2011: The Year in North Texas Beer

Categories: Hophead
beer year.jpg
Beer calendar via Shutterstock
Let's hope 2012 is an even better beer year.
Has there been a better year for beer drinkers in North Texas, and particularly Dallas, than 2011? Not one that I can think of, for reasons enumerated in the awards below.

My year's wrap-up isn't over. Coming soon are my favorite beers of the year and a run-down of the good and the bad in winter seasonals and Christmas beers. But with the blogs taking a couple days off for the holidays, they'll probably be coming a few days after you've already popped the top on a bottle of something special (and I'm not talking about champagne or even Infinium).

Best Event
While it wasn't without its logistical snafus, and while the cancellation of Dallas Beer Festival was a bummer, Dallas Beer Week was a blast. Even if not everyone wanted to participate, it got people excited about craft beer and got ostensible competitors to join in its celebration.

Best Anniversary
If the Meddlesome Moth keeps putting on events as exciting as Ale Week, which brought in a who's-who list of brewing stars including Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co., we can forgive their snubbing of Dallas Beer Week.

Best Consumer Advocacy
The benefit to small, locally owned businesses in changing Texas' weirdly anti-beer alcohol laws is obvious. Making it easier for small breweries to sell their products would level the playing field and not give so many advantages to wineries and the huge foreign-owned breweries whose light beers have the lion's share of sales revenue in the state. But it would also benefit consumers, too, which is why some Houston beer drinkers formed Open The Taps in response to yet another legislative disappointment when a couple of modest proposed bills that would benefit craft breweries were slapped down this past spring. Hopefully the 2014 legislative session will be different.


Best Store Opening
You know what's not a good idea? Paying a first-time visit to Spec's 10 minutes before the store closes. That was how I first experienced the emporium of liquor, beer, wine, cheese, sausage, kitchen gadgets and more. A speed-walk through the beer aisle and beer cooler revealed a few totally unfamiliar brands and bottles I've never seen in any Dallas stores, most at lower prices than I expected. Next time - and there will be a next time very soon - I'll slot out as much time as I usually allot for an unhurried visit to Half Price Books. Now I see why people were so excited for the chain to expand into Dallas for the first time.

Brewpub Idea of the Year
My wife is about to start working for a restaurant owned by the Spillers Group, which will soon open Union Bear in the West Village. Even with that disclosure out there, I feel conflicted about telling you what a great idea it is to open a pub where customers can BREW THEIR OWN BEER. So I'll let Teresa Gubbins do the talking.

Best News of the Year
As exciting as it was that the whole city is now wet (or at least beer-and-wine wet) and the lawsuit trying to overturn the will of the voters is finally dead as a hammer, there's no question that the best news for Dallas beer drinkers is the arrival of Deep Ellum Brewing Co. with Peticolas Brewing Company and Lakewood Brewing Company close behind. Peticolas, located in the Design District, was on schedule to start its first batch, Velvet Hammer, this week after passing last week's state inspection. And Lakewood is moving into its new home in, uh, Garland. In fact, you can start your New Year's Eve festivities early with a 1 p.m tour at DEBC featuring Festivus and the awesome imperial rye stout Darkest Hour.

Brewery of the Year
Jester King. What a first year it was for Jester King, starting with its January grand opening party. Great collaboration beers and events with "Gypsy Brewer" Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller. The drastic response to the issue of overcarbonation in Commercial Suicide bottles by changing to an all-farmhouse-yeast operation (with a few sour and wild exceptions) and then a bottle recall. Yet its biggest waves in the brewing world came not from a taproom or brew-house, but from a court room. The upstart company, along with took the bold step of suing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission -- and won on two of its complaints. According to U.S. Western District Judge Sam Sparks' decision, beers can now be labeled "beer" or "ale" or both, rather than the TABC's former antiquated, arbitrary and often-inaccurate requirement that beers measuring 4 percent alcohol by weight (about 5 percent ABV) or less be labeled "beer" and those above that threshold be labeled "ale" or "malt liquor." Meaning no more embarrassing "Malt Liquor in Texas" labels. Also, breweries are now allowed to join the ranks of wineries and just about every other legal business on earth and actually tell customers where they can buy the product.

