Last week saw me driving a lot and heading south to the biggest little city in the world Reno, Nevada. I was there for work, but I managed to get in a little pub time while I was there too. The hotel I was staying in (The Eldorado) had what they advertised as the best brew pub in America as voted by Traveler Magazine. My understanding is that this honor was bestowed on the Brew Brothers pub by Traveler several years ago, but I guess it is a little like being President of the United States, once you are President, you are referred to as Mr. President for life.
Being as they had this honor bestowed upon them I thought the only way to truly test it out was to order the dreaded sampler. Yes, the sampler where more hopes have been dashed than in a strip wedding chapel. Most places like this that don’t bottle their brew and only sell what they make on site have a signature brew, and then the rest are just kinda ok. So I began my journey from light to dark, thinking that I would have some palate left over that way by the time I got to the stout.
There were 8 2-3oz samples in all. I started with their version of a Kolsch. Their Carano Extra. This was a very light and refreshing beer, that had good flavor. I thought, aha, I’ve found their signature brew, the one they were known for. This was further supported by the fact that the two guys next to me at the bar were also drinking this beer. So, it was good, and very well crafted, as it is difficult to brew flavorful beers that are crystal clear. Very little room for error. This showed they had brewing chops and I was anxious to try the next in the sample platter.
Next up was their Gold Dollar Pale Ale. A nice 5%er or so. It too was quite well crafted and flavorful, and I began to have hope that this might go better than just about every other sampler I have ever had.
Next up was their Wild Card Wheat Ale. This was a fairly opaque and cloudy wheat beer that was a complete banana bomb. It smelled and tasted like bananas. If I orderd this in a glass it came with an orange slice in it. I thought that would make an appealing fruit salad, but not my cup of tea as far as beer goes. I gave them a pass on that beer because I, like my brother Jim, don’t really like wheat beers, so I left it half full and moved on to the next brew. The final brew on the right side of the place mat was their Redhead Amber Ale (original name right?). Well that too was pretty good, and I began to think that this is not only a flashy pub in the middle of a casino, but the guys that make this stuff take it seriously and are putting out some really great brew.
I began the left side with their Big Dog IPA. This is about a 6%er that was really nice and floral. Not quite like a Dales but not quite like a Ninkasi Total Domination either. A nice blend of floral up front with a bitter finish. Next up was their ESB. This is one of the two seasonals in front of me. This reminded me of a good English pub style ESB. Chewy, biscuit, and some hop bite on the end. A good blend of Malt and hops. Then I had their second seasonal, a 10% monster of an Imperial IPA. This one was big IBUs and lots of grapefruit and completely out of balance, just the way I like ’em. I Thought this could give Oskar Blues Gubna a run for its money. Speaking of which, a 22 oz glass of this stuff was only $5, now that is a bargain I can get behind!
Finally their Stout. I must say, although I drank it exclusively after I finished the sampler, I’ve had better. It had good flavor, and was a solid offering in a “well drink” kind of way. It was a bit watery, and I could never tell what was more pronounced, the coffee or the chocolate. It ended up being muddled, but so was I after the sampler, and a bunch of Stouts and a few whiskeys thrown in for good measure! Yikes, lets just say I was a bit bleary the next morning.
As far as the pub itself was concerned, it had a pretty typical vibe, although it had live music every night, and the two nights I went the Garage Boys were playing cover tunes, and doing a fantastic job of it I might add. The food looked good, although I didn’t have any there. So all in all this probably isn’t the best brew pub in America, but I’d say it is a pretty good one for the Biggest Little City in the World.