Category Archives: Beer

Heritage Pizza and Taproom

Upon moving to Texas ten years ago, my only reference point for “The Colony” was the occasional appearance on a Doppler Radar map while watching Delkus prognosticate various “weather events”. I must confess: I always thought it sounded like a creepy place, probably not too dissimilar from the town in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Fast forward to present day, and The Colony has actually evolved into a bustling hub for buying home furnishings and appliances (thanks, Nebraska Furniture Mart) … and slowly but surely, a place to grab a delicious bite to eat (often after a strenuous morning of test driving sofas).

The latest addition to The Colony’s growing collection of restaurants and watering holes is Heritage Pizza and Taproom. Located on Plano Parkway (practically in the shadows of Nebraska Furniture Mart). The bright and airy taproom and pizza kitchen is the newest offering from {33} Restaurant Group who also brought us Taverna Rossa, and Cadillac Pizza Pub.

While it’s obvious HPT is a pizza kitchen, we’ll get to that little detail in just a minute. First, let’s chat about the “Taproom” part … booze first, as Susie requires.

HPT offers 40 carefully curated craft beers on tap with a heavy emphasis on local/Texas brews; think Bitter Sisters, Revolver, Martin House, and Noble Rey, to name a few. Bring your growler along for the ride, and Heritage will fill it up with your favorite beer. Better yet, join the Heritage Growler Program, and earn a free pizza with every 10th growler fill.

But, what’s a guy or gal to do if you are ordering a pizza because you don’t actually plan on leaving the comfort of your (*Nebraska Furniture Mart*) sofa? Heritage Pizza will deliver beer (5% ABV or under) right to your door. What a time to be alive.

Now … pie time. Heritage Pizza’s menu incorporates fresh ingredients and ware from local artisans, including Hamm’s Meat Market and Henry’s Ice Cream. Their ingredients are fresh and flavorful, making some really fantastic pies. HPT features a collection of twelve signature pizzas, including the namesake Heritage pie (classic red sauce, cheese, chicken, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, tomato, feta, garlic, and olive oil). Additional pizza selections include some surprising ingredients such as the Mama’s Meatloaf (classic red sauce, homemade meatloaf, sharp cheddar, green onion) and the Santa Fe (avocado campfire ranch, garlic, roasted corn, black beans, cilantro, green chile, diced tomato, jalapeño). If you’re feeling less adventurous (or even more creative), you can simply opt to build your own pizza, choosing from a list of over 40 ingredients. Pizzas are constructed on a crispy, cracker-thin crust (a gluten-free crust baked in an off-site facility is also available). 

They also feature a variety of delicious appetizers–the Pretzels and Beer Cheese Fonduta and the Stuffed Mushrooms with sausage and goat cheese are not to be missed. Things like baked pasta, hot sandwiches, and fresh salads are also available.

Heritage Pizza and Taproom is open for business, but they will host a grand opening celebration with a full day of festivities TODAY, Friday, April 21. The first 100 guests to arrive for lunch (11 AM) will receive a free t-shirt, koozie, and a free pizza (voucher for a future visit). From 3-7 PM, The Ticket 96.7 FM Hardline hosts Corby Davidson and Mike Rhyner will be in the house, broadcasting live. After 6 PM, the first 100 people to partake in the Martin House Pint Night by buying a pint of their featured brew will keep the signature glass and receive a free Heritage Pizza Crowler.

Heritage Pizza and Taproom
heritagepizza.com
Facebook
3750 Plano Parkway, #600 (The Colony)
(214) 396-7333

Hours:
Mon-Thurs 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Fri-Sat 11:00 AM-11:00 PM
Sun 11:00 AM-9:00 PM

Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival

It’s almost time for my favorite weekend of the year..that’s right- the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. This year, the festival will be held March 30 – April 1, 2017. Tickets just went on sale, so don’t wait- or you will be sorry!

Here is a recap of last year if you need more convincing of how awesome this weekend truly is.

Head on over to the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival website to buy tickets … like now.

Rebel, Rebel: Beer Mixology and Sam Adams Rebel Juiced IPA

Albert Camus once said, “Life is a sum of your choices.” It’s so easy to look around us and create a narrative of who we are, how we interact with those around us and the image we think we are projecting. For example, I like to think I am on this website reviewing just the most cutting edge projects, but I’m now realizing that I have carved out quite a niche with the fruit-infused beers, whiskeys, vodkas and moonshine.

I bring this up because now that these things are so widespread, they almost have a tendency to run together. This is not a shot at these products, but there’s only so many ways to convey “hey, it’s pretty good, especially if you like this flavor, but runs a little sweet.”

