Big Dog’s Brew School: Day 2

| December 7th, 2012 | No comments

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


Lips of Faith

| November 1st, 2012 | No comments

Over the past year, I’ve been very impressed with New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series of beers. The collaborations they’ve started making with other breweries has been fantastic. Last year’s Kick, made with Elysian Brewing from Seattle, is still one of the most unique, and flavorful takes on the fall pumpkin beer theme. This year’s Brett Beer, made with Lost Abbey from San Marcos, was an incredibly refreshing beer that should age very well. More recently, Super India Pale Ale, from New Belgium and The Alpine Beer Company, brought immense flavor and balance to the over saturated IPA market.

About a week ago, New Belgium released the last of it’s 2012 Lips of Faith beers. Bière De Garde is a collaboration beer made with Brewery Vivant from Michigan. I haven’t the chance to try this yet, but I’ve heard several people call this one of the best of New Belgium’s beers.

The second Lips of Faith beer that New Belgium released last week was Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout. I tasted this beer on tap last Wednesday at Khoury’s. Once again, New Belgium shows it’s ability to combine and balance multiple flavors into a beer that not only highlights each element, but also succeeds in not overdoing it.

I’m convinced that this beer has some lactose in, as the smooth, creamy mouthfeel, and residual sweetness remind me of every other milk stout I’ve had. I’ve been told that there is no lactose in the beer, so I’m wondering if this sweet, creaminess may be coming from the chocolate in the beer. The coffee flavor is incredible. This beer really does taste like a black cup of coffee with some sweet creamer added. Again, I assume that this sweetness is coming from the chocolate, which, by the way, is perfectly balanced in this beer. Not over top, but some definite chocolate undertones present.

If you are a coffee lover, like myself, then I highly recommend you try this beer out. It is currently on tap at Khoury’s as well as Aces & Ales. Also pick up a bottle of Bièr De Garde while you’re at it!

Las Vegas Downtown Brew Festival 2012

| October 25th, 2012 | No comments

A shot of the festival grounds with local band Tribal Seeds

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.

Karl Herrera, the Las Vegas Beer Ranger, pouring some New Belgium brews

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.

Tim and Alex from Tenaya Creek

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!

Your’s truly filling in for Karl at New Belgium, while he took a well deserved bathroom break

Tenaya Creek Hauling Oats

| October 15th, 2012 | 1 comment

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.

Stone Domination at Aces & Ales Tap List

| April 27th, 2012 | No comments

Stone returns to Aces & Ales this year for Stone Domination on May 18th-20th. CEO and co-founder Greg Koch will be in attendance on the 18th for a meet and greet.
$15 gets you a 9oz Stone-etched tasting glass with your first fill included. Tasters are $4 each after that. Or you can get 12oz pours of all beers for $7 if you’d rather do without the commemorative glass.

Aces and Ales released the tap list for this event at the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. I’ve included it below for reference. You don’t want to miss this!

– Bruery/Elysian/Stone La Citrueille Cèleste de Citracado
– Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard/Troegs/Stone Cherry Chocolate Stout
– Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale by Stone Brewing Co
– Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
– Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA
– Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
– Arrogant Bastard Ale
– Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale
– 2011 Double Bastard Ale
– Cali-Belgique IPA
– 2010 Stone Imperial Russian Stout
– 2008 Stone Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
– 2011 Stone BELGO Anise Imperial Russian Stout
– Stone IPA
– Stone LeVariation Ale
– Stone Levitation Ale
– Stone Mix Tape – GK & LU’s Blend Vol. 1
– 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine
– 2011 Stone Old Guardian BELGO Barley Wine
– Stone Pale Ale
– Punishment
– Stone Ruination Double Dry Hopped with Amarillo Hops
– Stone Smoked Porter
– Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers
– Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
– Double Dry Hopped Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale

The New Joseph James

| February 5th, 2012 | No comments

UPDATE: Joseph James commented on Twitter regarding how to find the new recipes:

Red Fox 4-packs, Lager cans, Gluten Free (Fox Tail) cans, and Weize Guy bottles that do not have the word ‘light,’ are new. As for Tahoe and Hop Box, look for Tahoe 22oz and Hop Box 4-pack bottles. In about a month all beer in the market should be the new recipes regardless of package. These recipes have been evolving over a year so there are newer versions on the shelf.

This past Wednesday, Joseph James re-launched their brand at Khoury’s Fine Wine.

