Monthly Archives: November 2011

Reno trying to become a USBG chapter city


Through the magic of Twitter I got wind that Reno was trying to become a chapter city of the USBG. What is the USBG? It is the United States Bartenders Guild and their mission statement goes like this:

The United States Bartenders’ Guild is an organization of beverage service professionals dedicated to the continued refinement of our craft. Such refinement is achieved through advanced product education; original hand crafted cocktail competitions; and aggressive involvement with other professionals in the beverage industry throughout the country and internationally. It is our intention, desire and main focus to become the most skilled, knowledgeable and professional group of bartenders in the industry.

I thought this idea was rad and worth reporting on so I got in touch with the fine young lady leading the charge to make Reno a chapter city, Nicole Barker is the Reno Chapter President and she was gracious enough to grant me an interview.

Why should Reno be excited to be a chapter city of USBG?

Reno should be excited to have a chapter of the USBG because the organization is a valuable asset to our community. It offers great networking and educational opportunities that can potentially put individuals, bars and our city on the map. USBG offers support in nationally recognized events, accrediting and competitions. USBG will potentially bring more industry based tourism to Reno. As well as aid in raising the local bar. Tourists and locals alike will benefit from a higher level of service, greater product knowledge and more passionate members of the service industry.

Say I am looking into becoming a bartender or I am out of work bartender why would joining USBG help me get a job?

Members of the Service industry will benefit from becoming members by advancing their education, product knowledge, by building a stronger industry network and showcasing themselves to a relevant market. If you are looking to break into the service industry or to trade up for a better position, being a guild member can only help. You will be introduced to many other service industry members who share your passion, building a sense of comradery. You will have the opportunity to better yourself in a rapidly expanding market, thus making yourself a commodity. We can all learn from one another and benefit from each other’s contacts and experiences.

Does it cost anything to join?

The Reno Chapter is in the process of becoming official. Upon joining USBG, you will be joining a national membership. Dues are $100 per year. These dues give you access to the nation membership network, competitions, health insurance and local events. We host at least one event per month and are always looking for subject suggestions and new ideas. We also host competitions, tastings and seminars. We are diligently working to create a substantial local basis of industry members to support an official local chapter. You can visit for more information and to become a member.

I am a beer man, so what kind of training and events will the Reno chapter be putting on that involves beer? Where can I find out more about them?

Beer is a rapidly expanding interest. USBG is on par with this genre of the bar. We spend an equal amount of time focusing on as many aspects of the bar industry. Beer is no exception. Currently we are putting an event together called Bourbon & Beer. This event will feature both bourbon and beer as well as cocktails involving the two. This event is scheduled in January. Specific date and time TBA.

Nicole Barker doin work at the Reno Usbg kick off event

What is your favorite: Beer, whiskey, vodka, gin and rum?

I thoroughly enjoy a variety of spirits in each genre… And my tastes are constantly changing an adapting.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of drinking a bourbon barrel aged barley wine that was fantastic. Just the right amount of caramel, laced with cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla. As far as vodka goes, I am not much of a fan, at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans last July, I was introduced to Purity Vodka which has a rounded earthiness that I could enjoy. I am currently swept of my feet with Nolet’s Silver Gin– a fabulous pet project of the family that produces Ketel One. It is light on the juniper, very floral with bright notes of raspberry and white peach. A beautiful and enticing profile for a gin. As far as Bourbon goes, I may always be a Knob Creek girl. I enjoy the rich spice and vanilla finish coupled with a stunning heat. The reserve is worth writing home about. For rum, I am going to deviate a bit with another similar spirit born in the carnival jungles of Brazil, Cachaca. It is made from sugar cane rather than molasses and has a rustic and roasted heat that is exquisite when properly mixed. It is a little outside the box, just the way I like it.

Original USBG Reno Members Left to Right Josh Taylor, Nicole Barker(Reno USBG President), Armando Rosario (Las Vegas USBG President), Annalisa Rox (Reno USBG VP), Vaughn Silva (Reno USBG Treasurer)

Where should I go, or who should I talk with to join the USBG?

You can access more information about USBG on . You can also follow us on twitter and join the USBG Reno Chapter Facebook Page. You can contact me directly, Nicole Barker, at 916-494-1935 or
We hope to become the first new official chapter in 2012. Please join the movement!


