2013 was a great year for us and we want to thank you all for continuing to read and share our articles, tagging your photos #hookedonhops, and saying hello to us when we are out at a bar or festival. We appreciate all of it, and we are excited for what’s to come in 2014!
In the meantime, I have compiled the articles and topics that were the most popular over the past year. Enjoy! (more…)
I originally posted this article last year, and I got a lot of great responses from many of you who used Belgian beers to pair with your Thanksgiving feasts, so since it’s that time of year again, I thought I’d repost it. (more…)
Westvleteren XII is one of those craft beer unicorns. You always hear about it, but you’re not so sure it exists. It is the highest rated beer in the world and it was released in the US for the first time on 12/12/12. To celebrate, we had a tasting, and for good measure, adulterated this holy beer in every way possible. More on that later, first a brief rundown: (more…)
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…)
Sour beers, while they may have more history than any other beer style, are quickly emerging to becoming quite the trend here in America. I’m going to take a quick moment to briefly explain what makes a beer sour, and describe some of the more common styles of sour beer.
Hopefully you’ve read my Science of Yeast articles. In the second article, I explained the chemical equation for the fermentation of sugar into carbon dioxide and ethanol. The third article ended by briefly explaining the existence of wild yeasts and bacterias that are sometimes used in beer production. To put the two together: while the Saccharomyces strain of yeast will consume sugar and turn it into alcohol, there are other microscopic organisms that will consume proteins and nutrients and turn them into acid, typically lactic acid. Lactic acid is sour, as you should know if you’ve ever eaten plain yogurt.
American breweries that are making sour beers are typically adding very specific bacterias into their beer to produce lactic acid. The most common bacterias used for this process would be Pediococcus Damnosus and Lactobacillus Delbruckii. While this makes for an exacting, and nearly reproducible, product, traditional sour beers were never made this way…
Traditional Belgian lambics are one of the most fascinating styles of beer. Rather than adding a single and sterile strain of bacteria, they simply let the beer ferment spontaneously. That is, once the beer is brewed, the hot wort is transferred to a coolship in the attic. A coolship is basically a large, shallow pan that is left wide open. The windows in the cobweb filled attic are also left wide open, to allow the Belgian air to pour in and cool the hot wort. The beer is then transferred off into barrels and left to ferment. While the beer was left exposed overnight in the coolship, as many as a few hundred different strains of yeast and bacteria enter into the beer. This collection of living organisms will ferment and acidify the beer over the next several years. Due to the cornucopia of yeasts and bugs that are added to coolships, very few American sour beers can even come close to the complexity of a Belgian lambic (however it is worth mentioning that there are a couple American breweries who also spontaneously ferment their beers).
Once the lambics are stored in barrels, the brewers will then age these beers for several years, occasionally offering different vintages for sale. The younger lambics have a sharp sourness to them. As they age, they stay sour, however they become balanced out with the other phenols and esters that are produced by the various yeasts present in the beer.
Guezue is the holy grail of sour beers. A gueuze is a beer made by blending one year, two year, and three year old lambics together. This creates a beer that not only features the sharp sourness of a fresh lambic, but also the smoothness of an aged lambic. Guezue is one of the most complex beers that I have ever tasted, with different layers of flavors present in each sip.
As I’m writing this, I’m drinking an Oude Gueuze Tilquin à I’Ancienne. The aroma is like smelling a grapefruit peel, with a bit of an added mustiness, and a slight wood like aroma. The initial up front flavor is mix of various citrus fruits, like grapefruit, lemon, and lime, but it then fades and reveals various other fruits as well. Fruits like green apples, and berries like tart cherry become more present towards the finish. The beer has a champagne like carbonation and it gives the beer a dry and crisp finish. The finish shows off it’s musty, barnyard like qualities that fade into a lingering sweetness that resembles the sweetness in an orange.
I fully admit that the first time you try a sour beer, you may not like it. It is difficult to prepare yourself for something like it. The first time I had New Belgium’s La Folie, I had a difficult time finishing it. Now I can’t get enough. Like most things in life, it is an acquired taste. However once you acquire it, you can never let it go! Gueuze, though hard to find in Las Vegas, are a good start since they are a bit balanced in their flavor. Jolly Pumpkin makes several approachable sour beers as well. Something like Bam Bière isn’t exactly sour, more so a little tart. This will start to build your tolerance and acceptance for acidity in beer. Work your way up to something like La Folie. It’s a deliciously complex beer, but it is intense in it’s sourness!
