Joseph James Hop Box Imperial IPA

| February 25th, 2012 | No comments

Joseph James Brewing Company has always made decent beer. However, I generally thought that their beers were missing something.
Recently, Joseph James altered their recipes and completely blew my expectations out of the water!
Hop Box went from being an average, bitter IPA to a “go out of your way for” beer! The hoppiness hits you right away and lingers on well after your last sip! Pair this beer with a cheese plate from Whole Foods Market, and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!


Aces and Ales Winter Beerfest

| January 20th, 2012 | No comments

Looking for some of the best and rarest beer you can find in Las Vegas? Head to Aces and Ales and let Ryan, Sumi and crew serve it up for you! Check out for more info! We hope to see you there!

What the Craft Beer Scene can Learn from the Metal Scene

| January 18th, 2012 | No comments

What craft beer can learn from metal 

I originally sat down to write about more of my San Diego visit, but then I found inspiration from another source:  Sam Calagione’s rant about overrated breweries. (which you can read here:

Since I picked up …And Justice for All, I have been a metalhead.  Through Metallica, I discovered Slayer, then Iron Maiden, then Testament, S.O.D., Death Angel, Sodom, and the list goes on.  Next thing I know, thanks to accidentally tuning in to 91.5 college radio (back in 1994), I was plunged into a whole new world of darkness.  I discovered extreme metal.  Metallica, Testament, and Death Angel were replaced by Darkthrone, Cannibal Corpse and Decide. What does this have to do with beer you ask?  Follow with me.

I used to hate beer…HATED it.  Budweiser, Coors, Corona.  I asked myself how anyone could drink this crap (Note: I still do.).  One day at a wedding, my friend Jason made me reluctantly drink a beer with him.  That beer was Newcastle, and a new love for beer began.  From Newcastle, it was Guinness, or whatever fancy sounding beer that I could find at my local grocer.  After reading an online beer blog, I went in search of Dogfish Head and Stone.  My tastebuds, and my life to an extent, would be forever altered.

After my first experiences with true craft beer, I knew I could never go back.  From Stone and Dogfish Head, I went on to try Rogue, Anchor, New Belgium, and the like.  The more I got into beer, the more I started to seek out lesser known breweries and indulge in the fermented goodness that they had to offer.  I still loved my Dogfish Head and my Stone, but I started to see them as breweries that were too well known to satisfy my palette.  I made a huge mistake.

Fast forward to the early turn of the century.  The bands I mentioned earlier, Darkthrone, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide were not what they used to be.  People started calling them mainstream and searching for darker and more obscure music.  Xasthur, Leviathan, and Pest were in, while the old guard were overrated.  Metal fans became divided.  Black metallers hated thrashers.  Death heads hated power metallers.  The Neo-Socialist black metal fans hated everyone (and everyone hated them).  Words such as “trendy” were being aimed at bands that never sold more than 10K records, and the genre became more about street cred, than about the music.

I already see this happening with craft beer fans.  People are turning their noses up at great breweries, because they have become “too big.”  It’s becoming more about trying the most obscure ales that you can, rather than drinking the more common craft beer that  you can find at your local wine shop.  Stout fans talking crap about Stone.  Porter fans snubbing hef lovers.  Everyone still hating InBev fans.  (That last one is not a bad thing.)

If you haven’t heard about the bands I listed earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised.  I expect it.  As metal fans became more divided we effectively killed every chance we had of the bands we love becoming big.  As the scene split further and further, the originators were left behind, and new bands still have trouble gaining any following.  I wish I could say there is a happy ending to this, but there isn’t.

However, there are bands that have “made it.”  I’ll use the bands Enslaved and Emperor as examples.  What these bands did, was refuse to rest on their laurels.  They continued to experiment and to push the boundaries of what they could do.  While the so-called true metalheads may shun them, they have an entire fan base that is happy to enjoy the music that they craft.  Sound familiar?

Dogfish Head and Stone have never sat back and become complacent.  They continually work at crafting new and interesting brews.  They continue to gain new fans and continue to grow.  

