Wednesday, July 9, 2014

for the love of craft beer - matt quenette

Matt Quenette of Meddlesome Moth
Deep in the heart of the Design District of Dallas lies a shrubbery covered building with a large moth on the sign. Yes, a moth. The name? Meddlesome Moth. Meddlesome Moth has fast become a craft beer haven in Dallas thanks to the passion from their Certified Cicerone (think Beer Sommelier) beer steward Matt Quenette (their food ain't half bad either. Actually, it's pretty f#$%%* amazing). If you ever want to talk about beer with someone, Matt's your guy. He's knowledgeable, approachable and just serious enough to know he cares. Plus, his name is Matt so he can't be all that bad right? Check out below what he has to say about craft beer, the Dallas beer scene and his top desert island beers.

What does craft beer mean to you? 

It really means so much these days. Good and bad. The term ‘craft’ beer is becoming so popular that the term is starting to become watered down. Anybody can slap a ‘craft’ label on a beer and most consumers will believe that it is craft beer, which a good chunk of the craft beer on shelves is not. Craft is kind of becoming like ‘free range’ chicken eggs. Let’s be honest with the reality of free range eggs. A small yard off the side of the feed lot that the chickens are too freaked out to take that pastoral jaunt of freedom is not really free range. It is simply misleading to the reality which is similar to beer shelves at your grocery store or even your beer savvy store front.  It is mass produced without much thought other than for the profits or targeting the new consumer demographic. 

Another side of the bad is a lot of craft breweries simply make pretty bad beer. When a newbie to craft beer drinks something horrible that tastes like butter candy corns or cabbage or the recipe is poorly constructed or executed with flaws, they will probably think twice about trying craft beer again. They will just go back to that trusty vodka tonic or whiskey on the rocks. Fail, lose. All of this happens every day in Dallas. On the bright side, I consider thoughtful beer to be a marriage of science and artistry/creativity executed with passion, patience and precision. 

Thankfully, truly artisanal beers occur every day too. If you have been drinking good beers for a while, you know that you go through different phases just as you do with anything in life. From big badass, knock you on your butt hoptastic IPA’s to barrel aged wild ales to low ABV session beers, it all makes sense to you….the drinker. 

Why do I bring up this angle? Well, it is easy to get blown away with all these new flavors, aromas and sensations with incredible enthusiasm about what a beer is or is not but it is easy to forget what great beer is for…social enjoyment. A great and thoughtful artisanal beer can just overwhelm you with a wondrous pleasure that makes you happy enough to share a conversation with a friend or a stranger. And yes, that conversation can be about the beer you or friend are enjoying. What a tangled digression this has become? Simply put, craft beer for me….listening to some records, drinking some session beers and bullshitting about this crazy world we call life. It can really be anything to anyone. Who are we to tell someone what craft beer is? Whoa…. let’s get question 2.

What are your top 5 desert island beers?

Jester King Le Petit Prince…but it would probably be the original version without the mixed fermentation currently being used. the one with the mixed fermentation is damn good too.

A hoppy session beer like Founders All Day IPA, Odell Loose Leaf,  Green Flash Citra Session, de la Senne Band of Brothers, just got back from Belgium…let’s say the 3.5% hoppy blonde ale…Band of Brothers

Jester King Das Wunderkind

Cantillon Lou Pepe Oude Gueze or just the classic Cantillon Oude Gueze

Brasserie Franches-Montagnes SqRt 225

On a desert island,  I want refreshment! Nothing dark malt.

What's your least favorite style of beer and why? 

I don't really have one if it is brewed thoughtfully to my specifications. I do realize that is a selfish statement. That’s kind of like my answer to ‘what’s your favorite music?’ I would not pick up a country vinyl from Good Records but if I heard a country song that caught my ear, I wouldn't turn it off. I  didn't like pilsners for a long time but there are some damn good hoppy pilsners coming out. Never say never.

What's the most annoying misconception about beer? (i.e One of mine is the notion that beer is not as 'sophisticated' as other beverages) 

See the bad of answer #1. Or, that beer could never be anything more than the industrial lager that tasted horrible in their past to the point of refusing free samples or friendly, inviting and informative service about great beer. Or, that every beer from one brewery is always the best thing around.

Another annoying misconception of beer is that abv (alcohol by volume) equates to quality.

Where do you see the beer scene in Dallas in five years? 

I see a massive scene in five years in Dallas and in Texas too. The current pace of growth of the beer scene is astounding. I have been waiting for a washout but, now, I really don’t think it will happen.  The scene is strong. Businesses are seeing the light of all the positives a locally produced product that is both delicious and profitable for everyone and keeps the money in the local economy fir the most part. Just four years ago when working for a local brewery, it was like pulling teeth to get a tap handle in restaurants.  That has all changed with Texas beer only places open and surviving. It would be nice to have a greater diversification of styles, mainly speaking ABV wise towards the low end. Those beers are extremely difficult to make because there is nothing to hide behind it if it goes wrong. A mature scene of more experience, relaxed and chill consumers/businesses behind it all and hopefully some small, quiet Belgian style cafes in neighborhoods here and there. Relaxed laws governing all things beer would be nice too. I think we will all get there. Some of the lobbyist money being thrown around to secure the status quo is ridiculous, but that is nothing new for any industry. I hope that money interests don’t invade the scene. Open market consumerism is a fact of reality but I see people opening breweries that are just in it for the investment opportunity or little experience. That generally produces poor results. But really, who knows? We got a great scene now and it gets better every day.

For more information on the Dallas beer scene please check out:

1 comment: