Selling out happens when you forget why it is that you are in that position in the first place. It’s easy to believe your own press. In our case, we realize that, as ever, we still suck and have a lot of work to do to earn a place in the world. Like I said above, beer-lovers are driving our bus and we do respect the bus driver!
Lagunitas is probably the most amusing brewery there is. As seen above, Lagunitas CEO and founder, Tony Magee, tries to ensure that the brewery doesn’t take itself too seriously, ensures they have fun, and laughs at themselves whenever possible. Examples include the release of a butterfly knife-styled bottle opener, and releasing a beer called The Kronic. The name later got denied by the TTB, so it was renamed Censored. (more…)
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…)
Emily and Melissa drink Bear Republic Racer X. So, by this point in the recording, things start getting a bit belligerent.
There is only one more video left after this one. As always if you’ve missed the previous videos, they can be found here.
One week into 2013 and I finally took the time to look back at 2012. I thought I’d reshare several of the most read posts over the past year. I hope you all enjoy this look back!
An ode to supporting all the businesses here in Las Vegas that promote craft beer across the valley!
The Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer
A recap of the 2nd annual Vegas Festival of Beer. Worth reading up considering the 3rd Festival of Beer is coming up soon!
Hooked on Hops at Tenaya Creek
Last year we held a special food pairing at Tenaya Creek with their Imperial Stout and Goran’s gingerbread stout cake!
An Updated Guide to Aging Beers
Worth reading through a few times if you have any interesting in understanding how to age beers.
Worth reading through a few times to understand the importance of drinking beer as fresh as possible.
Kind of contradicts the aging article huh? Nope. Read both and learn why!
Bacon and IPA Spaghetti
Another one of Goran’s food recipes featuring beer!
The Las Vegas Downtown Brew Festival
After the success of the Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer, 2012 saw the premiere of the Downtown Brew Festival!
What The Craft Beer Scene Can Learn From The Metal Scene
Last year saw craft beer fans searching for the most obscure breweries possible, while calling out the pioneers as overrated. Armando shared his thoughts here.
Danny is a Ninja
Right at the tail end of the year, we launched a video mini-series reviewing some beers. The first iteration is New Belgium’s La Folie. We have since added Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, and Stone Vertical Epic 12.12.12
In episode 2, we find Danny, Melissa, and Emily consuming Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. Another one of my personal favorite beers.
In case you missed episode 1: Danny is a Ninja, featuring New Belgium La Folie, you can find it here.
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…)
Being a fan of craft beer, I’ve always loved when breweries find ways to create other products with their beer. Especially when they are food products. I absolutely love Sierra Nevada’s mustards, and Stone’s barbecue and hot sauces are also delicious.
So it is with great excitement that one of our local breweries has decided to create popcorn using their beer! You may remember us mentioning this before at the Downtown Brew Fest. Tenaya officially launched the popcorn this past Thursday, and it is now available at the brewery, and at Khoury’s Fine Wine.
It’s hard to not enjoy eating this. It is a special salted caramel recipe that is made with actual Hop Ride IPA from Tenaya Creek. Hopefully the brewery starts making more and more flavors of popcorn with their beer. I’d love to see an Imperial Stout popcorn!
You may remember my post about a month ago when I attended Big Dog’s Brew School. This past Thursday was the tapping of our batch of War Dog Imperial IPA. As part of our graduation party, we were given diplomas, a class photo, and our own growler of War Dog. On top of that, Big Dog’s executive chef, Sergio Meza, prepared a three course meal meant to pair with War Dog IPA.
Mango-ginger stilton cheese and walnut quesadilla served with a jalapeño-onion-agave nectar and apple-fig salsa
This was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The stilton was unlike any I’ve had before. I’m typically not a fan of figs, but these were prepared very well. The jalapeño and onion added a great compliment to the rich sweetness.
Baked ham with War Dog Imperial IPA glaze served with Delmonico potatoes and grilled marinated asparagus
The ham was very sweet and juicy, and had the perfect texture. The potatoes were both crispy, and very cheesy. I’ve yet to have any asparagus that I didn’t enjoy, and these were no exception, they were very well seasoned.
