Sep 1, 2014
Freddie Kitson

MGM tapping into craft beer festivals – Las Vegas Review

For the past year, beer festival organizer Motley Brews in Las Vegas has cornered the local beer fest market.

Motley Brews drew 5,500 suds lovers to the East Fremont Street district for its Great Vegas Festival of Beer in April, and another 3,000 brew fans are expected to descend on its Downtown Brew Festival at the county amphitheater this month.

But now there is a new 800-pound beer-guzzling gorilla on the block.

And it’s MGM Resorts International, the heavy on the Strip partnering with the nationally known, Portland-based Oregon Beer Festival to throw an inaugural craft beer festival at MGM’s festival lot across from Luxor on Sept. 27.

MGM’s new Blvd Brew Fest — complete with the high-profile Kings of Leon band — is being tapped just one week after Motley Brews holds its annual Downtown Brew Festival on Sept. 20.

Beer-tasting events are hardly new to Las Vegas. But what is new is the growing scope of the beer bashes in Sin City and the fact that a Strip power like MGM Resorts has thrown its bottle opener into the brew-fest ring.

MGM’s event lot is playing host to three dozen Oregon brewers, including powerhouse brands such as Descutes Brewery of Bend and Rogue Ales of Ashland.

The opening of a half-dozen craft beer microbreweries in Southern Nevada this year combined with the advent of the large beer festivals shows that Las Vegas is adopting West Coast traits ranging from becoming more bicycle-friendly to opening downtown co-working business centers.


Motley Brews founder Brian Chapin doesn’t mind MGM entering the beer festival scene because he sees the new Strip beer event as advancing the craft market in Las Vegas. Having a major player on the Strip staging a big beer festival validates the notion that craft beer now has traction in this market, he said.

“Anything to push the craft beer movement is fantastic. What we’re trying to work on is complete acceptance,” Chapin said. “Oregon is considered beertopia.”

MGM’s business strategy differs than Motley Brews’ because the hotel-casino company is also using its inaugural beer festival on the Strip to drive traffic to its 11 hotel properties on the Strip.

It’s also part of MGM’s strategy to offer its hotel guests more outdoor options, such as the park plaza between New York-New York and Monte Carlo now under construction. It will lead to its 20,000-seat arena, slated to open in spring 2016.

MGM is also teaming up with its local event organizers Sonny Barton and Chris Hammond for another festival in October: a wine and music festival called Wine Amplified on Oct. 10 and 11.

For Blvd Brew Fest, Hammond expects 60 percent of the attendees to be local, while 40 percent will be tourists. Barton said they are advertising in the Southern California and Phoenix markets to lure brew fans to beer on the boulevard.

Besides lining up a high-powered musical act like Kings of Leon, Barton and Hammond is also setting up a second stage in the opposite corner of the MGM festival lot to feature bands from Southern California and Utah.

“It’s Vegas, and you got to go big and you have to do it right,” Hammond said.

At the Downtown Brew Festival one week earlier, Chapin projects 85 percent of the attendees will be locals.

“We give an alternative event to the Strip,” he said.

Tim Etter, owner of Tenaya Creek Brewery in Las Vegas, said he welcomes the Oregon beers coming to the Strip because the majority of those brands are not distributed in Southern Nevada.

“It shows you what’s happening in Las Vegas. We’re catching up with the rest of the country,” Etter said.

“It’s a great thing for those Oregon breweries that can showcase their beers in front of the locals and also the tourists on the Strip,” Etter said.

“It exposes them to an audience that might not be familiar with their brands. More than half of those brands don’t distribute beer to Las Vegas. They’re not available here.”


Mark Lawson, Nevada Beverage Co. craft brand manager, said it’s great to have a big name like MGM spotlighting craft beer in the Las Vegas area, but he was hoping more local distributors and brewers could have been participating.

“Anytime you have a focus on craft beer, that’s a good thing. We need all the help we can get in this market. When someone like MGM puts an impetus behind it, people say, ‘Hey, maybe craft is viable.’ But it would also have been nice to also include our local guys to show the Oregon guys here’s what we’re doing here,” Lawson said.

Big Dog, a popular Las Vegas brewery, participates in many beer festivals in the Las Vegas area and holds its own festivals throughout the year at its locations.

Big Dog will be at the Sept. 20 Downtown Brew event but as of last week has not heard from the Blvd Brew Fest.

