Friday 26 April 2024


My American holiday continued in Texas.  If you want to find out what I was doing when I wasn't in a bar, check out my other blog here.

Saturday 06 April:  Denton County Brewing Co, Denton

A rather good brew pub, pleasant and welcoming with quite a few people in five minutes after opening on a Saturday.

The queue at the counter was delayed by an order for a flight but it wasn't too long before we were drinking some great hefeweizen, sitting outside in the pleasant breeze. This was followed by a 9% hazy IPA.

Eastside, Denton
A large craft bar with an extensive seating area to the rear which is surrounded by food trucks.
The beer menu has 77 entries, number 77 being Guinness. I had something tasty and local instead. And then a milk stout which was very good, and only 11%.

The American equivalent of the UK's collection of pump clips is this array of tap handles.  I reckon there are five hundred of them in all:

Oak Street Drafthouse, Denton

This old wooden house contains a great bar with umpteen craft taps, the beer yard is surrounded by food trucks. Very busy on a Saturday afternoon when the road is closed to give more space, impossible to get a table.

I had an Oak something hefeweizen, very good.

They need to provide a power hookup for the food trucks because the roar of the generators spoils the outside space a little.

That's enough for one day, time for home.

Monday 08 April: Three Nations Brewing Co, Carrollton

We broke the record for earliness by arriving here for their eclipse party half an hour before opening.  We selected a table with the best view, and then sat in isolation until a few more early people arrived.

Once official opening time arrived at 11 more people came in, and we could buy drinks from the extensive selection.

Royal Blood was a delicious Weiss with blood oranges.

The clouds set in and then cleared, and we sat in bright sunshine. Was the weather going to be kind?
Next, Sucker Punch is an excellent sour Weiss.  The crowd grew.

It got darker and then came the eclipse, to a chorus of cheers.

Yes, we saw it all, diamond ring, prominences, Venus and Jupiter and finally after what seemed like ages, another diamond ring and the sun was back, gradually getting brighter again.
I celebrated this wonderful experience with a Saddle Up which was a superb IPA at 7.5% to finish.
Eclipse photo by Howard R Wheeler on Unsplash.

Harvest House, Denton

A modern styled craft bar with 50-odd taps in which I had a gorgeous Founders Breakfast Stout which wasn't local but was superb. Ticking over slowly in the post eclipse calm, actually here it was only 99% so there probably wasn't as much excitement.

Tuesday 09 April:  Bearded Monk, Denton TX

A plain well decorated room with about 24 taps, deserted at opening time on a wet Tuesday, I had a delicious hazy IPA, Bells Oberon I think.

This bar has a great selection of bottles for sale, ranging from Rochfort 8 to Sam Smith's. And even a trappist one I've never heard of, Zundert. Ah, it's Dutch, so not a "proper" trappist, that's why I didn't know the name (Sheer nit picking, I bet it tastes great)

No one came in or out, the barmaid sorted things behind the counter and then fiddled with her phone until eventually someone else arrived.

I moved on to Three Nations (Yesterday's hosts) Pineapple Upside Down Cake Sour, which I felt would have benefited from more sour, more pineapple and more cake.  Not bad, though.

Eastside, Denton TX

A repeat visit to this excellent craft bar which was also deserted on a wet afternoon. I plumped for the amazing Peanut Butter Crunch from Texas brewers 903. You really can taste the peanut butter.  A good contender for the beer-of-the-holiday award.

We sat inside this time, because of the intermittent rain.  Next, FiftyFifty Eclipse, an 11% stout which was superb. Very rich and sweet, and alcoholic! Not one to be swigged.  I think it comes from California?

The place seemed to get more busy but my local guide recognised them as a staff meeting, so only a small number of real customers.

Wednesday 09 April:  Westlake Brewing, Dallas

A modern warehouse with the brewery in the back, to be honest they're getting a bit samey by now, and I've still got two weeks of drinking to go!  A very tasty hazy IPA to start with.
Arriving a couple of minutes after opening time (Is there a theme developing here?) we were the only customers and one of the staff was busy mopping the concrete floor.

Next, a rather good and unusual wheat beer, not cloudy at all. Accompanied by a gorgeous buffalo chicken flatbread, with just the right amount of spice in the buffalo sauce. A very good lunch.

By this time, two other customers had come in. When we ordered food we were issued with a beeper to collect it, "in case there's a late rush" said the barman.

Deep Ellum Brewing

This one has more about the decor than the last, looking very good, with some quirky features such as beer keg lampshades. But the air conditioning was a bit cold.  As many as a dozen customers in at one on a Wednesday, so doing a little better than Westlake. No one was using the extensive outside seating area in the cold and damp.

