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AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST

Nevada Beer Nuggets
By Bob Barnes

Although many Oktoberfest observances are held in October, any beer geek worth his suds will know that Oktoberfest actually begins in mid-September, to avoid the chilly October winds that blow in from the Alps in Bavaria, sometimes leading to snow. Although we aren’t expecting any snow, Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas will be the first to inaugurate the season of Oktoberfest in a big way, with a six-week extravaganza complete with celebrity keg tappings, special entertainment and special beer. The festivities run from Saturday, September 17, through Monday, October 31. The special beer is the traditional Oktoberfestbier, the very same beer that is served in Munich for that city’s official Oktoberfest celebration.

Gordon Biersch’s Oktoberfest will entertain us with two days of festivities on Friday and Saturday, September 23 and 24, held in the brewpub’s parking lot. The celebration will begin at 5:00 on Friday with the tapping of Brewmaster Richard Lovelady’s Festbier (an unfiltered Oktoberfest lager) from a 30-gallon wooden barrel. Reggae, jazz and classic rock bands will play throughout, and there will be family-friendly arts and crafts booths on Saturday. Fest hours are Friday from 5:00 to midnight and Saturday from 2:00 to midnight. This annual event is quite popular, drawing over 10,000 attendees each year.

Barley’s fourth annual brewfest, held in May, was a smashing good time, as usual. This fest, although small, is just big enough to offer a diverse range of beer styles, but not so big that you can’t try them all (but you have to take very small sips). Several last-minute brewery no-shows did not mar the turnout, with 13 breweries in attendance. Nearly all of the Vegas breweries were on hand to serve their best (Gordon Biersch, Ellis Island, Big Dog’s, Triple 7, Tenaya Creek, BJ’s, Barley’s, Sin City and Monte Carlo), and out-of-town providers from California (Coronado from San Diego and Lengthwise from Bakersfield), Utah (Bohemian from Midvale) and Laughlin, Nev. (Colorado Belle’s Boiler Room) added a regional flair. The weather was near perfect, as May nights tend to be in southern Nevada, and I was an especially happy camper after I discovered no less than five barley wines to enjoy from Triple 7, Big Dog’s, Coronado, Tenaya Creek and Monte Carlo.

Monte Carlo Brewpub on the Las Vegas Strip no longer has a cover charge on weekends. Live bands still perform on Fridays and Saturdays beginning around 9:00 or 10:00, but now you can spend your $10 on beer instead of admission.

One of my all-time favorite beers, Radeberger, a true pilsner from Germany, has made an entry into the Vegas market.

Marshall Redmond is the new brewmaster at the Boiler Room Brew Pub at the Colorado Belle Casino in Laughlin, down at the southern tip of the state. Redmond hails from the San Diego area and began homebrewing in 2000 after taking a trip to Portland and discovering real beer. He then got friendly with local brewers, apprenticed at La Jolla Brewing (now closed) for a year and took a course from the American Brewers Guild before landing his first brewing job at Blue Corn Café and Brewery in Albuquerque. At the Boiler Room, Redmond brews four standards — a golden ale, amber ale, pale ale and stout — and a rotating seasonal. His seasonals this summer are a brown ale, an IPA and a Bavarian hefe.

Brewmaster Dave Otto at Big Dog’s Brewing Company helped Las Vegas commemorate its 100th birthday as a city by brewing his Las Vegas Centennial IPA, complete with 100 IBUs and 100% Centennial hops. This brew just happened to be Big Dog’s 100th batch of beer since opening just over a year ago. Otto followed this feat by brewing a kriek. Although he couldn’t brew a Belgian lambic style, he did his best to make is taste like one, using 500 pounds of cherry purée. If you make it over to the Draft House to try it, ask for Michael Pullman, whom I deem to be the best of their servers. He’s certainly the most beer-knowledgeable and the greatest beer enthusiast in the house.

I recommend reading The Underground Guide to Las Vegas, a travel guide that is geared towards a Vegas experience outside of the mainstream and with recommendations and tips most tourists would be unaware of. The guide points you in the right direction to locate good brews, giving a nod to Freakin’ Frog, Big Dog’s, Crown & Anchor and Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, all of which happen to supply not only great beer, but also excellent reading material, namely, the Celebrator Beer News. The Guide, edited by Jarret Keene, is available at local Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores.

In the midst of sweltering heat in Vegas, a good pilsner is warranted. Local brewpubs to the rescue include Tenaya Creek, sporting a double pilsner with lots of German Perle and Czech Saaz hops logging in at 8% abv; Chicago Brewing with its Golden Gunnar, the hoppiest pilsner I’ve ever tasted; Gordon Biersch, serving a Czech-style pilsner as its seasonal through the end of August; and Big Dog’s Pilsner, a German-style beer with Czech Saaz and Tettnang hops.

I’m happy to report that one of my all-time favorite beers, Radeberger, a true pilsner from Germany, has made an entry into the Vegas market. Radeberger is now being tapped at Freakin’ Frog, Pierro’s and Smith & Wollensky’s. Don’t be surprised to see a lot more of this turning up in a town that loves yellow beer, except that this yellow beer actually has real beer flavor and hops you can taste.

Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas
4510 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 256-5500
hofbrauhauslasvegas.com

Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.
3987 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 312-5247
gordonbiersch.com

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.

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