by Tait Lifto
Entering World of Beer in Arlington for the Facebook Soft Opening last night (tonight is the official Grand Opening) at 3:00pm, I was enthusiastically greeted by Bri Arroyo and handed two menus: a double-sided, laminated Draft Beer list and a 28 page book of beer that contains all the bottles and more. Bri asked me a few questions about my beer tastes and then suggested a few of her personal favorites. I selected a Gulden Draak, a Dark Belgian Triple weighing in at 10.5% abv. After receiving my beer, I relaxed and really looked around.
World of Beer is an interesting concept, started about 5 years ago in Tampa, FL. They have 16 locations in Florida and have recently begun branching out to other states hitting Columbus, OH and NC, and now Texas. I sat down with one of the owners, Ryan Macina, to find out what the plans are for Dallas.
“We are looking at six to eight area locations in the next few years across the DFW area,” Ryan explained. “The next location is slated to open in the April to July timeframe in 2012 over by SMU at SMU Blvd and Greenville.”
Overhearing that, a gentleman at the bar exclaimed, “Hey, that’s by the Barley House!”, which began a spirited discussion about the beer competition over in that area.
But there really is no serious competition to this concept – the closest the area has is the chain of Flying Saucers owned by Keith Schlabs, Larry Richardson, and Shannon Wynn (who declined to comment for this article) which started in Ft Worth and has now expanded to multiple Texas locations and 5 other states.
World of Beer went to great lengths to design a very attractive place to hang out with high ceilings, very well chosen woods, multiple ways to enjoy your beverages, and a place for the band that doesn’t require moving out seating areas for setup. There are tables at varying heights scattered about with an outdoor bar as well and two sweeping patio areas right off the main dining room. They have 26 flat screen televisions and 2 projection screens, but it doesn’t feel like a sports bar. There are 60 taps (10 repeating, so 50 on at any given time) and the band area is above the bar (with an adjacent seating area which can be rented out for private parties) with live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The Product Manager, Anthony, told me that they strive for uniqueness and are working closely with distributors to get rare beers. Right now, they have few rare gems but definitely a solid selection and they’ve arranged the attractive beer coolers around the bar area by geography. So, you can view all the USA bottles for one that grabs your eye, then go International with beers from around the globe. Anthony started with World of Beer in Florida but moved to the DFW area to take on the new state – they will have Brewery Nights with 6-10 kegs from one brewery and education nights to help spread beer knowledge to the masses.
The 28 page bottle menu itself has a Beer Basics section to help guide consumers and discusses several of the main Beer Styles before the alphabetical bottle list and their own mixed drafts selection (Belgian dark with a splash of Framboise, anyone?) with a small wine list for the non-beer drinkers in the crowd. In about a week, the kitchen will open with some selections including bratwurst, but in the meantime several area restaurants deliver to World of Beer for free and the staff keeps menus behind the counter for you to peruse.
And what about the staff’s beer knowledge? Macina tells me proudly that every staff member must attend a 2 week beer school with 4 hours of training per day and sampling of styles and beers to compliment the book knowledge. They must know where all the beers are from and have to pass a test before they are allowed on the floor. They may not be experts, but they are ready to help guide people to a beer beyond the traditional Coors, Millers and Budweisers most are used to. I overheard a woman and her son interact with Ryan – they asked what they should get and he consulted with them first, asking them what they’ve had in the past and then bringing them samples of beers that were close to those taste profiles until they selected a few they’d never had before.
And that’s what I love about World of Beer: it’s helping bring beer into the limelight and educating people on its complexity and character. Plus, it tastes awesome.
Tait Lifto is a free-lance craft beer blogger and photographer from Dallas, TX.