Category Archives: Culinary

Barfly’s View: Todd English P.U.B in Las Vegas, Nevada

Todd English P.U.B. Las Vegas ARIA

Anyone who is familiar with the Las Vegas restaurant and bar scene knows Sin City is the land of buffets, celebrity-chef branded restaurants and in-casino bars designed to serve free drinks to fools gamblers. To say Las Vegas doesn’t exactly have a lot of beer bars would be an understatement. But that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have any beer-nerd friendly establishments at all. (Check out my recent post for a list of the best beer bars I found on a recent trip to Las Vegas.)

One such beer-nerd friendly joint is Todd English’s Public Urban Bar, or P.U.B. (Mr. English obviously thought this name was quite clever; I think it’s kind of corny, but, honestly, the name of the bar doesn’t matter, I was just happy to find a craft-beer-centric spot in the middle of the Vegas Strip.)

Todd English’s P.U.B. is located inside ARIA hotel and casino, at the ARIA entrance closest to the Crystals shopping center and The Strip. ARIA is one of my favorite Vegas casinos, and it is home to a great Chinese restaurant I always visit when in the area, Blossom, so I’m a fan of P.U.B.’s location.

The beer list is decent, nothing exceptional, but impressive for Las Vegas, with a solid draft list of 30 or more beers and an adequate bottle list. The draft beers, however, are rather expensive at $12 each for the better brews (I drank New Belgium’s Snow Day and a Fruli Strawberry beer), but I visited during “happy hour”—between 3 PM and 6 PM—so I got my brews for half off, which basically reduced the price to a semi-normal number.

Todd English P.U.B. Las Vegas ARIA

I didn’t try the food, because it too was exorbitantly expensive, especially for bar food. But the menu did look appetizing, thanks to some interesting twists on typical pub grub. The tattooed, hipster bartenders supplied free shelled peanuts, and you can just drop the shells on the floor when you’re done eating. I don’t know why, but I’m a big fan of the whole eat-nuts, drop-shells-on-the-floor thing, so P.U.B. gets a thumbs-up on that account.

The atmosphere in Todd English’s P.U.B. is a bit too Vegas for me, meaning too shiny, fancy and loud, but it is located on The Strip, in one of the nicer casinos, so, you know, that makes sense. A number of tables around the bar have built-in taps so you can pour your own beer, and they were clearly a hit with the customers I saw using them. P.U.B. also had a nice dart-board area, so if you like throwing sharp objects at circular cork board, you’ll find a friend in P.U.B.

Overall, I’m a fan of Todd English P.U.B., especially because it is one of the few craft-beer bars I found in Las Vegas. The bar’s website is down at the time of writing, but hopefully you’ll be able to find information on Todd English P.U.B.’s site in the future.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Deep Ellum in Allston, MA

Deep Ellum Barfly's View Allston Boston MA

Deep Ellum is a chic, atmospheric beer/cocktail bar in Boston’s Allston neighbor, which is commonly referred to as the city’s “college ghetto.” At least that’s what I call the area, thanks to its large population of college kids and recent college graduates fucking around before starting Real Life. Allston is also Boston’s hipster center; the only place I’ve been with more hipsters per capita is Brooklyn, New York. (The bar is named after the Deep Ellum section of Dallas, Texas, which is known for its music and nightlife scene.)

Though Deep Ellum is located right in the college kid/hipsters zone, it’s not really a college hangout or hipster haven; it’s a little of both, I guess, but it’s also a great beer bar staffed with passionate and knowledgeable bartenders and waiters. It is without a doubt one of my 10 favorite beer bars in Boston. (Check out my full list of the Best Boston Beer Bars.)

One of the coolest things about Deep Ellum is its unique atmosphere. The bar top is made of glossy, dark wood; there are black and white television sets in both corners of the barroom, and they only play random old movies, sometimes just static, with no sound; reddish-orange lamps hang above the bar and lend an amber hue to the dimly-lit room; and a network of overhead fans powered by and connected to each other by rubber belts provide an industrial flair.

