Miller’s Disappointing Fortune

| January 30th, 2014 | 1 comment


To be clear, I wasn’t exactly expecting to be amazed by MillerCoors’ newest “premium beer,” however I was intrigued by it and the way it was being marketed. Bloomberg was first to put together a piece on the beer. Between the various interviews in the article, it is mentioned that the primary reason for this beer’s existence is to try and bring market share back to beer from spirits.

“We asked, ’How would Jack Daniels or Maker’s Mark do a beer and why?’” said David Kroll, who was brought to MillerCoors from Dyson in 2012 to shake things up as its head of innovation. “We tortured every aspect to say, ’Are we falling back on what beer would do?’ Because this brand is intended to play in a spirits occasion.” (more…)

Aces and Ales Homegrown Tap Takeover

| December 11th, 2012 | No comments

Aces and Ales did it again, and in a big way. I’ve been to their Strong Beer Fest, Winter Beer Fest, Stone Domination, etc., but never have I felt the sense local community like I did a week ago Saturday. Aces and Ales presented their first ever Homegrown Tap Takeover, which brought together Las Vegas’ four most well known breweries: Tenaya Creek, Joseph James, Big Dog’s and Chicago Brewing Company.

Before I get into the beer, much praise needs to be heaped upon everyone that had a hand in making this special event happen. The organization and execution was flawless, and the Aces crew were in high spirits as they hustled to deliver great craft beer and delicious food to the insatiable palates of their patrons. The breweries put their best efforts forward and really were able to come through with some memorable offerings. A huge thank you to everyone involved. (more…)

Gifts for beer loving dads

| June 8th, 2012 | No comments

With Father’s Day coming up, I feel it is my civic duty to educate any people who may be buying gifts for their hop loving dads. As a father myself, trust me when I say that your father does not want a tie, or slippers for Father’s Day. As Hank Hill would say, they may want “beer, and beer related accessories!”. Read on for some great local ideas for the male parental unit that you love!

Tenaya Creek

General Manager Karl Herrera of Tenaya Creek Brewery has devised a fantastic gift for fans of great, local craft brews. For just $45, you will receive a wax sealed, brewer autographed growler full of their delicious Old Jackalope Barleywine, which is perfect for aging (and ages beautifully), as well 22oz bombers of both their Calico Brown Ale and Hop Ride IPA. With three distinct, delicious beverages…how could you go wrong?

For more info visit: Tenaya Creek Father’s Day Package

Aces and Ales

As of yet, Aces and Ales is not doing anything fancy for Father’s Day…however, how about surprising dad with a 07.07.07 Vertical Epic from Stone, or perhaps a bottle of 14th Anniversary Firestone Walker? With an extensive list of hard to fine and aged bottles, Aces and Ales is a great choice if you want to pick up something unique. Or, why not treat your pops to some great tap beer and food on his special day? Either way, it is sure to put a smile on even the pickiest beer-lover’s face.

Khoury’s Fine Wine and Spirits

What can I say about Khoury’s? Imagine a place when you can get a great craft beer on tap, and then shop for beer while enjoying it! Khoury’s is truly a beer geek’s dream come true! Head on in, grab a glass, and then take a gander through their extensive selection of beer, whiskey, wine, and even glassware. Khoury’s would be the perfect place to pick up your father’s favorite beer, pack it with a glass featuring his favorite birthday, and perhaps get him his favorite whiskey to boot. Oh, and did I mention that you can do all of this while enjoying a drink yourself?

Whole Foods on Las Vegas Blvd

Whole Foods on Las Vegas Blvd. rivals any destination in town for their great selection of fermented craft goodness. Pick up a gift card for your dad, and let him go to town! You can also speak with their Beer Specialist, Chris Brown, and let him help you pick out a beer that will go straight to your old man’s heart. I would love to recommend every Whole Foods in town, but the one at Town Square just plain leaves the rest of them it he dust.

Do you have any great beer related gift ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them! Please feel free to share the love in the comments field below, or send us an e-mail.

Cooking with Alcohol

| March 21st, 2012 | No comments

When someone tastes the dish I prepare and when I educate them that there is alcohol in the dish, people usually just shrug it off and say “It’s alcohol, it has evaporated.” Well, that is true up to a certain point. You see, depending on the cooking method and for how long you cook a dish, it will greatly impact the remaining percentage of the alcohol. With that being said, it does not mean that you will get drunk if you consume a dish that has been prepared with alcohol.

This is very important to know, especially if you are dealing with people who have allergies or have just recently stopped drinking due to health issues.

Let’s look at this chart which will explain what exactly I am trying to explain here:

When looking at the chart, what does this mean? It’s very simple. Cooking methods that include short and quick cooking, obviously retains the most alcohol. The common misconception that I have seen among people is that if you flambé something, most of the alcohol is gone.

