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Fried Beer Batter & Fried Strawberries: Reviewing the State Fair Fried Goods, Part One

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Even teetotalers have heard about fried beer. But do you know about fried beer batter?

While Big Tex competition finalists get most of the glory, there are more than two-dozen new food items being served at the State Fair of Texas this year. Having sampled the also-rans, we can attest to the foolhardiness (and expense) of trying them all. That's why we're presenting here an illustrated guide to the deep-fried and sugared snacks vying to become upset fan favorites. We'll run reviews each day this week, revealing our top three foods on Friday. Happy digesting.

1. Fried strawberries

Fruit figures in at least three new treats this year, including this deep-fried strawberry skewer, an on-the-stick riff on strawberry shortcake. The concept's strong, but the execution's lacking: The strawberries we tried weren't fully defrosted and the breading was soggy.

2. Barbecue brisket crunchy tacos

Many of the fair's new items aren't especially innovative or daring -- a few of them aren't even fried. That's the case with these basic hard-shell tacos, crammed with sloppy barbecue brisket. The meat's not bad, but the onion-rich house-made salsa makes the dish.

3. Apple fries

Warm apples and ice cream are an autumnal classic, but the gaunt apple slices in this dish don't do justice to the tradition. To avoid disappointment, count the apples as a garnish and lay off the low-quality chocolate sauce.

4. Pedro's Churros Deluxe

Vendor Brian Holliday says he experimented with dessert tamales before settling on churros as his stand's signature sweet. "It makes a good breakfast," he says. "I wish we served coffee." These are pretty terrific fair churros -- feathery, warm and cinnamon-dusted. Even better, they're served with cajeta sauce.

5. Chocolate bacon crunch cake

The official description of this gooey fudge cake references toasted bacon topping, but any hint of pork is lost in this chocolate swamp. The cake tastes very much like underdone boxed brownie batter, with a few pecans added for textural interest.

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