Attendees at the Desert Hops International Beer Festival (August 22, Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan) will get the chance to sample more than 150 beers from around the world. But VIP ticket holders will enjoy early access to the Boulevard Pool and Neapolitan bar, where they’ll find an extensive VIP-only list of some hard-to-find brews from around the world, including some making their Nevada debut. As a bonus, certified cicerone Samuel Merritt, Southern Wine & Spirits’ director of beer education, will be on hand to guide tastings and answer VIP’s questions about all of the beers being served.
Here are some highlights, including a couple of surprises that will be unveiled at the festival.
- Bid farewell to Brooklyn Brewery’s Monster Ale Barley Wine, which was discontinued in 2013 when the brewery’s cat, Monster, the beer’s namesake, died. The copper ale is brewed from three mashes: an heirloom British malt with American Willamette, Cascade and American Fuggle hops for complex flavors that grow with time.
- Brooklyn Brewery will also have three vintages of the rare Brooklyn Black OPS Imperial Stouts: 2013, 2014 and 2015. The beers are aged four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat and then conditioned with Champagne yeast. The oak barrels impart flavors of coffee, chocolate and rich vanilla-bourbon.
- You won’t want to miss out on sampling California’s elegant Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Helldorado, a limited-edition imperial blond ale released in July. The nuanced flavors of this brew include lavender, honey and a light char from the barrel in which it spends time.
- Not yet on the market, Czechvar’s Dark Cherry Ale is a fruit-heavy lager made with 13 percent wild cherry juice. The dark red ale forms a firm pink foam with cherry and malt aromas.
- Two standout beers from Victory Brewing Company can be found behind the velvet ropes. Hop Ticket Dry Hopped Saison is hop forward, dry and fruity. Sour Monkey is sour, as you might have guessed, with tart apple and lemon flavors and a malty finish.
- Two kegs of Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA will be available for VIP guests, but use caution when starting your night with a 15-to-20-percent ABV IPA. Also keep an eye out for two more surprise Dogfish Head kegs.
- Oude Geuze Vieille by Oud Beersel from Belgium is a blended lambic that is sour and hoppy, yet smooth. Also try the Oude Kriek Vieille, a sour lambic brewed with cherries that create a ruby red color. What separates these brews from the rest are their decades-long shelf life.
- Two-person Scottish brewery Traquair produces little more than 1,200 kegs a year. But VIP guests can sample the House and Jacobite Ales. The former is dark and oaky, while the latter is made with coriander and fermented in oak barrels for a rich, balanced flavor.
- Also representing Scotland, BrewDog’s Cocoa Psycho Russian Imperial Stout is a blend of dark malt with coffee beans and cocoa nibs. This full-bodied beer is deep in color and high in alcohol, at 10 percent ABV.
- Four beers from Mateo & Bernabé of Spain will make their Nevada debut at Desert Hops, including a red ale, wheat ale, abbey-style ale and an ale made with rosemary and honey.
- North Coast’s Old Stock Ale Cellar Reserve 2013 is a small batch, limited release ale that is aged in bourbon barrels. At 14.1 percent ABV, it’s a complex ale that should be savored before you move on to the next country.
- Another rare find, Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel from Belgium has a dark coffee, malt and fruit flavor. The ale’s warm, full-bodied flavors evolve with time.
- And while it’s not quite beer, VIP guests will also get the first taste of Not Your Father’s Root Beer by Small Town Brewery out of Illinois. You would never guess the sweet and smooth ale has a strength of 5.9 percent, because it tastes exactly like root beer—so much so you’ll want to throw a scoop of ice cream in it.
Buy tickets at bitly.com/DesertHops2015.