I just want to take a moment and point out how much I like Unita’s label artwork. I love the minimalistic look to them. Very few colors are used, the label is primarily two-toned between the background and the font colors. There is only a simple, single, two toned image in the center, and that’s it. It’s perfect.
And not only are the labels great, the beers are great too. Any of the below 12 oz bottles should be go-to session beers for all of you.
Uinta also has another set of beers available in cork finished 750 mL bottles, called their ‘Crooked Line’ beers. While these labels are not as clean cut and simple as the others beers, they do still have great artwork on them.
Uinta’s beers are available at the usual craft beer shops in town: Whole Foods, Khoury’s Fine Wine, and Total Wine.
Little known fact, the owner of Las Vegas’ Tenaya Creek Brewery, Tim Etter, got his start as a brewer at Uinta!
*all of the above images were taken from Uinta’s site.
The above image greets you when you visit Public House’s website. There are billboards in town with a business suit dressed chimpanzee holding an American flag. While the concept of a gastropub is traditionally English, Public House is quintessentially American.
The interior resembles a library. Dark wood covers the floors with bookshelves holding various old books, ornaments and antiques. The decorations typically have an American theme. Pen drawings of American Flags or founding fathers are displayed.
Where to start? Public House is home to the only Certified Cicerone in the state of Nevada, and as such, has an impressive beer list. There are roughly 200 beers to choose from, primarily in bottles, ranging from German lagers to Belgian abbey ales, and from French farmhouse ales to American IPAs and even a few sours and barrel aged beers. They also regularly keep a beer available on cask. During my visit the cask beer was Deschutes Black Butte Porter. The cask version gave this beer a very soft and smooth texture. It retained it’s dark chocolatey taste while feeling very light texture-wise. I also tasted Stillwater’s Existent, a dark farmhouse ale. A lot of plum aromas paired with grape flavors. Despite the dark, fruity flavors, the beer was still refreshingly light.
Both beers paired perfectly with the hearty, rich food that Public House has to offer. Appetizer was the Welsh Rarebit. “Cheddar-Beer Sauce on Toast” as the menu described. The cheese sauce tasted like it was comprised of a dark malty beer with a little mustard, possibly even Worcestershire sauce? The bread was perfectly crusty to contrast the creamy cheese sauce on top.
I opted to try the Pub Burger for the main course. Maybe it was the bacon marmalade, the Guinness aioli, or the gruyére cheese, but this was one of the best burgers I’ve had in Las Vegas. The grass-fed beef was juicy and the toppings complimented it with rich cheese and sweet bacon. Despite the flavorful ingredients, the burger was perfectly balanced with no one aspect dominating the others. This is a difficult burger to eat in one sitting, but it’s even more difficult to stop eating it!
Other items on the menu include fried quail served with waffles, roasted bone marrow served with bacon, and various steaks, and shellfish. There is also grilled octopus, duck confit, and a foie gras parfait.
Public House is located in the Venetian resort on the strip. They use the best quality ingredients and have a renowned chef. As such, the prices reflect this. The quality of food definitely matches the price and this restaurant is worth every penny. That said, the beer prices are also higher than most places in Las Vegas. Bottles start at $7 for 12oz and drafts start at $8. You are likely to end up paying about $10 a beer if you want to drink the less common stuff. Yes, the beers are priced high, but you are likely not going to find most of these beers anywhere else in town. Even still, this place is completely worth it for the food alone.
Dogfish Head is one of my favorite breweries. I’ve yet to have a beer of theirs that I didn’t like. I often recommend their beers to those who are new to craft beer. Dogfish’s beer tends to be much more “approachable” than most of my other favorite beers.
That said, I’m torn as to whether or not I am interested in their new music related beer: Faithfull Ale. It’s not that it doesn’t sound good, a Belgian golden ale with black currants sounds amazing, actually. However, I’ve been a longtime hater of Pearl Jam. I blame growing up in the Pacific northwest and being force fed grunge music as why it’s never interested me.
If Pearl Jam is your thing, and you would like to continue celebrating their 20 years of… whatever, check out the below link to see details of it’s release.