Paige Latham Didora
the flying saucer [Dallas]
Morning came pretty early for me after my fantastic night in Knox-Henderson. Luckily, I had found an amazing AirBnB host, Marc, who lives in Addison, very close to the conference. It was my first AirBnB experience and I highly recommend it.
After the seminars I walked over to The Flying Saucer Draft Emporium for lunch since it was so close. For those of you who have never been, The Flying Saucer is a beer-centric restaurant with multiple locations throughout the U.S. My only experience with one was in Raleigh, and the extensive tap list, local expertise, and funky atmosphere made me excited to try the Dallas interpretation.
When I arrived I was encouraged by the two different atmospheres – one bright with windows and a 3-season-porch feel (I suppose in Texas it’s 4), and the other a more traditional, dimly-lit bar. Sometimes I just don’t feel like drinking beer in the dark in the middle of the day, you know?
And, as a good amount of my drinking is generally done in the middle of the day, for these kinds of spaces I am grateful.
I actually made an attempt at the bar, mostly to snap pictures and look at the up-to-date beer list written in chalk, but was never served. For lunch hour, the place was not very busy, but several tables and half a dozen bar stools were occupied. One bartender did come over to me and say, “we’re really busy”, and walked away, never to return.
I had never ordered a flight at the Saucer before, and I have to just tell you straight – their system is flawed in several ways.
Flights listed are pre-arranged, meaning there is no customization. The Texas Flight contained breweries I planned to visit, so that wasn’t gonna be ideal. There is a choose-your-own-adventure type of option, but only certain beers can be chosen – for the $12 flight only one beer served in a tulip glass can be included.
There were other problems too – I wanted to make a flight of all Texas beers but they were not all individually listed on the menu. As shown above, only the breweries themselves were listed. This, obviously, resulted in a lot of questions and some frustration, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only frustrated one.
My server let me know of the available beers and after much back and forth, I arrived at an all-Texas flight:
St. Arnold, located in Houston, brews the Lawnmower which is a Kolsch that can be enjoyed while…well you get it. It is low in ABV and contains no overpowering flavors. There is virtually no aroma to this beer and nothing really stood out to me about this Kolsch. While refreshing and well-made, it was my least favorite of the flight.
The Franconia Dunkel, on the other hand, is an intriguing beer out of McKinney, TX. It has a mild to moderate roasted aroma, and although the body is quite light, there is an incredibly robust roasted malt character and remarkable depth of flavor. It is almost reminiscent of a thin English porter. It is on the sweet side with some earthiness.
One of my new favorite hoppy selections has got to be the 512 IPA from Austin. The cloudy orange-amber color is inviting and the aroma is very fruity and slightly floral without being overwhelming. The key to this IPA is a substantial amount of malt that tempers what would be some very aggressive hops. The predominant notes are grapefruit, resin, and citrus. Speaking as someone who is very sensitive to resin and pine, the flavors are actually quite balanced. It has a bitter finish but is not terribly dry. A highly recommended IPA in my book!
My second IPA came from Deep Ellum on the east side of downtown Dallas. In contrast to the 512, the aroma is spicy with some herbal hop notes and fruit. I found the hops to add a crispness and almost a clean mouthfeel. There is less malt here to stand up to the hops, and as a result the brew is distinctly bitter with a mild earth note. This is another very good IPA.
I’ll interject here that the flight was served far too warm, which is unusual in my experience. The only beer that was at the correct temperature when tasting was the darkest one. The IPAs were very hard to taste as a result, so I may have picked up some flavors and unfortunately missed others due to that fact.
The final beer of the flight was tied for the best beer of the day – the Lakewood Temptress, a milk stout. Now if you know me at all, you know that I have a certain affinity for one particular Twin Cities chocolate milk stout (such that I should just get their bar stamp tattooed on my hand, maybe then I would wake up with less ink on my face on Sundays). How did the Lakewood hold up?
With a mild sweet and malty aroma and very complex taste, this is an amazing beer. The flavors are primarily coffee and rich chocolate with some stonefruit and a tiny hint of smoke. There is another flavor that is hard to define, something akin to burnt caramel. The excellent body and smooth mouthfeel combined with the slight alcoholic warmth make it a huge winner in my book.
My flight of beer was absolutely outstanding, however frustrating my experience at The Flying Saucer happened to be. I was glad to simply be able to try many different beers. The cost of the flight was reasonable, and eventually my service was okay, but I would skip this particular restaurant. Check out a beer bar that really lives up to its expectations because Dallas has several. It is not worth it to fight through an unclear menu if a quality beer experience is really what you’re after.
I suggest an a la carte system for flights when so many high-quality or expensive beers are offered. Why offer flights and then make them difficult to create?
Looking for that impossible-to-find, limited, special-release, imperial, barrel-aged something? The Saucer is likely to have it. But so are many true, independent beer bars in the area. Where, you ask? Check in throughout the week as Dallas continues.