Tasting Sir William's Brown Ale, Allegedly Dallas' Best Beer

Categories: Beer

sirwilliamsbrown.jpg
This is not the greatest beer in the world, this is just a tribute.
As you may or may not know -- or care, for that matter -- last month, D Magazine devoted its cover story to Dallas' craft beer scene. Of the many articles revolving around our favorite brewed beverage, one was a printed listicle of sorts, titled "The Best Beers in Dallas." The editors assured us that they didn't actually try every beer from every brewery in North Texas, but a representative sample. Or some such.

Anyways, after their careful analysis, curated by experts with Cicerone scores far higher than my own, they determined the best beer in Dallas is (pint glass drumroll here):

Velvet Hammer Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's English Brown Ale.

I'm not one to knock other people's reporting, but my initial reaction was, "What the hell, D Magazine?" Or, more specifically, "What the hell, D Magazine's Panel of Experts?"

I immediately set out to write an article for this here food blog, but thought that might be petty. Media is a tough game nowadays; we need to stick together. The old self-doubt machine also fired up. I hadn't yet tried Sir Williams. Maybe it really is awesome? Maybe I've been wrong, like I have been dozens of times before? Maybe the collective beer community of Dallas read the same article I did, put down their beer steins, and shouted, "Hell yes, D-Mags! Finally, someone has gotten off of Michael Peticolas' PR staff and reported the TRUTH about Dallas beer. This brown ale is so awesome that the lamestream media, most especially the Dallas Observer's food blog, is too afraid to touch it!"

So, on a recent evening by myself at a favorite bar, I saw Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale on the tap list. I had to taste this wonder for myself and confidently eschewed the taster glass that was offered in favor of a pint. Finally, I would know. Have I been missing the best beer in Dallas? Have we all?

Before tasting, I asked the (very trusted) bartender what he thought of it. "It's a solid beer," he responded. "Sure, but is it the best beer in Dallas?" He shot me a holy-hell-this-shit-again glare/smile and politely laughed. "That's what I've been told." I pressed on. "Well, is it?"

"There are people who are doing better, but it's not the worst."

Guess what? He's right. While I'd love to write an article about the greatest beer I've ever tried, it's not the best thing around. While I'd also love to further mock D Magazine, it's not terrible.

It's just beer. Brown, boring, not bad beer. I would rate it a solid 5 out of 10. It pours fairly dark without much lacing and there's a bit of roasted malt on the nose. The flavor is fine -- I got notes of vanilla creme balanced by a benign nuttiness. But on the whole, really, there's nothing remarkable either way. If it weren't for the sake of writing this post, I would have already forgotten everything about it. Hell, even while writing this post, I'm straining to remember ANYTHING about it.

So, great job D. You successfully chose a beer to be the best beer. I won't quibble with the rest of the list, though 25th place seems awfully low for Lakewood's Temptress. OK, right. I'm not quibbling with the rest of D Magazine's best beers list, which ranks Rahr & Sons Buffalo Butt in sixth damn place, tied with Community's amazing Inspiration.

It's just a list. A list that justifies Sir William's English Brown Ale as the best beer in D/FW with the quote, "Oh that's nice -- I get a Slim Jim-like flavor."

OK, I'm done now.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
dfwheathen
dfwheathen

I don't see what the big deal is. Haven't we all came across a "list" that we didn't agree with? At least he went out and tried it. Was he supposed to lie about how it tasted to him?

sleepyhead419
sleepyhead419

Okay, I think Velvet Hammer is probably the best beer on the planet....but in defense of Grapevine (you know, that place you drive through when you get really lost trying to get to get to the bike ride), Brown Ale is its own thing. You can't really compare it to anything else. In fact, it reminds me of Grapevine. Sometimes, you find yourself there, you drink it, and it isn't horrible. So maybe it isn't the most horrible beer in Dallas...which means someone might think its the best.

DarkL1ghtn1ng
DarkL1ghtn1ng

So there is something for everyone, but if you personally thought our award winning beer was a 5/10, you're an asshole?


WTG Grapevine Craft...  :|

Dub919
Dub919

Grapevine ain't Dallas.  

danmtz
danmtz

You yuppies also seem to think Peticolas is some holy grail when it's not, so what? Community's Wit beer won all kinds of awards and guess what? I couldn't finish it, it was that bad. What does this say? Not all beer tastes are created equally. I happened to think Alfred Brown was better than this one, but I'm not losing any sleep.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Tried it - not bad but did not make it into rotation.