Deep Ellum Bar Boston Allston MA

The bar has 25 or so taps on at any given time, with many local brews and limited-release or hard to find imports, including many great Belgian ales. Deep Ellum has a cask. And its bottle list is impressive. In fact, you’ll often find bottles of Cantillon and other rarities. Deep Ellum is also known for its wide array of cocktails, but I don’t drink cocktails, so I don’t have any firsthand experience with them.

The food at Deep Ellum is upscale comfort food, and it can be a bit pricey. I’m particularly fond of its appetizers, especially the handmade pretzels with beer cheese and mustard. I’ve had dinner there a few times, but I find the entrees to be overpriced, so I stick to the snacks for the most part. (The bar is also connected to the popular Lone Star Taco Bar, so you can just walk next door for food if tacos are your thing.)

Deep Ellum’s bartenders are cool and willing to chat up beer nerds. Nicole, in particular, gets a big shout out from me because she knows her shit and she really brightened up my day last Friday when I was having a personal poor-me pity party. (Thanks Nicole.)

Any beer nerd looking to hit up the best bars in Boston should have Deep Ellum on his or her list. Learn more about Deep Ellum on the bar’s website.

UBN

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Recipe for Beer-Infused Caramel Popcorn

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Beer Caramel Popcorn

Sierra-Nevada Brewing Co. just posted what seems like an interesting recipe for beer-infused caramel popcorn. I say “seems like” because I haven’t actually tried it. But how can you go wrong with beer, caramel and popcorn?

The Sierra recipe suggests you use the brewery’s tasty Celebration Ale, which is a very nice American IPA. You could use any brew of your choice, really, though dark, malty, spicy winter-seasonal ales will probably work best. Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Christmas Ale comes to mind. And beery caramel corn will surely make a nice addition to any beer-nerd holiday fête.

Here’s Sierra recipe for caramel popcorn with Celebration Ale, from its head chef:

  • 2 cups popping corn
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups toasted nuts (e.g., pecans, almonds, peanuts)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries)
  • Non-stick vegetable oil spray

Caramel sauce consisting of:

  • 1/2 cup Celebration Ale
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

“In a large pot with a lid, add the vegetable oil and the corn. With the lid on the pot, cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot continuously for about 8 minutes or until all of the kernels are popped. Pour the popped corn into a large bowl and set aside.

“In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine Celebration, water, sugar, salt and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is dark amber—about 300 degrees. Remove from heat, add baking soda and butter and stir for about 30 seconds. Caution: This will produce considerable steam. Use a long whisk and avoid touching the top of the sauce pan.

“Working quickly and carefully, pour the caramel sauce over the popped corn. Stir to coat the popped corn evenly. Add the nuts and fruit. Pour the final mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Note: Caramel sauce needs to be hot to mix effectively. Be mindful of timing.”

Pop on over to Sierra’s website for some pretty pictures of the cooking process.

UBN

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Spread Holiday Cheer with Artisan Chocolate and Sam Adams Beer

Samuel Adams Beer Lover's Chocolate Box

The Boston Beer Co, makers of Samuel Adams beer, and artisan chocolatier TCHO.com, yesterday announced their Samuel Adams Beer Lover’s Chocolate Box, which costs $16.95, and comes with a dozen 8-gram chocolate squares and no beer—the Sam Adams is sold separately.

From a related press release:

“The Brewers at Samuel Adams worked closely with TCHO’s Chief Chocolate Maker Brad Kintzer to design the gift box so that each premium chocolate pairs with a Samuel Adams brew from the Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack. Just in time for holiday festivities and gifting, this assortment of specialty chocolates will prove to any foodie that beer and chocolate are the perfect combination.”

If you’re interested, you should act fast; the first 150 orders ship with two Sam Adams “perfect pint” glasses.

