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Nevada Beer Nuggets - Celebrator Magazine
August / September Issue
By Bob Barnes
Great Basin Medals and Expands Yet Again
Reno’s Great Basin Brewing Company continues to lead the Silver State in medal wins, and was Nevada’s lone winner in the 2012 World Beer Cup. Its Outlaw Oatmeal Stout earned a silver in the Sweet Stout category, which is the brewery’s third major competition win for this beer. It previously medaled in the 2011 GABF and the 2008 WBC.
The brewery is currently brewing at capacity at both of its locations, necessitating the need for further expansion. It has taken over the space and brewing equipment of the old Buckbean Brewing Company facility at 1155 South Rock Blvd. in Reno to help keep up with demand. When the new brewery, known as Great Basin Brewing Co. Taps and Tanks, is fully operational sometime this fall, plans are to open the taproom so we can enjoy fresh beer right from the source. While Buckbean, which closed in early March, was packaged mainly in cans, it’s yet to be determined if Great Basin will utilize the canning line. Plans are also in the works to expand the 30-barrel system to a 60-barrel system. Great Basin’s brews are currently being poured at more than 400 restaurant and bars throughout northern Nevada and bottled versions have been rolling out for the past year.
While in town recently I was wowed to find no less than 17 beers on tap at the Great Basin Virginia St. location in Reno. Head brewer Jazz Aldrich treated me to a Bourbon Barrel Belgian Sour, a blend of the awardwinning Oatmeal Stout and a Belgian-style black ale, soured and aged in the barrel for six months. Jazz says they try to have a barrel aged beer on tap at all times. I also enjoyed a nitrogen version alongside the CO2 counterpart of the beloved fl agship Ichthyosaur “Icky” IPA.
New Reno Brewery-The Brewer’s Cabinet
The Ole Bridge Pub, along with its sister bar, the Sierra Tap House, has been supplying Renoites with stellar beer selections at the riverside locations for years. Co-owner Mike Connolly gave me a tour of his new brewpub, The Brewer’s Cabinet, which was just weeks from opening when I visited in late June. Located at 475 S. Arlington at California, just a few blocks from his riverfront pubs, a small three-barrel system will compliment the restaurant and bar and allow co-brewers Justin Sibley and David Duffy to make some unique experimental beers that no one else has. Their initial offerings include a 111 IBU Triple IPA, tart Saison, sour Berliner Weisse and an oak barrel-aged Barley Wine. Justin and David were selected in part after twice winning best-of-show in Sierra Tap House homebrew competitions. Plans are in the works to pour six house beers, eight guest beers and three fi rkin cask beers and involve the whole beer community with special tap takeover nights. Chef Ben Deinken has crafted an upscale casual menu, utilizing local and organic produce, lamb, beef, pork, elk and venison, and will be the fi rst to serve some of the 220 million Tahoe Crayfi sh that thrive in Lake Tahoe (some of which grow as large as lobster).
Joe Lenzi Takes Over Brewing Reigns at Silver Peak
Joe Lenzi had some pretty big boots to fi ll when Brewmaster Brandon Wright moved on to work in San Diego. After trying all of Joe’s beers I can attest that the beers at Reno’s Silver Peak Brewing haven’t missed a beat. Joe was promoted to brewmaster in February, and his year and a half on-the-job training under Brandon prepared him well. He hasn’t changed any of the recipes and production continues at full bore, as the fermenters are never empty for more than a day or two. Six fl agship beers and six seasonals are poured. Favorites on my visit were the Silver Peak IPA (hoppy, balanced and not overpowered), Peavine Porter (roasty and chocolaty with a coffee fi nish) and a 12.5% ABV barrel-aged Bourbon Barrel Stout (with huge vanilla notes) that was brewed in February of 2011 and aged in the barrel for nine months. While Silver Peak has three Reno locations, the location on Wonder St. is where the beer is brewed, and its upstairs outdoor dining area is reputed to be one of the best spots to view a sunset. A must on your visit is to pair your beer with one of the Peak’s pizzas, made with dough that’s blessed with the same barley used in the beer.
17th Annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Fest Draws 25,000
While in Reno I also attended the 17th Annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues, the largest beerfest held in Nevada. This fest has the three B’s covered, with BBQ, live blues and beer, and with three blocks closed off to traffi c, it’s kind of cool to walk around Virginia St. while sampling brews from more than 40 different regional breweries. Both attendance and sales were up from last year, as the two-day fest brought in more than 25,000 people. The former beer token system was replaced with a flat tasting fee, allowing for pouring of unlimited samples.
Also new this year was the People’s Choice award, which replaced the professional judging. Anderson Valley Brewing’s Summer Solstice was named the favorite beer and Northern Nevada’s own Ruby Mountain Brewing Company was voted the favorite brewery. While it was mainly a distributor fest, there were a handful of Nevada breweries pouring, included Reno’s Eldorado’s Brew Brothers and BJ’s, Wells, Nevada’s Ruby Mountain and Carson City’s High Sierra Brewing. Notable Nevada tastes I enjoyed included Brew Brothers Brewmaster Greg Hinge’s Copperopolis, a continually hopped (that is, hopped every 15 minutes throughout the boil, during rest and three dry hop additions during fermentation) 4.6% session beer; Ruby Mountain owners Steve and Maggie Safford’s nicely hoppy and balanced Elevation IPA; BJ’s Dan “The Man” Pederson’s Hopstorm IPA-his recipe, which has become a company-wide staple; and High Sierra Brewmaster Joe Renden’s yummy 7% Imperial Stout.
What’s on Tap in Southern Nevada
Aces & Ales will host its 3rd Annual Strong Beer Fest on August 10-12, which will offer an opportunity to indulge in more than 80 different specialty or extremely rare beers that are at least 7% ABV, over the three days of the fest. At noon each day, new beer will be added to the day’s line-up. For the complete list, visit their website at <www.acesandales.com>. Adam Carmer at Freakin’ Frog was the fi rst pub owner in Vegas to stock more than 1,000 beers, which is now the largest selection in the US. He now has accomplished another beer first, bringing in the fi rst real wooden cask beer ever to be served in Las Vegas. (Other cask beers have been served, but none have been in traditional wooden casks.) The inaugural unveiling featured the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Fastenbeer, an unfi ltered smoke beer from Germany in the original cask that Adam informed us had arrived direct from the brewery and was only 15 days old. At 5.5% ABV, it was easy to drink several tastes, and the smoke presence was defi nitely there, but as a wonderfully pleasant reminder and not overpowering. Adam has promised to bring in casks on a monthly basis. To make sure you are in the know for future unveilings, send an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
At press time, Big Dog’s Brewing Company is set to begin bottling in July. The first bottled versions to hit stores and restaurants will be the Holy Cow! Original Pale Ale and El Perro Diablo, a Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale. Both will debut at Whole Foods and then gradually start popping up at select retail outlets by Labor Day. The recent expansion has also allowed the brewery to expand its draft accounts, with currently 18 throughout the Valley, including Todd English P.U.B. at CityCenter, and Public House at The Venetian on the Vegas Strip. As always, great beer happens in Nevada!
Great Basin Brewing Co. Taps and Tanks
1155 South Rock Blvd.
Reno, NV 89555
The Brewer’s Cabinet
475 S. Arlington Ave
Reno, NV 89501
Bob Barnes, a native Nevadan, is Editorial Director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, and has been writing for Celebrator Beer News since 1998. He welcomes your inquiries and is standing by to assist you in your Nevada beer quest. He can be reached via e-mail at LVBobB@juno.com.