Truth be told, this is the first of Russian River’s sour beers that I’ve tried. I have had their hoppy beers though, including a fresh bottle of Pliny The Elder (however I am more of a Blind Pig fan). So when given the opportunity, being the sour fan that I am, I happily picked up a bottle of Temptation.
We’ve toyed with the idea of making some sort of video series for the site, but could never come up with the right way to go about it that involves our love of craft beer, with our sense of humor. That was until Melissa Marth, of The Big Friendly Corporation, and Emily Miller agreed to get involved as well. They don’t have nearly the obsession for craft beer that we have, so we though it would be interesting to have them taste a few of our favorite beers, and get their reactions. It also helps that they are two of the funniest people I know.
So Danny sat down with them for what was supposed to be a quick 5 minute video of them tasting 5 different beers. However, they showed up after a couple bottles of wine, and we instead got 40 minutes of drunken ramblings. So, this will be broken up into 5 different videos, one for each beer, and each one progressively becoming slightly more belligerent.
So, without further ado, here is the first of the videos, my favorite sour beer, New Belgium La Folie.
*Parental discretion is advised*
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…)
There came a time in my life that I was deeply enamored with IPA’s. The more bitter the better. An American IPA is probably about as American as you can get. Loud and in your face with a giant floral aroma and a painfully bitter bite. Sadly, after trying countless IPAs, I began to get bored with the style. It seemed there were only so many ways to make an IPA. Nearly every IPA I had began to taste like the last IPA I had. Sure, there were my go-to IPAs that never let me down, but anything new that I tried, tasted too familiar.
Thankfully the good folks at the Alpine Beer Company came along and reminded me that while everyone can make an IPA, not everyone should make an IPA. An IPA is a balancing act of so many different elements. If all the different attributes of an IPA are in perfect balance, it is truly a work of art. Too many brewers strive for this perfection, but fall short.
When I first heard that New Belgium was collaborating with Alpine to make ‘Super IPA,’ I was disinterested. Just another double IPA, I thought. Then Armando introduced me to Alpine’s IPA, Duet. What an incredible beer, unlike anything that I’ve had before. Perfect balance of pine, citrus, and pineapple, with a perfect balance between the firm bitterness and malt backbone. After drinking Duet, I had been reminded of what a good IPA tastes like and was immediately looking forward to trying Super IPA.
Thanks to our local New Belgium Ranger, Karl Herrera, I finally had the chance to try Super IPA.
Alpine and New Belgium are artists when it comes to formulating a perfectly balanced IPA. This beer clocks in at 9% alcohol by volume, so creating such a heavy beer, with all the proper IPA nuances is no easy feat.
First of all, there is an incredibly sweet, citrus, and fruity aroma coming off this beer. Mango, lemon, grapefruit zest, a little pineapple, altogether it kinda smells like Fruity Pebbles!
Considering the high alcohol content, it is a relatively light bodied beer, making this extremely drinkable. There is very little malt presence, but along with the light body, there is a nice bit of sweetness from the residual sugars. This sweetness balances the strong, piney bitterness that follows. The bitterness on this beer is amazing. While it’s not too overwhelming on the palate, the pine and citrus zest linger for quite a while in your sinuses, even after you swallow. The high alcohol content hides itself well, but it does give a little warmth in the aftertaste.
As I mentioned in the beginning, while everyone can make an IPA, not everyone should. This beer is an example of two breweries that should keep making IPAs.
Tenaya Creek has released a new bottled beer to the market: Hauling Oats. Formally known simply as ‘Oatmeal Stout’ when it was on tap at the brewery. When I first heard that Tenaya Creek was going to be bottling their oatmeal stout, I was ecstatic. Being a fan of stouts, this was actually one of the first beers I tried from Tenaya Creek when I first visited their brewery a couple of years ago. This was also the first beer of theirs that I enjoyed so much, that I bought a growler of it to share with friends at a party I held.
There is an old myth that the darker the beer, the higher alcohol content the beer has. Or the darker the beer is, the heavier it is. In case you were not aware, both of these myths are flat out wrong, and this beer is a perfect example of a dark beer that is neither high in alcohol or excessively heavy (however, if what you’re looking for is a dark, heavy, alcoholic beer, look no further than Hauling Oats big brother, Tenaya Creek’s Imperial Stout. Release will probably be later this winter).
Hauling Oats is extremely drinkable. Regardless of the fact that it is being released in bottles during the fall, it was on tap at the brewery all summer, and was just as refreshing then as it is now.
The aroma coming off of this beer is of dark chocolate and iced coffee. The flavor is like a morning coffee, with the bitterness lingering in the long aftertaste. There is a little bit of an acidic bite in the finish, similar to the one found in coffee. In this case, it comes from the dark roasted malts.
This is a refreshing, light bodied beer that’s perfect all year round. It’s available in bottles all around town, (I bought a bottle at the Las Vegas BLVD Whole Foods), and also on tap at the brewery.
Alright, technically summer ended a few weeks ago, but Las Vegas tends to hang onto the summer weather a bit longer than most cities.
This past summer (which started in April in Las Vegas) I was really into beers that were lower in alcohol, and preferably, a bit sour. These beers are perfect for Las Vegas summers. The lower alcohol means a lighter body, which increases drinkability and adds a nice refreshing quality to it.
Sour beers are a bit of another story, but if it’s a little tart, and low in alcohol, it has even more refreshing qualities to it. Think of lemonade, for example.
Berliner Weisse beers fit this description perfectly. Here’s a quick run down: German origins, features around 50% wheat in the ingredients list (much like a hefeweizen), low alcohol (traditionally under 4%), and a little bit of tartness. Napoleon’s troops referred to this style as “Champagne of the north” (according to the BJCP). Champagne is a fair description. Mimosa may be a little bit more accurate.
