Five thoughts: Mandalay Bay’s Beer Festival (September 13)


The keg has been tapped out on Mandalay Bay’s first Beer Weekend, after three days of beer-centric events running Friday- Sunday, including a Brewmasters’ Dinner (with Firestone Walker and Brooklyn Brewery), a craft beer panel discussion and a brew-paired Beer for Breakfast brunch at Fleur.

But the main event was Saturday night’s Beer Festival, which brought breweries near and far to Mandalay Bay’s Beach, along with restaurants from MGM Resorts’ diverse dining collection offering up small bites. Read on for thoughts on the fest:

1. The line to get into the festival had wrapped around half of Mandalay Bay’s pool area 15 minutes before the doors were slated to open. With only two attendants checking IDs, the line moved slowly. Verrrrrry slooooowwwwwwly. Here’s hoping Mandalay corrects this next year, should the event happen again.

2. Celebrity chef Hubert Keller himself was plating and handing out his delicious pork tacos at the booth for Fleur, his Mandalay Bay restaurant. While he told us a pilsner would pair best with the dish, he said the Japanese lager in our hands would do just fine. And it did.

3. The tasting vessel given to attendees at the entrance was a (pretty awesome) metallic cup. While this was perfectly fine for most of the beers being sampled, it wasn’t for others—you could taste the metal on some of the lighter brews, and some of the breweries decided to pour their samples into plastic cups instead. My suggestion to the festival? Ditch the beach next year and go with glass.

4. Saisons and sours seem to be en vogue right now, or at least that’s what the brew landscape at Saturday night’s event told me. Almost every single booth was pouring one or the other—and some even had both. None of the sours were anything to get excited about, but as for the saisons ...

5. Best beer I tried all night: CraftHaus’ Evocation saison (local brew FTW!). Light but still flavorful, the 6.5 percent ABV beer has notes of citrus and herb and a crisp finish. It paired beautifully with my favorite plate of the night, a steak and succotash dish with chimichurri sauce from Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. My mouth will be watering until next year, so here’s hoping the Beer Fest—and entire Beer Weekend—returns for a second installment in 2015.

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