Earlier this year, the brewery hired Alex Graham as the new head brewer. They then began the process of seeking honest feedback about their beers and rewriting all the recipes to match what they wanted to represent their brand. From what I understand, every recipe of theirs was changed. Some beers were completely rewritten from scratch, others were slightly modified.

At Khoury’s, the brewery staff was on hand giving free samples of all of their beers. I didn’t try all of them, but here’s a recap of what I did try:

Tahoe Blue Pale Ale: I had never tried this beer before, so I can’t compare it to the old recipe. I can say though that this is a very solid pale ale. Very crisp, bright and refreshing. On the hoppier side for a pale ale, so it’s got a nice bitterness up front before the dry, citrusy finish.

Hop Box Imperial IPA: Previously, I always had mixed results with this beer. I’ve always thought it was a decent beer, but it was never bitter enough, or had enough hop aroma. The new recipe takes care of all of that. Very strong upfront bitterness with a wave of grapefruit aroma. Less sweet malts are used to keep the focus on the hops. Overall, this is a great IPA.

Red Fox Imperial Stout: The old version was a good stout, but had a bit of thin mouthfeel. This new version feels like a stout should. It has a dark roasted espresso taste and it’s also a bit smokier too, with an almost ashy, vanilla finish.

Joseph James is also experimenting with new beers as well. The first 48 customers at Khoury’s had received one of Joseph James’ “rough draft” beers. I was able to snag a bottle of Toasted Coconut Pumpkin Porter. The other rough draft beer available was S’mores Porter.

I picked up all of their beers so I’ll get to try the rest that I didn’t try that night and write about them here.

Hooked on Hops at Tenaya Creek

| February 3rd, 2012 | No comments

Thank you to everyone who came by Tenaya Creek this past Tuesday for the stout and cake event. We all had a blast drinking awesome beer and eating Goran’s amazing cake! Hopefully in the future we can plan more of these types of events!

Thanks to Justin Massongill for the photos


| January 28th, 2012 | No comments


Today we will be Tiramisu with a twist. Instead of using Rum and Espresso we will be using Beer Geek Breakfast. You can find the review on the beer in the previous post on

On to Cooking!


  • 3/4 c Cold Heavy Cream
  • 2 ea Eggs
  • 1 c Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 2 1/2 t Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ea (8 oz) Tubs Mascarpone Cheese at toom temperature.
  • 2 c Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
  • 40 ea Ladyfinger Cookies
  • 1/2 c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder


  1. In a chilled bowl, whip the Cream until stiff peaks form, making sure not to overbeat. Cover the bowl when done and set it aside in the refrigerator.
  2. In another bowl, beat Eggs and Salt until the volume doubles and the color lightens. Add the Sugar, Vanilla and Mascarpone. Mix gently until incorporated.
  3. Fold in the whipped cream and then set aside in the refrigerator.
  4. In a shallow dish quickly dunk both sides of the Ladyfingers. Arrange them in a single layer in an 8 inch square dish.
  5. Spread the layer of Mascarpone mixture over the Ladyfingers. Sprinkle on a liberal amount of cocoa using a fine mesh sieve. Repeat the layers, using all the Ladyfingers and Mascarpone mixture, and generously dusting with Cocoa again.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Beeramisu will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

The final product will look like this:


The Paradox of Price

| January 26th, 2012 | No comments

The short article above points out that while Dogfish Head and Sam Adams may argue their “overrated” status as simply a result of their popularity, the truth is that a majority of the posts on the Beer Advocate thread that started all this, was based on the quality of product not matching the price charged for some of the more hyped beers.

I can see both sides of this argument. It is understandable that if you are going to spend more money on something, you expect it to be better than something that costs less. The other factor however, is that some beers simply cost more to make. Dogfish Head makes several seasonal beers that cost anywhere from $8-$16 for a 25 oz bottle. These beers will include ingredients that are not typically in traditional beers, causing the beer to cost more to produce and in turn, more to buy. However, most of these beers are unlike anything that costs less, both in magnitude of flavor and texture. Due to the intensity of these beers, an individual’s personal taste preferences play a much bigger role.