That’s why, when I had a chance to review Sam Adams mango-infused Rebel Juiced IPA, I perked up at the pitch. Rather than simply pour and sip, they suggested I use the beer as a base for three brunch cocktails designed to bring out the mango flavor of the beer. These weren’t the simple summer beer type recipes either, which made it much more interesting. I also had a recent experience ordering a beer cocktail at a well-known suburban cocktail establishment that ended with the bartender condescendingly asking me if I was sure I wanted that and if I understood how beer cocktails work, so I was properly motivated to make some good ones.  So, I gathered a few friends on a weekend night downtown, bought my ingredients and went to work.

Before I dive in, I will say this beer really does stand well on its own. A few of my favorite breweries have failed pretty miserably to incorporate mango, but this didn’t taste artificial at all. I like the standard Rebel IPA as is (read more here about its recent evolution) and would still stick with that straight up, but it was nice to have a fruit beer come in at over 6% and not have a hint of cleaning product taste to it.

Back to the cocktails, first up was the Rebel Rumba, which was the favorite of the group by far. It was tropical and the beer blended into the cocktail. We found ourselves playing with the curacao and rum ratios a bit more and created a stronger hybrid that had quite a kick.

Rebel Rumba
1/4oz orgeat
3/4oz lime juice
1/2oz Dry Curaçao
1/2oz dark rum
1/2oz white rum
3oz Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake. Strain into wine glass, add ice and garnish with fresh mango or pineapple and mint.

Next up was the Juicy Fruit. Aperol has been a nemesis of mine ever since I first started trying to mix cocktails without measuring carefully. A little goes a long way, so I was very interested to see how this one turned out. I would suggest maybe going down to 1.5 ounces of aperol if you’re not into the taste (or just add a bit more juice), but this turned out really well.

Juicy Fruit
3oz Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA
2oz Aperol
1oz Grapefruit juice

Build in wine glass, add ice, garnish with half Grapefruit wheel.

The Gin & Juiced is technically the most like a summer beer, but the floral gin, juice and syrup was much more interesting than the usual combo. This was a strong second to the Rebel Rumba and another one we wanted to play with a bit more. We did add a splash of the grapefruit juice to a second batch and that also turned out pretty well.

Gin & Juiced
3oz Sam Adams Rebel Juiced IPA
1oz Bulldog gin
3/4oz lemon juice
1/2oz honey syrup (2:1)

Add ingredients, except beer, to cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, strain into Collins glass and top with beer. Add ice, garnish with lemon wheel.

Sam Adams Rebel IPA and Rebel Juiced can be found just about anywhere for a suggested retail price between $7.99 – $9.99.

Breckenridge Brewery (Breckenridge, CO)

In anticipation of the upcoming Breck Trek nights in Dallas this week, I stepped in to the actual Breckenridge Brewery for a pint and a tour. The state of the art brewery recently moved to a brand new facility in the Littleton neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. The beautiful mix of industrial metal and rustic wood creates the perfect atmosphere for beer connoisseurs and curious minds alike to enjoy an afternoon learning about the beer making process. I may not know much about beer, but the smell of the brewery alone was enough to make me want to start home brewing.

I started the tour with a nice glass of the Bumps N’ Jumps Session IPA, which is an exclusive and limited collaboration between Breckenridge and Vail (two awesome CO ski resorts). It accompanied the tour beautifully with light bitterness and full hop flavor. We then learned about the German-engineered tanks that are used in the facility the process and some of the things that make Breckenridge Brewery unique. My favorite tidbit was the fact that all of the spent grain (grain that the brewery no longer needs, which has been separated from the sugary liquid that will eventually be turned into beer) goes directly to a local farmer to feed his cattle. Efficiency, people.

The best stop on the tour was the barrel room, where all of the barrel-aged beer is stored for a period of time to absorb the taste and smells of the barrels themselves (much like aging a spirit). This room smelled like HEAVEN. The aromas of wood and rum and vanilla all played so well together that I refused to leave. They have several beers on rotation through the barrel room, but one beer that they always have available is their Whiskey Barrel Aged 471 Double IPA with Citra hops, which gives off aromas of tropical fruits and citrus flavors. 

You may think that a brewery tour is all there is to do at the Breckenridge Brewery … EHHH! After the tour, I got to indulge myself in lunch at the Farm House, their on-site restaurant. Rustic rocking chairs, plush and comfy seating, and a stone fireplace provide for a mountain-esque ambiance. We started our meal with—what else—a flight of beer. Up for review was the Nitro Orange Chocolate Stout, the Break IPA, the Ophelia Hoppy Wheat, and the Whiskey Barrel Aged 471 Dry Hopped with Citra IPA. All were delicious and has citrus-y flavors, but my favorite was the Ophelia for its lightness and Mosaic hops. 