If you are new to sour beers. Berliner Weisse would be a good starting point. The tartness comes from the lactic acid cultures that are used in the fermentation process. Lactic acid adds a green apple level of sourness. Careful though, some are only mildly tart, others are puckeringly sour.
Sadly, this isn’t an overly popular style beer. The most readily available Berliner Weisse in Las Vegas would be Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche. It’s their summer seasonal beer, so it’s not necessarily that readily available. Also, they call it a “neo-Berliner Weisse” so don’t expect this to be a traditional representation of the style.
If the name didn’t tip you off, it’s made with peaches. The aroma is filled with the smell of ripe peaches. It is very light body and has a crisp finish. The flavor is very peachy throughout, but it isn’t a sweet, sugary beer. It would be in the lightly tart range in the sourness scale.
Extremely refreshing beer. If you still find some around town, (honestly, a bit unlikely) scoop it up and enjoy while it’s still warm outside!
Today marks the 1st day of Oktoberfest, the German celebration of… beer? Let’s go with that, since it seems to be all anyone knows of the festival, in America at least.
Local brewery Tenaya Creek brews up their Oktoberfest beer yearly in celebration of the festival. This was released a few weeks ago, but today seemed like the perfect day to pop open a bottle.
As you can see above, this beer has a bright, clear, copper color, as is common to most Oktoberfest beers (also known as Märzen). The aroma is nice and grassy from the German Magnum and Czech Saaz hops that this is brewed with. The beer has just the right balance of maltiness and dryness, giving this beer a nice bready flavor with a quick, refreshing, dry finish. The hops give this beer a nice firm bite in the finish, with lingering spicy/peppery and floral flavors.
This beer is best served with some bratwurst sausages. Spicy brown mustard will compliment the hops and some sauerkraut will contrast with the toasty Vienna malts. Finally, the crisp finish will refresh your palate and leave you wanting more. If you are getting hungry, and too lazy to make this yourself (like me), check out the Sausage Fest food truck and head to Tenaya Creek the next time they are there serving up their bratwursts!
Peach Porch Lounger is New Belgium’s most recent Lips of Faith beer. This beer is a collaboration beer between New Belgium and musician G. Love. Check out the video talking about the collaboration here.
The beer is a saison style brewed with molasses, lemon peal, and peach juice.
Right off the bat, this beer shows signs of Brettanomyces used in secondary. The funky, tropical fruity yeast is also complemented by a fruity aroma typically attributed to peaches and other stone fruits.
This beer has an incredibly complex taste. Fruity and floral flavors along with a spicy finish from the yeast. Along with the peach, there are also hints of pineapple and lemon peal flavors. The peach juice blends well with this beer, giving it a nice, sweet compliment, but not overpowering the other elements.
The malt gives this beer a bready flavor. The 9.4% alcohol gives this beer some heat. The yeast, peach juice, molasses, and lemon peel give this beer a complex and hearty fruitiness. Together, this beer tastes like a fresh, warm biscuit topped with fruit marmalade. Absolutely delicious.
A couple of weeks ago, New Belgium released their newest beer, Shift Pale Lager.
Shift Pale Lager tastes like a pale ale would if you fermented it with a lager yeast. The beer is super dry and crisp like a lager, but with more hops than any lager I’ve ever had. The hop presence is primarily very floral, it smells, and tastes, like fresh cut grass. It would definitely pair well with lawn mowing. It has a dry, cracker-like malt flavor with a nice bit of hop bitterness in the finish that lingers a around for a while. This is a very refreshing beer. Definitely perfect for the hot, sunny days here in Vegas.
New Belgium will be providing Shift Pale Lager year round, much like Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, 1554, and others. However, while those beers are available on draft, bottles, and cans (in the case of Fat Tire and Ranger IPA), Shift, on the other hand, will only be available in 16 oz cans. No bottles, no draft, only cans. But why cans? New Belgium is really pushing the idea of Shift being THE beer to reach for after your work shift (get it?). All the advertising and marketing depicts this being a beer that is enjoyed while working on the car, sitting by the pool, out at the park, basically the kinds of things people do to unwind. To that end, it is only available in cans simply because it is the cheapest way to make the beer as accessible as possible for every possible scenario. What I mean by that is, you can take a can anywhere! Usually public pools, parks, beaches, etc, do not allow glass. By only allowing consumers to purchase this in a can, they are allowing those who purchase it the freedom to take it anywhere they want to enjoy a beer.
It seems these days that most of the breweries jumping on the can bandwagon tout how eco-friendly cans are compared to glass, since they weigh less and are supposedly more recyclable. The week of Shift’s official launch, another well known brewery was tweeting out all the different ways that mining for bauxite, and the process to convert it into aluminum, is very harmful to the planet, and has caused toxic damages to the countries where it is mined. New Belgium went ahead and gave an honest answer to the sustainability of cans here. What they wrote matches my own personal research: There has been no comprehensive, UN-BIASED study comparing cans vs glass, and which is more sustainable. The fact is, can’s harmful mining requirements probably equal out to the increased fuel consumption that glass requires. Basically, it’s a wash. Neither are truly sustainable. If you care about sustainability, the only way to make either one more sustainable, is to recycle.
The main point here though is that Shift is a great beer and is the perfect solution to nearly every occasion. Canning this beer was a smart move in that it is a very accessible beer for nearly every environment. Is it better for the environment than glass? Who knows, but at least you can bring it to the pool, or take it hiking. Because let’s be honest, that’s all we really want, right?
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.