Their IPA is one of the best, I'm told, and it certainly tastes gorgeous.

A group of about eight women came in, substantially raising the decibel level, although to be fair once they had sat down they weren't noisy at all.

Meanwhile outside the occasional raindrops turned to torrential downpour, we might be stuck here for a while. Better have another beer...  I did but I forget which one it was.

Eventually the weather improved and it was time to move on.

Chet's, Dallas
Ooops, no photo.  A randomly selected restaurant in downtown Dallas, but we were allowed to sit at the counter and enjoy a good pint of IPA from local brewery (About a mile away) Four Corners.  The place is conveniently located for the metro stop for the ride home.

Only one or two customers in at four on a very wet Wednesday, the staff were preparing for the rush of diners later. More people came in and also sat at the counter for drinks.

We got a free shot of whiskey from Jen in return for a positive Google review. How about that!

Looking round, I noticed everyone else was sitting at the bar having a drink, perhaps we started a trend!

Time for home.

Thursday 11 April:   Pint & Barrel Drafthouse, Palestine, TX

This bar was much nicer than my poor picture might suggest.  Something of a find in this quiet town, about 15 taps I think, offering mostly beers I've never heard of.  I had a superb hazy IPA, only 9.3%. Crash Pad by Real Ale Brewing Co, a Texas brewery located between San Antonio and Austin.

There was no one inside apart from two or three sitting at the counter, I headed outside where many more people were enjoying their Thursday evening. It was 7pm, there were single blokes, couples, families and one or two large family groups.

My Reuben and fries was really good, and came very quickly. I only spotted the "chicken parm sandwich" on the specials menu after I sat down, I wonder what that's like - Any relation to the parmo of Middlesbrough?

There was a slow flow of customers coming and going.

I headed inside to choose another beer: Buried Hatchet from Southern Star, another Texas brewery. This 8.2% stout was quite smooth and oatmeal stout like, but with a little bitter tang to the flavour.

I think two is enough, time for home.

Tuesday 16 April:  Flying Saucer, Houston

A wonderful high ceilinged room in this bar located in the centre of downtown. The walls and ceiling are covered with gold plates*, each bearing a slogan. Presumably you can buy one to add? The bar back, where there are not far short of 100 taps, is decorated with pennies. American ones, that is.

*Flying saucers, of course - It took me at least half an hour to get it!

Ticking over at half twelve on a Tuesday, I sat at the bar to better see the taps (Unnecessary as I was immediately handed the extensive beer menu) and eventually chose 11 Below's Naughty Words, a tasty hazy 6.3% IPA from a Houston brewery, and a reuben for lunch.

The wide ranging beer list includes lots of Houston breweries and from further afield Delirium Nocturnum and Red, and Sam Smith's Lager!

I'm afraid I broke with my intention of drinking Texan beers, and went for a Belgian Delirium Red for "dessert". How often do you see that on tap? It came in the correct glass, of course.

Equal Parts Brewery, Harrisburg Boulevard, Houston

A classic Texas brewery tap, now that I can recognise them. Part of an old warehouse converted into a brewery and a bar, the latter plainly decorated but pleasant.

About eight customers in at two on a Tuesday, all sitting or standing at the counter except me.

I started on their Medina Sod, another delicious hazy IPA, 5.7%, with hops including Citra.

The regulars at the counter were engaged in cheerful conversations, drowning out the music in the echoey space. A main topic was European soccer, should I join in and pretend I know all about it? I think even Americans might see through me!

Next, a delicious smooth stout called Nocturna, 7.9%.

Wednesday 17 April:  Man Overboard, San Antonio

A plain pleasant bar in a brewery, this one in a modern block-built warehouse, could it have been purpose built?

Four regulars chatting at the counter, I sat at a table in the middle and wrote this while enjoying a tangerine wheat beer.  I studied the notice on the table: Join the Beer Club for $205 and you get one free beer every day of the year that you visit. Mind you, they're not open Monday and Tuesday. If this was my local...

Not much more to write about this place, to be honest.  Thirst quenched, I returned to the counter for a New Zealand Pineapple Imperial IPA, at 8.2%.  Not my favourite, I felt it needed more pineapple, but still very good.
I notice they've got one of those can making machines here, two of the lads at the counter took a can each home.

No food in here on a Wednesday (Food trucks the rest of the week.) so time to head out and find some dinner.

Growler Exchange, San Antonio

Just round the corner from Man Overboard is the Growler Exchange. About fifty taps, although the one I chose ran out, so I got a free third of a pint or so. My second choice was from 512 Brewery in Austin, their (clear) Wit , 5.5%, was a bit bland after the strong one in the last place, but once I was bedded in tasted rather good.

When I tried to open a tab two credit cards failed. I was expecting to be rejected but the helpful barmaid just said "we'll sort it out when you go".

