Tapas By Alex Stratta Hosts Tenaya Creek Beer Dinner

On June 25th, Tapas By Alex Stratta hosted its first group event, a beer dinner featuring local Tenaya Creek Brewery, held in the restaurant’s beautiful upstairs area that overlooks Tivoli Village and is bedecked with original paintings by Chef Alex Stratta himself. Beverage Manager Peter Vitolo was joined by Tenaya’s “Beer Mercenary” Alex Graham, as Vitolo described the dishes we would enjoy and Graham the beers they were paired with. Graham informed us that the brewery is truly a hometown operation, with four of its employees, including himself and owner Tim Etter, having been born and raised in Las Vegas.

The evening began with a reception with passed canapés including pincho de boquerones with Romesco sauce, thin sliced Serrano ham with picos and Moroccan spiced chicken skewers, paired with Tenaya Creek Hefeweizen, the 2001 International Beer Festival gold medal winner for “Best In Show.” After moving on to our seats we enjoyed Spanish olive oil coca Spain’s answer to focaccia with caramelized onion and saffron aioli with Local 702 Pale Ale; bacon-sage wrapped dates, roasted chicken croquettes and pea puree with the 2014 GABF bronze medal-winning Bonanza Brown Ale; grilled curry lamb with confit marble potatoes with the 7.2% Hop Ride India Pale Ale; red wine-braised beef cheeks with Graham’s own creation, the 9.3% God of Thunder Baltic Porter; chocolate and almond mousse cake and cajeta with the rich, 9.3% Imperial Stout; and Catalonian Garrotxa and Basque Country Idiazabal cheeses with one of my all-time favorites, the 10.6% Old Jackalope Barley Wine, which was given a near perfect score of 97 by Draft Magazine and selected as one of the magazine’s top 14 beers of 2013.

Beverage Manager Peter Vitolo related that the dinner was originally planned for 35, and eventually wound up with a sold out crowd of 50. After 6 courses and an equal number of outstanding beers, for sure no one left hungry, and judging from the delighted reaction of those present for this inaugural event, more are sure to come on a regular basis. And with a renowned chef like Alex Stratta in the kitchen, such events like this one, priced at only $48, are an excellent value.

August Beer Events

Aces & Ales will host its 6th Annual Strong Beer Fest August 7-9, at its Nellis location in Las Vegas. The event will offer an opportunity to indulge in 60 different specialty or extremely rare beers that are at least 7% ABV over the three days of the fest. At noon each day, new beers will be rotated into the day’s line-up. For the complete list, visit www.acesandales.com.

On August 28-30 Mandalay Bay will reprise the beer weekend it held last year. This year’s event is titled “The Las Vegas Beer & Barrel Project” and is again being hosted by our friend Sarah Johnson, Mandalay Bay’s Director of Food & Beverage and Nevada’s first female Certified Cicerone®. The festivities will include a reception with food and beer pairings, live music and conversation with brewers, distillers, chefs and industry VIPs; seminars with beer luminaries such as The Bruery’s Founder Patrick Rue, Firestone Walker’s Partner/Brewmaster Matt Brynildson and Ninkasi Brewing’s CEO/ Co-founder Nikos Ridge; beer festival at Mandalay Beach with dozens of spirits and beer stations along with food offerings from several of Mandalay’s top notch restaurants; and a beer breakfast at Fleur. For the complete schedule or to order tickets visit www.lvbeerbarrelproject.com.

First Vegas Smack Down Results

In January, Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub held the first ever Henderson Smack Down, a tasting competition of Henderson breweries, and followed it up with the first Vegas Smack Down, pitting three Vegas breweries. Competing this time were Banger, Big Dog’s and Chicago with attendees getting to taste nine different beers of varying beer styles. Once again, the scoring was quite simple, with each rater simply selecting their top three, and what was somewhat difficult was determining each beer’s style, as the tasting was completely blind. The overall winner was Banger, coming in first with its “Morning Joe” Hazelnut Caramel Coffee Kolsch; Big Dog’s took second and third with its War Dog IPA infused with grapefruit zest and juice and Bourbon barrel-aged Sled Dog Stout; and fourth place went to Chicago for its 12.5% Belgian-Style Strong Pale Ale Honey Bru Bru “Go Go Juice” brewed with desert honey and aged in a red wine barrel. In the planning stage is a battle between Henderson and Vegas breweries tentatively slated for October.

As always, great beer happens in Vegas!