Here we are. We’ve reached the final installment in this series of Emily and Melissa drinking beer. Along with Danny, they’ve had barley wine, mead, gueuze, and kriek. Off camera there has also been excessive wine drinking, and some shots of tequila; which leads us to where we are today. The beer is Sierra Nevada and Russian River’s collaboration; BRUX. Next time you see Danny, be sure to give him a hi-five for putting up with Emily and Melissa, and managing not to physically attack either one…
Though I don’t often, if ever actually, talk about saisons on here, I am a bit of a fan of them. I’m not even going to bother writing about the history of saisons, because Jeff Alworth of Beervana does an incredible job doing so here.
I will however include this snippet from Garrett Oliver’s Oxford Companion to Beer that describes the flavor profile of a saison:
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.
A year ago when it was first announced that Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada were partnering up with Spiegelau to create glassware specifically made for the IPA, the excitement was huge. And now that it’s finally available, everyone is calling it marketing gimmickry. (more…)
Calagione, his wife, Mariah, and Sierra Nevada’s father-son team of Ken and Brian Grossman worked hand-in-hand with Spiegelau to bring this glass to life. Through a series of design and tasting sessions, the team created a glass with:
- Thin, round walls to maintain proper temperature longer.
- A slender, bowed shape to amplify hop aromas.
- Wave-like ridges to aerate beer on its way in and out of the glass.
- A wide mouth, allowing drinkers to comfortably nose the beer.
- A laser-etched logo on the bottom of the bowl to sustain carbonation and head.
Any thoughts on this? I’ve personally never been a fan of top heavy glasses (like the Sam Adam’s glasses) but I do kinda like the look of this one. Click above to view Dogfish Head’s full announcement.
On October 20th, Motley Brews presented the follow-up to their 2012 Great Las Vegas Festival of Beer: The Las Vegas Downtown Brew Festival. After having a blast at the last Motley Brews presented festival, I was more than excited for this one. To start with, the location and timing of this event could not have been more perfect! The Clark County Amphitheater is a nice, large, outdoor venue, and the great October Vegas weather made for a phenomenal marriage!
For their first outing in 2011, I had complained that the event seemed disorganized, and way too compact. These problems were pretty much resolved on their second go around. This time, I can only tip my hat to the organizers and sponsors of this fantastic festival! We arrived a bit late (roughly 2:15 PM), but had no trouble finding parking in the large adjacent parking lot. Upon walking up to the entrance, we were quickly able to redeem our Groupons, and were inside and ready to drink within just a few minutes.
Upon entering, we made our way right to the Joseph James tent to try and wet our palettes with their R/D #11 Ginger Lemon Weizen. Thankfully, and remorsefully, we were able to get our hands on the very last drops, which may have proven to be the best beer I had the pleasure of experiencing. The beer tasted like a mix of spicy ginger ale with a refreshing lemon twist. I really hope this one sees a bottle release, as I want everyone to be able to taste this amazing local brew! Their other two R/D offerings did not disappoint either; both the Black Rye Session Pale and the Bourbon-Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout were quite the tasty offerings! Joseph James never ceases to amaze me when it comes to what they pull off for these special events. I will continue to look forward to more R/D batches, while still sipping on their great year-round fermented offerings.
Our next stop was to the New Belgium tent to get a pour of their refreshing Shift Lager. Shift really is a perfect summertime beer with its light-body, and flavorfully crisp finish. While chatting with Las Vegas’ new Beer Ranger, Karl Herrera, he officially coined the term “Get Shift-faced!” which pretty much demands to be on the front of a T-shirt! New Belgium was also pouring their Red Hoptober, Ranger IPA, and of course, Fat Tire. Their Super IPA was also on display at the Get Hopped Up Tent, along with Stone 16th Anniversary IPA and Bear Republic’s Racer 5.
