Sunday, October 6, 2013
Q-and-A: World Atlas of Beer expert Stephen Beaumont comes to Dallas
See what he has to say about DFW's growing brewery scene.
Ask almost any North Texan and they will tell you that craft beer and local breweries are the best thing to hit DFW since brisket. But, the region's renaissance is relatively young. This week, Stephen Beaumont -- author of The World Atlas of Beer and the just-released 2014 Pocket Beer Guide -- will return for the first time since the industry has really taken flight. During a series of book signing and beer pairing events at the Flying Saucer Fort Worth, The Meddlesome Moth, and the Flying Saucer at the Lake, Beaumont is set to see the DFW brew scene again for the first time.
We chatted with the avid traveler about his great expectations for hopheads in DFW.
Pegasus News: Welcome to Dallas! It's been a while since you've been here; are you familiar with DFW area breweries that have been founded in recent years?
Beaumont: I have been to Dallas several times and many of those times Dallas wasn’t yet a really great place for beer. But the last couple of times it’s been really nice to see some local breweries opening up and I’m looking forward to experiencing some more.
Which of the local breweries or beers have you experienced so far?
I’ve been to Deep Ellum Brewing. I was there when they were just setting up. I’m more familiar with Texas breweries around Houston and Austin than Dallas so far.
What are some beer trends you particularly like? Or dislike?
I’m very enthusiastic about what I see happening really all across the United States. There’s so much excitement about different beers and trying to stretch the boundaries of styles. As far as trends go, one of the most encouraging right now is almost a regression of sorts. It’s where breweries are now starting to focus a little more on some of the more basic beer styles and lower alcohol content. So you’re seeing things like blonde ales – ones that we used to refer to as “gateway beers.” Beers that breweries would make to attract people who normally drank Budweiser. But, now they’re making those with real character and real interest.
October 6: Flying Saucer Fort Worth
October 7: The Meddlesome Moth
October 8: Flying Saucer at the Lake
Lower alcohol as well. We’ve seen a lot of high alcohol IPAs, double IPAs, barley wines – Lord knows I get a lot of them through my office – and it’s nice to see that some breweries are focusing on lower alcohol beers with great flavor. One wonderful example is Jester King’s Le Petit Prince, which is an absolutely wonderful beer with, I think, about 2 or 2.5 percent alcohol.
Are there any breweries or beers that you recommend?
Oh my goodness, that’s a long list. The Pocket Beer Guide contains 3,600 beer reviews from over 1,100 breweries all around the world. And, quite frankly I have no problem recommending any of those breweries. There’s some extraordinary stuff happening all around the world these days.
Are there any DFW breweries in the pocket guide?
There are not any yet, but this is the 2014 version – we’re already at work on next year’s version. So, I’ll be tasting some local beers when I’m down there and hopefully will come across the next great Texas brewery to be included.
I should mention that there are a number of Texas breweries in the 2014 version of the guide. I’ve got a couple from around Houston – St. Arnold’s, of course, one of the old survivors. And, the new Karbach Brewing Company is in the book. I suppose Shiner – Shiner’s not that far from Dallas, is it?
Common misconception. About a three and a half, four hour drive.
Further than I thought it was – my apologies. Shiner’s in the book. I’ve got Live Oak from Austin, as well as 512.
Since we’re talking about the book, is this the first edition, or has there been a guide prior to 2014?
This is the first edition – Tim and I have taken up from where the late Michael Jackson left off. Michael used to write The Pocket Beer Guide irregularly – he didn’t do it every year, he did it every few years. Last year we came out with The World Atlas of Beer, which was kind of a progression of his old world guide. Doing the pocket book seemed like a natural progression.
Obviously people will also use your pocket guide on their electronic devices, but has there been any thought to an app with specific search functions, etc.?
There will be an app at some point. The publisher is still sorting that out. One thing that we’re very conscious of is that people who are very fond of craft beer tend to also be very technologically advanced people. One of the first subjects extensively covered on the internet was beer. So we don’t want to make any mistakes when we do the app. We want to do it once, and we want to do it right.
We figured that it’s better to take the time and ensure that it’s done properly, rather than rush out something that might not be up to scratch.
When you’re in town next week, you will be at three of Shannon Wynne’s joints – The Flying Saucer in Fort Worth, The Meddlesome Moth, and The Lake Flying Saucer. How did you get involved with Wynn?
That’s an excellent question. It was so long ago that I honestly don’t remember! I’ve known about the Saucers for a long time. I admired Shannon for starting beer bars in the Southern United States when there really wasn’t much happening in terms of craft beer in the South. I view him as a pioneer in that regard. I have a lot of respect for him.
I’ve known [Wynne’s business partner] Keith Schlabs for a long time. Probably about 12 years ago, I did my first tasting tour of the Flying Saucers, and it was about a two week long trek around 9 or 10 outlets, where I hosted tastings to massive crowds. It was a really wonderful tour.
With the proliferation of information about beer available to people now, what sets your Pocket Beer Guide apart from the crowd?
People wonder: There are so many apps, so many other little sources of information, why would I want to carry The Pocket Beer Guide? My response is that it’s not just my co-author Tim Webb and I who worked on the book. We’re offering a carefully curated organization of really the best 1,100-1,200 breweries in the world today. If you’re living in Texas and going to be going up to California, or if you’re planning a trip to Italy, I really think the guide offers that “insiders’ view.” You know these people are reliable. They’re people we know from a long time who know their local markets. We trust them completely. And, their opinions are really among the best in the world.
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