This past week, May 13th-19th, marked American Craft Beer Week. American Craft Beer Week is basically a week to celebrate the small and independent breweries and the fine work that they do.
For the first time that I can remember, local brewery Tenaya Creek went all out to ensure that craft beer fans got a chance to whet their palates with some rare offerings. Each day, Tenaya Creek released a new beer (sometimes more), and all are worth talking about.
Monday: Summer Shandy
I guess this was more of a beer cocktail, but it was delicious nonetheless! This shandy is simply a pairing of Tenaya Creek Hefeweizen and lemonade, and it is quite refreshing and delicious. Just imagine drinking a slightly carbonated, slightly wheaty glass of lemonade on one of our hot Vegas days.
Tuesday: Tenaya Creek Pilsner Dry-Hopped with Citra
This fine drink turned out to be the favorite of many of the folks that I talked with. Take Tenaya Creek’s already flavorful pilsner, dry hop it with Citra hops, and what you get is a great beer with a strong citrus nose, followed by the crisp pilsner taste that the base beer is known for. The Citra mixed in very well, and did not overpower the always tasty pilsner.
Wednesday: Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with Simcoe, Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with El Dorado, and Hop Ride Dry-Hopped with Nelson Sauvin
This day saw Tenaya Creek bust out the big guns with three different dry hopped varieties of Hop Ride IPA. The first, and most popular, was the Simcoe version. This one was bursting with the citrus, piney nose that the hop is known for, while adding just a balanced, complimentary amount of flavors to the taste. The next variety was El Dorado. El Dorado is known to have a watermelon, or pear like flavors, but I didn’t get much of that. What I did get were a lot of earthy flavors. I would however love to to give this one a try again, with perhaps a cleaner palate. The final variety was dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin. Nelson Sauvin can either present a very tropical flavor, or a very wine-like flavor. Thankfully, this one turned featured the former flavors. I really enjoyed the tropical nose, and the slightly tropical flavor, which only added to the fantastic bitterness of the Hop Ride.
Thursday: Calico Brown Ale with Toasted Coconut
Not surprisingly, this was another popular brew. I find that in a lot of coconut beers, the coconut either overpowers, or doesn’t quite come through enough. This is one of the exceptions! The coconut is nicely balanced and cuts through the malty brown ale without ever becoming overpowering. The finish is also fantastic, leaving the toasted coconut flavor lingering on your taste buds.
Friday: Hauling Oats with Coffee, Cocoa Nibs, and Vanilla
When all was said and done, this was my favorite beverage of the entire week. To start with, Hauling Oats is a well balanced, light bodied oatmeal stout. It really is a truly “year-round” stout. The addition of cocoa, vanilla and coffee does little to change this, but it does add much more depth to the brew. It becomes almost an easy drinking dessert beer. I’ll simply leave you with a quote from a fine gentleman by the name of Mike G. (@thegaddrow):
Saturday: Old Jackalope Barley Wine Dry-hopped with Simcoe
I love Old Jackalope, I really do. I look forward every year to its release, and I generally make sure I have a few bottles stashed away for a rainy day. So basically, in my opinion, Old Jackalope can do no wrong. When dry hopped with Simcoe, it simply makes this barley wine taste as fresh as the day it was bottled. You get a bit of citrus on the nose, but when you take your first sip, you still know you are drinking an American barley wine. I’d highly recommend this one, dry-hopped or not.
Sunday: Easy Ride Pale Ale with Oranges, on Nitro
I have a very simple description for this one: orange creamsicle! When you first take a big whiff of this one, you get a big bitter orange smell. The first taste yields a nice, fleshed out body, thanks to the nitro pour. As it warms, it tends to get creamier, and taste like the frozen treat mentioned above.
All in all, I could not be happier with the beers Tenaya Creek put forward this week. While the Hauling Oats was my favorite, I loved every beer that came my way, and number one was a hard choice. Let’s just hope that we see some of these resurface in the very near future and that they aren’t just “one-offs.”
Crafthaus currently has $13,540 pledged of their goal of $20,000, or about 68% to goal. There is only 9 days left to raise another $6,460.
We are fans of all the great local businesses here in Las Vegas, especially those that promote craft beer, whether they be bars or retailers. In the case of breweries, we get exceptionally excited.