From there we hit another local favorite in Tenaya Creek. They were happily pouring their new Dutch-style Belgium Tripel, Oktoberfest Lager, the recently bottled Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout, and their iconic Hop Ride. Not to mention, they also decided to unveil a Hop Ride infused popcorn! Being a Las Vegas staple for years, you really can’t go wrong with anything that Anthony and Tim brew up. Their year round beers are top-notch, and their seasonal brews always leave you looking forward to the next one! If you haven’t been to the brewery yet, you should make it a point to do so. Hell, there’s a good chance you’ll see your’s truly at the bar sipping on a Hop Ride!
Another local staple, Big Dog’s Brewing Company was pouring just nearby. Their selections included Dirty Dog IPA, Las Vegas Lager, Lake Mead Monster Double Red Ale, and the Great American Beer Festival 2012 Silver Medal winning Red Hydrant Ale! Big Dog’s is another local brewery that you just can’t go wrong with! While I would have loved to have seen the seasonal Pumpkin Ale, or the monster that is War Dog IPA, I was more than pleased with what they had to offer! With 2 locations in the Valley, there is no reason not to stop by and grab a drink!
After making our rounds with the local breweries and New Belgium, we decided to hit the outside circle and try and get our hands on some beers we haven’t had before. Our next stops were to Tommyknocker’s and Moa. Tommyknockers, from Colorado, is fairly new to the Las Vegas craft brew scene. They had with them a nice assortment, including Vienna Amber Lager, Maple Nut Brown, Imperial Nut Brown, and a nice, mild, Pumpkin Ale. All of their offerings were solid, and can be found locally at this time.
Moa, from New Zealand, is a brewery that I have yet to try, but I’ve always been curious about. They had samplings of their Breakfast, Pale Ale, and Blanc Evolution. I only tasted the first two, but I was quite fond of both! As a nice contrast to most breakfast inspired stouts, Moa’s Breakfast had a bright, wheat, sweet cherry flavor that would pair nicely with a berry muffin or eggs. While it won’t be for everyone, I think it would be a nice substitute for a mimosa at brunch. The Pale Ale had a subtle citrusy hop nose and flavor, which was balanced by a bitter malt aftertaste.
From here, we went along the line, sampling well known beers from the likes of Dogfish Head (Namaste and Midas Touch), Firestone Walker (Pale 31, Union Jack), Sierra Nevada (Hoptimum, Pale Ale, Torpedo, Kellerweis), Lagunitas, Indian Wells, Three Monkeys, Chicago Brewing Co., and a newer name to the Las Vegas scene: Riley’s
To be honest, I had not heard much about Riley’s until this event. Riley’s is a smaller brewery from Madera, CA, who are in roughly their fifth year of existence. Their lineup consisted of: Sancha, which reminded me of a cross between a pale ale and a honey ale; Vixen: a coffee/chocolate inspired stout; and Wildcat IPA. All three were quite tasty brews, and show a lot of promise for this new brewery. I’ll be looking forward to what they decide too cook up next!
If there is one beer trend that I really enjoy, it’s the new “Session IPA/Pale Ale” trend. Something just appeals to me about a low ABV, flavorful IPA that won’t make you feel all nice and fuzzy after just one glass. Thankfully, one of our last stops, Ballast Point, brought along a beer that is a perfect pale ale for this occasion. Their Even Keel Pale Ale, was just fantastic, and perfect for this mild October day. It had a perfect pine aroma, with just enough citrus to hit your nose. The taste was quite the same, with a great dry finish that didn’t linger for too long. Not be outdone, they also brought along an arsenal of their other lovingly-crafted brews: Big Eye IPA, Calico Amber, Pale Ale, and the incomparable Sculpin IPA.
I can’t finish this without giving a shout-out to all of the food vendors that made it out to quench the hunger of the beer sipping crowd. From restaurant representatives to food trucks, there was something for everyone. Our eatery of choice ended up being Haulin’ Balls, who serve a variety of gourmet sandwiches based around, you guessed it, the meatball. The food was nothing short of remarkable, and I would recommend that any carnivore seek them out.
