What The Hell Does Hoppy Even Mean?

| July 15th, 2013 | 2 comments


As craft beer becomes more prevalent, so does its most popular ingredient, the hop. Many people recognize the hop as the truly differential factor between craft beer and the more common light American lagers. But what does it mean to describe a beer as ‘hoppy?’ Hoppy is often used as a synonym for the word ‘bitter,’ but there are plenty of beers that use loads of hops and don’t taste the least bit bitter. So, does ‘hoppy’ even mean anything at all? First, it’s important to know what the purpose of hops are in a beer.


Understanding Cask Beer

| January 23rd, 2013 | 2 comments

Simply put, cask beer is a beer that is brewed and fermented, and then placed into essentially a small keg, where it is then conditioned and naturally carbonated through a secondary fermentation. The beer is transported to its serving location in this vessel and served directly from this vessel without the use of any additional pressure.

That being said, cask beer is delicious. Todd English’s PUB and Public House always have at least one cask beer available at any given moment. There are a couple other places in Las Vegas that also have cask beers available off and on. If you get the chance, try out one of these beers!

Here’s what to expect: (more…)

The Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer

| April 23rd, 2012 | 2 comments

April 21, 2012 marked the second annual Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer, held once again at Tivoli Village.  Last year’s festival was a bit underwhelming.  There was little room, and a strong lack of organization.  I’m pleased to say that this year, they seemed to alleviate both of those issues.  The space given to the event was three times larger, and the overall professionalism of the event was greatly improved. While I could do without loud bands playing throughout the event, I’m sure that many people enjoy the live music atmosphere.  Now…on to the beer!

My wife and I decided to be fancy and go with the VIP tickets this year.  This allowed us to enter an hour early, and to enter a “Brewer’s Lounge” with food and special beers.  The special beers were simply bottled Ommegang beers, which are available at most liquor stores, and Tailwagger Wheat, and Rebel Red from local Big Dog’s Brewery.  While these are all solid beers, there is nothing really special about them.  With that being said, the VIP tickets were worth the extra $10 for the early entry.  By the time Tivoli Village started filling up, we had already made one lap around the area.

I was very happy to find some nice surprises amongst the beer selections this year.  Noble Ale Works was in attendance, sampling their IPA, Pale Ale, and phenomenal Alpha Red.  Hopefully we will see these on Las Vegas shelves sooner than later!   (UPDATE: Khourey’s Fine Wine is currently carrying Noble Ale Works) Dogfish Head were pouring both their refreshing Aprihop, as well as their coveted 120 Minute IPA in the “Hop Tent.”   Stevens Point and Three Monkeys, both new to the Vegas market, were also in attendance.  I quite enjoyed the Brown Barrel Ale from the latter, and their Tres Vasqueros Amber Ale is about as fine of an amber ale as you will find!  I was only able to try the Cascade Pale Ale by Stevens Point, but it was a nice, if unspectacular pale ale.  Other breweries in attendance, included Wasatch, Squatters, Crispin Ciders, Unibroue, Green Flash, New Belgium, Left Coast, Uinta, Firestone Walker and Ballast Point.

Not to be outdone, Las Vegas’ locals had a fantastic showing of their own!  On hand were breweries, Tenaya Creek, Joseph James, Big Dog’s, and local craft beer bar Aces and Ales.  Aces and Ales were pouring two fantastic Rogue selections in XS Imperial IPA and Brutal IPA.  Tenaya Creek had a fine selection of their own local brews, including Calico Brown and their Hop Ride IPA, which made it to the Elite 8 in the National IPA Championships!  Thankfully, if you missed out on either of these brews, you can always visit the brewery year round!    Big Dog’s really managed to surprise me with their Alpha Dog double red imperial ale.  Big Dog’s has always been hit or miss for me, but this hoppy concoction won me over at first sip!  Last, but not least, is Joseph James.  Joseph James had their stellar Hop Box and Tahoe Blue on hand, but what really blew me away was their “experimental” crafts.  The first beer they unveiled was a Cherry Pie Blonde Ale.  In my opinion, this was a splendidly refreshing beer with nice subtle notes of cherries.  The second new brew that they unleashed, was appropriatley  titled Baby J’s German Chocolate Cake Stout.  All in all, this may have ended up being my favorite beer of the event!  Just as the name implies, this was German chocolate cake in a glass!  Big, chocolate and coffee stout flavors, with a perfectly balanced coconut flavor throughout.   I really hope this one ends up in a bottle someday soon!

Overall, I would highly recommend that any lover of craft beer does not miss this event next year!  Las Vegas craft beer needs your support, and the prices ($27 for regular, $37 for VIP) are very reasonable when you consider the amount of beer you will be experiencing!



Public House Restaurant Review

| February 17th, 2012 | No comments

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.

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

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Twitter: @aaguilar13