Nevada Beer Nuggets
by Bob Barnes
When was the last time you got to drink beer during a final exam? Well, if the answer is never, perhaps you've been taking the wrong classes. The University of Nevada in Las Vegas offers an Introductory Brewing course taught by Professor Andrew Feinstein, Ph.D., that covers the technical aspects of brewing, ingredients, world beer styles and the history of brewing. It's a required course for Beverage Management majors and an elective for all others. Ever have trouble motivating your kids to do their homework? No problem in this class.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Students are required to visit local brewpubs and evaluate the beer by filling out BJCP judge scoring sheets. One of the class projects is to brew a batch of beer. Each class ends with a tasting of about a dozen brews. Feinstein lectures on the flavor nuances of the beer style as students score the beer. The two times I visited the class, they were evaluating Belgian ales and lambics. I was treated to the likes of a Duinen Abbey Triple, Castelain Blond Biere de Garde, Cantillon Vigneronne, Kriek Boon and Liefmans Goudenband. Lucky me!
Lee's Liquor is making winter more bearable by reinstituting beer tastings at its W. Lake Mead location. In December, Sierra Wine & Spirits' Johnny Nacarotto, MacTarnahan's Vice President of Sales Mark Carver and Regional Sales Manager Ed Luna presented a tasting for about 30 beer fans of the entire line of MacTarnahan's brews as well as other products made by Portland Brewing Company. Carver and Luna spoke about the brewery's history and described the flavor profiles of each beer as it was served. The crowd pleaser was the Benchmark MMI. At 9.9%, this old ale is one rich and potent brew. Other favorites were Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (contract brewed by Portland Brewing) and MacTarnahan's Mac Frost Winter Ale, a weissbock made with Weihenstephan yeast.
Irish pubs continue to sprout in the Vegas Valley. A worthy new arrival is McMullan's Irish Pub. Owner Brian McMullan's family has been in the pub business since 1908. Brian has been consulting for the Irish Pub Company, helping to design other pubs around town. Now he has flexed his creative muscle and designed his own, fashioned after a traditional Irish pub.
The 5,221-square-foot pub has five themed, partitioned rooms (called snugs), most with nautical themes, allowing patrons to have a sense of privacy while still experiencing the craic (Gaelic word for atmosphere). There are 15 drafts (served in 20-ounce pours) offering a wide range of styles. Guinness, Tetley's, Boddington's, Newcastle, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Pyramid Hefeweizen, Anchor Steam, Pilsner Urquell, Murphy's and Beamish Stout are on tap; in bottles are Kronenbourg 1664 and Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome.
The pub's slogan, "Purveyors of the Perfect Pint," is backed up by proper beer-serving practices. Beer glasses never hold anything but beer, and when a Guinness is poured, it's filled three-quarters full and then left to settle for nearly two minutes before being topped off. Traditional Irish bands mixed with Irish pop perform Wednesdays through Sundays. McMullan's is located a few miles west of the Strip at W. Tropicana and Cameron, one block west of the Orleans Casino.
The monks are brewing in Vegas. Harvest Moon Brewers, a collection of commercial and amateur brewers focused on brotherhood and cooperation, don monk's robes and gather three to four times a year to drink the best beer to be found and to feast on beer-themed dinners. The feasts are primarily designed and prepared by Feastmaster Steve MacMillan, a homebrewer extraordinaire who can boast of several boxes of homebrew competition ribbons. Recently I was fortunate to partake of the bounty of one of these feasts, which had a locally produced beer theme, as five of the Vegas-area brewmasters shared their brews. Michael Ferguson brought his Barley's two-time silver GABF medalist Hefeweizen to complement the bread and cheese course.
Tim Etter sent his GABF gold-medal-winning Tenaya Creek Pilsner, which was paired with the salad. Richard Lovelady shared his Gordon Biersch Dunkles, which was served with (and steamed in) clams. Kyle Cormier's Chicago Brewing Co. Scotch Ale complemented a venison barley bread-bowl stew. The main course, rib eye steak, was savored with John Gassaway's Triple 7's Double Bock, which was also blended with the mushrooms that topped the steaks. The accompanying vegetable dish was asparagus marinated with Lindemans Framboise. The finale of the feast was a chocolate whisky soufflé made with single malt whisky, imperial stout and a caramelized sauce made with dried malt extract. Steve MacMillan's imperial stout (aged for two years) and his heather mead harmonized with this dessert course.
The Harvest Moon Brewers have chosen to unofficially align themselves with the Weihenstephan Brewery. MacMillan said, "We chose Weihenstephan mainly for its rich history as the oldest brewery in the world, but also because they make lagers as well as ales and were originally a monastery. Plus, the robe's colors are lighter colors, which makes wearing them in the hot Vegas summers more tolerable."
The quality of beer selection at resorts on the Las Vegas Strip continues to improve. A case in point is the MGM Grand. Its new bar, Zuri (formerly the Betty Boop Bar), located just steps from the front entrance and room registration, serves Duvel, Chimay Premier Red, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Spaten Franziskaner, Steinlager and Lindemans Framboise, Kriek and Peche, all in appropriate glassware. There's no Bud, Coors or Miller for sale here, and it appears the tourists are going for this classy selection, as it's been difficult to keep these beers in stock. Beverage Manager Seth Martin said plans are in the works to open a 24-tap draft bar with more quality craft-beer offerings as well as beer dinners at the MGM's Craft Steak restaurant. The sports book currently pours Guinness, Sierra Nevada, Newcastle, Steinlager, Gordon Biersch märzen and Pyramid hefe. Don't forget to ask for your free drink ticket when you place your bet.
McMullan's Irish Pub
4650 W. Tropicana Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Zuri @ MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Lee's Discount Liquor
7411 W. Lake Mead Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89128
Bob Barnes is a native Las Vegan and a regional correspondent for the Celebrator Beer News. He welcomes your inquiries and is standing by to assist you in your Vegas beer quest. He can be reached via e-mail at LVBobB@juno.com.
Copyright 2003, Celebrator No material herein may be reprinted without permission of the Celebrator Distributed On the W3 For personal, non-commercial enjoyment and use only. Cheers!
February/March 2003 Home
Issues Online -