I sauntered to the booth that belonged to Issa Khoury of Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits.

During the last few years, Issa has expanded the offerings of his store on S. Eastern Avenue in Henderson to include craft beers, both on tap and by the bottle. Issa was sporting his newly St. Baldrick’d haircut, and had four beers from two breweries to offer. North Coast Brewing‘s Scrimshaw Pilsner was intensely fragrant and light on the palate. The ideal beer for beginners. They also had a beer called PranQster (that’s not a typo), which was a deep gold, with a generous, cream-colored head. Bright citrus flavors with medium acidity and a gentle citrus finish.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA – so named because that’s how long it takes to add the hops – was a clear caramel color with a clean citrusy nose with just a touch of nuttiness, medium acidity and a slightly bitter, citrus peel finish. The other beer by Dogfish Head was Midas Touch (see photo). It had a beautiful golden color, clean nose of kumquat, honey, and Muscat. It had a honeyed, citrusy medium finish. Very drinkable for beginners and veterans alike.

According to Issa, Dogfish Head experimented with a brew named Corn Spit Beer.  His description is exactly what you’re Brews Best Beer Festival07probably thinking.  And yes, they sold it on tap. Ew.

As an aside here, I have to confess that I had some camera problems that I didn’t even know were occurring. About ¼ of the photos I took were duds. Needless to say, I’m disappointed and more than a little upset because I used a newish SD card – the modern day equivalent to film – in the camera. I hope it’s the card and not the Pentax!

After Khoury’s, I stopped at the Chicago Brewing Company booth. It was there that I discovered my first breakfast beer. This is a cold-brewed toddy extraction meant to get the most out of the incorporated Colombian-roasted coffee beans and none of the acidity.  The result is an intensely fragrant, mouthfilling, yummy, delicious beer that I’d have for breakfast while sitting out on the patio on a Sunday morning. It was called Toddy Mouth Coffee Brown (yeah – weird name, I know), and so delicious. It was a morning wakeup call in the mouth! I immediately phoned The Wineaux Guy™ to share with him this great discovery since we’re always looking for new and different drinks to share.  Unfortunately, this is a seasonal beer, and may not be around after the spring.

I stopped at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company booth, which, since it’s an Arizona brewery, makes the “local” moniker questionable. Mark brought two beers: one was American Pilsner, and the other was Sunset Amber Ale. Both were easy-drinking, tasty brews that would be suitable for just about any beer drinker.

I talked about BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Henderson a couple of years ago, and they have since expanded to other locations in Las Vegas. BJ’s is the national chain that feels like a local! At any rate, they had several beers, and the one I was immediately drawn to was the Jeremiah Red, an “Irish Style Ale” with a pure toffee red color, creamy head, and palate-friendly subdued hops that emphasizes the malt.  They also had Hopstorm, an American-style IPA with all of its hoppy goodness.  It was a pretty caramel color and had a distinct bitter finish.  Great for fatty food.

I discovered Lucille’s Smokehouse several years ago when it first opened at the The District in Henderson. While I have greedily eaten their wonderful foods, I have also enjoyed their beers. They brought two with them – the Honey Blonde, a dark gold, light bodied beer with a creamy head, medium-light acidity and medium finish.  Definitely a good beer for beginners.

Their other beer was Amber Ale, which had a clear caramel color, a creamy head, lots of maltiness on the nose with mouthwatering acidity and a medium finish. Think ribs!

I finally braved the trip down the walkway to the other, non-local booths and had a few beers that told me why many of these beers had achieved their stellar national status. But, frankly, it was packed, so eventually I gave up (after having a Philly steak sandwich at Pop’s truck) and found my way back up to the Casino area.  There were still a couple of booths that I needed to visit, and the most interesting was the Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union (SNAFU), a homebrew club looking to open up their own place and they brought along some of their beers to showcase.

Needless to say, by this time I had palate fatigue and needed something big to impress.  I had two, which were the only two I tasted although they had brought eight (may have been ten – it was one of the pictures that was fried). One – and I didn’t write down the name with the beer – had basil in the brew. It was delicious!  It was a lager (if I recall properly), but that bit of basil had me wishing for a Caprese!  The other brew that I tasted (okay, I was drinking at this point) was F’d Up Foreign Extra Stout, which was DELICIOUS!  It was bit, rich, chocolatey, with coffee and malted notes. The head was a light brown and it sang to my love of this style of beer.

I finished up my day with a Palate Wrecker IPA from Aces & Ales (note to self: drinking anything with the words “Palate Wrecker” in the title is a huge mistake if you’re going to a wine tasting right after), which was hoppy, bitter, bright, and flavorful.  And, as I found out much later, one of the favorites among my IPA drinking friends.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other locals that were there including Barley’s Casino, Boulder Dam Brewing Company, and Money Plays.

So the overall review of the beers is a positive one.  The lagers were novice-friendly, the ales, porters, and stouts (what few there were) were complex and mouthfilling. The IPAs ranged from gently hoppy to “Dude, where’s my tongue?”

I’m looking forward to the New Vista’s November Brew’s Best event.  Just as this festival showcased bright beers with hops, fresh flavors, and light textures, I’m sure that the next one will be focusing on Ales, Porters, and Stouts.  If that’s the case, I may or may not be in “reporting” mode.  I’ll probably just be drinking!

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