Just fresh off being named 2016 Sports Bar Of The Year at the Nightclub & Bar Show, Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo hosted a five-course beer dinner. As usual, Chef Scott Pajak impressed us with how he delivers fine dining in a casual, relaxed setting. Chef had to do double duty, as the Goose Island reps were unable to make it and he did an admirable job describing both the beers and his pairings. We began with organic arugula tossed in roasted apple vinaigrette with warm brie and toasted pecans with Goose Island Sofie, one of my favorite all-time beers that derives complexity from being aged in Chardonnay wine barrels. Truffle prosciutto & boursin cheese crostinis brought a huge truffle oil aroma and was matched with Golden Road Point The Way IPA, of which Chef Scott shared was selected for its hoppiness to cut through the strong flavors of the cheese. Herb crusted salmon on sweet corn, mushroom & wild rice was paired with Goose Island Matilda, which had plenty of malt to cut the fattiness of the salmon. Chili spiced petit filet on creamy polenta and onion ring with batter using Emeril’s Hot Sauce was matched with the very malty Spaten Optimator Doppelbock, which provided a sweet contrast to the dish’s spiciness. We finished with homemade New York-style cheesecake with fresh berries and raspberry coulis with Goose Island Lolita, which contrasted the sweetness and creaminess of the dessert. This beer finale was one that people either loved or hated, as it’s extremely sour and those who had not yet developed a palate for sourness in beer were not quite ready for. But I was, and happy that there was more for me!

Big Dog’s Brewing’s next quarterly beerfest, its 7th Annual Big Dog’s Peace Love Hoppy-ness, will be held in the outdoor area of the Draft House at Craig Rd. and Rancho Dr. in Las Vegas on April 30 from 3-9 p.m. As always, more than 40 local, regional and international beers will be poured, including several from the host brewery. This one is a celebration of hoppy beers, so all hopheads will need to mark their calendars.

At press time Lovelady Brewing Company was gearing up for an April 1opening so chances are it’ll be open by the time you read this. The first ever brewery in Old Henderson, it’s located at 20 S. Water St. about a half hour drive from the Vegas Strip. Veteran award-winning brewer Richard Lovelady is planning on starting out with a sour ale, hoppy lager, double IPA, Belgian red, Belgian tripel and a coffee porter infused with cold-brewed coffee. I promise next issue to give a rundown of the tasting room environs and Richard Lovelady’s brews.

The Pizza Expo came to town last month and brought everything you’d ever want to know about pizza, its ingredients, equipment to make it and the best beverage to accompany it…beer! In addition to a craft beer garden, the “Pizza & Craft Beer Pairings” seminar featured Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza and Theo Kalogeracos, owner of Theo + Co Pizzeria in Perth, Australia.

Theo made three astounding pizzas that demonstrated why he was a 5-time World Pizza Championship Winner. Up first was roasted pesto with marinated chicken topped with arugula and avocado which Paul paired with Garage Brewing’s 2015 GABF gold medal-winning Golden Helles Lager, which Paul said is a soft sessionable beer, not bitter and at only 10 IBUs. Theo said having sessional beers makes sense for a pizzeria and beer’s high carbonation pairs better with pizza than wine.

Pizza #2 was made with white sauce and ricotta topped with fresh thyme, EVOO, and black pepper, which Theo said makes the carbonation of the beer pop. That beer was Evans Brewing Pollen Nation Honey Blonde, another clean, sessionable beer that logged in at 14 IBUs and 5.2% ABV.

The finale pizza was made with rich pork belly with caramelized onions topped with mustard, and Paul chose Rogue Ale 6-Hop IPA, an assertively hopped 87 IBU 6.6% ABV beer of which he said its bitterness and higher alcohol lifts the fat off of the palate while the hops help with nasal clearing.

In commenting on the relationship between craft beer and pizza, Theo suggested that local pizzerias tap into local craft beers and build relationships, and most breweries will want to come in and do tastings.

Regarding general beer pairings, Paul listed Bohemian pilsners, amber lagers and brown ales as good choices for pretty much any pizza; dry stouts and schwarzbier with vegetables; Belgian-style tripels with cheese; and big flavored lambics and barley wines with desserts.

As always, great beer happens in Vegas!