overcooked, and crusted to perfection. I wanted three plates … but I knew there was so much more to come that I resisted the urge. (Tough life.) The Trinity Tripel was a perfectly golden, citrusy and spicy brew that went nicely with the lime aioli. This was my favorite beer of the night, by far. Shout-out to the local Community Beer Company!
Just when I thought my palette couldn’t be merrier, the Foie Gras Brûlée with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche was presented. It was delightfully buttery and there was just enough salt to cut the richness from the brûlée. The Spiced Fig Jam screamed “holiday”, and that decadent combination was complimented by the Belgian strong dark ale, Inspiration, another Community concoction that boasts a 9.6% ABV. (It’s a damn good thing they serve such a large meal to go with all of this beer.)
I’m a fan of all ribs … but I definitely love me a good short rib. These glazed short ribs, served with herbs, roasted carrots and puree, were a thing of true beauty. Not only did they melt in your mouth, but they were packed with a powerful punch of sweet and savory and blended perfectly with the Delirium Noel (Brouwerji Huyghe). This beer is a strong, dark amber ale loaded with citrus notes and, in my opinion, was an excellent pairing. PLUS the bottle had cute little pink elephants in Santa hats, so, what could go wrong there?
It was time for the grand finale of the grand finale … Banana Crème Pie, Walnut Shortbread and what sounded like the most interesting beer of the evening – Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale from Rogue. It was interesting, indeed. We were instructed to taste the beer first, alone, and then experience it with the food. I was not a fan of the beer by itself, as it was quite dark, dense, and very bitter. Yet, when paired with the Banana Crème Pie, it miraculously transitioned into a sweet, chocolate cappuccino-like dessert in and of itself. The fresh whipped cream just melted and caramel mixed with walnuts and fresh banana chunks oozed out of every bite.
At this point, my table seemed to be fading into a heavenly food-and-brew coma, but I was steadfast in my pursuit. I finished it. Every last little bite. Oh, night divine.
Check out cookhalldallas.com to find out when the next Beer Dinner will be hosted … and get your stomach ready for this gastronomic extravaganza.
Yes, my fellow football lovers, it is that time of the year … time for the Super Bowl. While us North Texans are still reeling from the Cowboy’s 5 point loss to Green Bay (it was totally a catch), we still know Super Bowl Sunday is a very valid excuse for a damn good party. (After all, Americans eat more calories during the Super Bowl than any other day of the year!) So, naturally, we’re going to need some quality brews to go along with the game.
I tried three beers from Grapevine Craft Brewery … you know, for the good of the people. This 2-year old brewery was part of the surge of craft beer establishments here in NTX, and, while still new to the scene, GCB has already received some pretty big awards. In 2014, their Sir Williams English Brown Ale took home the gold medal from the Great American Beer Festival. (I know … we were impressed, too.)
The first of Grapevine’s beers that I tried was the Monarch, a classic American wheat beer. This is a light, crisp filtered beer which I daresay could please just about any palate. The clean flavor and easy drinkability would be a good option for those accustomed to drinking the usual domestic beers like Coors Light, Bud and that lot … but a decidedly better option. I could definitely see myself knocking back a few of these on a warm summer night.
Next, I moved on to the Lakefire Rye Pale Ale. This beer had a much more distinctive taste than the Monarch. Here, part of the barley malt is substituted with rye, hence the name. I found that both the rye and hops lent a pretty strong flavor to this beer. This is a well-balanced RPA that I enjoyed, but it may not be a beer for everyone.
I saved my favorite for last – the Sir William’s English Brown Ale. There’s a good reason this brew snagged a gold medal in 2014. Even a novice brew enthusiast would appreciate this beer just as much as a more seasoned drinker. This beer is bold, yet is still balanced, and has a nice, smooth taste. It isn’t too overpowering or heavy, which makes it a great option to accompany a meal, such as my fresh off the grill cheeseburgers, or even to drink by itself.
Let’s not limit our creativity when it comes to using Sir William’s…Sir William’s chocolateyness was a nice addition to my vanilla bean ice cream. (Talk about an adult root beer float!) As GCB says themselves, “The English do it right … but Texans do it better.”
