Madame Rose is a bitch. You wouldn’t know it from meeting her; she’s actually very friendly and personable. But to those who have to work with her: Madame Rose is a bitch. I met Madame Rose last week, while attending a Goose Island beer pairing dinner at Todd English. The darkly lit restaurant featured several of Goose Island’s barrel aged beers, and a very unique and diverse food menu.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what the primary driver of innovation in craft beer is. Is it consumer demand? Do savvy brewers notice shifting tastes or coming trends and whip something up that fits the bill? Does the local brewpub brewer get badgered by enough beer geeks and homebrewers that he decides something like a Nelson Sauvin IPA is worth a shot?
Or are some of the more innovative offerings a result of the brewer’s desire to make something that he or she finds interesting? To what extent can professional brewers push the envelope and get consumers to follow? Any rational person might’ve thought a hop monster like Stone Ruination IPA was wildly out of place in the craft beer market 10 years ago. Now, not only is it my regular go-to when I want my tongue to swim in a sea of C-hops, but it’s one of the highest rated Imperial IPAs around. Hell, I can get a bomber of it at the gas station down the street while picking up a meatball sub.
Now you may be wondering why I’m spending so much time thinking about this topic, let alone writing about it. I doubt it’s keeping many of you up at night or fueling in depth discussion at your dinner parties. It’s at this juncture that I’ll let you in on a well kept secret: I plan to be a very successful and well-decorated brewer in our quaint little town of Las Vegas.
So how does a lowly homebrewer go about doing this? The first step starts Monday: A part time job at Big Dog’s Brewing Company. I’ll be washing kegs, cleaning lines, graining out the mash tun etc. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a foot in the door at one of the finest and more innovative beer habitats in this town. Trust me: if you haven’t had Dave Otto’s hoppier offerings like Dirty Dog IPA & War Dog Double IPA, you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice. We may even strip you of your Hop Head merit badge.
All that aside, we get back to our initial line of questioning. If I get the opportunity to develop new beers in this highly customer-interactive brewpub setting, what’s the best way of going about it? My first inclination is to lean on what I’ve been successful with and enjoy drinking. Who doesn’t like a Saison with a ton of fruity aroma from dry hopping? Probably a fair number of you out there.
That’s where the real fun of a brewpub setting comes into play. I can talk to you while you experience the fruits of our labor. You can come pepper me with questions and comments any time you like. Please trust me when I tell you that I want to know what you liked, what you didn’t, what new experimental hop you’re homebrewing with, what beer you loved from your recent trip to a new brewpub in Antarctica, what you had for breakfast, etc. I want it all.
I want to push the envelope, innovate, and make great beer by hook or by crook. Whether it’s a crazy idea I have, or it’s based on something you and your buddy drunkenly brewed in your kitchen, I’m all about it. In the process, I hope we can help our local brewers make great beer for you, and thereby thrive.
Most importantly though, please come fill as many growlers as you can if Big Dog’s has a new seasonal farmhouse style beer! Just in case my fancy schmancy beer geek Certified Cicerone tastes don’t quite latch on to the taste buds of the masses.
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.
5 new keg labels from Blue Mooon. It’s interesting that these approvals are for kegs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Blue Moon seasonal on tap anywhere, but I could be wrong.
I’m not a fan of Blue Moon, but their seasonals are sometimes ok. Seeing this list though makes me wonder. It looks like they are throwing darts at a list of beer types in hopes at least one of them sticks. That tends to be the way their parent company, SAB-MillerCoors works. Miller is abandoning their MGD 64 Lemonade because it failed to appeal to a wide audience. I imagine the same thing will happen here.
Lemon Wheat Ale, Lime Wheat Ale and Valencia Amber Ale all seem too similiar to make sense. Not to mention Blue Moon is usually served with either an orange or lemon slice in it. The flavor is probably made with an overhyped, artifical sweetner.
Peanut Butter Ale just sounds gross. I like peanut butter and honey, and I think they could make for unique ingrediants in a beer, but I don’t believe that Blue Moon will use real ingrediants or use them in a subtle, tasteful way.
I am curious to try the Farmhouse Ale though. Farmhouse is often an interchangable name with saison. However I think the craft brewers who use the name farmhouse will have a funky tartness going on in the beer as opposed to saisons, that aren’t usually sour. Blue Moon is not a craft brewer so this beer will likely not be similar to either style and will likely taste the same as their White Ale, maybe just a bit drier. Why can’t they make something different, rather than just variations of their White Ale?