I usually leave the tailgating pieces to the rest of the gang here because I am more of a glutton than a gourmand. There’s a case of Lone Star Beer in my fridge right now, and it’s not there because of irony. It was simply the cheapest beer at the grocery store, and I wanted a lot of beer.
So I’m not going to claim some sort of sophisticated palate. I’ve broken my nose twice and I’m pretty sure most of my taste buds have been destroyed by a lifelong love affair with spicy foods. The subtle notes of any dish are bound to be wasted on me.
However, I do love beer and y’all are coming to my adoptive home, so it’s the least I can do to guide you to the best options from the Metroplex’s thriving local beer scene. There was an explosion of microbreweries in this area a few years back, and there is still a thriving scene with a ton of distinctive and blessedly varied options. This not a scene dominated by the oft-sneered-at IPA (I like IPAs, but again, let twice broken nose be your guide here… I’m okay with strong flavors).
There is an argument about what constitutes a local beer, as some of the breweries have sold out to Budweiser for national distribution while others are fiercely local. It reminds me of the who’s punk arguments of my youth and frankly. I’m not having those arguments again. It’s beer. It’s delicious. Its from here. Good enough for me.
What I want to give y’all is the Dallas Beer Starter Kit. I’ve chosen ten popular breweries and ten different kinds of beer. I’m trying to find a little something for everyone. Most breweries tend to specialize in a type of beer, and I tried to match each brewer with their best beer, but I made some compromises to keep the ten different styles. So I promise, just one IPA. We’ll also go alphabetically by company, so I’m not trying to stack the deck. All of the beers are good…
Armadillo Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale
Saison/ 5.2% ABV/ 20 IBU
A bit of a cheat, as Armadillo hails from Denton, just an hour up the road, but this is a popular American-Belgian weizen hybrid. It’s a fruity beer without being sweet, which I feel is one of the drawbacks of your standard fruity beer. Drinks easy and is a solid contender for your tailgate, as it is an all-around pleasing beer to whatever your personal preference of style is.
Belgian white/ 5.2% ABV/ 18 IBU
Belgians are a big player in Dallas, maybe even moreso than the IPA. Community is one of the most popular local brewers, known for a playful selection like their Funnel Cake Ale or the sour Silly Gose. And yes, they have the Mosiac IPA, but their specialty is the Belgian white. It pours like a hazy yellow color and has a strong but not overpowering citrus flavor. I’m not a huge fan of the wheat beer, but Posette tells me this beer is delicious and I need to get it more often.
Deep Ellum IPA
IPA/ 7.0% ABV/ 70 IBU
Not the most overpowering IPA, as its IBU rating is fairly modest for an IPA. So it’s bitter, but it’s not suck the moisture out of your cheeks bitter. What it does do is pack a bit of a punch, given its higher ABV. Deep Ellum is nearly ubiquitous in local bars, and they also have a popular Dallas Blonde. If the IPA isn’t your thing, their Mexican lager, Neato Bandito, is designed for you to down a whole six pack in a single sitting.
Four Corners Local Buzz
Golden ale/ 5.2% ABV/ 20 IBU
Posette’s favorite beer. It tastes like honey. Well, not exactly. It takes like beer flavored with honey. It’s still a nice, crisp summer beer only with this unexpected sweet taste behind it. It lacks a real malty or rye finish as it expects the honey to do the heavy lifting on the taste profile. It’s a smooth beer and very drinkable.
Grapevine Sir William’s English Brown Ale
English brown/ 4.9% ABV/ 21 IBU
A good dark brown beer that pours to an honest head. It’s got a bit of a coffee taste to it, but I think it has a stronger nutty flavor. There’s not much carbonation which makes it go down nice, though it is a tad more bitter than you would probably expect a brown ale to be. Still, this is a fantastic, full-bodied beer. It might be a bit much for when you’re out in the hot sun, but have one after the game as you wind down after an LSU win.
Milk stout/ 9.0% ABV/ 56 IBU
Oh sweet goddess, how I adore you. I’m surprised it has such a high IBU rating, as I’ve never noticed that level of bitterness before, but the ABV is no surprise at all. This beer packs a wallop. It’s nearly black in color with a creamy head. This is a super heavy beer designed to drink like the beer version of a milkshake, but it really does have a smooth finish. It’s definitely the beer you drink to close out your night, there’s nothing light about, but oh my God is it delicious.
Peticolas Velvet Hammer
Imperial red/ 9.0% ABV/ 85 IBU
In an effort to stay off the big boys’ radar, Peticolas refuses to bottle or can its beers. It is only available on tap. It speaks to the quality of the brewery that it is not difficult to find their beer anywhere in DFW. If a restaurant has any pretentions of being a local establishment, if it has beer, it as the Velvet Hammer. This is the premier beer of the scene. Yes, it is bitter, but don’t let that scare you. It’s a gorgeous brown beer that has a nice flowery taste to it. It is aptly named. The beer goes down smooth and then punches you in the face. Seriously, if you are visiting DFW, make an effort to at least try this beer because I guarantee you that its not available near you.
Rabbit Hole 561
Kolcsh/ 4.7% ABV/ 25 IBU
You don’t get much more Dallas than naming your beer after Mike Modano’s career goal count. You also don’t get much more Dallas than the kolsch, a Czech style beer that is a golden ale similar to a pilsner but, you know, not watered down and terrible. There’s almost no bitter hops taste while the malts carry the day. The 561 is a little sweet, but as much as one of the Belgian style beers or the Local Buzz. The 561 is probably the best of the lot, but many local breweries offer a kolsch as a nod to the central Texas’ oft-neglected Czech roots. This is the beer for your friend who hates craft beer. Nothing snooty about it, just a crisp golden ale.
Rahr and Sons Buffalo Butt
Amber lager/ 5.0% ABV/ 20 ABU
Rahr is the major brewery of Fort Worth, so the further west you go, the more of their beer you see. Buffalo Butt is a solid Texas ale and let’s face it, you want to drink a beer with a giant buffalo butt on it. What could be more Texas? But all of Rahr’s offering are top notch and come in the same distinctive can. Load up on a variety of their beers and you won’t be disappointed. They’ve got a deep roster.
Revolver Blood and Honey
American wheat/ 7.0% ABV/ 28 IBU
We close our tour of DFW beers with one of the most popular offerings, available on tap nearly everywhere. I tend not to be a big fan of wheat beers, it’s the sweetness thing, as I’m a bitter man in more ways than one, but this isn’t sickly sweet despite the name. The blood is for the blood oranges in the recipe and it plays nicely against the honey and the wheat flavoring. This is a beer with a ton of flavor with almost no residual bitterness. It’s a crowd pleaser while also getting a nod from the beer snobs due to its combination of flavors. And it finally comes in cans to make it easier to take to your tailgate.
Whatever beer you like, Dallas has got a local beer for you. Or hell, if you went to LSU, you can drink all of them.