Happy Day


Beer Diary,

Every year for 10 years now there is a special event called Happy Day. It is to the pub crawl to drinkers like Ironman is to a triathlon  athlete. A 12 hour test of your will, liver and common sense. It also usually leads to someone losing muscle control. I meant to write a post while under the effects of Happy Day but I forgot… Oops. The semester is almost over anyway sooo pretty soon I can write posts in the amount and time of my choosing.

ANYWAY back to Happy Day highlights. This marked the third year of my brother and I making Happy Day beer. We went bold this year and made an IPA. So for the first time I will review my own beer.

Hoppy Day IPA has the aroma of sweet citrus flowers on the breasts of a beautiful naked women. It hits your taste buds like the fists of UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Sontatos and the 7.3% alcohol warms your belly like a fire side chat with FDR. The hop flavor lingers on your tongue like the super drunk dude at the party who won’t leave and you totally just want to pass out but you think he will steal your Ipod. Yeah that is the one thing I didn’t like about it but hey that is the price you pay for hardcore IPA’s. Overall we learned some things with this brew and we will hit the drawing board for some tweaks to the recipe.

The rest of Happy Day was a blast, tons of laughs, good memories with friends and stories to talk about the next year. Happy Day can eat your alive if you aren’t careful but if you pace yourself and maintain your wits you’ll have a great time as I did. Cheers and I will see you all next year.

Beer Review: Hop Trip


Beer Diary,

I got to try Hop Trip tonight! They got it on tap at Sassafras, I got all excited and was like “SWEET they have Hop Trip I have been meaning to try that shit!” To which I got some disapproving stares.  But hey what can I say I love beer. Also had the chicken fried burger at Sassafras soooooo good, don’t know what I mean think chicken fried steak but with a burger.

Hop Trip is a fresh hop ale done by Deschutes Brewery. It is a seasonal release. 5.4% and 39 IBUs. I got a nose full of grapefruit and nice spice notes in the taste. I really liked this beer lots of hop flavor but not overly bitter. Beer Advocate rating, beware half are from the past release in 2008. I recommend it to people looking to ease their way into pale ales or IPAs.

Check out the webpage for Hop Trip. It gives pairings, links to Deschutes Blog and cool to see! it gives a link to a clone recipe for Hop Trip for you home brewers.



Beer Diary,

I have seen heaven and its roads are  paved in aluminum. Last weekend I attended CANFEST put on be BuckBean and tried a beer from every brewery participating in the event.  Well… every microbrewery.  It was insanely fun filled with mini bikes running around, tons of beer lovers, music and food.

I was on the hunt for the sleeper brewery waiting for someone to surprise me. I was having some solid beers but I was having some so so ones and I got to admit there were few with major flaws in their brews. But I was looking for someone to impress me and it came in the form of a brewery I have never heard of. They didn’t even have a sign and they were stuck in the corner.

Crow Peak Brewery  impressed me with their porter, nice full flavor, rich coffee tones, creamy going down. It was tasty for sure.  I think it stood out because it went down so easy and most everyone had their IPA’s in full swing. Which I love don’t get me wrong but I tried a lot of IPA’s that night and they all start to meld together.

21st Amendment did a special tasting of their Watermelon Wheat and it kind of disappointed me. Mostly it tasted like watermelon jolly ranchers. But the rest of their beers were excellent as usual.

It was my first CANFEST and it was good times, I was with a buddy and we tried 30 breweries 2 beers a brewery so I tried around 60 beers.  I bought 5 dollars in raffle tickets and won a nights stay at the Peppermill so that was rad. I am going to use it for Happy Day next Friday!  I hope to see you there.

Best Snacks with Beers


Last weekend this chick from on of my class groups texted me “I think your next blog post should be Best Snacks with Beer I need to know these imperative things in life.” Since I am lazy and thinking of post ideas is rough I was like “Hell ya, I will write that.”  I will cover  appetizers, more mealish and dessert.

For appetizers you can go basic pretzels or fancy pub mix which I would pair with a nice light lager like Session.  If you wanted to get a little more crazy I would try a mango salsa paired with a nice IPA. The citrus in the mango salsa will bring out the citrus tones in the IPA.  Some good IPA’s are: Racer 5, Yellow Snow, Lagunitas IPA

