As Dallas slowly becomes a mecca for beer-drinking in Texas, yet another brewery is establishing itself in the Design District. Though it opened back in January, Texas Ale Project celebrated its "grand opening" on Saturday.
Inside the fence at Texas Ale Project, it is like any other brewery tour you can attend in Dallas: people standing around drinking and talking while several workers pour beer for patrons. Once you enter the building, there is a small bar that constitutes the "T.A.P. Room" and the massive brewing space.
The taproom is a clean, modern-looking bar with a number of taps dedicated to the four core beers made by Texas Ale Project. For those who have yet to check out Texas Ale Project, the four beers you will find on tap at the brewery and bars around Dallas are: Fire Ant Funeral Amber Ale, Naked Truth Wheat Ale, Somethin' Shady Porter and 50 ft. Jackrabbit IPA. Advertised for the grand opening were two experimental beers: Better Horizontal XPA and The Caucasian White Russian Imperial Stout.
Attending the grand opening this week, I was able to sample all that Texas Ale Project had to offer. First was the 50 Ft. Jackrabbit IPA, which has a medium body, mild hoppiness and a nice flavor to it for being 7 percent ABV. While it's nice to have more solid IPAs available in Dallas, this was not a game-changing beer.
The Naked Truth wheat ale has a light flavor and a light body, yet hides its 6 percent ABV well and makes for a decent summery beer, but the flavor doesn't stand out among the other beers TAP has to offer. For those who like hoppy beers, the 6 percent ABV Fire Ant Funeral is smooth, medium bodied, and a bit hoppier than your typical amber ale. Texas Ale Project's porter, Somethin' Shady, is easily the best of the core beers being offered on Saturday. With a dark brown coloring and well-balanced coffee flavor, it was a delicious surprise that will be a favorite among coffee beer fans.
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For those who had VIP access, one of the beers being offered was referred to by the volunteer as their Better Horizontal XPA" and the other was The Big Lebowski-inspired White Russian Imperial Stout. I was surprised at the sweetness and strength of the caramel flavor that overpowered all aspects of the imperial stout. The Better Horizontal extra pale ale was a superior beer when compared with their IPA; with a nice, light body and complex flavor, it was easily the best beer I sampled on Saturday. In fact, I am still thinking about that delicious, coppery goodness now.
The VIP-favored set-up of Texas Ale Project's grand opening was a little off-putting, and three beers for $20 was not worth it when they are $5 any other day the taproom is open. That said, it is nice to see more local breweries opening and putting out good beer. And I am holding out for the day when that experimental extra pale ale sees wider distribution.