Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Like 140,000 other global villagers, I joined the herd and descended upon Las Vegas last week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. This is, I’m told, the largest trade show on earth, and it’s painfully obvious that even a hotel-overloaded city like Vegas can barely handle the throng that arrive every year, and the show itself is just way too much for any mortal to conquer. Adding to the cognitive dissonance is the fact that the worldwide porn industry’s annual trade show also takes place at the same time, so this most artificial of cities is also loaded with artificial women and sleazebag dudes, competing sleazily with you for taxis and tables. Me, I did what I needed to do work-wise in this horrid place, and freed up some time to check out some Las Vegas watering holes to slake my great thirst. As luck would have it, I read a profile in DRAFT MAGAZINE on my flight into town about a bar called THE FREAKIN’ FROG, so that’s where I headed upon touching down.

Now everyone know that Las Vegas sucks, and quite honestly so does this bar, but in Vegas it counts as a friggin’ oasis. Boasting the worst name ever of any bar, THE FREAKIN’ FROG says that they have the largest beer selection west of the Mississippi. They just might, though most of it is in bottles. The name is so bad I turned a couple shades of crimson upon mentioning it to the cab driver, and as we left The Strip, he was totally puzzled as to where we were going. Well, the bar is out by the UNLV campus, maybe 5 miles from the Strip, located right smack dab in a mini-mall. Please see my camera phone photos here to get a sense of its general “ambiance”. Sometimes I think I should be part of the Rick Sellers school of affability and never say anything bad about people in beer industry, but.....there was no one there on a Sunday night except for the local white trash (with all due respect) and a gaggle of goth girls. Mood in the place was alternating between buoyant and terrifying – something about Las Vegas in general is scary, like there’s an army of lunatics around every corner (and there probably is). Good thing is the Freakin’ Frog employs one of the nicest and most helpful bartenders I’ve ever encountered – a helpful, patient and interesting fella who walked me through their menu and shucked and jived with me about beer in general. The place says they have 700 bottles of beer, but I counted something closer to 200-300, and most of the good ones didn’t have prices, they just said “reserve”. I believe that’s akin to when you see “A.Q.” on a dinner menu. To me it means, “don’t ask”. I stuck with what was on tap instead. Here’s what I tried:

WITTEKERKE – This is a classic Belgian wit (white) ale, a style I try almost every chance I get. Smooth and very simple, this exceptionally pale (almost opaque!) white/golden beer could be drunk by the bucketful. Fairly aromatic, with light spicing and a general overall tang, not unlike a lemon/white grape mash with a bit of coriander and pepper cracked into the glass. I liked it – one of the most simple and straightforward Belgian beers I’ve ever tried. 7/10.

TENAYA CREEK IMPERIAL STOUT – I thought about getting out to the TENAYA CREEK BREWERY while in Vegas, but it was too far from the hotel and the cab alone would’ve been something like $35 each way (ouch, even when it’s not my money). So I tried one of their beers here instead, going with the IMPERIAL STOUT they had on tap at the ‘Frog. I’ll admit that I’m less of a partisan for the Russian/Imperial Stout style than others are – than I am, say, for a Dubbel, Tripel, IPA or Winter ale – I’ve only had a few that really blew me away, with STONE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT being the most memorable. This one had a more muted roasted tastes compared to firebreathers like OLD RASPUTIN or the STONE beer; it is an 8.9% ABV beer, so it’ll put hair on yer chest, but it is somewhat restrained and even a little sweet. It actually was fairly tasty, though less “interesting”, as it were, as it warmed. I’ll go with 7/10 on this one as well.

Next in our series: POUR 24!


chopper said...

Never had Wittekerke on tap, but hands down it is my favorite beach beer. Six packs of cans at TJs are less than $6.

Vegas is a beer wasteland.

Anonymous said...

Vegas is so fucked. The Tenaya Creek Impy Stout was the only tasty local beer I tried when I was there last month. I did what you did at the Frog and stuck with the tap list. They had Sierra Celebration and Anchor Old Foghorn when I was there. I didn't understand why stuff like Green Flash from SD would be "reserve" priced.