I arrived early to spend some time during the VIP hour to talk to the people who were staffing the breweries’ booths. The weather was outstanding – slightly overcast and cool with a soft breeze – so it made for a great beer-tasting occasion. As I’ve reviewed my notes, I realized that I’d tasted 45 beers that I thought were worthy of making notes about. I will spare you, and just touch on some of those that stood out. Which means that there will be a lot of good beers left unshared!
As I mentioned in the previous post, I was focused on finding the appeal of IPAs to my friends. I’m a Porter woman; the rich, warm, malty, chocolate, coffee flavors make me smile, and the look of the golden-brown mustache from that first sip makes everyone else smile. I will drink a Porter in any weather and even though I’ve never confessed it aloud or would admit it in public, I know that there are times when beer is simply better than wine. So would the IPA prove itself as one of the rare entities – a suitable replacement for wine? We’ll see.
I’ve been to many events at MonteLago Village in Lake Las Vegas. It’s reminiscent of Old Italy, and the architectural styling reminds me of Tivoli Village on Rampart in the city. It’s a treat for the eyes!
The Festival was set up behind the Casino. The “upper level” immediately next to the Casino exit was reserved for the locals and those who are locals-centric. Walking down the pathway towards the lake took you to the more regional and some national brands, such as Alaskan Brewing Company, Three Monkeys Brewing Company, Left Coast Brewing, and others.
I started at the booth of the Joseph James Brewing Co., which is headquartered in Henderson. I tasted several of their beers, including the Hop Box Imperial IPA. Lots of hops! The nose was citrusy, nutty, and the taste reflected the amount of hops used in brewing, with a mouthwatering acidity. The finish was long, bitter, and fruity. What a yummy way to begin my beery day! I also tasted their Citra Rye Pale Ale. Medium acidity, it had lots of grapefruit peel on the nose, the palate, and the finish. It was a light red/amber color with a cream-colored head. The grapefruit peel characteristics fascinated me because they were so distinct.
Joseph James Brewing Co., by the way, has tours of its facilities.
I live in the northwest area of Las Vegas, and one of my neighbors, so to speak, is Tenaya Creek Brewery. Located on North Tenaya approximately 1/4 mile south of Cheyenne Avenue, they are a neighborhood fixture, having been around for well over a decade, but went full-bore with the brewery operations about seven years ago. Their success reflects the quality of their beers.
The first one I tasted was the Hop Ride IPA. It was “hop forward” (I like that), and had notes of white grapefruit, earth, and pine. Assertively bitter with a medium-plus acidity on the palate, the finish was citrusy with a touch of bitterness.
I also tasted the Calico Brown Ale, and it’s dangerous. It spoke to my love of Porter-style beers. It was a clear dark amber with a cream-colored head that quickly dissipated in the afternoon breeze. Notes of light-roasted coffee, toffee, and medium acidity with a medium fruity finish made me smile. At only 5% abv, I could drink this all day long. That’s what I mean by dangerous!
My next stop was Aces & Ales, a local tavern modeled after an English pub. Located on Nellis, they are a little far away for me to be a regular, but they have outstanding offerings. They only had two with them: Hophead Red and Palate Wrecker. For once I listened to that the little voice – and the warning of one of the beermaids – to save the Palate Wrecker for last. I tasted the Hophead Red which was a distinct red amber with a cream-colored head and citrus and coffee notes on the palate.
The next stop was at the booth of Big Dog’s Brewing Company, as recognizable a fixture in Las Vegas as any other. As a fan and owner of Bernese Mountain Dogs (a distinctive “big dog”), I was a fan the first time I saw one of their taverns. They arrived in Las Vegas the year before I did, in 1993.
The names of the brews will make you chuckle, because they’re all canine-centric. Leglifter Light, Red Hydrant Ale, and War Dog Imperial IPA, just to name a few. I sampled the Leglifter Light first, and it is a non-beer drinker’s beer. Creamy yellow color, lemony nose, and touches of vanilla and toffee on the palate with just a kiss of hops.
The next beer was Rail Dog Steam Lager. Pure amber in color, it had a touch of caramel, orange, and nuts on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity and very chewy, it was way too drinkable.
The next one I tasted was the English Brown Ale, which once again called to my true love. It looked almost like Coke in the glass. It had a soft nose of light-roast coffee and toffee. Coffee and cocoa on the palate with a medium acidity and medium, roasted coffee finish. Very drinkable!
The last one I tasted was the Dirty Dog IPA. It was a clear caramel color, with a cream-colored, generous head – in fact, it’s the beer pictured on the previous post. Meyer lemon and pine on the nose and had a mouthwatering acidity. The finish was pleasantly bitter, hinting of Meyer lemon and coffee. Delicious. And did a fairly good job of slapping my palate around a bit.
Whew – I drank a lot of beer! Oops. Tasted a lot of beer. Subtle difference, but very important! I’ll wrap up my beer tasting adventures in Part 3.