I’ve agreed to host an “All About Beer” class at the brewery once they open. For a donation of only $30, I’ll take you on a tour of Crafthaus’ brewery and discuss how beer is brewed. We’ll sample the beers and discuss sensory evaluation and food pairing.
Of course, there are plenty of other awesome gifts for other donation amounts, like entry into the Propagation Program.
For more information, read my interview with founders Dave and Wyndee Forrest here, and visit their Kickstarter campaign here.
I wrote an article for Serious Eats on using a French press to infuse flavors into a beer, similar to a Dogfish Head Randall. I’ve never used the Randall Jr, but I’ll go ahead and assume that a French press works just as well, if not better.
Read it here.
As much fun as it is to see new Las Vegas breweries on the horizon, it is equally great to see new names pop up in familiar breweries. Roughly a week ago, Tenaya Creek unleashed their new Easy Rider Pale Ale, the first release from assistant brewer Marcos.
What this pale ale does really well, is blend the crispness of a west coast pale ale with a solid, but drinkable body. You are met right away with a big, citrusy aroma, followed by slight malt sweetness, and finished off with a piny, grapefruit bitterness that is surprisingly refreshing. This is the kind of beer that you want to sit on your porch and sip on a mild spring day, and at a respectable 5.8% ABV, you certainly can!
Personally, I’m quite looking forward to what Marcos dreams up next!
Once again, Aces & Ales is holding their annual Stone Domination tap takeover. As always, Stone co-founder and CEO Greg Koch will be in attendance, probably signing bottles, probably preaching, probably stage diving off of the bar…
See below for the incredible tap list:
- 2010 Double Bastard Ale
- 2010 Old Guardian Barley Wine
- 2011 BELGO Anise Imperial Russian Stout
- 2011 Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Red Wine Barrels
- 2012 Double Bastard Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels
- 2012 Double Bastard Ale w/Dark Toasted Oak
- 2012 Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in White Wine Barrels
- 2013 ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout
- 2013 Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels
- 2013 Old Guardian OAK-SMOKED Barley Wine w/American & French Oak
- Ken Schmidt/Iron Fist/Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout
- Stone 9th Anniversary Ale
- Stone 14th Anniversary IPA
- Stone 16th Anniversary IPA
- Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale
- Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale
- Stone Mixtape Ale vol. 2 – CH & HS’s Blend
- Stone Mixtape Ale vol. 4 – RK & JM’s Blend
- Stone Mixtape Ale vol. 5 – The Winking Lizard Blend
- Ruination IPA – Tropical Heat Edition
Smoked Porter w/Vanilla Bean
- Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale w/Espresso Beans
- Suitable for Cave Aging – An Imperial Smoked Porter Tribute to Danny Williams aged in Bourbon Barrels
This past Friday, Dave and Wyndee Forrest launched a Kickstarter campaign to open CraftHaus Brewery. While I met with them to discuss their plans, a donor had just pledged $400, putting CraftHaus over the $5,000 mark, or about 26% to their goal of $20,000, in only four days.
CraftHaus isn’t the only new brewery in planning in Las Vegas, nor is it the first to use Kickstarter to raise additional funding. But one thing that sets CraftHaus apart from others, is the amount of time and patience that Dave and Wyndee have put into their business plan over the course of almost three years. One of the first things they did after putting together a plan, was scheduled a meeting with Tomme Arthur, Co-Founder and Directer of Brewing Operations for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. Tomme gave them feedback about the areas of their plan that was lacking, and made some suggestions on what needed to be changed. They rewrote their business plan and scheduled more meetings, and not just with Tomme, but also with Patrick Rue, CEO and Founder of The Bruery, and Dave Cole, Co-Founder of Epic Brewing Company.
Dave and Wyndee continued to write and rewrite their business plan, ensuring that they didn’t miss anything. They attended the Craft Brewers Conference last year to meet with other brewers and to be familiar with the type of business that they were entering. This isn’t just a couple that wants to open a brewery because they enjoy homebrewing. They understand the amount of work that is needed to run a successful brewery. They were advised by Jamil Zainasheff, co-author of Yeast and founder of Heretic Brewing, to not open a brewery. He reminded them that it requires a lot more non-brewing work than what homebrewers think it does. Hearing his insight on opening Heretic helped the pair to better understand and better prepare for the day to day life of running a brewery. In one of their visits with Patrick Rue, he showed Wyndee the pilot brewing system that he had just purchased. Despite the past five years of success that The Bruery has had with making some of the highest rated beers in the country, he stated how excited he was “to finally start brewing beer again!” Dave and Wyndee reached out to so many other professionals for advice and help because, as they told me, “we know our weaknesses, and we know where we need help and what to reach out to others for.”