“Beer festivals are a lot of fun, but it’s a workday for us, and we’re out there promoting our brand,” said Robert Snyder, Big Dog chief financial officer and treasurer of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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Sep 1, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Friday: The Meat Truck, LLC

(WTNH)– Owner Jose Perez and his cook/cousin Chris Morales from the The Meat Truck, LLC  show us how to make a Chimichurri Steak Sandwich.

The MEAT truck is a butcher shop inspired, gourmet sandwich truck. It’s the brainchild of a self proclaimed MEAT addict. Jose Perez, had long envisioned starting a food truck business centered on his favorite thing to eat, MEAT.  Their mission is to build a sandwich truck with an emphasis on quality and freshness. The concept is handcrafted, MEAT inspired sandwiches with the MEAT, being the main attraction.  They slow roast, braise, smoke, and grill all of our their MEATS. Whenever possible, they like to purchase our ingredients from local farmers and suppliers.

They can be found at Science Park Thursdays and Fridays from 11-2 for lunch, 344 Winchester Ave. Also, the Sunoco gas station on Rt.80 in New Haven, 350 Foxon Blvd., Fridays from 3-6 and Saturdays 11-6.

For more information, call 203-928-9021  or go to

Easy at home recipe:

Chimichurri Steak Sandwich-

Chimichurri sauce-

1-bunch of fresh chopped cilantro with the stems cut off

5- Cloves of garlic- Peeled and crushed

3- chopped green onion (scallion)

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

The juice of half of a Lime, squeezed

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix in bowl thoroughly

Sundried Tomato spread-

½ a cup of pureed sun-dried tomato’s

½ small can of tomato paste (4 oz can)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

6oz- steak of choice to desired doneness. Seasoned with salt and pepper

Bread- Ciabatta sub rolls

First, butter and toast Ciabatta bread. Spread sun-dried tomato mixture on the bottom half of the toasted bread, about 1-tablespoon. Add, sliced grilled steak. Top steak with chimichurri sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons. You can add charred red onions as an option.

Apple wood smoked pulled pork sandwich with Apple slaw-

Apple Slaw-

16oz- sliced green cabbage

4oz-sliced red cabbage

2oz- Shaved carrots

4- green onions chopped

2- julienne Green apples

2oz- white vinegar

2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Lime juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

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Sep 1, 2014
Kim Rivers

The Great Food Truck Race feeds hungry Austin singles on latest episode

A few months ago, The Great Food Truck Race rolled into Austin for a weekend of filming around the Capital City. In addition to a stint at Star Bar, the Rattle Inn and Ranch 616, the Food Network show also taps into our hot dating culture. You can see the results when the episode airs Sunday night.

According to a teaser for the “Dinner Dates, Austin Style” episode, competing teams were paired up and sent to a local event where they fed “the hungriest singles in Austin.” The teams, whose partnership skills were being tested during the challenge, were then forced to switch trucks and sell another team’s food.

Hosted by Tyler Florence, the show pits eight teams of “food truck hopefuls” against each other in culinary competitions across the country. This season’s road trip stretches from Southern California to the beaches of Key West, Florida. 

Austin is the third stop on the seven-city trek. The new episode airs Sunday, August 31 at 8 pm on the Food Network. More details about the show can be found here

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Sep 1, 2014
Tim Lester

Big crowd shows up for Nashville Street Food Awards


Hundreds came out as the Nashville Food Truck Association presented the third annual “Nashville Street Food Awards” Saturday at Nashville Farmers Market. 

More than 30 trucks battled it out for the best of the best. Judges sampled blind entries from the trucks in a variety of street food categories throughout the day including Best Taco, Best Between Bread, Best Smoked and Best Hot Nashville.

Delta Bound took home bragging rights for Best Taco, Best Vegetarian, Best Deep Fried, Best Yazoo and Best of the Best. 

Other honors included Deg Thai for Best Hot Nashville, Smoke Et Al won Best Drink, Bradley’s Curbside Creamery claimed Best Dessert, Best Smoked went to Smoke Et Al, Pita Pit received top honors in the Best Goo Goo Cluster category and Tiger Meat won Best Between Bread.

The Nashville Food Truck Association made a contribution to Musicians Corner at the end of the event.

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Sep 1, 2014
Terri Judson

Colorado Wine Country Comes of Age

The rising sun casts a golden net over the vineyards of the Grand Valley, on Colorado’s Western Slope. The grapes seem to bask in the early morning glow as it burns off the mist and shares its warmth. If grapes had faces, they’d be smiling.