Salted caramel cheesecake
Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. Surprisingly, I’ve never had a caramel cheesecake. This was incredible. All of the above dishes were meant to pair specifically with the War Dog IPA. And I can attest that the dry, crisp, body of the beer made for a refreshing palate cleanser in between bites of the spicy quesadilla. It also complemented the sweet ham. However by the time dessert came, I opted to try a new beer. Chef Meza strongly urged me to eat the cheesecake with the IPA, which would have definitely been an excellent choice. The caramel on top would match the hint of caramel malts in the beer. The powerful, bitter bite from the hops would stand up to the rich, decadent cheesecake. However, I opted to try out the Black Lab Stout instead. This ended up also being a good pairing. This stout has some very strong coffee-like flavors present that contrasted well with the sweetness from the dessert. The beer was poured on nitro, giving it a creamy texture that matched the creamy cheesecake.
All in all, Brew School was an awesome experience. As previously mentioned, head brewer Dave Otto is extremely courteous and informative. Both our lunch on the first day, and today’s meal, were extremely delicious. And, of course, the beer was amazing. I highly recommend that any of you that love great beer and awesome food sign up for the next Brew School!
*Special thanks to Chef Sergio Meza and the kitchen staff for letting me take the above photos in the kitchen
If you read my post on glassware, then you should be aware of how important your sense of smell is in affecting your flavor perception. Going along the same lines of of proper tasting techniques, I thought I’d expand a bit further and talk about the flavors that you don’t want to taste.
Simply put, off flavors are the wrong flavors, the bad flavors, the flavors that aren’t supposed to be there. Why would anyone want to be able to recognize these flavors? If you are a brewer, it is important to know when something is negatively impacting the flavor of your beer. If you serve beer, it is important to know that you are serving your patrons the best quality beer, free from imperfections, to give them the best possible experience. What about all the other craft beer drinkers? Should they go through some sort of off flavor training? On the one hand, it is highly beneficial to be able to tell when the your beer in your fridge isn’t fresh anymore and should be tossed, or whether something is wrong with your beer when you go out to bars. On the other hand, once you learn to recognize off flavors, there’s no unlearning what you know. You’ll see (taste?) everything in a whole new light. Certain flavors will just stick out to you, but stay hidden to anyone who hasn’t gone through off flavor training.
I won’t go into too much detail about specific off flavors. Instead I want to focus on some guidelines of the two common places that off flavors become produced: During fermentation, and storage/serving.
Most off flavors are actually normal byproducts of fermentation. If you go to White Labs’ website for example, they will give you the specific amounts of different off flavors that their yeast produce. Depending on the style, some of these off flavors are expected, and even desired. British yeasts will typically have more diacetyl than other yeast strains, and lager yeasts usually produces more acetaldehyde than other yeast strains. Improper techniques can exasperate these flavors far more than they should be, and they will then become detrimental to the beer.
There are other off flavors that can be produced durning production by other sources besides just the yeast. Again, these can be controlled by proper brewing techniques. These are out of a customer’s control, and thankfully, usually not noticed in commercial level brewing, so I won’t detail any of these specific flavors. Homebrewers however, would greatly benefit from studying these further. There are links at the end for further study.
All of the off flavors that can be produced during this stage can be prevented. Anyone who serves beer should be well aware of how to prevent these, as well as anyone who cares about drinking beer the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.
The most common off flavor in this regard would be oxidation. Oxidation occurs when beer gets in contact with oxygen. Despite being sealed, beer bottles are not air tight and over time, will slowly get more and more oxidized. This is why it’s best to always drink beer fresh. Heat will increase the speed at which oxidation occurs, which is why it is best that beer stays refrigerated as much as possible.
Oxidized beers will develop a variety of different flavors, with papery/cardboard like being the most common. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, suck on a wet piece of a cardboard box and you’ll get the idea. A little vinous or sherry like flavors can also develop. While these flavors are ideal in a barley wine (explained further here), in average alcohol strength beers, these flavors make the beer a bit unpleasant.
Keep beer out of sunlight, especially if it is a hoppy beer. Fun game: pour an IPA into a clear glass and leave it out in the sun for twenty minutes then drink it. Yeah, that’s what a skunked beer tastes like. The sunlight will literally take elements of the hop compounds in a beer, and convert them into essentially the same compound that gives skunk spray it’s wonderful aroma.
