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Nevada Beer Nuggets
By Bob Barnes

Nevada fared quite well at this year’s World Beer Cup, bringing home four medals. This is especially impressive when you consider that there are only 13 breweries in the entire state, and only five submitted entries. Reno’s Brew Brothers scored a gold in the German-Style Brown Ale/Düsseldorf-Style Altbier category, and a bronze in the Barley Wine–Style Ale category. Las Vegas’s Big Dog’s Brewing earned a gold in the English-Style Brown Ale category, and Chicago Brewing Company claimed a gold in the Belgian-Style Dubbel category. Chicago’s Brewmaster Kyle Cormier is on a roll, having already won two medals at the 2005 GABF. His medal total stands at eight, solidifying his position as the southern Nevada brewer with the most major competition medals.

Beer season in Nevada is truly upon us, with three beer festivals in as many cities taking place during June and July. First up will be the fifth annual CasaBrewski on Saturday, June 10, in Mesquite, Nev. The event will be poolside at the CasaBlanca Resort & Casino, and a $25 tax-deductible donation benefiting local charities will get you all the beer tasting and food pairings you can handle. Sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits, the festival will feature more than 50 beers from around the world and will run from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Mesquite is just west of the Utah border, about an hour’s drive north from Las Vegas.

On June 23–24, the fourth annual Blues, Brews & BBQ will be held at the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas. This two-day party will entertain with the best blues bands around, including John Lee Hooker Jr. and Big Brother & the Holding Company (Janis Joplin’s original band). The music is so outstanding that it’s the main draw for quite a few attendees. But those who love beer won’t be disappointed, with choices like Anchor Steam, Firestone Double Barrel, New Belgium Skinny Dip and Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Pyramid Apricot Ale and Hefeweizen and at least three different ciders. Tickets will be $5 at the door, and an optional tasting book with coupons for 10 eight-ounce pours will be available for $20. There will be several food options, with vendors from the finest barbecue joints in southern Nevada. The party runs from 5:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday (the 23rd) and from 2:00 p.m. to midnight on Saturday (the 24th). The Cannery is located just west of Losee Road and the I-15 freeway.

On Saturday, July 8, consider heading to northern Nevada for the 11th annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival, hosted by the Eldorado Casino in downtown Reno. This fest never disappoints beer hounds, with an astounding lineup of micros from around the West and award-winning brews from the Eldorado’s Brew Brothers brewpub. Here’s your chance to drink beer in the street, as this fest will be held on Virginia Street just outside the Eldorado. Reasonably priced food from the Eldorado will be available along with free live bands, including Elvin Bishop. Festival packages include a souvenir beer mug, tasting tokens and preferred seating for performances in the Eldorado Showroom. If you show up a day early (Friday, July 7), you can be part of the Eldorado Brew Fest Pub Crawl and visit four of the Reno area brewpubs. Brewers are invited to submit their beer for judging, with awards being given by category. For more information, call 800-648-5966 (or 775-786-5700 in Nevada) or visit the Eldorado online at eldoradoreno.com.

Rosemary’s Restaurant hosted yet another sold-out rendition of a “Rare Beer” dinner, with brews supplied by Larry James of Wine Warehouse of California. This version added a spicy flair that began with a Mixed Shellfish Ceviche paired with an extremely hoppy Belgian Fantôme Brise-BonBons with a peppery finish. Rabbit Vol-au-Vent with Black Italian Summer Truffles was balanced with Gavroche, a 9% abv French red farmhouse ale. Wild Boar Enchiladas with Chocolate Mole was backed up with the spicy Fantôme Chocolat, which imparted a mild finish of chili pepper and paprika. The dessert offering was Rustic Quince Tart with Nutmeg Ice Cream & Vanilla Bean Anglaise matched with the Japanese Hitachino Nest “Celebration 2006,” a hoppy brew with an abundance of vanilla and spice. As always, Larry James threw in a bonus beer, Satan Gold, an 8% abv Belgian strong ale from the De Block brewery. Call Rosemary’s at (702) 869-2251 to reserve a spot for the next dinner.

They haven’t yet run out of beer, so weekly tastings continue at Lee’s Discount Liquor on Lake Mead at Buffalo. A recent tasting played favorites to my tasting palate with Belgian beers imported by Global Beer Network. Johnny Fincioen, who is himself a Belgian export, brought out no less than 11 Belgians for us to taste. He also described each beer’s flavor nuances and regaled us with stories of the beers’ origins and Belgian beer culture. Excellence in beer was found in Wittekerke wheat ale from Bavik Brewery; Monk’s Café, a sour red ale aged in oak barrels from Van Steenberge Brewery; Poperings Hommelbier from Van Eecke, a pale ale with twice the usual hoppiness of the average Belgian (it’s brewed in a hop-growing region); Piraat, a triple Flemish IPA; and Gulden Draak, a rich brown Flemish triple.

I’m sad to report that Las Vegas no longer has a homebrew supply store. Nevada Brew & Wine Supply closed its doors in March, making it the fourth homebrew store to come and go in southern Nevada.

The latest beer nugget I’ve uncovered on the Las Vegas Strip is the Burger Bar on the second floor of the Mandalay Bay Place Mall. If you need a break from the casino atmosphere, you can stop in to find a gourmet burger menu paired with a solid lineup of 24 beers on tap — including Chimay White, Lindemans Framboise, Sierra Nevada, New Belgian Skinny Dip and Grimbergen Double — and Pete’s Wicked Ale and Samuel Smith Taddy Porter in bottles. The Mandalay Bay is on the south end of the Strip between Tropicana and Russell.

Elsewhere on the Strip, the MGM’s Centrifuge Bar is now serving Firestone Double Barrel and New Belgian Skinny Dip on draft. At the Bellagio’s Petrosian Bar, Rochefort 8 and Firestone Double Barrel are now sold in bottles. As always, good things happen in Vegas!

Burger Bar Mandalay Place
The Mandalay Bay

3930 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9364

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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