I did see one or two growlers being filled, but the majority of the custom was drink and dine in.

I had a Mikes's Special pizza, very odd with honey added, I really enjoyed it! I've never had a sweet pizza before it was wonderful.

For "dessert", I had 512s Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter, just a small one as it is 9.5%. Wow, that really is gorgeous, definitely beer of the day, of the week, and another contender for beer of the holiday.

After that great pizza and great beer, maybe I'll come back here tomorrow, breaking the habits of a lifetime with a repeat?

Thursday 18 April:  Chart House Bar 601, San Antonio

This up market cocktail bar is located at the top of the Tower of The Americas and offers impressive views over the city.

At half eleven on a Thursday there were only two other customers, who were enjoying a "Mojito flight" each. I stuck to beer, something called Golden Ale, which came in a chilled glass.

On the floor below is a revolving restaurant, the tables disconcertingly passing by below the balcony where I was sitting.

Not many customers in the restaurant at this time. For one group a waiter was doing something with one of those chemical flask tea brewing gizmos that also involved dry ice I think. When the time came to fire up the burner it wouldn't light and he had to come up to the bar to get a different one from the barmaid. Sadly, the table had rotated out of sight so I didn't get to see the show.

Back Unturned Brewing Company, San Antonio

This one was pretty popular at one on a Thursday, most of the customer were eating.

I selected a small pizza from the menu and a very tangy hefeweizen. Lunchtime special meant I got a salad for only $1 more.

Having eaten my tasty pizza I had a Rio Reserve imperial stout which is 11.8% and tastes it. Wonderful.

The place continued to do steady trade as I sank into an alcoholic haze (Pure hyperbole, I only had a small one of the stout.)

Ming's, San Antonio

This is a restaurant/cafe not a bar but I had to log it here because I drank Young Master Neon City, brewed in Hong Kong. It says "with mandarin and bergamot" and it has a rather attractive flowery taste/smell.  (When I start writing nose instead of smell you'll know I've gone over to the dark side and become one of those posh reviewers.)

Having apparently started reviewing restaurants I should note that this is fast food style, order and pay at the till. There was total chaos behind the counter with items coming from the kitchen and being queried and sent back without ever getting near a customer.

Eventually my sesame chicken rice bowl arrived 33 minutes after ordering and to be fair, it was very tasty but certainly not fast food.

Friday 19 April:  Hideaway, Austin

This bar/restaurant is attached to a hotel but seems to be a separate operation.

They have a few draft beers on offer, I chose a local hazy IPA which was very good, although I didn't like the jam jar it was served in.  I couldn't get the scan, order, pay system to work, luckily the friendly waitress took my order instead. Have you got wings? Yes, of course, she pointed at the menu, just here ... er ... oh. Instead, she found them on her terminal. They won't sell many if they're not on the paper menu. (I only asked because I'd seen them on the internet before I came here.)

There was a slow but steady flow of customers, all ordering food. Most sat outside but I preferred the air conditioned comfort indoors.  My Buffalo wings were good.

Vacancy Brewing, Austin

Yet another warehouse on an industrial estate, there's not much more to describe.

I started with Hitchhiker Hazy, another cloudy IPA, this one tastier than most, or is that just because I was very thirsty after walking a humid mile or so through a rather dodgy industrial area.

More and more people came in, the background music was mostly drowned by happy chatter.

My second beer was Radio Fuzz, described as peach almond tart. When I ordered it I wasn't sure whether tart was as in acidic or as in pie, it was the former and gorgeous. I know I've said it a number of times already, but beer of the holiday!

Next, a short walk to St Elmo Brewery, Austin

Same again, a shed in the corner of a warehouse, except this one is very busy with a queue at the counter.

I was soon served, I ordered Vaya, described as "coffee cream". It came pale coloured, has he misheard? No, it has a fantastic coffee smell and taste, which is really odd every time you pick up your pale beer. I really liked it.

The only sound I could hear in here was animated chatter, I think there was some music in the background.

The queue ebbed and flowed but never quite reached zero, they are doing a good trade but of course it is Friday night. Outside was busier than in.  I was surprised how many people being their little kids to the pub on a Friday night, another difference, I think, from the UK.

Saturday 20 April:  Warehouse BBQ, Burnet

Strictly this is a food place but with your excellent barbecued meat and tasty sides you can have a bottle of beer.  (I had failed to find a bar in this small town.)

Sunday 21 April: The Pub, Austin

A large vaguely Irish themed pub, noisy with footie fans as Man United and Coventry were in extra time in the FA cup.  Surprisingly not completely packed, obviously there aren't that many soccer enthusiasts around here.

