What to get some attention for your restaurant? Try brewing your own beer. Malai Kitchen announced they'd be serving their own house-brewed beer on tap at the restaurant and within two weeks they've gotten a mention in almost every food blog in Dallas. The Huffington Post even checked in on owners Braden and Yasmin Wages, who recently took their cooking to New York City for a special event.
The craft beer movement has been exploding recently, but restaurants for the most part have stayed out of the brew-pub game, electing to purchase any local beer they want to serve from the from craft breweries. The Wages, however, wanted to serve a brew that emulated one of their favorite beverages served in Vietnam, and bia hoi, the light lager brewed with rice, isn't made anywhere in Dallas.
Bia hoi pours light and clouded with yeast from the tap, with a thick, snow-white head. It's crisp, effervescent and so drinkable you could lose your self in four or five in the time it takes you to get through dinner at the bar. That's why they're calling it their happy hour beer.
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And to keep their beer list well rounded they also offer an IPA the call ThaiPA, which is an attention-getter. It's brewed with a lot of hops, according to Braden, but they don't result in overwhelming bitterness. What is immediately apparent when you take a sip is lemongrass, sharp and citrusy, and then if you hunt around for it a little you can find ginger, galangal and kaffir lime flavors. Dubbed a "spiced IPA," the beer resembles nothing of the winter beers that typically tout clove and orange-zest flavors.
There will also be a rotator available each Friday. This week's beer is a porter that will have hints of coconut, chocolate and chile.
Since Malai is a restaurant first, and a brewing operation second, the Wages work in small 5-gallon batches, a challenge when it comes to consistency. While I was there sipping some ThaiPA, the kegs were switched out, and the replacement brew had higher carbonation, and a richer, more malty flavor than the first keg. Braden told me he's still dialing in the exact recipe he wants to use for the beer, so you might continue to see some variation in the future.