Next I would recommend lil smokies covered in BBQ sauce or some nice hot wings. The lil smokies will go nice  with a malty brown ale. The a brown ale will complement the sweetness of the BBQ sauce with its mild flavor.  For the hot wings I would say another IPA because the you’ll be able to have both the spicy and hoppy flavors come through.  After this though your taste buds will most likely be destroyed from the hops and spice so make sure you let your palate recover before dessert.  Browns: Moose Drool , Calico Brown , Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Only one dessert will be needed because it involves bacon and really no other dessert could hang. It is cupcakes made by the Sweet and Stout blog that uses Smoked Porter by Alaskan brewing.  The cupcakes have maple flavored frosting that is topped with bacon bits. YUM. I will make these soon. Pair with the Smoked Porter or a nice bourbon stout not really sure how the the bourbon stout will go with it but it sounds tasty me for some reason. Oaked, Bourbon: Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Black Butte XX/XXI, Black Tuesday  Oaked Arrogant Bastard should be easy to get, Black Butte when it is out you should be able to find, but don’t be afraid to try something else and especially something local to you! Check out Sweet and Stout’s blog for more tasty treats.

So here you go Whitney Best Snacks with Beer just for you.

Book Review: Designing Great Beers


Beer Diary,

Someone once asked me how do I write a new beer recipe? I thought about it and it always starts with one book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.  It is my most valued resource when it comes to recipe writing. It covers the basics of all grain but moves into chapters on the classic styles of beer.

WHY IS IT SO GREAT? First off you don’t need to yell. Second because it gives you some history, then the style guidelines for a beer and then gives you a nice break down of second-round NHC beer recipes.  Break down of recipes meaning how many recipes used X yeast strain , X hops etc.  Allowing me to get a feel for the style, common threads and what I should do to highlight the flavors I want to bring out.

What if I want to make a crazy beer that is not in the book? – This summer I made a Butter Beer from Harry Potter.  I checked and there isn’t a chapter on it. BUT. It does cover the Kolsch which I used as starting point for my Butter Beer.

I recommend this book for people that are looking to learn a lot about beer and to take their beers to the next level. If you are happy cruising down to the brew store grabbing a brown ale recipe sheet getting the stuff and heading home to brew it on your stove top then you most likely don’t need this book. If you have an all grain set up, bored of kits and want to start creating some of your own recipes then I highly recommend you get this book.  Christmas is almost here, Christmas list here Designing Great Beers comes.

Tenaya Creek


Beer Diary,

37-0 was the score of this years UNR/UNLV game. Which was our 7th straight victory over the Rebels. Just wanted to mention that because I am reviewing a brewery out of Vegas and lets face it they may suck at football but they got some things right UFC is based their, Zappos is too, the Hoover Dam is pretty handy so I figured I should see what their beer is all about. I still want them to know North Nevada is boss before I give them some love so again 37-0.

Tenaya Creek started as a brewery restaurant and in the 2008 the company decided you know what? We love making beer not running a restaurant and shut down restaurant operations. Now you can find their beer in Utah, Ohio, Vancouver British Columbia, and of course across Nevada. Selling their beer in Canada made them the first brewery to export out of Nevada.

I found their beer at Total Wine in Reno who happens to have a pretty bad ass selection of craft beer and good customer service. I grabbed Tenaya Creek’s Hop Ride and Calico Brown which are some of their staple beers available year round.

I am a hophead so I was stoked to try the Hop Ride reading the label my eyebrows kept going higher and higher 7.2% alc/val, magnum hops one of my favorite strains of hop, and it is dry hopped.  So I cracked it open first and during the pour I got hit with the citrus/floral/piney hop aroma I love. The color is a hazy yellow/orange. You get hops from start to finish with this beer first in the aroma, then taste and that lingering bitterness that lets you know they are not skimping on the hops. It is what every IPA lover wants tons of citrus, floral and a nice alc. %.  As always I don’t give grades but here is the BA rating. I recommend it to hopheads, IPA lovers but not to beginners.

The Calico Brown comes in at 5.6% Alc/ Vol it poured a reddish brown color with a malty/semi-spice hop/vanilla aroma. The flavor was a nice toasted malt and finished with a light vanilla creamy flavor. I really liked the finish of this beer. They added some unique complexity to this style which was awesome to taste and try to pick out all the flavors coming through. BA Rating. I recommend it to anyone that likes browns, lots of flavor and it is safe for beginners.

Tenaya Creek is just a hair under 2000bbl per year as of now and I see them growing fast. Especially since they only have been distributing bottles for one year and are already in three states and Canada.  Be on the look out for their Old Jackalope Barley Wine and Imperial Stout this winter. I know I will be! You can find Tenaya Creek in Reno at Total Wine and Ben’s. Special thanks to Karl their GM for taking my call and giving me an interview!