Ranking Special Offerings From Ska And Dogfish Head, Plus Beer Festival News

Thanks to my generous in-laws, Lady Hophead and I headed to the Meddlesome Moth Monday night to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. Her mother and stepdad offered to take us to a much fancier restaurant, but we felt the Moth, with one of the best beer selections in Dallas, was a fitting way to mark the occasion. Beer-wise, at least, Lady Hophead and I have come a long way from our alcohol-free wedding and reception, where she covered for me as I sneaked off to chug lukewarm Miller High Life tallboys with my knucklehead teenage friends.

Besides, with the amount of beer we drank Monday, the white-linen tablecloth place probably wouldn't have been too much more expensive anyway.

The Moth has definitely smoothed out some of the service kinks since my initial visit shortly after it opened. One great thing about the menu is that each food item has a recommended beer style pairing suggestion. We resisted the temptation of old favorites to try a variety of unfamiliar beers, including a cask-fermented pint of Ska's Nefarious Ten Pin Porter (Easter version) and Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron.

After the jump, my thoughts on the brews, plus some info about Saturday's Beer Festival at Flying Saucer on the Lake.

My mother-in-law and I each ordered a pint of the cask-conditioned Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter, intrigued by the use of a chocolate Easter bunny and marshmallow Peeps added to the cask as a priming sugar to create an "Easter version." Lady Hophead ordered a Kwak Pauwel, a Belgian strong pale ale that tasted just as impressive as its serving vessel looked. Poured into a flower-vase shaped glass with a rounded base, it required a wooden stand. Gimmicky, yes, but she declared its dark-fruit sweetness, mellow hoppiness and full body her favorite beer of the evening, followed closely by the Blanche de Bruxelles witbier.

Ska Nefarious Ten Pin Porter, Easter version
Appearance: Black, opaque with just traces of a dark tan head. Very little visible carbonation, as expected with a cask-conditioned beer. 10/10
Nose: Slightly sweet, milk chocolate and espresso notes with little alcohol aroma. 10/10
Taste: Excellent. A nice mix of dark and milk chocolate, bitter coffee and slight earthy hop presence are very well balanced. It's also accessible for a dark beer. My mother-in-law, more of an oenophile than a beer drinker, enjoyed it too. 38/40
Body: Rich and remarkably smooth, but not quite as thick as I expected. 8/10
Finish: Very drinkable, with a slight espresso and dark chocolate bitterness. 10/10
Style/Originality: The addition of Peeps and chocolate could have been a gross-out gimmick, but they actually seem to complement the porter very nicely. I'll have to try a bottled version of this to compare it to the cask pint. 10/10
Party Factor: In-laws treated us and the server didn't say the price, but I'm guessing it was $8, since that's the price of the Moth's current cask ale, Stone's Russian imperial stout. Assuming the cask version has the same 8 percent ABV as bottled Ten Pin, that's a factor of 1.33, rounding to 1.
Total: 87

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Appearance: Almost black with a maroon head and ruby when held to the light--very dark for a brown ale. 10/10
Nose: Very complex. Caramel, vanilla and some kind of wood smell reminiscent of oak from the barrel aging. 10/10
Taste: Phenomenal! The nose elements are all there, with a slight woodiness, and sweet in a way reminiscent of barleywines. An excellent dark brew. If you could somehow combine a Belgian quad, a porter and a barleywine and somehow not have it turn out as a train wreck, it might taste something like this. It overwhelmed most of the main dishes I tried it with, but went great with chess pie for dessert. 40/40
Body: Rich and thick, slightly syrupy as expected with a somewhat sweet beer. 10/10
Finish: Slightly sticky and incredibly drinkable for such a strong beer. 10/10
Style/Originality: This is aged with the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood in what Dogfish Head claims is the largest wooden brewing vessel since Prohibition. 10/10
Party Factor: It's 12 percent ABV and costs $10 for a 12-oz. bottle at the Moth, which would give it a factor of 1.2, rounded to 1. However, I've seen it for $14.99 a 4-pack at retailers, and I intend to buy some ASAP. At that price, it would have a factor of 3.2.
Total: 93


Flying Saucer On The Lake (located at 4821 Bass Pro Dr. in Garland--and Quittin' Time-approved, by the way) will have its first Spring Beer Festival from noon to 10 p.m. this Saturday. As with other Flying Saucer Beer Festivals, attendees pay $15 for a punch card which entitles them to as many as 15 4-oz. samples from three themed beer tents. Pay another $5 and you can sample from the "Out of this World" tent, which includes La Chouffe, BrewDog Dogma and Ommegang Witte. Here's more info, taken from the press release:

Flying Saucer on the Lake's Spring Beer Festival will feature five beer tasting tents each with four brews chosen by Flying Saucer's own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs, and Flying Saucer on the Lake general manager Daniel Parks. Featured beers will include rare special releases and cask-conditioned ales, including Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron and Brooklyn Summer Ale in the East Coast tent; Widmer Brothers' Reserve Prickly Pear Braggot and Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale in the West Coast tent; Real Ale Highlander, Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower and 512 Wit in the Texas tent; Boulevard Tank 7 Saison, Avery Samael's Ale and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale in the Captain's Picks tent; and La Chouffe, Ommegang Witte and BrewDog Dogma in the Out of this World tent.

Lady Hophead and I have a bit more anniversary celebration left in us. See you there?

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