Lastly, if you serve beer from a tap, CLEAN YOUR TAP LINES! Beer has residual sugars and various trace minerals. Failure to clean tap lines means these sugars and minerals begin to coat the interior of the beer line. Once it starts to build up, it begins to harvest bacterias that alter the flavor of the beer. Typically, the flavor will start to become slightly acidic, or sour, and simultaneously becomes a bit buttery. The buttery flavor is from a compound called diacetyl, the souring is from a bacteria known as Pediococcus. To prevent these types of off flavors, it is important to clean your tap lines at least every two weeks! Only flushing your lines with water does not count as cleaning them. Sadly, to many bars around town, this standard sounds over dramatic. Trust me, there is a difference in flavor and aroma when you have a beer from a bar that cleans their tap lines regularly, and one that doesn’t.
For more information on off flavors, this guide from MoreBeer! is very helpful. Otherwise, feel free to ask!
Pliny the Elder is a fascinating beer, and not only for the fact that it is an incredible IPA. There is such an allure, mystique, and reverence for this beer.
It is one of the highest rated IPAs in the world. Despite it’s year round availability, it never seems to be available in its distribution markets. And when it is available, retailers often limit the amount that can be purchased at a time, or, it is hidden in the back and must be requested for by name, possibly with some sort of secret password. Combined, this makes it a sort of liquid gold amongst craft beer enthusiasts.
Is Pliny that significant? Are there no other IPAs that are as good as Pliny? Is it truly, a one of a kind beer that cannot be recreated by any other brewery than Russian River? When you word it like that, it begins to sound ridiculous. Of course there are other incredible IPAs that are just as good as Pliny, so why the hype? Answer: It’s always fresh.
How much, exactly, does freshness matter? If you travel deeper into the inner craft beer circles, you’ll start to hear the purists declare that Pliny should only be consumed within 30-45 days of bottling. They say that it has to be as fresh as possible, otherwise it’s not as good. But the same can be said for any IPA. As I mentioned in my aging guide, hop aroma and bitterness fade rather quickly. Being as the whole point of an IPA is the hops, it makes sense that the fresher it is, the more vibrant the aroma and flavor is.
Owner Vinnie Cilruzoe is extremely cautious of growing too fast, to the point where Russian River’s slow growth is causing an exponential expansion in demand for their beers. But this has ensured that the hop forward beers, like Pliny the Elder, don’t sit on the shelf very long, meaning that if you are lucky enough to find it, it is likely to be extremely fresh.
Stone Brewing Company is another brewery that comes to mind that emphasizes how important freshness is. They have repeatedly stated that none of their year-round beers should be aged. The above image can be found on the back of their IPA bottles. The above link serves as a method for consumers to report Stone beer that was not available within the ‘best by’ date. Most notably, this past summer Stone released a new IPA titled “Enjoy By XX-XX-XXX,” with the ‘X’s’ being replaced with a specific date. Stone has a significantly larger distribution map than Russian River does. To ensure that Enjoy By is available as fresh as possible, Stone limits each batch to only 2 or 3 markets at a time, determined by consumers voting at the Enjoy By site.
To clarify however, Pliny the Elder is an amazing IPA. It has a sweet, lemony nose with a rich piny taste. Pliny has a crisp, light body, likely from using an addition of sugar in the boil. The freshness factor definitely helps, as it accentuates the pine and citrus flavors. But even if you drink a bottle 2 months past bottling, it is still a fantastic IPA.
If you want a clear example of how important freshness is in beer, visit one of our local breweries, like Tenaya Creek, Big Dog’s, or Chicago Brewing Company. There is no travel time in the beers that are served at these brewpubs. The beer is brewed and served on premise, making it the freshest beer you can find. Joseph James is another local brewery that makes a fantastic IPA. While they don’t operate a brewpub, their beers still have a very short travel time to our local retailers. You’ll notice that IPA’s from all of these breweries have an aroma and bitterness unlike most other IPA’s available in our state that were distributed from somewhere else.
For more information in understanding freshness and aging, check out our aging guide.