Posts Tagged 'vegas'

Vegas follow-up: Triple 7, Pour 24, Burger Bar

As I mentioned in my last post, some nerds and I headed to Vegas last weekend. We didn’t quite make it to all the good beer spots in Sin City, but we gave it a good run.

I didn’t take full tasting notes on any of the beers I drank, since it was Vegas and I didn’t want to be my usual antisocial beer-nerd self. Regardless, here’s how it went down…

Triple 7

On Saturday night, we had dinner and beers at Triple 7, a restaurant/microbrewery at Main Street Station downtown. I went straight for the current Brewmaster’s Reserve beer, called Problem Child Imperial Porter. Here’s the brewery’s own description:

“[A}n extra strong version of our Black Chip Porter brewed with Molasses and lots of chocolate malt. It is deceptively smooth for as strong as it is in alcohol. It definitely qualifies as a Winter Warmer! 9.5% ABV.”

I liked it. The alcohol is well-hidden, and it’s tasty and just complex enough, with a good body for a porter (even an imperial one). And at less than $3 for the snifter, it was quite a steal.

Pour 24

On Sunday, we knocked out the obligatory Strip walk, heading south from the Bally’s/Planet Hollywood area. Well, we started with a quick detour, grabbing 99-cent drinks at the bar at Bill’s Gambling Hall & Saloon (I went with a Newcastle). We eventually crossed the Strip between the MGM and New York New York, and the latter houses Pour 24, a small bar in the middle of a tourist-trap mini-mall. Their selection is pretty solid, and I went with an old favorite, Rogue Shakespeare Stout.

I’d never had it on draft before, so I couldn’t pass it up. It was delicious, as that beer always is. A couple friends went with Stone Ruination, and afterwards they admitted that it lived up to its name — drink one, and you’ll taste hops for hours.

Burger Bar

From NYNY, we kept going south. We survived the maze otherwise known as the Excalibur, hustled through the Luxor and reached our last beer-related stop (and the one I was looking forward to the most): Burger Bar. Much to our disappointment, the kitchen was closed due to “technical difficulties” — but the bar was still open, so we ignored our hunger pangs and dove into the elite beer list. Off the top of my head, my buddies drank Troubadour Obscura Mild Stout, Baltika #6 Porter, Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Life & Limb, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and a few others. Not a bad beer in the bunch.

As for me, I spent a solid 20 minutes analyzing the menu and looking up reviews on my phone, before settling on a bomber of Deschutes The Abyss 2009, an imperial stout that gets ridiculously good reviews (A+ at Beer Advocate).

It lived up to the hype. I split the $30 bottle with a friend, and I didn’t take tasting notes, but I know I liked it a lot. I would love to get my hands on a couple of bottles to cellar, or, better yet, an older vintage. The brewery claims the 2007 is the best, so if anyone’s feeling generous…

Anyway, while I was enjoying the Abyss, a friend noticed that they had a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias, the legendary concoction that, until recently, held the title of “strongest beer in the world” (it weighs in at 27% abv). I’d never had the chance to sample it, and even at $30 for 2 ounces, it didn’t take much arm-twisting.

It’s unlike any beer I’ve ever tasted, and I imagine there’s nothing else like it. In fact, a few of the guys asked me how it could even be a beer when everything — appearance, smell, total lack of carbonation, mouthfeel, flavor and alcohol — is closer to a whisky or brandy. I don’t know nearly enough about brewing or distilling, so I didn’t have an answer. But it’s a beer, and it’s stunning.

The most remarkable part of it is how good it tastes. It actually surprises you, because when you stick your nose in the snifter, you get pummeled by a wave of intoxicating alcohol. To call it “boozy” would be an understatement, but also somewhat misleading — even then you can smell all sorts of sweet, woody malts. That’s what it tastes like, too, and it goes down unbelievably well for a 27% monster. It’s a sipper and a belly-warmer, without a doubt, but it’s still dangerously drinkable.

We could have stayed at Burger Bar all night and sampled a few more awesome beers, but by then we were starving — and the combination of empty stomachs and huge-abv beers was taking its toll. But we’ll be back, both to Vegas and to these beer joints. And maybe a few others, too.


Searching for good beer in Vegas

A couple of us nerds (and a bunch of other guys, too) are heading to Las Vegas this weekend. We’ll keep the details of our trip off the record, except of course for the beer.

For a place that caters to so many tastes, it’s no surprise that there are a couple of decent beer joints in town. It takes a bit of searching, but they’re there. We’ve managed to check a couple of them out, and I know of at least two more that I’d like to visit at some point.

Places I haven’t been

Yard House, Town Square
The only Yard House I’ve ever been to was in Pasadena, Calif., but they seem to be sprouting up everywhere — including Houston (need to check it out soon) and Vegas. The one in Vegas is at Town Square, a shopping and entertainment complex on Las Vegas Blvd., south of McCarran Airport (meaning, south of the Strip). It’s a bit out of the way, but might be worth a side-trip at some point.

Pour 24, New York New York
I’ve walked past this place a couple of times but for some reason have never stopped to get a beer. It’s a pseudo-bar upstairs at NYNY, near the walkway to the Excalibur (and Luxor and Mandalay). I say “pseudo-bar” because you don’t actually walk into the place; it’s just sort of sitting there among the other tourist traps (water massages, cheesy picture stands, oxygen bars, etc.). I don’t want to knock it, though, because their selection seems pretty good. I’ll try to make a point to get a beer or two at Pour 24 this trip.

Places I’ve been

Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery, Main Street Station casino
We had dinner and beers here on our last trip, in September. The food was decent and the beers were well worth trying. They’ve got four or five year-round selections, and usually a seasonal offering or two. According to their site, they currently have CherryAnn, a “cream ale spiked with … cherry juice”, and Problem Child Imperial Porter, a 9.5% abv monster. When we were there, most of us opted for the 5-beer sampler for $6-$7, which is a bit of a steal considering Vegas prices. You can even order the microbrews while gambling on the casino floor. And if you haven’t been before, you should definitely check out Main Street Station — it’s one of the coolest casinos downtown.

Burger Bar, Shoppes at Mandalay Bay
The crown jewel of the Vegas beer scene, at least as far as I know. You’d never guess it from the name — its main calling is a gourmet-yet-casual burger restaurant (the burgers are delicious, by the way). But hidden inside their drink menu is a ridiculous selection of great beer. They’ve got all sorts of stuff — from microbrew classics, to vintages of rare beers, to macro-lite stuff for the less adventurous in your crew (the waitress might make fun of them, though). The two times I’ve been there, I’ve had:

-Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
-Bitch Creek ESB
-EKU 28
-Troubadour Obscura
-Lost Coast Winterbraun

That’s quite a lineup, especially when you consider you couldn’t get any of those in Houston at the time (the Stone SSRA just made it here recently). Unfortunately, they don’t put their beer menu online, so you can’t do any advance planning. So it’s a bit of a game-time decision, but with so many great choices, it’s hard to go wrong.

They don’t take reservations, so be ready to wait a while for a table around peak hours. You won’t have too much trouble killing time, since it’s in the shopping mall between Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.

I’m sure there are a couple of other places in Vegas to find a good beer. If you know of any, pass the word along. I’ll make sure to report back next week.

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