You can order your Samuel Adams Beer Lover’s Chocolate Box or find more information on TCHO.com.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Bison County Bar and Grill in Waltham, MA

Bison County Bar and Grill Waltham MA

Bison County Bar & Grill in Waltham, MA, a Boston suburb that’s about 25 minutes outside of the city, is half barbeque joint, half beer bar. I’m not much of a barbeque guy—I don’t eat beef or pork—so I can’t say too much about the food, but Bison has more than 15 draft beers available at any given time and 50 or so bottles, many of which are local. And (most of) the bartenders are cool and willing (and able) to chat craft beer.

A number of Boston Celtics players have also been known to hangout at Bison, since the team’s practice facility is located in Waltham. (I’ve never seen any of the Celts’ “stars” there, though.) The atmosphere is decent, especially since Waltham is known more for its dingy sports bar than beer bars. I’ve even found a few cans of the extremely elusive Heady Topper IPA, from the Alchemist, at Bison.

UBN

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Mustard is a Perfect Pretzels-and-Beer Companion

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Honey Spice mustard with pretzels

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of an increasing number of craft breweries trying to capitalize on the popularity of craft beer by releasing culinary products made with beer. (Last week I reviewed Stone Brewing Co.’s Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habanero hot sauce, and earlier this month I spotlighted Brooklyn Brine’s Hop Pickles, which are made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.)

Sierra Nevada makes three different kinds of mustard: Pale Ale & Honey Spice; Porter & Spicy Brown; and Stout & Stoneground mustard. I found a bottle of the Pale Ale and honey mustard at my local craft beer shop, and today I used it as a dipping sauce for my favorite Uncle Henry handmade pretzels.

The Sierra Nevada pale ale mustard is very mild; in fact, it’s more sweet than spicy, thanks to the honey. It would be a great sandwich topping, since it’s not overpowering. Like most of the “beer-flavored” products I’ve had, the mustard doesn’t really taste like beer. But it is quite good, and I definitely recommend it.

Sierra Nevada trio of mustards

I paid $4 for my 9-ounce squeeze-bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Honey Spice, but it, along with the other two styles of Sierra mustard, is available directly from the company for $3.75 a bottle, plus shipping. Eight-ounce glass jars of each mustard style are also available from Sierra Nevada for $3.50. And you can buy a “gift pack” of all three mustards for $14.00, plus shipping.

UBN

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Spice Up Your Life — and Your Lunch — with Stone Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero Hot Sauce

Stone Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero Hot Sauce

Today I took my football-season Sunday chicken-wing-ritual to the next level thanks to Stone Brewing Co.‘s Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero Hot Sauce. My mouth is still burning as I write this review.

The hot sauce is made with Stone’s Double Bastard strong ale and both habañero and crushed red peppers. Some habañero hot sauces are too hot, and they make eating foods dipped in them a challenge instead of a simple delight. Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero sauce is definitely hot, but it’s not too hot. And the Double Bastard Ale gives it a nice, sweet hoppy flavor that goes well with the spice.

I made some wings with just the Double Burn sauce and I also mixed some sauce with Frank’s Red Hot, for slightly less spicy wings. Both were delicious. If you like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale or its Double Bastard Ale, and you are a fan of spicy foods, you’ll find a friend in Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero hot sauce. I know I did.

The sauce is available as part of a three pack directly from Stone for $20 plus shipping. That package includes one five-fluid-ounce bottle of the Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero sauce; one bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale: Jalapeño Heat sauce; and one bottle of OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale: Chipotle. I haven’t tried the other two sauces, but after tasting the Double Burn sauce and Stone’s fantastic Levitation Ale Barbeque Sauce, it’s probably safe to assume they’re similarly delicious.

Stone Brewing Co.'s Burning Trinity of Hot Sauces

Double Bastard Ale: Double Burn Habañero hot sauce is also available individually for $4.25 plus shipping on Amazon.com.

UBN

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Samuel Adams Octoberfest Milkshake is a Frosty, Frothy Abomination

Samuel Adams Octoberfest Milkshake from Red Robin

Must we fast-food-ize everything that is good and pure, America?