DallasBrewDude
DallasBrewDude

I've done blind tasting for serious competitions in the past.  What always amazes me is what the outcomes are.  In a "true" blind tasting, the beers are even tasted in dark glasses, where you can't even derive anything from the color.  I would suggest Mr. Harrell offer to do some judging in the future - and see both how hard it is, and how surprised he will be with what he prefers when tasting blind (your palate gets challenged - and when you've tasted enough, so does your brain).


I've been drinking quality microbrewed beers since the late 80s.  And if I have learned anything at all, it is that if people like ANY craft beer, that is far better than if their tastes "meet the Best Of" yardstick.  I could care less if people are drinking the "Best", or even what the best is.  I am just happy that they are happy - and supporting small, local craftspeople.


As for the judges, this is as fine a panel as one could put together in the DFW area.  I honestly think two things:  1.  If I went to a bar, I probably would not order a Brown Ale - more likely a Porter or Stout, but 2.  I would stand behind that panel's decision - whether or not my favorite beer was being judged or not.

Be prepared for more lists.  And who really cares?  As long as it gets a few more people interested in new craft beers.  And as Gary Humble, Grapevine Brewery's owner says, "There's something for everyone."  For me, I love enjoying a Cedar Creek Dankosaurus IPA.  It is my current "Best of" and yet I suspect that very few Dallasites would agree with me.  Great for them - they certainly have a unique and enthusiastic palate as well.



burnfan68
burnfan68

Like the owner of GBC said "everyone has their own tastes"....that is the beauty of our world right?  Everyone can like/dislike whatever they want and voice that opinion.  other people should not bash them for that though they do have the right.


If everyone would just learn to not get so butt hurt so easily and grow a pair this world would be much better.  :-)

Mervis
Mervis

They had four qualfied tasters. If it was a blind tasting then it is what it is. That's the only way to kind of fairly judge beers but it's still such a subjective deal. If you don't care for bitter then those beers will rate lower and then etc. for all the other taste elements in beer.

It's an apples and oranges thing. I like apples, I like oranges, who is to say which is better.

The best beer is the one in your glass.

Out.

JustSaying
JustSaying

Rahr's Iron Thistle and WInter Warmer don't make the list but Buffalo Butt is #6? Clearly I have nothing in common with anyone on D Magazines beer panel.

davidroot
davidroot

Sir William's sits in the statistical sweet spot of vaguely appealing to a majority of people while not upsetting too many either. Uncontroversial.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@DarkL1ghtn1ng 5/10 is what I gave it too. But I'm not too big on Browns. Seeing as how they aren't really that popular in general, it's hard to imagine it's the "best."

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Dub919 Dallas doesnt want to be Dallas, it want to be a mix of world class cities

Dman
Dman

@danmtz Unless you are a yuppie or hipster Dallas beers suck.

Mervis
Mervis

@Gipson Maybe if Steven had admitted before the 5th paragraph that he had not had the beer..........

ginger_beard
ginger_beard

@DallasBrewDude Dude, I actually agree with you on just about every count. I was a judge for BrewRiot (all blind, grouped by style) and it was crazy difficult. Generally, I'm incredibly favorable with my write-ups on local brew, in order to get more people interested in/supporting the breweries. This article was a light-hearted dig at my friends over at D-Magazine, and a dig against the notion of a "Best Of" list for a product as diverse as beer. In doing so, I gave a local brewery a solid 5 out of 10. I stand by everything I wrote, but do wish that the owner of Grapevine Craft Brewery had responded without using my (very unrelated) full-time day job as ammunition against me. It was unfair and uncalled for, in my opinion. But, I'm sure he would say the same about this blogpost.

Mervis
Mervis

@JustSaying Did you read the article? Right out of the box they disqualified seasonals.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@Mervis @Gipson He admitted everything he was thinking up to and after he tasted it. No controversy here.

JustGuessing
JustGuessing

@ginger_beard @DallasBrewDude I think his point is that your light-hearted dig only helped D get more content and clicks, whereas it's potentially punitive for a full-time-invested-all-his-capital-not-to-mention-all-his-time-has- moments-freaking-out-wondering-what-the hell-he's-done-and-will-he-be-homeless-with-this-brewery-risk guy.  The point may be you haven't even risked your 'real' job to give a solid meh rating to his life blood.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...