Beyond the brews

Photo By David Robert

“We don’t pussyfoot around with the beer,” Tom Young, brewmaster extraordinaire and owner of the Great Basin Brewing Company, told me. “We make big, bold beers.”

The brewery is now the oldest operating brewery in the state, dating all the way back to 1993, and still Young laments, “So many beers, so little time.”

Michael and I felt like getting a beer the other night, so we headed to Great Basin. Members of the Monday Night Football crowd filled nearly every barstool and table at the brewery. It happened to be dinnertime, so we complemented our beers with food.

But first, the beers. We go to the Brewery often enough to call ourselves samplers of a great variety of its ales, porters and stouts. Some of the available beers we’d tried; others were new to us. I started with a Black Rock ESB, which is an unfiltered, English-style ale with a pretty, red-brownish color. Michael’s Jackpot Porter was “nutty, rich and aromatic,” as the menu promised.

Once we were happily settled into our beers, we looked over the menu. For starters, we had the Brewmaster’s Bruschetta ($5.95), which is a make-your-own version of toasted garlic-and-olive-oil bread with a helping of chipotle chile cheese spread, a portion of tiny bay shrimp and a pile of sun-dried and fresh tomatoes. Contrary to popular belief, bruschetta by definition is simply the bread. It’s heavenly in its garlicky-ness.

For dinner, Michael had the brewery-style steak and prawn skewers ($11.95). The teriyaki flavor mixed nicely with the pineapple, mushrooms, onions and peppers. The hunks of beef were, well, hunky.

My 10-inch personal flatbread pizza—called “the whole hog"—was more than enough for one person. The pizza came with a portion of ranch dressing, which I assume was for dipping leftover crusts.

After we finished dinner, we sampled more beer—something you can do without getting blotto, since you can get two-ounce glasses of anything and everything. We tried the Cerveza Chiebeso, a nice, light pilsner with a very subtle hint of jalapeno. The Rosemary Rye Patch was also subtle, like sniffing on a sprig of rosemary while drinking a malted rye beer.

Our waitress, Sarah, was a lot of help in selecting beer and also in selecting dessert. When we asked about the New York-style cheesecake ($3.50), she said, “I’m from New Jersey, so I’m kind of skeptical of cheesecake out West.” But, she added, the cheesecake at Great Basin is up to her standards—and it was up to ours. We also got the black bottom brownie sundae ($4), a homemade brownie with about four feet of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream piled on top and doused in chocolate sauce. We had to stand on our chairs to get the cherry off the top.

The Brewery doesn’t stop at great beers and pub food. They have an open mic comedy night on Thursdays and live music a couple nights a week. Best of all, though, is Tightwad Tuesdays, when most pints cost only $2. Regularly, pints are $3.25 and 10-ounce glasses are $2.50.

After years of sampling the Great Basin’s beers, I’d have to concur with the brewmaster: the beers are big and bold.