If the new Samuel Adams Octoberfest Milkshake from burger-chain Red Robin is any indication, the answer is, yes, absolutely.

Starting today and lasting through November 11, Red Robin customers will be able to purchase a Samuel Adams Octoberfest Milkshare, which is made with soft serve ice cream, Samuel Adams Octoberfest draft beer, vanilla and caramel.

From a Red Robin press release:

“A sip of this one-of-a-kind shake will rouse a round of toasts and solve one epic food dilemma, right up there with coffee or tea, onion rings or French fries, and soup or salad. The Octoberfest Milkshake offers a sweet solution – a milkshake and beer – in, one satisfying drink.”

Seriously? Has anyone ever truly craved both a craft beer and fucking milkshake? I’ve heard of Guinness floats, and though I haven’t actually had one, I could see how they might be tasty, or at least interesting. I honestly don’t have any inclination at all to try an Octoberfest Milkshake, and because there isn’t a Red Robin within 20 miles of the city of Boston, I don’t think I’ll get the chance to in the next month anyway.

What a terrible way to treat a fine craft beer. I can’t imagine that Jim Koch is very pleased with the idea.

Visit Red Robin’s website for more information.

UBN

(Image credit: Reuters)

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Dogfish IPA Hop-Pickles are Briny Gifts from the Gherkin Gods

Brooklyn Brine Hop-Pickle with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

I love pickles almost as much as I love a good IPA. So when I first heard about Brooklyn Brine Co.’s new Hop-Pickles made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, I knew I had to find a jar as soon as possible.

Brooklyn Brine Hop-Pickles

It took me a couple of weeks to track them down, and the Hop-Pickles sure weren’t cheap. But they were worth every penny.

The pickles don’t really taste like IPA. They’re very sweet at first, and when you bite into one—they’re pickle slices, not spears—you immediately taste apple-cider vinegar and some sweet maple-syrup flavor. Then, very briefly, you taste the hops before a spicy habanero flavor takes over and combines very nicely with the vinegar.

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione and Brooklyn Brine's Shamus Jones

Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and Brooklyn Brine’s Shamus Jones

These Hop-Pickles are delectable and unique. They’re a perfect snack food, and they go great with a frosty IPA.  As mentioned above, they’re fairly expensive—I paid $12.95 plus shipping for a 16-ounce jar from Amazon.com, but they’re also supposedly available in some specialty food stores. If I found them in a store and didn’t have to pay for shipping, I’d definitely buy them again.

Read more about Brooklyn Brine and its Hop-Pickles made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA on the company’s blog.

UBN

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Stone Levitation Ale Barbeque Sauce is Fantastic

I’m a big fan of Stone Brewing Co. and its Levitation Ale, so when I saw the company’s Stone Levitation Ale Barbeque Sauce on sale at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, Mass., I didn’t hesitate to buy a bottle. And I’m glad I did. It is some seriously delicious sauce. Awesome sauce, you might say. Chili de Arbol and liquid smoke give it a very mild spice and smoky taste. And the Levitation Ale and some Stone Pale Ale mustard add a unique flavor that’s unlike any other bbq sauce I’ve had before.

Stone Levitation Ale Barbeque Sauce

I marinated a chicken breast for about three hours before grilling it up, added a bit more sauce after it was cooked, and I was a happy man. Unfortunately, my girlfriend didn’t feel the same way, because she’s a vegan and the sauce contains anchovies.

As with most of Stone’s brews, the bbq sauce has some amusing text on its bottle. Here’s my favorite part:

“If this bottle is a gift, we apologize that you had to learn about your, err…’grilling & marinating challenges’ this way. Your friends and family want you to succeed. They want the best for you. And themselves.”

Nice touch.

Stone also makes a Smoked Porter Barbeque Sauce, but I haven’t tried that one yet. Both sauces can be purchased online for $7, plus shipping, from the Stone Company Store.

UBN

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