Upcoming Beer Dinners, Bier And Brats 101, And Just What, Exactly, Is A Starkbier?

As usual, Brian Brown over at Plano Craft Beer Examiner has a good round-up of the week's events for beer lovers. A couple of highlights include tonight's tap night at Flying Saucer on the Lake featuring Sierra Nevada Oak-Aged Grand Cru, tonight's Ommegang Brewsday Tuesday at The Common Table and tomorrow's 5 p.m. tapping of Sierra Nevada Hoptimum at the Meddlesome Moth.

The Ommegang event tonight should be extra special if there is any Chocolate Indulgence left over from yesterday's Valentine's Day tapping. It's the Belgian-inspired, New York-based brewery's 10-year anniversary beer and is labeled as a chocolate stout. However, to me it tasted more like a Belgian dark ale with somewhat subtle cocoa notes, and that's how the folks at Beer Advocate are classifying it as well. Poured from a 750-ml bottle, it was murky dark brown with a tan head, with a creamy and rich but not too thick body. It finished clean with some bitterness, and not nearly as sweet as any other chocolate stout I've had -- and would probably be great on draft.

Also going on tonight, starting at 7, is "Bier 101" at Bavarian Grill in Plano. For $19.50 per person, drinkers get to eat German brats and sample three different Bavarian beers, along with a seminar about the region's rich brewing tradition. The courses continue on the third Tuesday of every month, with Bier 102 on March 15, Bier 103 on April 19 and Bier 104 May 17.

Bavarian Grill and The Common Table alike will also be emphasizing starkbiers in the next few weeks. What is a starkbier? Glad you asked.

Starkbier is another term for doppelbock, or double bock. Originally brewed to sustain monks as they fasted during Lent, they're stronger, with ABV percentages generally ranging from 6.5 to 9. You can learn a bit about them here, but you can learn a lot more about them by drinking them. And during Dunkel Und Starkbierfest 2011, ongoing at Bavarian Grill, if you try 23 different dunkels and starkbiers, you'll earn a free Braumeister Schnitzel. Also celebrating Starkbierfest is The Common Table from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 5, with German food and music, staff dressed in lederhosen and dirndls, and free porcelain Paulaner mugs.

Also, Flying Saucer on the Lake is featuring Saint Arnold beers 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 24, with the Texas brewery's brewmaster, Brock Wagner. The six-course meal is $40 for U.F.O. Club members, $45 for nonmembers, but it's sold out, so we won't tease you with descriptions of the chipotle hummus with Spring Bock or Elissa IPA, bacon-wrapped cream cheese-stuffed chicken with Fancy Lawnmower and chocolate mousse served with Divine Reserve 9. Still, you might want to check with the restaurant just in case there are any last-minute cancellations.