Monday, February 2, 2009

Weekend in Vegas

Just got back from a weekend in Vegas. Yeah baby! We hit a lot of beer bars/microbreweries/draft houses and I'm here to tell you each and every one was great. Vegas is a great town for beer and don't let anyone else make you think otherwise. And you can reach most via a short crawl of the Strip. That's S holding some salt from the floor of Death Valley which she used to rim a Margarita....

In no particular order:

Pour 24--just inside the New York New York casino (a short campaign from the Excalibur via walkway), and next to Coyote Ugly. A very good looking rectangular bar overlooking the game floor, and if you can take your eyes off the coyote babes skulking around long enough to have a look at the beer menu, you'll see where it gets it's name as it boasts at least 24 bottles and 24 beers on draught. I had a hard time deciding on one, as many varied styles were represented (someone obviously thought about great beers when building this menu), but I ended up with Big Sky I.P.A. from the Big Sky Brewing Company out of Missoula Montana. I had never tried this one before and it kicks in with just the right amount of hops to keep things interesting but not too much to blow the sucker--call it a hop firecracker. A great place to hit before or after you hit it big downstairs.

Chicago Brewing Company--an oasis if you have a car and want to get away from the Strip. This large place is sitting in one of those suburban shopping complexes that require you to act like a rat in a maze to get in and out of. They have vid poker right at your stool and they make a mean I.P.A. too. Play and the drinks are on the house. Lots of their own beers on draught, but decided on the Hardway I.P.A. which made losing 20 bucks really easy. Oh. I took this picture as I back-crawled back to the car.

Big Dog's Draft House-- Another great microbrewery/bar/casino to visit if you have transpo. This is the cheeseheads paradise for all of Las Vegas as evidenced by the Packers memorabilia scattered around the place. They serve snacks in of course, dog dishes, and the tap handles are what else: fire hydrants. Open 24/7 with video poker right at your stool. As this is Vegas, after all, I had the Dirty Dog I.P.A. which was excellent. A medium hoppy nose and taste. Take my woof for it: the slots are as loose as a pooch and this is the place to go if you want to have fun with the big dogs.

Tenaya Creek Brewery--another oasis requiring caravan by car to get to. Being away from it all ensures that you won't be bothered by any babe-trading-card flicking hucksters like you're want to be if you stick like a fly to that ribbon of asphalt they call the Strip. Great looking, high-ceilinged, U-shaped granite bar, making and serving some great beers. I was swept away by the Monsoon I.P.A. served in a chalice. Can you tell I like I.P.A.s? Poker at the bar, pool tables and brewery in the back. Picked up a copy of the sister-ship to the Mid-Atlantic brewing news: the Southwest Brewing News. So that gives you an idea of the vibe of the place. They know, make, and love great beer.

Ellis Island Casino and Brewing Company--one block behind Bally's you'll find a place where you can get cheap beer and a steak dinner for $6.99, which really can't be beat. Every tap sported a handle screaming EIB and I had a hard time picking between the Hefe and the Amber Ale. But EIB Amber Ale it was and what a great choice that turned out to be. A very clean, balanced ale that made me think I was a lager drinker. Red tufted, naugahyde booths in the dim taproom reminded me of Frank Sinatra in a Vegas-kinda way.

Freakin' Frog--Freaking dark college beer joint is what this is, next to a hydroponic gardening shop. Ehh? Reminds me of the Rathskeller in State College. This place is a longish but not overbearing walk from the Strip near the UNLV campus with a Whisky (or is it Whiskey) school upstairs (for when you're too hungover to attend real classes) and where the professor teaches spirits and beer school. Here they had some nice imports on draught but as this was one of the first places we hit, I wanted to stay local, so I picked the Tenaya Creek Winter Seasonal which was a nice, spicy treat. Of course, winter in Vegas is more like October in NEPA, so I was a bit flavor confused, but it was great anyway. A nice dark ale with a nice malt kick to the forehead. Kick it!

Crown and Anchor--Roit! This place is a trip back to that quaint place they call England, old chap--old wood bar and exposed timber framing. Rugby and Football on the big screen, and 30 mostly imported beers on the big back wall. I had a Tetley Ale here from the tap which was good in a very English kind of 3.5% way if you know what I mean. (Is it just me or are all their beers session beers under 4% ??? Can you say: lightweights?) S sort-of enjoyed a Pilsner Urqell--which was the first time for her. No amount of forearm scratching, lunatic raving by me could convince her it was a great beer and that she'd like it. To each their own, I guess. A London cab sits out front for an imaginary ride home if you've had too much.

Barley's Casino and Brewing Company--Ahh, our first stop. We were on the way back from the Valley of Fire State Park where we had fired up an awful thirst so this place fit the bill perfectly. (It does require some ground transportation to get to as it's not in Vegas but Henderson.) This is a brewery/casino. Sheesh! Does it get any better than casinos and beer? No I.P.A. on draught right now, so opted for the Boulder Gold Hefeweizen over the Doppelbock. Hard choice but it turned out well as the Hefe hit all the right banana and clove notes on my sense piano. Had some pizza from their flame-fired oven which was good. The pieces were thick, wedgy, and gooey with cheese, and unlike what I'm used to in NEPA pizza. Was this Chicago style? Anyway, great with the beer.

Monte Carlo Pub and Brewery--tried to get in here at 9 (a.m. that is) to try one of their brews but they were closed. And I thought Vegas never slept! Did manage to get in later that night when, much to our dismay we discovered they no longer make their own beer. Nonplussed, we ran around in circles for a while trying to decide whether to stay or go but decided to stay and choose something from their small draught selection. I chose the Sin City Stout from the Sin City Brewing Company which was a nice change of pace from all the I.P.A.s I had been quaffing. It was a clean tasting, nippy not biting version with a subtle tinge of coffee.

Big Dog's Draft House--beer, vibe, and 24/7 service makes this a must.
Tenaya Creek Brewery--another great microbrewery with a nice bar and pool--mid-scale in the luxe factor making it a great date place.

We missed Gordon Biersch which is east of the Strip, one or two blocks over, near Flamingo street on Paradise. Next time.... Also missed BJ's, the Yard House south end of the strip with a colossal 160 taps, and Triple 7 downtown (take the bus to get to this one if you don't have a car).

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