If you are not familiar with the term flambé allow me to explain it. It is a cooking procedure which involves a hot pan and high proof alcohol. Once you combine the two you create a burst of flames. Flambé is usually done at table sides in a restaurant for the wow effect and also for additional flavor. Flambéing can infuse a dish with additional aroma and flavor, while burning off some of the alcohol content. Granted this cannot be accomplished with beer.

So what about beer? What happens if you make that stew with beer? How does that affect the overall taste?

Stew is a combination of solid ingredients that have been cooked in a liquid and the overall dish is served with the cooking liquid. There are many ingredients that stew can include (vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood), and also the cooking liquid does not have to include water, necessarily. Some of the acceptable ingredients are wine, stock and also beer. While the stews are cooked on a low temperature for a long time, this allows the flavors to become richer. Do not forget that also less percentage of the alcohol will be retained in the final dish.

Every once in a while I make a beer ice cream. What about that? how does the alcohol affect the taste of the ice cream?

Granted the beer is cooked for about 10 minutes on a medium heat on the stove, but if you look at the chart, that means that approximately 40% of the alcohol content remained in the final product.

Since I can keep on rambling about this subject all day long, let me conclude this post for now. What am I trying to say in the end? Inform your guests of the ingredients you have used in your dishes, just in case someone is allergenic to something. Just because you have “cooked” the alcohol, it does not mean that it is all gone. Help spread the word and when someone tells you next time that the alcohol is evaporated, please correct them. There are lots of misconceptions about food going around. Especially when you combine alcohol!

Craft Beer With Food

| March 8th, 2012 | No comments

It is surprising to me that craft beer drinkers are too often not always craft food eaters. Craft beer drinkers are often proud of the fact that their beers do not contain the adjuncts or chemicals that the large macro brewers use. However many will happily eat low quality, mass produced food.

When Stone brewery first opened their restaurant, they created a menu that contained as much of a focus on quality ingredients, as they have on their beer. The result was their guests often complaining that they didn’t sell cheap bar food. In addition to being the largest purchaser of organic food in San Diego, the brewery even purchased a farm last year so they can even start growing their own vegetables. Stone’s World Bistro and Gardens is a great resource for how to merge craft beer with high quality food.

Here in Vegas, we have several restaurants that do focus on both craft beer and food. Public House and Todd English’s PUB immediately come to mind, along with a few others. However, it isn’t practical for anyone to solely eat at these restaurants everyday, so what can someone do at home to enjoy both craft beer and food?

The first step is to start cooking, using as few prepared meals/ingredients as possible. Buy fresh meats and vegetables and prepare it yourself. I’m not saying you have to buy organic foods, and I’m not saying that you even have to eat “healthy” foods (though both are good options), all I’m saying is that you make your own food from fresh ingredients. Write down a few of your favorite foods, and look up recipes to make it yourself. If you love pizza, buy cheese, sauce, pepperoni, dough, and make it (even better, make your own dough). Do you like hamburgers? Heat up the grill and start making your own burgers. If you want to go to the bar and eat chicken fingers, then you should make your own. I guarantee that if you buy fresh chicken and make your own beer batter, it will taste better than anything you can buy in a bar where the focus is solely on making chicken fingers as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. There are many things added to these foods when you get them at your local bar that you would never use at home. Restaurant food is known for having ridiculously higher sodium levels than the freshly homemade equivalent. The fresher your ingredients, the more flavor the food will have and you will need less salt and fat to make it palatable. Even if it’s a bacon cheeseburger, the home cooked option is more likely to taste better and be better for you (bacon is a nutrient right?).

There are two things you will learn once you start pairing great food with great beer:

1. Great food will make a great beer taste better. The rich, hearty flavors in great dishes will match the quality of the beer and increase its refreshing characteristics.

2. Great beer will make your food taste better. Because the quality of the food matches the beer, the flavors in the beer will match the flavors in your food. The caramel sweetness in a brown ale will match, and increase, the sweetness in barbecue. The light tartness in a hefeweizen will match and highlight the lemon flavors in seafoods, salads, or other dishes seasoned with lemon. Because beer and food have so many similar flavors, you will find a near infinite amount of ways to match food with beer.

I am confident that once you begin to drink your beer with better quality food, you will enjoy both even more.
If you need help with recipes (especially ones using bacon and beer as ingredients) contact Hooked on Hops’ own contributor, Goran Cvijanovic. You can view a few of his recipes here on the site as well.

Earlier I mentioned the struggles Stone had getting their guests to enjoy and appreciate high quality food. You can read more about this, and even get some recipes from the restaurant in their book.

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

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