One final toast

This goes well with beer: Great Basin Brewing Company’s grilled mushroom quesadilla.

This goes well with beer: Great Basin Brewing Company’s grilled mushroom quesadilla.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

Great Basin Brewing Co.

846 Victorian Ave.
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 355-7711

In German, we say ausklingen. While it might be literally translated as “to die or fade away,” when used at the end of an evening, it applies more to that last drink, when glasses are raised for one final toast—ringing out the evening, one might say. This can also apply to summer. The nights have gradually been getting cooler and the days shorter. While I look forward to autumn as much as anyone, it always saddens me when the warm evenings come to an end. And so I wanted to ausklingen the season properly: outside, with a good beer, friends and family.

Great Basin Brewing Company has been around for a long time, and with good reason. The atmosphere inside is busy but fun, with numerous hanging televisions displaying every possible sports event. Personally, I prefer the outside seating along Victorian Avenue, which is quiet and delightful. There, one can relax and people-watch for hours while experimenting with various microbrews, such as the Whoop-Ass Witbier or the Outlaw Oatmeal Stout ($4/$2.50 during happy hour and all day Tuesdays). While I’m not known for my keen nose for beer, I made sure to take friends with me who are. After taking advantage of the many samplers offered, the consensus was that Great Basin Brewing Co. makes a “decent microbrew,” some of which are better than others. We all found the famous “Icky” somewhat disappointing, but the Wild Horse Ale was rich and malty—no wonder it was a two-time bronze medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival.

Of course, we didn’t just drink. The grilled mushroom quesadilla starter ($7.50)—mushrooms, sautéed onions and four yummy cheeses wrapped in a sundried tomato tortilla—was delicious and devoured in moments. The artichoke cheese dip ($7.50), on the other hand, was second-rate at best. The artichokes were not fresh, but pickled, leaving the dip vinegary and overpowering. We sent it back half-eaten. Our main courses were similarly inconsistent. My mom was generally happy with her smoked German Bratwurst ($6.95). The bread was fresh and the sausage spicy and flavorful. She insisted, however, that the best part of the meal was the fries. They were crunchy outside, and soft and potatoey inside—delicious.

Delighted with the quesadilla appetizer, I ordered the vegetarian fajita wrap ($8.50) with high hopes: mushrooms, onions, sweet corn, bell peppers and rice all wrapped in a sundried tomato tortilla with sour cream, salsa and chipotle black beans on the side. Sadly, I couldn’t even finish it. The onions were sautéed to a point of sickly sweetness that infected the flavor of everything else, and there was more rice in the wrap than anything. The beans were good, but mostly I filled up on Mom’s fries. Probably the most successful order of the evening was the loaded nachos with chicken ($10.45) that our friends split. Everything was tasty enough, they said, but really it was just a great combination: nachos and beer. They devoured it, licking their fingers, while finishing off many a pint. I should have known better than to try to get fancy. Next time, I’ll stick to the basics as well.

We stayed until the sun was beginning to set and the air turned chilly. As the street lights were flickering on, we made our way to the car, commenting on the end of the season and the pleasure of properly saying ausklingen. While it may not be perfect, Great Basin Brewing Co. is still one of the best places for that.