I had Independence Amber from Austin brewery Independence, and bangers and mash.

Central District Brewing, Austin

In part of the ground floor of a large building is this nicely done brewery and tap.  A few customers were generating quiet chatter at two on a Sunday afternoon. There was soccer on a TV but no one was watching.

I started with a hazy IPA called Weird Goodbyes, sweeter than average, I think, very good.  Next, an imperial pineapple sour which was great, just the right amount of both pineapple and sourness, I really enjoyed it.

I was going to go home at this point, but maybe one more, how about Belgium?

Mort Subite, Austin

A great corridor bar with a Belgian theme. Every customer except I was sitting in the sunshine on the pavement outside.

A wonderful array of Belgian beers on draft, from Kwak to Delirium Tremens to three types of Chimay. All, apparently, with the correct glasses, including the Kwak for which they seemed to have dozens of the flasks.

I selected Chimay Cinq Cents (White), I'm not sure I've ever had this trippel before, very good but hardly in keeping with my aim to drink local beers!

One of two other customers joined me inside the high ceilinged room decorated with Belgian breweriana.

Pinthouse, Austin

Yet another brewery tap, but this one is slightly different. Still a bar in the corner of a large warehouse containing a brewery, but this bar is properly done out with pale wood panelled walls and comfortable bench seating around the room. There's also a conservatory area out front. The ceiling of both is two or three storeys high.

I started with a hazy 6.5% IPA called Cryogenic Jellyfish, which was very good. Some problem with my card meant I couldn't open a tab, so it was, unusually, pay as you go here. I also ordered a burger, you get a vibrating puck but then they bring it to your table without any vibration, what's that about?

For my second, and final, beer I tried Lost Wild, another hazy IPA but this one's 10.5%. Pow!

There was a steady stream of food coming out of the kitchen, and lots of people in the conservatory, slightly fewer in the inside area.

I resisted the choco stout cake for dessert.  This caused me to notice that the beer list was lacking any "daft" dark beers, a chocolate imperial stout would have gone down well at this point.

Monday 22 April:  Fred's Texas Cafe, Northbrook, Fort Worth

Unfortunately I drove here so I was unable to sample the range of standard beers.

A splendidly done out part of a small shopping mall, with a bar area and a dining area, although there's nothing to preclude ones sitting in the "wrong" half.

The food menu is of Texas standards, I had a very good chicken fried steak with white sauce, I mean gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday 23 April:  Oak Street Drafthouse, Denton, TX

A second visit to this very old house, beautiful inside and a lot quieter than last time. We arrived to find the door locked and had to hover on the front porch for a couple of minutes.  

Manhatten Project (A Dallas brewery) Quarter Life was a very refreshing hazy IPA.

There was plenty of activity but it was all staff carrying things in and out. Eventually a customer came in.

Three Nations Horchata Milk Stout was very good at 8.3%, I had wanted one of these to celebrate after the eclipse but the brewery tap had run out.

Eastside, Denton, TX

A third visit to this excellent craft beer bar.  This time I didn't bother to browse the list of 77 beers on offer, I just had another two pints of the wonderful Peanut Butter Crunch from 903 Brewers of Sherman, about 40 miles away.

It was fairly quiet at two on a Tuesday, we sat outside in the breezy sunshine. The line up of food trucks were all closed, they'll be open later, I guess.

Wednesday 24 April:  Denton County Brewing, Denton, TX

For my final brewery tap of the holiday, a second visit to Denton County Brewing.  It was very quiet just after opening time at three on a Wednesday. I started with Triple Play, a hazy IPA.

Then I spotted they've got a handpump or as the Americans say, beer engine.   So I had to try the Pub Ale which was a classic bitter, a real taste of home.

Finally, Nighthawk, a 15% Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged.  Another candidate for the beer of the holiday and I think this one wins!   Wow!  I had two before it was time to stagger home.

Thursday 25 April:  IHOP, DFW Airport Terminal E airside

A standard airport bar, better than most, I think. I was surprised and impressed that I ordered a pint, then some food and another pint, and no one had seen a credit card or anything. It would be tempting to run off, they'd never catch me and I'd fly away.

My Philly Cheese Steak and fries was very good and the Sierra Navada Hazy Little Thing IPA was great, although not a Texan brew.

Rock Squeeze, Toronto Airport Terminal 1 airside

A small island bar in the bedlam that is international departures. I sat at the counter and enjoyed a Shock Top Belgian White.

Final Scores For The Holiday

56 bars visited, of which 20 were in breweries.
Beers of the holiday (Too hard to pick just one):
Denton County Brewing, Nighthawk
903 Brewers, Peanut Butter Crunch
Vacancy Brewing, Peach Fuzz
512 Brewing Company, Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter

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