As craft brew fans, we need to applaud this.  We need to support the breweries that are doing things to help the industry grow.  When we start throwing around terms like “overrated,”  we start to polarize one another, and the community begins to slowly break down.  If the community breaks down, then the brewers that work so hard to produce the liquid that we love will never be able to see that work pay off.

I love Stone beer.  I love Dogfish Head.  I would love to see more and more beer drinkers reaching for 60 min. IPA and Arrogant Bastard than Bud Light and Coors.  I myself realized that the more I searched for obscure beer, I was missing out on fantastic beer that was sitting right in front of me.

This is not to say that seeking out new brews is a bad thing.  It’s just that we can never forget what got us here, and the breweries that are trying to make it better for everyone.  I believe that Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head and Greg Koch from Stone want to see craft beer continue to grow.  At the end of the day, they’re beer geeks, just like us.  So I urge everyone to continue to spread the word about craft beer and to show respect to all craft breweries.

No one remembers great metal bands such as Manes, Death Reality and Mindset Rage.  If we continue to break apart our community, the same fate may be in store for a lot of great breweries.


San Diego: Churchill’s Pub and Grille

| January 10th, 2012 | No comments

San Diego

Night 1:

We rolled into San Diego at roughly 5:30 PM and checked into our hotel.  We were both pretty beat from the day’s events, but we didn’t want to waste time.  I checked my Twitter feed and noticed that Ryan from Aces and Ales had recommended a pub called Churchill’s.  I was amazed to see it was only about a mile from the hotel!

We decided to take a walk and embark on our first stop for fine ales.


Aside from the outside sign, sporting the likeness of the man himself, the first thing I noticed was the old English telephone booth standing next to the entry way.  As we walked in, we were greeted by beer signs aplenty.  After being seated, we got our menu’s, including the extensive list of draft beer, which is, well, why you’re probably reading this in the first place.  Prices range from $3-$10 per glass, or you can get a 4oz.  taster for a fraction of the cost.

Evil Twin Soft X-mas with a Cherry on Top – Vanilla Imperial Stout w/ Cherries

Sadly, this beer was dominated by the sour cherry flavor, with only a minimal tasting of vanilla.  As the beer warmed, the coffee flavors began to sneak out, but overall it was disappointing.

 Karl Strauss Cask Conditioned Padre Porte

This was a bit underwhelming.  It had a standard porter flavor, a bit spicy, but the light body made it feel a little watered down.

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

-My wife exclaimed “This tastes just like it smells…DELICIOUS!”  …and I’d have to agree!  The grapefruit and pine notes come through in a big way, both in smell and in flavor, with a nice bitter finish.  This was my first experience with Russian RIver, and I cannot wait to get my hands on more of their brews! Highly recommended!

Karl Strauss Flan-Diddly-Anders Red

 -On first smell you get a nice nose full of maple and sweet cherries.  The flavor has a nice acidic sourness to it which give way to a bit of sweetness.  Not the best sour beer that I’ve had, but quite pleasant.

Monkey Paw Santa’s Pet Monkey – Chocolate Vanilla Imperial Porter

-The chocolate and vanilla flavors hit you right away with the coffee porter smell coming in shortly after.  The chocolate is by far the dominant flavor, as the vanilla seems to rarely come through.  All in all, a decent porter, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Coronado Stoopid Stout

-The coffee notes hit you right away, with a nice dose of chocolate, and a hint of grapefruit.  This stout is huge with a big coffee flavor, big alcohol, and a nice, unexpected hop overtone.  One fantastic stout!

Green Flash Fizzy Yellow Pilsner

-I’m not a fan of pilsners, however, alongside Tenaya Creek’s, this may be the only pilsner I’ve enjoyed.  It has great notes of lemon zest, malt, and even banana.  A fine, refreshing beer!

Karl Strauss Two Tortugas – Belgian Quad

-My wife and I both loves this one!  Smells and tastes like brown sugar and molasses, with a nice, rum-like finish.  Very complex and tasty!

Evil Twin X-mas in a NYC Hotel Room

-Bitter chocolate, smoky coffee, and toffee were the prevalent flavors here.  All shined through great, and each drink felt as if I was unveiling a new layer of flavors.  Quite a bold stout!

Not to be outdone, the food here was also great!  My wife raved about the clam chowder and scotch eggs, while I feasted upon an “Epic” grilled cheese sandwich.  If you are in San Diego, this pub is a “must go,”  and I’m sure it will be the first place I go on any future trips!  Great food, phenomenal beer selection, and top notch service…5 stars all around!

Coming soon:  Stone Brewery day 1

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

| January 2nd, 2012 | No comments

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel is a fine oatmeal stout brewed with kopi luwak, or civet coffee, which is one of the rarest coffees in the world. It is derived from the droppings of weasel-like civet cats which eat the ripe coffee berries. So, how is it? To say that this is the finest oatmeal stout that I have tasted would be an understatement. This would easily rate in the top 5 brews that I have had the pleasure to ingest. From the pitch black color, to the velvety texture, to the fantastic chocolate, coffee flavors, this is a beer to go out of your way to track down!

Get yours at:
Whole Foods Market
6689 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Beer on a Budget

| December 31st, 2011 | No comments
Beer on a budget

It’s no secret that times are tough.  Unemployment, rising fuel bills, and higher food costs are just some of the troubles facing us in this turbulent economic time.  One thing I continually hear from my less enlightened beer swilling friends, is that craft beer is just too expensive.  Not so, I say!  There are plenty of reasonable, bank account friendly craft beers that are time tested and beer geek approved!

Stone Brewing Company – IPA, Smoked Porter, Arrogant Bastard Ale
First and foremost, we’ll start with the Escondido based brewery which is arguably the most vocal when it comes to bringing craft beer to the mainstream.  While you can rarely go wrong with any of Stone’s excellent beverages, the above beers will give you the most bang for your hard earned buck.  For $3.99 per 22oz. bomber, you can take home a delicious IPA, Smoked Porter, or the infamous Arrogant Bastard Ale.  All 3 are varied enough to impress a wide array of palettes, and the infamous gargoyle logo looks great to boot.

Deschutes Brewery – Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Inversion IPA
With their higher end beers such as The Abyss and The Stoic, Deschutes Brewery from Oregon have been carving out a nice niche for themselves in the craft beer arena.  However, it is the tried and true staples of their beer lineup which have helped give them the credit they deserve.  At roughly $8.99 for a six-pack, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, or Inversion IPA will have any self respecting beer lover salivating.  Throw in the seasonal Jubelale, and you have a fantastic mix of beers that will run you slightly more than a six-pack of Newcastle or Blue Moon, but with 10x the flavor!

Wasatch Beers – Apricot Hefeweizen, Polygamy Porter, The Devastator
Wasatch have been brewing quality beers out of Park City, Utah since 1986, and are an oft-overlooked player in the craft beer market.  At roughly the same cost of a 6-pack of Shock Top, you can pick up their fine Apricot Hefeweizen which is sure to be a hit amongst those that prefer their beer a bit lighter and enjoy a fruity finish.  The Polygamy Porter is a great choice for the coffee lover in your life, while The Devastator Double Bock will please the adventurous lot who want a bit more bite to their beer.  All run roughly $7.99 for a six pack.

Anchor Brewing – Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Liberty Ale, Anchor Porter
WIth a history dating back to as early as 1896, Anchor Brewing company has been riding the beer roller coaster with a dedication to crafting fine brews.  Many consider Anchor to be the first true craft brewery, a term that hadn’t even been coined when they first started bottling their iconic Anchor Steam beer in 1971.  To this day, you just can’t go wrong with Anchor.  The next time you’re thinking of dropping $6 for a six-pack of Sam Adams or Leinenkugel, I urge you to avert your eyes, and instead look for the yellow carrier.  Any of Anchor’s year-round beers will run you close to $7.99 for a 6 pack.   When you crack open your first bottle of Anchor Steam and get a good whiff of the caramel and citrus notes, you’ll know that you’ve made a fiscally responsible choice!  Your bank account and taste buds will thank you!

Where to Buy
When it comes to the best place for your craft beer needs in Las Vegas, you just can’t beat Khoury’s Fine Wine and Spirits.
Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits 

For those of you that enjoy the bar scene, Aces and Ales has no competitor.  There you will find the rarest and best beers on tap in town!
Aces & Ales

I can be found on:
Twitter: @aaguilar13