It seems like almost every day there’s a new business opening its doors on South Main Street, and I’m not complaining. There was a time not so long ago that people visited “SoMa” (a term I heard for the first time last week) for only a few things: a Rahr & Sons brewery tour, a good meal at Jesus BBQ, or a show at Shipping & Receiving Bar. The latest addition to the area, Southside Cellar (125 S Main St, 682-703-2184), is a combination retail store and beer-and-wine bar that fits the area so well, it already feels like it’s been there for years.
When you first step into Southside Cellar, you might think you’re just entering a beer and wine retail shop. The store-half is brightly lit, with central shelves stocked with an impressive array of beer, well-priced wine, and some refrigerators lining the walls. But if you venture in a little farther, up a small ramp and behind a curtain, you enter what appears to be a chic den in a bachelor’s house. Comfortable furniture abounds, and antique maps and briefcases stuffed with empty beer cans hang on the brick and shiplap walls. Above the picture window that faces Main Street hangs a recreation of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam,” except God is handing Adam a beer.
When I arrived with a small group of friends on Friday night, the bar was busy but not crowded. Punk rock played at a surprisingly soft volume, and several groups of people were occupying the group of Persian rug-carpeted mini-dens that make up most of the seating. We found a round wood table adjacent the bar that allowed our party to sit and talk as we squinted to read the chalkboard menu. There are 30 or so taps, including some local favorites like Rahr’s Winter Warmer, but also many intriguing choices I’ve never seen on draft before.
My first pick was the Tennessee Temptress, an amped-up version of Garland-based Lakewood Brewing’s Temptress that is aged in Jack Daniel’s barrels and spiked with cherry puree. The beer was creamy and tinged with a good amount of malt flavor and a hint of coffee — perfect for the chilly evening. One of my compatriots was intrigued by Boulevard Brewing’s Brandy Land from Kansas City. Aged in brandy casks and bourbon barrels, the brew exuded hints of cinnamon and apple. Both beers were delicious, but even better, they were both over 11 percent ABV, creating a buzz well worth the $7.50 and $8 price tags, respectively.
We soon found we needed to fill our bellies before the next round, so our group was happy to find that Southside lets you carry in food and provides menus for several nearby restaurants, like Black Cat Pizza and The Bearded Lady. We opted for Coco Shrimp, just a 2-minute walk away, whose bowls provided a nice rice base for our drinking journey.
When my buddy and I returned, food in hand, I noticed that the taps themselves were shiny and sleek: no tap handles advertising the beer, just a simple grid of steel spouts. It looked cool, but seemed like kind of a pain for the bartender to locate the tap that housed my next choice, Martin House’s Erebus, an imperial stout aged on coffee beans in stout barrels. The quaff, named for the Greek deity who was born of Chaos and personified darkness, was also high in alcohol (almost 13 percent ABC), inky by sight, and surprisingly light in mouthfeel — chaos indeed.
Meanwhile, my wife, who is not a beer drinker, was pleasantly surprised by the wine list (plus the option to buy a bottle from the store and drink it in-house). Her California red blend and cabernet sauvignon glasses were generous pours, and neither cost more than $10.
With such a diverse lineup of craft beer (and reasonable prices to boot), Southside Cellar is another win for the increasingly hip South Main area. Plus, it’s always nice to have the option to take home anything you discover you like, in bottle, can, or growler form. The Cellar’s motto paraphrases Benjamin Franklin: “Beer. Wine. Happiness.” No false advertising there.
125 S Main St, FW.