BJ’s Beer Dinner Features Ommegang

The Henderson, Nevada BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse had its usual packed house for its latest beer dinner, featuring the beers of the Cooperstown, New York-based Brewery Ommegang, the first farmstead brewery built in the US in over a hundred years and one of the first US breweries to specialize in Belgian styles. We were welcomed by BJ’s GM Jamie Uphoff, who talked us through each course and provided tidbits about the featured brewery and the beers and dishes we were treated to.

We were off and running with Ommegang’s most popular beer, Hennepin, a 7.7% ABV slightly sweet Saison with ginger, orange peel and a dry Champagne-like effervescent finish. Jamie pointed out that this beer was one of the first ever Saisons brewed in the US and the spice and sweetness of the beer complemented the spicy Chinese mustard and sweet sesame soy sauce served with the accompanying Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

A palate cleanser/intermission beer was next, the Ommegang Hop House, which Jamie informed us pays homage to the hop farm that 100 years ago was situated on the 136 acres where the brewery stands today, when Cooperstown was the epicenter of US hop production in the 19th century. As would be expected, this 54 IBU Belgian-style Pale Ale is liberally dry hopped, leading to citrusy, spicy and floral hop aromas and flavors.

BJ’s own multi-award-winning Nit Wit—an unfiltered Belgian-style Witbier brewed with wheat, coriander and orange peel, that has been awarded more GABF and World Beer Cup medals than any other BJ’s beer—was matched with BJ’s new Spicy Pig Tavern-Cut Pizza loaded with ham, bacon, pineapple and jalapeno. Jamie pointed out this was another complementary pairing, with the spices all merging harmoniously together and the acidity of the beer matched with that of the five-cheese blend.

Our next palate cleanser featured the 9.5% ABV Gnomegang, a collaboration first brewed in 2010 featuring the signature yeast from the Belgian brewery Brasserie d’Achouffe, with clove aroma, fruity esters and a smooth maltiness.

Baby Back Pork Ribs and White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes was paired with Ommegang Game of Thrones Valar Morghulis means “all men must drink”, a Dubbel Ale the brewery brewed for the HBO TV show in December 2013, the 4th beer in the series of beers designed to tie into themes and nuances of the show; and this bold 8% ABV dark beer was able to stand up to the heartiness of the meaty ribs.

Ommegang Abbey, another 8% ABV Dubbel, was our next intermission beer. First brewed in 1997 and styled after ales brewed by Belgian Trappist monks, it is dark, rich and malty, thanks to its recipe utilizing several different malts.

The final pairing was BJ’s signature Salted Caramel Pizookie with white chocolate, pretzel bites and vanilla bean ice cream served with Ommegang Rare Vos, which is named after a Belgian café outside of Brussels. Jamie said it is the most food friendly of all Ommegang beers, and complementary flavors of the caramel sauce atop the cookie blended with the rich, sweet, malty flavor of this 6.5% ABV Amber Ale.

But we weren’t quite done yet, for a liquid dessert of Ommegang Three Philosophers proved to be a grand finale worth saving some room for. This 9.7% ABV Quadruple brewed with roasted malt and sweet and sour cherries delivered notes of dark fruits, coffee, currants, raisins and chocolate—showing more complexity than any wine.

A new upgrade to the dinner was a PowerPoint presentation projected on a big screen with multiple choice beer trivia questions such as: With which homebrewing club did BJ’s own Brewmaster, Alex Puchner, begin his brewing? and tutorials on the beers and dishes we were enjoying. The price for this feast was only $35. The next beer dinner is slated for late August, dates and theme TBA.

BLT Burger Launches Local Beer + Burger Pairing Menu

BLT Burger at the Mirage is joining in to support local beer by offering a selection of its gourmet burgers paired with local brews. On the menu are Shaft’s Blue Burger with Shaft’s Blue Vein cheese, balsamic caramelized onions and mushrooms paired with Sin City Amber Ale 16 oz; The Cowboy with BBQ chipotle, tobacco onions, lettuce, tomato, bacon and pepper jack paired with Big Dog’s Dirty Dog IPA 22 oz; and American Wagyu Burger—Snake River Farms American Wagyu beef, brie, spinach, truffle aioli and portobello—paired with Tenaya Creek’s “God of Thunder” Porter 22 oz. Manager Michael Smalley said more local pairings are on the way, so stop in to check them out.

CraftHaus Expansion

CraftHaus has just completed an expansion, adding two new Premier Stainless 20 BBL tanks, which doubles the brewery’s capacity to 100 BBLs. According to the brew team of Steph and Steve, the first beer into the new tanks is the long awaited follow up in the Any Which Way IPA series, White IPA. The polar opposite to the first release Black IPA the White IPA is full of Centennial and Citra hops and backed up by a Belgo Yeast, coriander and orange peel, which should be a perfect sipper as the weather heats up. The brewery is now canning, so you now have the opportunity to enjoy their beer at home. Available for sale at the tap room and in retail stores in four-packs of 16 oz are the brewery’s flagship beers, the Evocation Saison and Resinate IPA. Go to www.crafthausbrewery.com for a listing of stores and restaurants that carry their brews, which now lists more than 45 locations.

PKWY Tavern Serving More than 250 Beers

Move over Yardhouse, there’s another player in town serving a huge repertoire of craft beers. In late April the Roadrunner at 9820 W. Flamingo near Grand Canyon and the 215 transitioned into PKWY Tavern and debuted its 128 handle tap system and more than 250 beers. Owner Jonathan Fine and Vice President of Operations Mateo Reyes know how to run a successful tavern, as their group has Rockhouse at The Venetian and PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood, but this new venture is their first off of the Strip. To research the concept Fine and Reyes traveled around the country to see what type of venues were successful. Reyes said, “We found there was a lot of interest in craft beer and that people are seeking out a place to hang out at after work.” Their new tavern fits the bill, with plenty to keep you occupied. The expansive outdoor patio area is equipped with artificial grass, corn hole, shuffle board and giant Jenga and Connect 4 games; indoors you’ll find a bowling lane, classic video upright arcade machines, dart boards, pool tables, ping pong, 15 gaming machines and several family board games that have been adapted to drinking games e.g. Operation game requiring taking a drink when it buzzes; and several big screen TVs tuned to sporting events.

As for the beer, the selection will rotate monthly, but will always feature at least 250 beers. Assistant General Manager Nathan Reul said, “There are a lot of great breweries in town not getting the recognition they deserve and we want to partner with them to bring more exposure to local beer.” The focus is on local, regional and US beers and several of the local breweries are represented, with Bad Beat, Barley’s, Big Dog’s and Joseph James, and more soon to come. Reul, who held the same position when it was Roadrunner, related the good news that no one lost their jobs when the ownership changed. He added, “PKWY Tavern has become the concept that I had imagined, a special place that clientele would want to come to and that would appeal to different age groups.”

Plans are to turn PKWY Tavern into a hub for education, with beer classes, special tastings and beer dinners on the horizon. There is also a rewards program with prizes for every 50 beers as one progresses through the expansive selection, and members receive access to exclusive or limited release beers offered only to members. To keep the beer fresh, smaller sized 1/6 barrel kegs are used. Beers are available by the bottle or can and on draft in either ½ pint or full pint pours and are reasonably priced, with most hovering around $4-$6. The Tavern’s décor includes beery aspects such as hanging lights made from beer bottles and urinals crafted from half barrel kegs. Outdoor signage is hard to miss from the 215, as the former C O W B O Y letter placards have been replaced with 250 B E E R S.

PKWY Tavern is open 24 hours. To view the complete beer menu visit pkwytavern.com/beerhtml#mix.