Champagne may be the beverage of romance, but beer is the drink of passion. At least that’s how it seemed on June 25, when professor Adam Carmer gathered 40 of his faithful followers for a rare cask beer tasting at Freakin’ Frog.
Craft brewing has exploded as a trend recently, and wide beer selections are becoming increasingly common on and off the Strip (Burger Bar, the Pub at Monte Carlo, Yard House, Public House). But while those spots can claim selections in the low 100s, Freakin’ Frog’s beer count hovers around 1,000. Forever on the hunt for more and greater, Carmer initiated this invitation-only cask beer series, offering brews otherwise unavailable not just in Las Vegas, but in the entire country.
“When I first started doing craft beer in Las Vegas, almost 10 years ago, there was nobody else doing it,” Carmer told us. “So now I thought the next step was going to the top of the chain, and getting it fresh out of the cask. They’re very expensive, but the product is unlike anything else.”
Assisted by Bevi Beverages CEO Massimo D’Arrigo, the local distributor, Carmer bled then tapped the wood cask of Baladin Nora (made by a man Carmer called “the godfather of craft beer in Italy,” Teo Musso, who also oversees the Eataly Birreria in NYC) to hearty cheers. As if a cask of this brew—produced near Torino, Italy—wasn’t rare enough, Carmer added that this was actually a “sour” version of the myrrh-based, low-hops beer, made (using yogurt bacteria) for only the second time in Baladin’s history.
Inspired by an ancient Egyptian recipe, the unfiltered and naturally carbonated Nora was sweetly sour and smooth with a medium body and notes that deepened as the pouring progressed.
“What are the chances you’ll get to be one of 40 people to try this?” asked Wally Lang, a bartender at Rí Rá at Mandalay Place. He considered the cask tasting both recreation and research. “I learn a lot here and pass it on to my customers.”
Carmer’s ongoing series of cask tastings—this was the second—will feature unique one-offs made by the brewers specially for his customers, and will continue once a month on nights to be determined by the deliveries. Interested in getting an invitation? Go to freakinfrog.com, sign up for email announcements and, when you get the note about the cask tapping, be one of the first 40 to register. It’s as simple, and democratic, as that.
“Nights like this make Vegas bigger than the Strip,” Carmer told the crowd. Rousing everyone to get seconds and thirds, he bellowed, “We’re not leaving this room until the tap’s kegged.” Or the keg’s tapped. Whatever. More beer!