Although it's a craft beer hotbed these days, there was a time not too long ago that Dallas’ Design District at least seemed like an odd place for a craft brewery. Of course, the area, filled with all sorts of available warehouse space, makes sense for a new brewer to grab a hold of, so it’s no longer a shock to drive through the neighborhood and catch the logos for Peticolas or Pegasus City popping off one of the facades.
It’s not a stretch to say the corner of Bedford Road and Brown Trail in Bedford is like what the Design District was a decade ago. That corner lies in a rather run-down area complete with a number of buildings that have seen far better days. It’s a depressing spot, actually. This neck of the Mid-Cities doesn’t feel unsafe, just a bit desolate. A bustling craft brewery is the last thing you expect to be thriving in the midst of it all.
But thriving is exactly what Turning Point Beer seems to be doing. Stepping into the doors of the former Rent-A-Center, I found it hard to not feel like the world suddenly popped into color, much like it did for the characters in the movie Pleasantville after the main characters had sex.
Open the door and the impact is immediate. Multiple rows of populated wooden picnic tables and towers of neatly stacked bourbon barrels immediately greet you as you view the tap wall and its colorful menu board above, off in the distance just slightly. Make your way to the bar and you pass folks caressing cardboard boxes of Turning Point’s latest to-go four-pack crowler offerings the way a young mother might cradle a newborn. More impressively, conversations about the beer could be overheard with ease. As elementary as it sounds, it was refreshing — encouraging even — to see a patron take a sip of brew, look at the glass and talk about what they tasted with the person across from them.
Flavor — and rather big flavor at that — carried the day. We let the bartender serve us his six favorite beers, with a range of light to dark, and what we found is that Turning Point is unapologetically not all that worried about crafting too many sessional, watered-down beers in an effort to appeal to the mass market. It’s not that they’re excluding anyone, as they do indeed brew a lager and a wheat beer. And the Yup… Yup… Mmhmm gose was more crisp and clean than funky, with an approachable tartness that a hardcore sour head will appreciate, just as a less-than-grizzled beer vet will.
Because the cavernous room’s tables remained packed, we decamped to a tall pub table in the back by a group of retro arcade games. The Mortal Combat and Street Fighter II consoles stayed busy with kids and adults alike while we sipped away. A ’90s pop playlist provides the perfect soundtrack to tasting the Breakfast Bros imperial stout (12% ABV), a velvety “Cinnamon Toast Crunch stout” that gave a touch of sweetness without going as overboard as the name might suggest. The flicker of cinnamon was a complementary flavor rather than cloying, giving the beer the complexity that many Christmas or winter warmer beers often have.
The Face Down in the Muck Imperial Stout, brewed with Vietnamese coffee, offered a different stout experience. The result of a collaboration with Oak Cliff Brewing, the nose was heavy with dark roasted coffee. Initially, the taste backed up that heavy roast flavor, but unlike many imperial stouts, it finished lightly, with a natural sweetness boosting the aftertaste. The journey from savory to sweet was the kind of thing that makes you say, “oh, ok!” when you pull the glass from your mouth, staring at what’s left to try and make sense of it after a lip smack or two.
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The DDH Dinglebop, $Texas and The Dragon and the Wolf, each double IPAs weighing in at 8.2% ABV, all packed the kind of flavor punch anyone ordering such a style is surely chasing. The Dinglebop and $Texas, though brewed with different types of hops, both offering bright New England-style juiciness, even if they didn’t taste all that different from one another. With more of a West Coast-lean, The Dragon and the Wolf was a dry, pine-forward example representing a complex bookend to its sweeter East Coast cousins.
As the day rolled on, more and more drinkers filed in. At 2:30 on a cloudy Saturday, a seat was hard to find, and again, those who were there were talking about the beers in front of them. Of course, here’s the trick; the beers have to be worth chatting about. Being the best craft beer destination in Bedford, it would be easy for such a spot to perhaps become more of a gathering spot that just happens to serve beer, but that’s not the case here. After sampling almost half of the day’s offerings, we’re here to say that Turning Point’s beer is unquestionably worth having thoughtful conversation about.
Turning Point Beer, 1307 Brown Trail, Bedford. Open 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.