Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beer Bar Review - Todd English P.U.B.

I recently had the misfortune to have to spend several days in Las Vegas, which in general keeping with its status as the capital of bad taste, is not exactly a powerhouse of craft beer. There are some breweries and brewpubs in the suburbs, if you can get out there, but if you're stuck on the Strip, your options in the casinos and bars are generally limited to macrobrews and the larger craft beer brands. There was a brewpub for a while in the Monte Carlo, but its beers we're pretty mediocre, due, I think, to the high mineral content in Vegas water. (It's now a beer bar with a pretty decent list.) There's also Sin City Brewing in the Venetian (also mediocre) and Triple 7 in the Main Street Casino near Fremont Street (not bad), and that's about all there is for brewpubs on the Strip (I think there might be a Gordon Biersch or BJ's somewhere, but, really, ick.)

Fortunately, I managed to discover the Todd English P.U.B. (Public Urban Bar), in the Crystals Center near the Aria hotel. Created by 3-time James Beard Award-winning chef Todd English, it's not really an English pub so much as a gastropub, featuring high-end food and drink.

It has a food menu of high-end pub grub, and a beer menu of around 60 that spans from pedestrian PBR to limited edition craft brews and foreign rarities. They had a number of beers on cask, which was nice to see, including several from Deschutes  (presumably they have some sort of special relationship).

The downside is that, like anything that's worth anything in Vegas, it's on the pricey side. A 12 oz pour will run you $8-12, depending. The beer menu is a bit confusing, in that they don't organize it by beer style, but in rather arbitrary categories by strength, ingredients, or place of origin.

Dr. P. and I visited the PUB twice, once on our own and once with a larger group. Notable beers included Stone Twilight IPA on cask, which was strong and hoppy but nicely mellowed; St Bernardus ABT, which had good complexity, a taste of coconuts and brandy, and a nice 10.5% ABV warmth; and Uinta Labyrinth (from Utah, of all places), 13.2% ABV, with a delicious flavor of chocolate, whiskey, black licorice, and cream coffee.

The first visit, on a Saturday night, was quite nice, but the second, on a Monday night, wasn't quite as good. It was much busier, and the staff had some issues getting our orders right. Twice I ordered an Innis and Gunn (looking forward to a beer I'd never even heard of), and twice they brought me a Stone Arrogant Bastard (a fine beer, but not what I ordered). On the other hand. They didn't charge me for the beer, so that's something.

So, while the prices are on the high side and the service can be a bit spotty on a game or high tourist traffic night , if you're looking for good food and really good beer in Vegas, Todd English is probably your best bet.

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