We’re not sure why it took so long, but it’s safe to say that we’re in the midst of a golden age when it comes to dine-in movie theaters. Sure, there have been a couple of chains offering less than stellar bar food with what has historically been a ho-hum section of macro beers, wines and gimmicky cocktails. And, admittedly, we’re happy to report the local craft beer selection at Studio Movie Grills has improved in recent years, seemingly mirroring the improvement in quality local selections available everywhere. So there’s that.
But since the 2013 opening of the Richardson Alamo Drafthouse, the first North Texas location of the revered Austin-based chain, the game has changed for craft beer lovers looking to imbibe while screening a first-run flick. That game changed again in a rather major manner last spring when Flix Brewhouse opened its doors on the Frisco/Little Elm border. Since 2011, when the chain’s first location was opened in Round Rock, Flix Brewhouse has merged the worlds of movies and craft beer by offering its own beers, brewed on-site, along with a selection of other craft beers and a full food menu.
After sampling a fine barrel-aged imperial stout at the Big Texas Beer Fest a few weeks ago, we decided to swing into Flix not for a flick, but to see how well the theater acquitted itself as a craft beer destination. With no plan to buy a movie ticket, we pulled up a stool and got to work.
Taking up an entire side of the cavernous lobby, the bar laid bare what it has to offer, with more than 40 taps on display and a row of a dozen or so brewing tanks easily seen through mammoth windows high above the tap wall. The overall decor aesthetic might’ve been AMC, but the key visual elements were all ABV.
With our first sip of the smoother-than-expected Belgian Dip, a buttery note obscured the barrel-aged Belgian trippel’s 11.2% ABV in a way that was pleasing, sure, but could be dangerous if you’re sitting through a three-hour epic and order more than a couple. That well-crafted trippel was one of the 14 house beers available; seven were billed on the menu as “local specialties.”
Another intriguing beer brewed only at this Flix was the Brutal Force blueberry milkshake IPA (7.5% ABV), the result of a collaboration with Brutal Beerworks out of North Richland Hills. Hazily opaque mIlkshake IPAs are all the rage these days, yet this one managed to be distinctive. With a comforting scent of blueberry pancakes from the foamy head, the beer’s taste blended classic, crisp IPA hoppiness with the natural, smooth sweetness afforded by the lactose added to create the milkshake qualities.
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Of the theater’s year-round, chain-wide offerings, the Luna Rosa wit (5% ABV) delivered a wheat-forward sip that starts simple but finishes with a deceptively complex aftertaste revealing a bit of spice. And the 10 Day Scottish ale (5.4% ABV) certainly offered the predominantly malty notes needed for the style, even if it didn’t come off as strong as we had hoped. Do not be confused into thinking this is a bold, big, wee-heavy Scotch Ale; although obviously, there can be plenty of similarities in the flavors between Scottish and Scotch ales.
Unlike a standard brewery taproom, you cannot order a flight of beers at Flix. The bartender offered a small taste of whatever we wanted to try, but you can’t sit down with a neatly poured row of four or six brews to casually sample and compare. But you can order crowlers to go, and for an additional $1 you can “trade up,” as it is called on the menu, any standard pint to a 20-ounce “imperial pint,” so that’s a fun option not available at many non-movie theater brewpubs.
Not in the mood for the latest sequel or superhero flick? You can now still make it a night out at the movies with a visit to Flix Brewhouse in Little Elm for a couple of local craft beers.
Flix Brewhouse, 1660 FM 423, Frisco.