Big Dog’s is an iconic brewery in Las Vegas. It was a microbrewery when no one really knew what a microbrewery was.
I took advantage of the $10 food and beer pairing which featured a 20oz Watch Dog Wit, a “white” Belgian-style wheat beer that was paired with a grilled salmon and spinach salad. It was a special available only to those who are members of the mailing list. And it really wasn’t a party, per se. You just bring in your voucher, receive a food and drink ticket as well as a coupon for a discount of 20% off of anything else you want to buy, and you find a seat and wait for the servers. So it’s very different from wine parties which tend to be a little more structured. Which really didn’t bother me at all!
I received a beer immediately. It’s so pretty!
As I sit here writing this at a table in the restaurant, all I can say is that this beer is damned good. And I’m going to order another. But more on that later.
Big Dog’s Draft House is the location of the microbrewey on Rancho just north of Craig. It is a very old-fashioned looking building whose quaint exterior belies the massiveness of the indoor space. Woody, rustic, and with walls embellished with Wisconsin car license plates (this is THE Green Bay Packers bar in town) it is comfortable and friendly. It feels like a large, homespun Cheers. It supplies the beer for the Big Dog restaurants, including The Draft House itself and Big Dog’s Cafe and Casino on W. Sahara.
On this evening there is a March Madness game going on – UNLV vs California somebody – and the place is packed. There’s a palpable excitement in the air, but then again, this is the Draft House. If you’ve ever been here during a Packers game, you’d know that the patrons are passionate about their teams, and the amount of noise from the cheering fans reflects this. If you come into this bar to cheer for the other team, you do so at your own peril.
Anyway, this fresh-from-the-tap beer is extraordinary and very, dangerously drinkable. Unlike IPAs which tend to have a higher alcohol count, this is only 5%. Because of its blend – Belgian pilsner malt, unmalted wheat, rolled oats, coriander, and Curacao orange peel – it is relentlessly refreshing and a perfect summer beer. Think patio, pool, seafood boil. Just sayin’. I drank the first one quickly, and I ordered another.
The salmon salad was dressed in a citrus vinaigrette, and was a litle more well done than what I usually have, but then again, I love sashimi and prefer my meats very rare. As one food pundit once quipped, “just walk it past the kitchen and that should be done enough.” That’s one of my life mottos. That being said, it was well prepared and delicious, and I wasn’t the only one who thoroughly cleaned his plate. The beer paired perfectly – seafood and white beer. This beer could easily become my Pinot Noir equivalent!
Because I still had a little beer left over, I decided to get a “Bavarian soft pretzel” from the happy hour menu. I’ve been “dieting,” (more or less) so the fried white cheddar cheese balls were out. The sweet beer mustard was a little too sweet for me, but they had regular yellow mustard which spoke to my Philadelphia pretzel-lovin’ soul. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth except for fresh natural fruit, and the pretzel is a good stand in. Well, except maybe for chocolate. Dark chocolate, which isn’t really sweet, but works as a sweet for me. Oh yeah, and the CPK Butter Cake.
But I digress…
I don’t get here nearly enough. Not only do they have great salads, but they also have meat, pizza, sandwiches, brats, desserts, and appetizer dishes. A comfortable, neighborhood place that would allow me to write and study in peace despite the noise. It’s a brewery, so it has no wine list to speak of, but it has several low-alcohol, refreshing hand-crafted brews that would be ideal for study time. And it’s so close to home!
Besides, I need another Watch Dog Wit.
And it looks like the (UNLV) Rebels lost. Dammit.