Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beat the Heat Stroke Blues with Tasty Local Brews – DFW Brewpubs and Micro-Breweries

Freshness counts, especially when it comes to beer, so the closer to the brewery, the fresher the beer. That’s why I love brewpubs, who brew their own beer on the premises, and microbreweries, which locally produce a limited amount of craft or specialty beers.

Before large commercial breweries, beer was produced in the establishment in which it was sold. Alewives would brew it up and put out signs (called “ale-wands”or “hop poles”) to let the drunks know that beer was ready to be consumed (never say “drink”… sorry, old “quarters” rules flashback).

In 1982 the first brewpub in the United States, Grant’s Brewery Pub in Yakima, Washington, was opened, signaling the return of the old American brewery tavern. By 2006 there were almost 1,400 craft breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs in the U.S.

Grant's Brewery Pub - Yakima, WA

In the ‘90s Texas finally caught on and The Waterloo Brewing Company, in Austin, became the first Texas brewpub. The current T.A.B.C. brewpub license allows its holder to brew malt liquor, ale, and beer for a total production not to exceed 5,000 barrels annually, for each licensed location.

One of my favorite things about BP’s is that I can get specialty beers that I can’t get anywhere else… yet. There is currently a bill in the Texas State Senate that would allow brewpubs to sell beer off site, meaning that you could go pick up some Gordon Biersch, or Humperdink’s at the grocery store (like you can in California).

Until then, we can still get our fresh foamy fluid fix at the brewpubs themselves. Most of them even make their own root beer for kiddos, young and old. Here are a couple of DFW (stands for Drink Foamy Wonderfulness) bars that serve up their own happy, hoppy creations…

Humperdinks - 6050 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75206 Phone 214-368-1203

Humperdink’s opened its first location, on Greenville, in 1976. In 1995, the Arlington location began brewing their own beer. They have won numerous awards and now have five DFW locations. Try the Buttface Amber Ale (6.2%), the Big Red IPA (6.0%), or one of their seasonal or cask brews.

Two Rows Restaurant & Brewery - 711 Central Expressway S., Allen, TX 75002 Phone 972-396-8650

Opening originally in May of 1995, Two Rows once had three Dallas area locations but now just the Allen store is open. Try the Barking Fish Porter, the Honey Blonde, or the Dark Star Lager.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant - 8060 Park Lane, Suite 125, Dallas, TX 75231 Phone 214-369-2739

OK, so it’s a chain, but they still brew beer here at their Park Lane location. Started in 1988 in Palo Alto, CA, Gordon Biersch now has locations in 15 states. You can find them in Dallas and Plano. They have an extensive menu of well prepared foods and offer great artisanal cocktails and martinis. My favorite beers are the Märzen (pronounced Maert-zen), Czech Pilsner, or the Schwarzbier. A good happy hour and a GREAT bar staff!

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse - 4901 Belt Line Rd., Dallas, TX, 75254 Phone 972-392-4600 – Another chain with locations in 13 states (there are 7 DFW restaurants). While most of their locations do not actually brew beer on site, they have a central brewing facility in Colorado that regularly ships fresh kegs to the restaurants. They routinely win medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Most of the locations do brew their own root beer. The Piranha Pale Ale, the Nutty Brewnette, and the Tatonka Stout are certainly tasty.

Just for “grits and shins,” here’s a small list of local or soon-to-be local microbreweries. Look for their products at a store or bar near you. Because after all, it is becoming a locally sourced world! Go green… or amber!

Already Brewing:

Ass Kisser Ales - 6040 Camp Bowie Blvd. Suite 64, Fort Worth, TX 76116 Phone 713-839-5859

Franconia Brewing - 495 McKinney Pkwy. McKinney, TX 75071 Phone 972-542-0705

Rahr & Sons Brewing Company - 701 Galveston Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76104 Phone 817-810-9266

Soon To Be Brewing:

Lakewood Brewing -

Peticolas Brewing -

Independent Ale Works -

Zio Carlo Italian Brewpub (Ft. Worth) -

Armadillo Ale Works -

Treestrike Brewing -

Support your local economy by patronizing our local brewers and treat your taste buds to top-notch, world-class beers from one of DFW’s micro-breweries or brewpubs. Do it today! You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jaxx Steakhouse North Texas Press Club and Media Dinner

Jaxx Steakhouse – North Texas Press Club Media Dinner 7/12/11

On Tuesday July 12th the wonderful folks at Jaxx were kind enough to host a Media Dinner for the North Texas Press Club. Jaxx has been a staple of fine dining in Addison since 1992, serving up quality steaks, seafood, pasta, and fine wine. The place has a sort of “Rat Pack-ish” feel to it, with a dark wood, brass, and leather decor. Jaxx has seen its share of celebrities come through, in fact, this used to be one of Mickey Mantle’s hangouts. The walls are adorned with a considerable number of celeb-signed photos and memorabilia. For some reason, this makes me want to sip on a big martini up at the bar.

While ownership has recently changed hands to Mr. John Kim, Chef Marcelino has been at the helm of the kitchen since the restaurants inception, which accounts for the consistent quality of the food that they produce.

On our visit, Chef Marcelino presented us with a wide sampling of menu items; for starters we were served a plate with sashimi-style, sesame seed-coated Ahi Tuna, pan-seared with a Teriyaki-Wasabi-Ginger sauce, a mini crab cake, shrimp cocktail, and crispy calamari. The shrimp were large and fresh and the cocktail sauce had enough horseradish for me (I like to feel the burn and find most cocktail sauces to be on the wimpy side, the Jaxx sauce was not).The calamari was crispy and, dressed in a little lemon juice, it was light and tasty.

The soup and salad course consisted of a cup of Jaxx renowned Boston clam chowder, which has been touted as the best in the Metroplex, and a Greek salad with rosemary vinaigrette. The chowder was outstanding and certainly ranks up there with the best that I’ve had in the DFW area. The salad had nice big chunks of feta cheese and kalamata olives, with a tasty dressing that didn’t overpower the other flavors.

For our main course sampling, Chef Marcelino chose the signature pepper-crusted filet mignon with cognac demi-glace peppercorn sauce and sea bass with a lobster chardonnay drizzle. These were served with a nice steamed vegetable medley and Jaxx famous twice-baked potato. I’m a huge black pepper fan, so the filet was a treat for me. It was fork tender and perfectly cooked. The sea bass had a great, almost steak-like texture and a wonderful flavor, without any fishy taste (which I encounter far too often with seafood in Dallas). I loved the presentation of the twice-baked potato; a nice center-cut slab of baked potato with the seasoned, twice-baked beautifully piped on top and garnished.

Dessert offerings were white chocolate bread pudding in bourbon sauce, topped with vanilla bean ice cream, or house-made classic cheesecake with strawberry and mango purees. I had the bread pudding and my wife Lisa had the cheesecake. They were both wonderful and the bread pudding is some of the best that I’ve tasted.

The staff was very friendly, attentive, and accommodating. Our head waiter and long-time Jaxx staple, Darryl, was funny, charming, and very informative. Jaxx has a private meeting room that can handle events such as business meetings, private parties, rehearsal dinners, and wedding receptions. The next time you’re in the Addison area and are looking for an upscale (but not stuffy) meeting place, a strong cocktail, or a nice steak and a bottle of wine, drop into Jaxx and rub shoulders with professionals, celebrities, and regular folks who are all enjoying a generous drink and a great meal.

Jaxx is located at 14925 Midway Rd # 101 Addison, TX 75001 Phone: (972) 458-7888
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11am-9pm; Friday 11am-10pm; and Saturday 5pm-10pm