All in all, this may have been the most pleasant beer festival that I’ve had the opportunity to attend. A big thanks is in order to all the vendors, sponsors, and especially Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada for all the phenomenal brands that they helped bring together! As a group, we’d also like to thank any of our followers that found us and said hello. It’s always great to meet you guys in person, and we appreciate all of the kind words and constructive feedback that we receive.
In closing, if you have not had an opportunity to attend one of these festivals, then you are missing out! Do yourself a favor and make sure that you clear your calendar off and come out and have a blast! …I’m sure you’ll see us there!
Last week, the Whole Foods at Town Square held a beer pairing dinner with Sierra Nevada and Bit & Spur Restaurant in Springdale, Utah. The food and the beer was amazing, so I’m just going to cut to the chase and show you some pictures.
Gazpacho soup with roasted green chiles, tomato, cucumber, and garnished with a hard boiled egg and croutons.
Paired with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Kellerweis is a wheat beer, and a perfect companion to lightly spicy, flavorful soup. The soft textured, sweet beer cleanses the palate between each bite.
Smoked baby back riblets with red chile ketchup BBQ sauce with & citrus ginger cole slaw with fennel, apples, and pomegranate seed, ginger yogurt, lime dressing.
Paired with Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
If you read my Ruthless Chicken article, you know that I love rye beers with barbecue. These ribs were no exception. The sweet smokey taste compliments the harsh, rustic IPA.
Picadillo empanada garnished with queso fresco & pico de gallo
Paired with Ovila Quad
Quad is probably the first Ovila beer that I’ve really liked. The malty sweetness was a good choice for the ground beef inside this empanada.
The above photos were either taken by me or by Whole Foods. See the rest of Whole Foods’ photos here.
Rye is an acquired taste. I for one cannot stand rye bread. I do, however, enjoy rye beers. Many people either like one, or the other. Or neither. Rye adds a harsh, rustic, peppery taste in beers. This makes Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye the perfect beer for rotisserie chicken.
Ruthless Rye is a new IPA from Sierra Nevada that was just released about a month ago. The hop bitterness is very similar to their Torpedo IPA. This means that the aroma is also very citrusy, with an orange marmalade kind of sweetness. The rye in this beer gives this IPA a very different level of flavor and taste. This is not a smooth beer, instead there is a strong, harsh bitterness that can only be found in rye beers.
Unless you’re fancy enough to know how to make a rotisserie chicken, I recommend you go buy one at the grocery store. Chop up said chicken and eat it while drinking this beer. The peppery rye will match perfectly with the pepper and herb seasoning. The sweet, citrusy taste will match the caramelized skin on the chicken. Finally, the carbonation and bitterness will cut through the fat and lift the flavor off your tongue, preparing you for your next bite.
Last week I posted an article about Stone building a brewery in Europe and how Dogfish Head could benefit from building a second brewery on the west coast (here). Today it was announced that Sierra Nevada has been visiting various cities on the east coast to determine a location for them to build a second brewery.
Their reasons for doing so are very similar to both the reasons Stone mentioned as to why they are building a brewery in Europe, and the reasons I suggested that Dogfish Head should build a second brewery on the west coast. They are at the point where in the next couple of years, their current brewery will be working at capacity. They also currently distribute to all 50 states and need to continue to do so. They want to grow as a company and also reduce the costs of shipping all over the country. They have not decided where they will build a brewery, when they will build it or if it even will happen. Chances are though, that this will happen as it likely makes the most sense from a business perspective. Sierra Nevada is currently the second largest craft brewery, right behind the Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams. Sam Adams being the largest American brewery (remember, Budweiser, Miller, Coors etc are not American anymore), they own multiple breweries as well as contract other breweries to make their beer for them. To put things in perspective, Sierra Nevada will brew about 800,000 barrels (1 barrel = 31 gallons) of beer this year. Boston Beer Company on the other hand, brews over 2 million barrels of beer a year. It will be interesting to see what happens with Sierra Nevada’s expansion in the next few years.
Another interesting aspect of this story is that Sierra Nevada also included as a factor in choosing a city: potential quality of life for its employees. Great to hear about breweries treating their employees well.