Our friends at Aces & Ales, one of Las Vegas’s premiere gastropubs, can always be counted on to bring us quality beer events, but Aces, more than any other beer-centric venue in Southern Nevada, manages to draw in luminaries from the beer world on a regular basis. In the case of its recent Firestone Walker beer dinner, it was none other than “The Lion,” Co-Founder David Walker, who was quite engaging and did an outstanding job of talking about his beers and his brewery. David related how 20 years ago there were 300 breweries in the US and now the number has grown to more than 3,000, making the US today the most vibrant beer community in the world.
We began our feast with Parmesan Potato Croquette paired with Opal Proprietor’s Reserve, a Saison named for its color that David said couldn’t have been made 20 years ago, noting how the American beer palate has evolved and matured.
Crab and Avocado Ceviche was matched with Union Jack IPA, the brewery’s flagship of which David exclaimed, “American IPAs are glorious! We should have called this Old Glory because it is not an English-style IPA and is made with 1.5 pounds of hops per barrel.” David also heaped praise on their brewmaster, proclaiming the genius of Matt Brynildson who invented this wonderfully balanced beer, a GABF gold medal winner two years in a row.
Next up was Mushroom Tikka Masala with Unfiltered DBA, which unlike the regular DBA (which is 80% aged in steel and 20% in barrels), is 100% fermented in wood. This very rare version had a tea quality picked up from the American oak.
It was time to pucker up with Arugula Salad, Duck Confit and Boursin Cheese paired with Bretta Rose, an American Wild Ale making its debut in Las Vegas for the first time. David informed us it is made with raspberries grown by a farmer up the road from the brewery in Santa Maria and is the kind of beer he likes to have before dinner on a Sunday afternoon. This is a truly beautiful beer with just the right amount of sour and genuine fruit tartness that proved to be my favorite of the night.
A hearty entrée of Espresso Crusted Flat Iron Steak with scalloped potatoes was matched with the robust Velvet Mocha Merlin, a stout so named for its addition of coffee and a dish so good that even though I was full, couldn’t resist eating it in its entirety.
The finale was Honey Roasted Figs with vanilla bean ice cream with the 2012 Helldorado, a 13% ABV American-style Barleywine big on hops and big on flavor, which also was making its first appearance in Las Vegas.
The evening was not only an opportunity to experience stupendous beer, but a chance to hang with Mr. Walker, a very approachable and charming guy with whom anyone would have a good time sharing beers. Also quite impressive was the very high quality of the cuisine. Aces & Ales has proven time and again that it is a true gastropub and, with such an outstanding beer selection, it doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves for the stellar dishes that come from its kitchen.
Bob Barnes is editorial director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, regional correspondent for Celebrator Beer News and writes the Top 10 Beer lists for Gayot.com. He welcomes your inquiries and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.