Getting a Taste at the Golden Nugget Craft Beer Fest

Confession time: I had never been to Trump Marina. Seriously. As many times as we have been down to Atlantic City to cover events or just for funzies, we never had a reason to go there.

Now that it’s Golden Nugget, however, this looks to be changing.

Well, in fact, it has already changed, since I got the opportunity to attend the Craft Beer Tasting recently held at the Golden Nugget. Upon entering the hotel, there was plenty of out-of-date gaudiness that makes the Trump properties in AC look shabby in comparison to Borgata and the redone Harrah’s. Having said that, my conversations with the folks at Golden Nugget give me hope that this look will be gone soon enough (I hope they can do something about the 1960s industrial look of the outside of the building).

But enough about that. Let’s talk beer. And there was plenty of the sudsy stuff to sample that night, with over 35 breweries in attendance. And while most of the names are typical of what you see in any given beer fest, they were all of a decent quality or better. Even though the event was being held in New Jersey, there was sadly only one Jersey beer – Flying Fish. In talking to the folks running the event, they were using the same distributors that provide the beers for a similar event they hold at their Las Vegas property, so they may not be as familiar with the local beer scene. I made the suggestion that for next year they should try to bring in more Jersey brews, since the amount of beers produced here is growing.

Since I could not have possible sampled every single brew (if I had, I wouldn’t be around to tell the tale), I will give you some of the brews that really impressed me:

Weyerbacher Merry Monks – Made me a merry monk just tasting it. Next to Ommegang and Allagash (more on them in a moment), Wayerbacher out of Easton PA is making as good a lineup of Belgian beers as anyone if the US. While not as strong and potent as their amazing Quad, Merry Monks is a pleasant Belgian-styled ale. It’s happy beer.

Yards Cape of Good Hope, Anchor Humming Ale and Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ – Three wonderfully floral and fragrant beers. Lots going on with all three, without going for the over-hopped trend that has been plaguing the craft beer scene the last few years. Great beers still need to be balanced, and with any of these you’re in for some good drinking. And if you’re not into the heavy beers, none of these will scare you away.

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale – Never had a pecan-infused beer before, so I had to sample this one. Well, you get a pleasantly pronounced nutty flavor from this ale. And all I wanted was a plate of ribs to go with the beer. That would be quite the combination.

Allagash Curieux – Wow. Just…wow. Aged in bourbon barrels, they take their Tripel Ale and turn it into something distinctly unique. Strong in the alcohol content (11%), but not overly heavy. Very much of its own kind; the only beer that I can compare it to would be Ommegang Three Philsosphers aged in a Howe Cavern. It’s beer…and yet beyond beer as well.

Side note: ran into beer aficionado Gary Monterosso during the event and made him walk over to Allagash’s table to try the Curieux. He did – and gave me the thumbs up.

Another point of note: the trend of beer in a can is in full force. Two of the breweries present (Sly Fox and Oskar Blue) served all of their beers from cans. Very interesting.

Overall, I was impressed by Golden Nugget’s running of the event. The fact that they had buckets for dumping and water glasses for rinsing was a nice touch (it’s a beer tasting, after all). My hope for next year for would be more Jersey brews, and also better access to talk to the beer makers themselves. But the experience gives me hope that more and better things are coming from Golden Nugget – and we look forward to telling you about them down the road.

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