Up to the challenge of satisfying my hunger were several plates, which we shared as to try the most items. We chose the chicken pot pie, the venison chili mac and cheese, and the salmon with risotto and asparagus. I don’t know which I enjoyed more because I didn’t stop to breathe between bites … everything was that good. As for desert, and my stomach said “no” but my eyes and my head said “OH YEAH, BABY. You have months before bathing suit season.” Guess which won? We indulged anyway and ordered the Apple Galette, a warm apple pie/strudel served in a cast iron skillet and topped with house-made vanilla porter ice cream.

This experience was the perfect lead in to the Breck Trek tour, which will be traveling across the US to give the other states a taste of the Colorado lifestyle. Live music, beer education, and of course Breckenridge Brewery beer sampling will occur at every stop on the tour. The Breck Trek will hit Dallas the week of January 16th, check out times and locations here

BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY
breckbrew.com
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2920 Brewery Lane, Littleton, Colorado 80120
303-623-2739

Breck Trek | Facebook 

Prost! At Gordon Biersch

The beginning of fall marks the start of many exciting events–the long-awaited return of college football (and tailgating) season, the State Fair, baseball playoffs–and for the German beer fan in all of us, we have Oktoberfest. While I wasn’t lucky enough to make it to the original celebration in Munich, I was able to pop over to Gordon Biersch for their house brewed beers.

Despite a vaguely German-sounding name, Gordon Biersch has a modern and diverse gastropub-inspired menu that spans from flatbreads and fresh fish to revamped pub standards.  Their brewing philosophy is based off of the Reinheitsgebot (a purity law that was created in Germany all the way back in 1516). Gordon Biersch’s beers are brewed according to these ancient rules-using only malted barley, hops, yeast and water.

A fan of darker beers, I decided on the Schwarzbier, a brown ale with a smooth, rich caramel flavor. My wife had the Hefeweizen which is a traditional style of unfiltered, wheat beer. The hints of fruit and spice make it a great beer to sip with or without food. The crew was nice enough to bring over samples of their other three beers: MarzenCzech Pilsner and Golden Export. The Golden was an easy drinking beer with crisp, subtle hops while the Marzen had a sweet, malty taste.

Hefeweizen (left) Schwarzbier (right)
Hefeweizen (left) Schwarzbier (right)

What’s really nice is that the menu gives suggested food pairings to make the most of your experience.  The Ahi Tuna Wonton Nachos are fresh tuna tossed in a savory teriyaki and topped a mountain of crunchy wonton chips.  Add grilled pineapple, pickled ginger, green onions, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and drizzled with a cucumber wasabi sauce and Sriracha cream. And the Blue Crab Spinach Artichoke Dip is served bubbling hot with grilled crostini and herb flatbread.  Rich and decadent, it may require putting in some extra cardio time, but it was a great pair to our beers.

The Woodford Reserve Bourbon Salmon is served with quinoa and kale salad and asparagus–it’s one of a number of a “lighter” dishes available that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for calories.  We couldn’t skip dessert, so we shared a warm apple crostata with ice cream.

While the real Oktoberfest is over, but Gordon Biersch is keeping the spirit alive with well-crafted beers and food offerings. Consider swinging by for happy hour (Monday-Sunday 3-7pm & 9-11pm or all day Wednesday) for $4-21 ounce GB beers.

Other happy hour specials:

  • $4 21 ounce GB beers
  • $5 hand crafted cocktails
  • $6 select house wines
  • $5, $7 and $9 appetizer and small plate specials

Gorden Biersch – Park Lane
Facebook | Instagram | OpenTable
8060 Park Lane, Suite 125, Dallas, TX 75231
(214) 369-2739

Prost and thank you to the Dallas Park Lane location for having us in!

Product Review: Traveler Grapefruit IPA Shandy

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.

To learn more, visit travelerbeer.com/ipa-shandy or visit the home page for the full lineup of Traveler Beers.

STATS:
Malt Varieties: 2-Row Brewers Malt, Malted and Unmalted Wheat
Hop Varieties: Galena, Warrior, Centennial, Citra, Cascade, Chinook, Nelson Sauvin
Special Ingredients: Real Grapefruit
Alcohol: 4.4%
BUs: 52

TRAVELER BEER
travelerbeer.com
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Product Review: Don Chelada

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
Mineral Water
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

Don Chelada Michelada Mix
25 oz. Bottle, $10.99


DON CHELADA

donchelada.com
Facebook | Twitter | instagram.com/donchelada

Vetted Well is … well … vetted.

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 …).

IMGP5701

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.


VETTED WELL
vettedwell.com
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1005 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215
214-695-7009

SUN-THURS: 11:00am – close
FRI-SAT: 11:00am – 2:00am