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

This is not the greatest beer in the world, this is just a tribute.
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.


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