All you had to do was spend a few minutes at Canfest 2011 to see that the canned beer bandwagon is gathering steam. There was the usual big and hoppy IPA’s (including a Happy Camper from Santa Fe) but also some bigger stouts and Scottish ales as well as a couple winter ales too.
In full disclosure mode, a few months back, I won a contest sponsored by the organizers, Buckbean Beer. They flew me to Reno, picked me up in a limo (that had MDG 64 bottles! chilling) and put me up at Circus Circus and gave me tickets to the two events that make up CanFest.
The first of which was a beer dinner with four courses paired with canned beers garnered prizes last year. In an unusual twist, most of the pairings were hoppy brews. I was a little worried but by the time the dessert of a Hawaiian style paired with Maui Big Swell IPA, my concerns had floated off into the massive casino. This dinner really highlighted the fact that beer has many facets that allow for great experimentation when matching beer with food.
The main event was held the following night at the Reno Ballroom with 33 breweries pouring straight from the can. From South Dakota to Alaska to Arizona and Kansas, there was a wide variety of beers flowing.
My best of the fest was from a Kansas brewery, Tallgrass Brewing Co.. Velvet Rooster is a Belgian Tripel that was strong and spicy with a lovely vanilla undertone that was there with every sip. I was also quite impressed by the two beers that Fort George Brewery of Astoria, Oregon, brought down, and the two offerings from Kenai River Brewing from the wilds of Alaska. My favorite of the darker beers was the Baltic Porter from Uncommon Brewers which shows up occasionally down here in SoCal.
I also got to sample the entire Buckbean Beer line earlier in the day at the brewery and my favorite of theirs is the beer of the week. But I also enjoyed their Tahoe Tessie IPA which was spicy with a mix of many hops including Citra and Galaxy.
As with most cities, the craft beer culture is growing in Nevada. Silver Peak Brewery, Brews Brothers and Great Basin Brewing Co. call Reno home in addition to Buckbean and they boast a pretty cool bottle shop as well in Craft Wine and Beer.
For the Craft Beer of the Week, I recommend picking up a Black Noddy lager from Buckbean Beer in Reno, Nevada. This brown/black brew initially tastes very smoky but the lightness of the lager base allows that to dissipate into a more pleasing malty taste that will pair well with ribs and burgers.
Your Homework this week is to dispel a beer myth. And you can use the beer of the week to do so. How? Black Noddy may be darker than the average beer but it probably less alcoholic than most. In fact, it is barely higher in ABV than Budweiser. And as we enter into the season of darker beers, more will be on tap, and those encountering a dark beer after a lifetime of industrialized water lagers may not know that they can have a rich, chocolaty, coffee-esque or smokey beer that will not put them under the proverbial table.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.