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17 comments
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GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Jester King is a hitand don't forget behind that hugely over hyped scene the KTIH supports all the great Texas (central Texas) brews. ( I don't accept North Texas as a beer heartland)

Steve
Steve

OK, take two...

I say, good sir, but the dingy confines of the epicurean establishment of which you speak not only brings to mind the earthy confines of Charleton Heston's cell in Schaffner's 1968 epic, Planet of The Apes (based on the 1963 French novel La Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle), but, coupled with the rather antisceptic nature of the staaaaff, it all amounts to something up with I shall not put.

Just trying to veer away from the Mad-Libs-for-Dipshits vernacular that tends to be the thrust of some commentors.

guess
guess

Does buying Mickeys 24ozer at the local 7/11 count for supporting local brews??? because if do, i'm in! and on a side note i'd like to give a shout out to my boy Robie Van Winkle...watz up, brah

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

what about a vintage Budlight (circa October 2011)?  does that count?  dude?  bra?  

Dear Jessie,    You should have a second tier of Best of 2011 beer.  It would help 'reconize" most of the readers in the Observer.  It may go something like this:

Most Consumed North Texas Brews:

1) Ole Milwaukee2) Keystone

And then tell a delightful story of Lenny from Lancaster being held up by a 100 year old oak, as he pukes after a case an a half of SAID product.  AND as he leans, he sways to and fro, and promises to tiny jebus that he will never drink tallboys agin. They "sneak up" on him too fast.  

hey dude,      it may actually help you "git" a few comments. Dude.

Kergo is King!
Kergo is King!

Dude,    Most of us "novelty beer lovers" are frat boy types, yaa, but don't let the tat's scare you bra........we really like the brew, dude.  Sure, we drink expensive beers on occasion, but mostly (when we run out of money) we drink the Kroger brand of beer, called BEER.  Alright, just wanted to set the record straight bra; now Imma head off down the Tollway in my dad's Bimmer-maybe rest some shades on my head; maybe turn the hat backwards, maybe listen to a little Kid Rock, or those guys that sing that song "rollin, rollin'.  Fred Durst or something.  Then Imma pick up some honeys, and then crash at my mom's.  That's where I live, you see because I'm delusional and lazy. I look eff'ing EXTREME on Saturday when my mom is telling me, her 20 something son, to clean his room.  Guess what, now that crazy bitch is asking for rent?  What?  Bra? Dude? Extreme. 

guess
guess

It's called EXTREME drinking, brah...ride the waves, dude....the malt liquids is beginning to get my head all fuzzy feeling, SCORE

just sayin'
just sayin'

Best local beer of the year? My vote goes to Rahr and Sons Iron Thistle. And that seasonal motherfucker finally hits the shelves again this week.

Jesse Hughey
Jesse Hughey

Iron Thistle is one of my faves. Haven't had it this year yet but will get it ASAP. Still working on my beers list.

Steve
Steve

Dude, Spec's, really?  

That floor is gross, the lights are like a mall in a zombie movie, and the people are cold.  And the prices are not that great.

Whole Foods Greenville/Central Market/Bottle Shop/A Fina Bathroom are more inviting.  I don't want to buy my beer and feel like I have to warsh the bottles before I open them.

Jesse Hughey
Jesse Hughey

Living with kids, dogs and cats has immunized me to gross floors. I wore shoes and didn't eat off the floor so that wasn't something I noticed. Anyway, not saying it's my favorite store, but it was my favorite store opening of the year. Also, I think its prices are great for a liquor store. Usually beer at liquor stores is more expensive than grocery stores or beer/wine stores. Whole Foods, Central Market and Bottle Shop are all great too. 

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Dude-Fina.  (me laughing like Troll Face). Dude. Dude? DUUUUUUDE?  Like where's the soap in dis batrum? Yo Yo.

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