Every time I go to a Flying Saucer beer festival, or BeerFeast or whatever they want to call them, I ask myself, "Why don't I go to these more often?"
And then I remember -- distance. My fantasy is that the chain opens an outpost in Dallas proper within walking or at least biking distance from my house. But even a half-hour to 45-minute drive away, they're always worth the trek, even if it means exercising some serious restraint waiting inside the bar for a while after fest's end to reach some semblance of sobriety.
The "feast" in the name of Saturday's BeerFeast at the Flying Saucer on the Lake location referred to the food trucks on site, a new twist in the Saucers' festivals. I wasn't able to get there until a couple hours before the close, but right on time to get a taste of the Jester King/Mikkeller collaboration Whiskey Rodeo, one of the sporadic special tappings, and a few mini-burgers from my favorite mobile food dispensary, Easy Slider.
Rather than a full rundown, I'll just list a few notable brews.
Favorite: Whiskey Rodeo. The imperial stout Beer Geek Rodeo at the Big Texas Beer Fest was one of a few well-done pepper beers that have made me come around on the addition of spicy peppers as more than just a gimmick. This barrel-aged version was even better, with the vanilla notes from the bourbon complementing the smooth coffee stout taste and subtle heat.
Second favorite: Hops & Grain New Zealand IPA. This one uses a custom hop strain, a crossbreed of Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau, according to I-forget-whom-but-who-seemed-like-they-would-know. It definitely had qualities of both, a blend of herbal, earthy, fruity and some white-wine-like notes. It was well-balanced, crisp and dry and I imagine a full pour would make a great summer sipping beer.
Least favorite: Maui Sweet Onion Mild. Though I didn't hear much praise for Ranger Creek's Strawberry Milk Stout, I didn't have the pleasure of trying it. It couldn't have been worse than this one. As much as I love onions, this tasted like a mere novelty to me. Underneath the overpowering onion taste was a subtle malty beer trying to escape. I felt like I needed mouthwash after finishing it -- even the 4-ounce sample felt like too much.
Most interesting collaboration: Franklin BBQ/Thirsty Planet Smoked Porter. This was a nice caramel-tasting porter with a surprisingly subtle smoky flavor. As with spicy beers, I'm starting to come around on smoked beers. This is a very good one that would go well with barbecue. I'm sure Daniel Vaughn would approve.
Favorite style blend: Green Flash/Founders Brewing Linchpin. This joint effort is described as a white IPA. It's the first WIPA I've tried, and it sets a high standard for the style with good qualities of a witbier and a solid IPA, a well-balanced blend of citrus rind and West Coast-style American-grown hoppiness.