And … coming to a shelf near you is GCB’s Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout. Starting January 26th, Nightwatch, which was previously only on tap, became available in cans. Check out GCB’s website for a list of grocery stores that stock their products.
Local breweries, Lakewood and Rahr, recently joined forces to create an annual collaboration beer. This inaugural beer is a Belgian Dubbel (6.4%). This beer was brewed with German malt from Rahr and Belgian yeast and candi-sugar from Lakewood. Every year the style and flavor will change as well as which brewery is in charge of production. This year, Rahr was in charge, so next year it will be Lakewood’s turn.
It is available on tap at a few bars around D/FW as well as Spec’s for a limited time. I would highly recommend stopping by Spec’s and picking up a few liters for your fridge … I personally have gone back for seconds (and thirds). It is a very “drinkable” beer, and not too heavy.
Recently, I was graciously invited to a Rahr and Lakewood collaborative dinner where they proudly introduced this new beer. It was an entertaining night of dining with Fritz Rahr and Wim Bens at the amazing Bird Cafe. My next few posts will be highlighting each of the 7 beers I was able to taste during this dinner.
2014 DFW Collaboration Beer:
Spec’s Price: $12.62 (per 22 oz. bottle)/ $139.69 (case of 12 bottles)
Rahr & Sons Brewery
701 Galveston Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76104
817-810-9266 Twitter | Instagram
I recently had the opportunity to check out Cook Hall’s new fall menu (read about it here). It was basically bomb.com (side note: I was kind of shocked to find that this URL doesn’t seem to be registered…hmm). That being said, I was SUPER excited when Cook Hall generously extended an invitation to check out one of their signature beer dinners! Cook Hall hosts a bi-monthly 5-course beer pairing dinner, with themes ranging from the creative (whiskey versus beer throwdown!), to the educational (i.e., brewery or variety specific pairings). October featured a Spaten Brewing beer dinner. Jackpot.
First, a little about Spaten Brewing Company: They have been around the block a time or two. This Bavarian brewery has been one of the leading exporters of German beer for over a century. Spaten is pretty much committed to kickin’ it old school when it comes to their brewing philosophy; they continue to brew in the tradition of the German Purity Law, circa 1516 (!), decreeing that beer should only be brewed using malt, hops, and water. Shocking revelation that a historic German brewery would do things by the book, I know.
Cook Hall prepared a five-course menu featuring thoughtful and creative beer and food pairings throughout the evening.
We started out sampling Spaten’s Premium Lager (Munich Helles Lager/5.2%). This crisp, balanced lager was notably drinkable, and paved the way for our delicate yet delicious starter, Roasted Beet Salad, served with blue cheese, dried fruits, and nuts. The tender, sweet beets paired nicely with the maltiness of the Lager.
2nd Course brought us Spaten’s Oktoberfest (Marzen/Oktoberfest/5.9%)- one of the sanctioned beers of Oktoberfest Munich (i.e. “THE” Oktoberfest…sorry, Addision/Lake Highlands/McKinney!). This smooth, full-bodied Marzen, with its malty aroma, was slightly bitter yet balanced with hints of caramel. Paired with the creamy, decadent, Butternut Squash Soup with oyster mushrooms, this duo could not have been a more perfect way to welcome fall (Seriously…this soup is everything. Please come try it before it goes away).
3rd Course featured Spaten Franziskaner (Hefeweizen/5.0%), the brewery’s Bavarian wheat beer. Spaten’s hefe is lightly malty with a creamy finish, bringing lovely notes of banana and clove to the table. The Franziskaner paired nicely with our next dish, Gulf Shrimp & Smoked Bacon, with papaya mustard and avocado. The smooth, wheaty finish of the hefe was a match made in Heaven for tangy notes of chili and cumin in the papaya mustard.
4th Course, they brought out the big guns; Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock/7.6%). I love a good doppelbock, and Optimator is about as good as it gets. This sweet, malty offering is heavy-bodied, and features notes of caramel and licorice. It was a rich, indulgent accompaniment for our main course, the Braised Short Rib with ginger and chive spaetzle. Oh man, this was the good stuff. The short rib was fork tender, and the ginger and chive were a lovely, surprising twist on this traditional German noodle dish.
