By Molly Dunn
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By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
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Commercial Suicide manages a similar feat but from the opposite direction. Dark fruit and coffee bump up against the slightly musty character of old books, brittle and deep but with a lightness that makes it all feel like an optical illusion. Nutty, dusky roasted malt predominates, but with a light hand and an easy demeanor. Dark and mild (the style of origin here) is a good way to put it. You take a sip, and the beer fills your mouth. You swallow, and it's like it was never there. It's powerful but refreshing and inviting. It makes me want to read romantic poets and assures me that I won't fall asleep while doing it.
Stone Levitation Ale
American Amber, 4.4percent ABV
I've written about this one before, but I think it deserves mention here. A good example of how "balanced" doesn't always mean what you think it does, Levitation is clearly a Stone beer. If you drink Stone, you know what I mean; they're not exactly known for "balance." With more than a hint of hoppy bitterness, Levitation is downright assertive for a session beer. From the pine and orange-oil nose to the dryly briny, citrusy first sip to the round and full malt that hits the mid-palate like a thick slice of brown bread to the lingering bitterness of the finish, Levitation could stand shoulder to shoulder with any of Stone's beefier brews. It would stand longer, too, with its milder demeanor and tame weight. For all that flavor, it stays quite drinkable, teetering intriguingly on the edge of too heavy. It's almost like a liquid dare. Drink another one. You know you want to.
Dogfish Head Festina Pêche
(Neo)Berliner Weisse, 4.5 percent ABV
This has been one of my favorite seasonal beers for a few years now. Every time it pops up on shelves, I buy a four-pack on every trip to the store. It's that good. From the first puckering sip, a clear and bright tartness that tastes like walking out of a darkened house into the sunshine, I was hooked. That tartness snaps your senses awake pleasantly, leaning into a concentrated peach flavor that never approaches cloying artificiality, as saturated as it is. The lemony pucker brings it back in line moments later, echoing apples and bread before leaning into a pleasantly dry finish. It's lean and full, aggressive and refreshing, surprising and effortless. I didn't even realize it fit my session rubric until about a month ago. Since then, I've been buying two four-packs.
Without even really thinking about it, this list manages to show a couple of things about session beers. First, it shows their versatility. There's a lot of flavor, and a lot of flavors, to be coaxed out of less than 5 percent alcohol. Second, it shows that session beers are everywhere. This list isn't even the tip of the iceberg. I bet you have something sessionable in your fridge right now. Go check. Hell, you might have a favorite session beer you didn't even know about. Now that you do, how about we share a pint or three?
Openings and Closings
Midtown happenings and a cupcake ATM.
We had one major closing to speak of last week and one almost closing, so let's just start there and then move on to all the exciting openings, shall we?
Zunum restaurant in The Woodlands announced its closing on its Facebook page August 5. Many people voiced their disappointment on Facebook — particularly parents whose kids were fond of the restaurant and its playroom. Most critics on Yelp and Urbanspoon (heralds of quality dining that they are) found the restaurant to be overpriced and not very good, so perhaps that has something to do with its closing. The message on Zunum's Facebook page hints that the kid-friendly restaurant may be opening in a new location sometime in the future. It ends with "Stay tuned."
Eater reports that the Midtown branch of Asian-ish (it's Mongolian, but fajitas are on the menu) restaurant Kublai Khan, which opened in May, is already looking to close due to increased rental prices. I sense a theme in Midtown. The owner, Tian Zheng, tells Eater that he still has four years left on his lease, so he's hoping to sublet the property ASAP to avoid spending more money that the restaurant can't bring in. He's also looking to sell all of his kitchen equipment and dining decor.
Now for the good stuff...
The sandwich chain Capriotti's Sandwich Shop opened its first Houston-area location on July 29 in Sugar Land. Capriotti's is a favorite in Dallas and Plano as well as in other states. The chain was founded in Delaware in 1976 and is famous for its roasted pulled turkey sandwiches. Stop by 2228 Texas Drive and see if the subs live up to all the hype.
Inside Scoop Frozen Custard opened August 4, and people are already raving about the cool desserts. The new custard shop is located in Sugar Land. The place doesn't have a Web site, only a Facebook page, so there aren't many more details, but I'm looking forward to making the trek soon to get me some of this frozen deliciousness.