This leads me to believe that the reason people find Dogfish Head overrated, is because of both price and popularity. I think this is an overarching issue for craft beer in general; public interest in craft beer has grown tremendously without public knowledge of craft beer growing to match the interest. Many consumers are buying the higher end craft beers without fully understanding what it is exactly they are spending their money on, why it costs the way it does and when it would be appropriate to drink said beer.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA costs around $8-$10 a six pack. 120 Minute IPA costs the exact same, but for only one 12 oz bottle. It has close to the same amount of ingredients as the six pack and takes much longer to produce. Economically, it makes sense why it costs what it does. However, this is not a “better” beer and it can never take the place of 60 Minute IPA in the situations where 60 Minute really shines. If you are having a barbecue on a hot summer day, I do not recommend you drink a six pack of a sweet, syrupy, 18% alcohol beer.

What is the right way to price beers? For beers brewed in America, I feel the current prices make sense. Granted, I’m comfortable enough in my knowledge to know what I’m getting into if I decide to spend a bit more on something. I’ve rarely (if ever?) spent more than $10 on a beer and didn’t like it. This isn’t to say that I have some sort if refined palate or anything, I just know what styles I appreciate and enjoy more and what styles are on the opposite end of that spectrum. There are certainly beers I would not pay more than $10 on. Not because they are bad beers, they are simply not styles that I like enough to spend that much on. I’ll happily spend more on a good barley wine or stout, but a Flanders ale? Not so much.

But what tools are available to the average consumer who may not know what their preferences are? As craft beer becomes more popular, I see the need for more professionals who have a strong knowledge of beer being needed in customer facing environments to help guide the consumers to the best choice for them. The staff at a retailer, restaurant or bar should be knowledgeable enough on their selection to help guide and educate consumers on what beers they should try and which ones they should be steering clear of. Otherwise, without these resources we are doomed to continue in the future of these polar views of what beer is good and what is overrated.

The Mikkeller Breakfast Beers

| January 15th, 2012 | No comments

All of us here at Hooked on Hops got together to taste the three different Mikkeller “breakfast” beers that are currently available in Las Vegas. Beer Geek BreakfastBeer Hop Breakfast, and Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, to be exact.

All three of these beers are oatmeal stouts brewed with coffee that are of moderate strength at 7.5%. Beer Geek Brunch is the odd man out here boasting an ABV of 10.9%.

First up, Beer Geek Breakfast. This is the normal one of the three. The original, if you will. This beer tastes like a bitter, black coffee with a nice, sweet oatmeal finish. Goran personally doesn’t care for the taste of coffee, but he loved this beer. We all loved this beer. I strongly urge anyone who loves stouts to buy this beer! Perfect smell, taste and mouthfeel, this is an incredible beer.

Next up was Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. It is essentially the same beer as before, however the alcohol level is bumped up to 10.9%. Also the coffee Is made from weasel shit. Seriously. Go ahead and search Civet coffee on the internet, I’ll wait.

This beer was a bit sweeter than Beer Geek Breakfast. The added sweetness is a result of the additional malt needed to get alcohol content up. The finish was also a bit more bitter than the last beer. Tastes like a lot more coffee was used. In addition to giving the beer more alcohol, the added malt also made the body thicker. This beer was a bit syrupy and very filling. It had a velvety texture. Or as Armando stated, “This tastes like fucking velvet!” The taste was incredible, like an amped up version of Beer Geek Breakfast. I do not, however, recommend you drink this beer alone. It is very flavorful, thick, and filling. Trying to drink the entire bottle by yourself is a bit much.

Finally we tasted Beer Hop Breakfast. This beer is essentially the same as Beer Geek Breakfast (same alcohol level and type of coffee used) except it is very heavily dry hopped. For the unfamiliar, dry hopping a beer means to add hops post fermentation.

This beer has a very big grapefruit aroma pouring out of the glass. The coffee bitterness is still there, however it is now paired with big, leafy, green hop flavor. This beer is meant for the hop lovers. It’s not necessarily bitter hoppy, like an IPA. It instead focuses on aroma and flavor. This is a very unique take on the stout style that can be very delicious to some, but a bit odd to others.

So which one is the best? They are all fantastic beers for different purposes. If you want to drink one of the best stouts you will ever have, get Beer Geek Breakfast. If you want something that is more of a dessert beer, get Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, it would go great with ice cream or even by itself as an after dinner beer. If you want to try something unique, kind of a blend of a stout and an IPA, try Beer Hop Breakfast.

All of these beers are currently available at Whole Foods and Khoury’s Fine Wine.

Special thanks to Danny Szeto for taking these awesome photos