The 5th and final offering was Spaten’s Dunkel (Munich Dunkel Lager/5.5%). This medium-bodied dunkel is lightly sweet and moderately, complex, with caramel and toffee flavors. If you have never enjoyed a thoughtfully selected beer with dessert, you have been missing out, my friends. The Dunkel paired beautifully with Caramel Roasted Pairs, served with brown butter ice cream. Lighter caramel notes from the beer intensified the richer caramel flavors in this dessert dish, and it really worked.
Bravo, Cook Hall. Bravo, Spaten.
Cook Hall beer dinners are hosted on a bi-monthly basis. Each 5 course meal includes one full-sized beer, and tasting sizes of four subsequent beers. The cost is $55 per person (tax & gratuities not included)- a great deal! Presently, the next beer dinner is planned for early December (firm date and menu TBD- check back here for updates). Space is limited, so make your reservation ASAP!
If you can’t find something to love at Yard House, you either hate good food, cold craft beers, and carefully mixed cocktails … or you’re wrong. Addison’s newest watering hole, Yard House, is a place where with so many choices that repeat visits are a must.
The drink menu offers up an impressive (and massive) list of American and international craft beers, cocktails, wine and sake. For those counting calories, but needing to indulge in an adult beverage, the drink menu includes a selection of cocktails between each 150-200 calories such as the Citrus Crush, Skinny Margarita, and Juniper Fusion. In addition to an already abundant amount of options, the restaurant mixes it up with a rotating selection of brews for their Chalkboard series.
Given the ample selection of beers, I thought it only proper to go with a tall, cold draft brew, Blood and Honey from Revolver, before going back to more familiar territory with an Upper Manhattan cocktail, featuring a peach puree that added a nice touch to this well balanced drink. My better half opted for two of the house martinis (one at a time of course), the Ruby Red and the Strawberry Fields, both of which she would have liked to order seconds of. But lo, reason prevailed on a Tuesday night and she stopped at one (of each).
The food menu (whose length rivals the drink menu’s) has a nice selection of food — animal, vegetable or mineral. From a wide selection of bar snacks to full-blown meals, there is something that can and will satisfy anyone’s booze-fueled whims. Carnitas tacos, spicy Thai chicken pizza, Hawaiian poke stack … the bottom line is that you should go to the Yard House hungry! Take my advice and try the Mac & Chesse – chicken, bacon and wild mushrooms mingle with pasta in a decadent cheese sauce with hints of truffle. If that’s not the perfect food to go with one of Yard House’s craft brews, I don’t know what is.
The interior of Yard House is just the right mix of modern upscale and contemporary casual. (Think Kona Grill meets BJ’s Brew House.) It’s a great place for a little after-work drink or a fun first date where you may need some distractions. There is an outdoor patio, which would be a great place to relax, drink a beer and watch a game or two. The large, central bar is a great place to pull up a chair and admire the 100s of beer taps all waiting to be pulled.
No one can go to Yard House and not talk about the music. The playlist was the absolute perfect mix of everything from classic rock to modern day hits varying from rock to reggae and everything else in between. It took everything in me not to get up and start dancing, but there may have been some head bobbing going on.
Give Yard House a try-and if you see a bald fellow rockin’ out…it’s not me.
Some of my buddies over at iliveindallas.com put together a 2014 Beer & Brewers Index. Here’s some info about it and a link to download it directly:
…the most comprehensive, most complete, and most up-to-date repository of beers and brewers in Dallas-Fort Worth (at this point in time). Sorry, for the superlatives, but I can promise you, every word is true. Today we are announcing DFW Beer & Brewers Index. This local buzz almanac will give you a run down of every beer and brewer (including 19 up-and-coming) in the DFW area. It doesn’t stop at the year-round beers – it covers seasonal as well, so you know what to warm yourself with in the winter, and keep you cool in the summer. This directory of beer and brewers may be hard to digest in one sitting, but will act as a a reference guide to get your local fix when you need it. Every true local beer buff or supporter must have a copy to be able to call him/herself that. Download it here.
