Craft beer & ribs; a match made in heaven

Craft beer & ribs; a match made in heaven

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Since its humble Dallas beginnings 40 years ago at the corner of Greenville Avenue and Meadow Road, Chili's has become well known for its Chicken Crispers, bottomless chips and salsa, Presidente Margaritas, and Molten Chocolate Cake. The chain, which introduced the masses to the Tex-Mex delight known as fajitas in the early '80s and Baby Back Ribs (along with that infectious jingle), is returning to its Texas roots with the introduction of their new "Fresh Tex" menu, utilizing Texas cooking traditions like slow smoking, baking, and roasting.

Starting January 19, all 824 nationwide Chili's locations will begin offering this new menu, which showcases two rib flavors native Texans will recognize: Dr. Pepper BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Craft Beer BBQ Baby Back Ribs. The latter features a sauce specially crafted with the local Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.'s summer seasonal, Summertime Wheat.

You read that correctly - beginning January 19, every Chili's in America will be serving a dish created with a local North Texas beer.

To create this tasty new concoction, the culinary minds at Chili's mixed Rahr's Summertime Wheat, a German-style Hefeweizen with notes of clove and banana, with its original barbecue sauce for a slightly sweet, yet bold flavor to complement the slow-smoked ribs. Chili's chose Rahr & Sons because "being born and raised in Texas gives us common heritage and aligns with Chili's vision for authentic, Fresh Tex cuisine," according to Aisha Fletcher, a PR Specialist with Chili's. Plus, it's a quality beer, she added.

Rahr & Sons celebrated 10 years of brewing in Fort Worth last year, a feat no other currently operating microbrewery has accomplished. Rahr's beer can be found on taps and shelves throughout most of the state and, as of next week, in the aforementioned sauce at nearly 1,000 Chili's locations.

"We were honored and extremely happy Chili's chose to partner with Rahr & Sons on this new, nationally rolled out sauce," said founder and president Fritz Rahr, Jr. on the Summertime Wheat-sauced ribs, adding he "had a wonderful time working with a great group of people."

Look for Chili's new Fresh Tex menu, including these new rib flavors paired with skillet sides (mmm...jalapeno cornbread) and seasonal vegetables such as asparagus and garlic roasted tomatoes, at all locations starting next Monday, January 19.

Matt Dixon co-founded Dallas Brew Scene in February 2012 on a mission to help cultivate and grow the craft beer scene in North Texas through interaction and education.

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