All of the work that they have put into the planning of CraftHaus means that they are ready to open their brewery. Their Kickstarter campaign is already off to a great start, but even if their goal isn’t met, it won’t be the end of CraftHaus. The reason that they are using Kickstarter, is because they want the community to get involved with the brewery as well.
“We don’t want you to think of this as our brewery. We want you to think of this as your brewery.”
Through Kickstarter, they can invest in additional equipment which would mean better beer for their customers. A pilot brewing system would allow for additional experimentation, and oak barrels would allow for barrel aged beers. They hope that the tasting room could be used to not just talk about beer, but also as a place for people to talk with each other and to meet others in their community. They plan on having a rotating “community tap handle.” The proceeds of that beer’s sales would go to a different charity focused on Las Vegas, that way they can give back to the city and the community that is giving to them.
If you haven’t already, head over to the Crafthaus Kickstarter page and take a look at their offerings for donors.
While meeting with CraftHaus, I also got to taste a few of their beers. First, was Charlie’s Mantra, named after the father of American homebrewing, Charlie Papazian. In his book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, he constantly reminds the readers to “relax, don’t worry, and have a homebrew.” CraftHaus chose to name their pale ale after this saying because they want to keep the fun in brewing. The beer is a little bit more malt forward than most pale ales that are being brewed today, but it still maintains a sweet, citrusy aroma from the Citra hops. The beer is very light bodied and refreshing, thanks to it’s 5% alcohol level. The finish is clean and dry, with a lingering piney bitterness from the Chinook hops.
Next was Evocation, CraftHaus’ saison. The beer has a lot of fruity, Belgian esters in both the aroma and flavor. Banana was the standout flavor in the beer. Ginger is also added, giving the beer some spiciness in the aroma. This is also a very refreshing beer, with lingering sweetness that would make this great for Las Vegas summers.
Finally, I tasted Saboteur, a double IPA. This was a very interesting take on the double IPA style. Rather than loading the beer with bittering hops, Dave adds a lot of late addition hops, giving this beer an immense piney, resinous hop aroma and flavor. The beer maintains it’s balance with enough of a malt backbone to give the beer some sweetness to compliment the hop flavor.
Lagunitas’ CEO and founder Tony Magee took to Twitter late Thursday night with some interesting data about craft beer’s percentage of the beer market, and what that looks like for future growth, both with existing breweries, and with new breweries. It’s an interesting bit perspective from the 6th largest craft brewery in America, and I’ve always enjoyed Magee’s perspective on his business. I edited his statement slightly, only to fix all the “Twitter grammar,” to make it easier to read:
Was looking at IRA data. I added ALL the craft-type sales, meaning the narrow Brewers Association definition of craft beer, as well as Shock Top, Blue Moon, Craft Brewer’s Alliance brands, Guinness, Newcastle, etc… It turns out that the things y’all drink when y’all want flavor represent a freakin’ 12% market share, not the 6% share that is reported.
Could say that the extra 6% share represents the ACTUAL shortage of capacity within authentic craft beer. Makes building another brewery seem like a stoopid safe bet. I see Blue Moon & Shock Top, and the other faux beers as mere spackling in the cracks. A sort of beer-bondo that we can easily chip back out when we’re ready to use that market crevice ourselves. Maybe that sounds pompous, and maybe it is. And when I write ‘we’ I’m referring to all of us new brewers. Bottoms up!
In a recent newspaper thing I said that I thought Lagunitas could be as big as Anheuser Busch or MillerCoors. WTF does ‘big’ mean? Big is the result of something else. No one ‘owns’ big. It’s an artifact of your decision making. Could Lagunitas be that big? Sure. But in the end it’ll be up to you. We’ll just try. But like every mountain climber knows first hand, there’s nothing up there on the top. The trip is the thing, & we’re sure trippin’ lately.