In this 26 page archive of awesome you’ll find:
8 Dallas-area brewers with 87 beers from neighborhoods like Trinity Groves.
4 Fort Worth-area brewers with 38 beers from neighborhoods like West 7th.
Specific addresses of all 18 already established breweries
6 brewers with 46 beers outside the city, but still close enough to make the hike
Tour times of all the major breweries
A list of the 20 breweries soon to open
A list of 81 of the Best Places to Find Local Beer by City
With less than two months to Addison Oktoberfestand ourfearless (and never drinkless) leader Susie out of town, I was treated to a preview of Chamberlain’s Brau Haus. A little background first…
Addison’s Oktoberfest has been one of the city’s most popular events since it kicked off in 1987. With a tenure of nearly 3 decades, the festival is widely considered one of the most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations outside Munich and has been recognized by USA Today and Forbes as one of the Top Oktoberfest celebrations in North America. From September 18 – 20 it will be home to all things weizenbier, sauerkraut and sausage.
Despite one’s inclination to think the event is aimed at adults or those interested solely in drinking beer and eating, it’s actually a very family-friendly event with a variety of activities suitable for the little ones, including carnival games, rides and music. There is even a 5K and 1 mile run benefitting Dallas-based Wipe Out Kid’s Cancer (WOKC).
On September 18-20, Chef Richard Chamberlain hosts Chamberlain’s Brau Haus, a full-service restaurant, for the second year in a row. Chamberlain & Co. will deliver a Deutschland dining experience worthy of curing the most serious cases of the travel bug for those yearning to go to Munich … or it may make the bug bite harder. (Either way ….) A brief glance of the menu at the pre-Oktoberfest tasting event and I knew it to be wise to preemptively loosen my tie, unbutton the top button on my dress shirt, and get comfortable. (I still don’t know why they didn’t encourage us to wear sweatpants.)
The Brau Haus menu features a packed 3-course meal with Paulaner beer pairings throughout. I was somehow able to restrain my usual tendency of partaking in a second round of table snacks typically offered at restaurants (no shame), in this case, fresh German pretzels.
Our first course included (get ready): a sampling of smoked rainbow trout with a horseradish cream and pickled onions, Bavarian ham with German mustard and a cucumber, dill and tomato salad. Winner of this course: the trout. It was was cooked as you would expect it to be at restaurant of Chamberlain’s caliber, perfectly. The horseradish cream and pickled onions were spot on and seemed to include nearly all the different aspects of taste – salty, bitter, sweet, etc.
The second course featured Bavarian braised pork with onion potatoes and a paulaner jus along with a trio of German Sausages. As if more was needed to justify my indulgence, house made sauerkraut and bacon filled up the remaining space on my plate. Winner of the second course: the pork. The Chamberlain’s crew served up pork that was so tender the meat seemed to gently and gracefully fall onto the fork as if yearning to be eaten. (How’s that for meat poetry?)
It was a serious internal debate whether there was room for the warm cinnamon apple strudel top with a salted caramel sauce, but don’t worry logic and reason prevailed. (All this coming from a guy who typically eats pretty healthy.)
Tickets for the 6:30pm or 8:30pm dinner on the 18th, 19th or 20th or for Oktoberfest’s other packages need to be purchased by September 4th as quantities are limited. The$49 Brau Haus package gets you:
admission to Oktoberfest (a $10 value)
the 3 course tasting meal with Paulaner beer pairings
a Paulaner Oktoberfest 1 litre beer stein with a bier or wine flight
(the best part) your choice of a $25 gift card to either Chamberlain’s Steak & Chop House or Chamberlain’s Fish Market
Needless to say, Chamberlain’s Brau Haus dining experience should be reason enough to visit Addison’s 2014 Oktoberfest celebration. Add to it the Draught Haus, an authentic Munich-style beer hall with a Texas twist in at the Addison Conference Center, more food and fun and there I’d be interested to know your rationale for not going.
To buy your tickets to Chamberlain’s Brau Haus or for additional event and package information, visit the Oktoberfest 2014 website.