This is Colorado wine country.

Twenty-five years ago, most people never heard of it. But in recent years, Colorado wines have been holding their own in prestigious competitions, a sign that the industry is maturing.

OK, it’s still young by California standards, but the wine industry in Colorado has taken giant strides in just a few years.

With the dawn of Prohibition, the wine industry pretty much died in Colorado.  In 1978, Colorado Mountain Vineyards (now called Colorado Cellars), resurrected the business. Others followed, but slowly. By 1990, there were nine wineries and by 2000, there were about 30 of them. Then came the explosion. Today, there are more than 100 wineries in Colorado, most family-owned operations.

Colorado vintages began to win awards. So wine became cause for celebration.

The granddaddy of Colorado wine festivals happens the third weekend in September (Sept. 18-21 this year), when the Colorado Mountain Winefest fills Riverbend Park in Palisade, just east of Grand Junction. Each year, thousands of people attend the celebration, where more than 40 Colorado wineries pour their best vintages for tasting.

Remember that famous scene from “I Love Lucy,” when Lucy and Ethel were stomping grapes? Well, you can do it, too! Each year, there’s a grape-stomping contest, not to mention dueling chefs, gourmet food and artisan booths, winemaker dinners and a self-guided tours of the wineries.

Like Napa Valley, the Grand Valley has developed dining, lodging and attractions to complement the wine theme.

You can take a self-guided wine tour any time, stopping at local wineries’ tasting rooms to sample their wares. Some offer tours of the wine-making operation, too.

If you really want to immerse yourself in the wine-country experience, consider spending a night at Two Rivers Winery, near Grand Junction. Besides being a lovely spot with great views of both the Book Cliffs and the Colorado National Monument, the winery is secluded and quiet.

Two Rivers is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Port. 

Established in 1978, Colorado Cellars is the state’s oldest and largest winery. It produces everything from fruit wines (such as plum, peach and cherry), as well as port, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Merlot. On the side, they also produce grapeseed oil, salad dressings and some killer fudge.

Carlson Vineyards prides itself on using all Colorado-grown grapes and fruits in its wines.  Try its award-winning Prairie Dog Blush or sample the hot peach wine (they call it “cobbler in a cup”), or go with the Cougar Run Shiraz or Chardonnay or Fat Cat Muscat for a treat.

Plum Creek Winery also uses all Colorado-grown grapes. One of the state’s wine pioneers, Plum Creek began by making 400 cases of wine a year; now it makes thousands. Try its award winning Cabernets, Rieslings and Sauvignon Blanc.

Canyon Wind Cellars credits the area’s loose, cobbly soil, sunny days, cool nights and yes, the wind that comes down the canyon, for its superb vintages. The award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are aged in Colorado’s only underground wine cellar.

Garfield Estates, established in 2000, already has become a premier producer of wines, using only Colorado grapes to produce its Syrahs and Sauvignon Blancs. Also check out their unusual Ice Wine.

Some wineries have gourmet food shops, and others have art galleries on site. Each one has its own personality. I guess the only way to discover which one you like best is to visit all of them!

Who needs Napa Valley?



For information on wine tours and tasting rooms, go  online at Or visit  


  Linda DuVal is the former travel editor for The Gazette, a freelance travel writer and winner of several Lowell Thomas awards. She is the co-author of Insider’s Guide to Colorado Springs and writes a local Web site, Pikes Peak on the Cheap (


Colorado Traveler airs Sundays before the Splendid Table and Wednesdays at 11:55 am. 

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Aug 31, 2014
Jim Benson

Halal Guys food cart ‘Guys’ win lawsuit vs. same-name rivals

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDavid Handschuh/New York Daily News
“Halal Guys” Abdelbaset Elsayed, left, and Mohamed Abouelenein in their new store on E. 14 St . They won in a lawsuit against same-name rivals Halal Guys of New York.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDavid Handschuh/New York Daily News
The REAL “Halal Guys,” Abdelbaset Elsayed (far l.) and Mohamed Abouelenein. Above, their original cart.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJOHN TAGGART/JOHN TAGGART FOR NEW YORK DAILY
The Halal Guys located on the corner of 53rd and 7th Avenue are the go-to guys out of the many Halal food cart offered in Midtown. Center is Omar Mady.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDavid Handschuh/New York Daily News
The “”Halal Guys” were serving customers from a food cart outside  before they opened their first retail store soon.
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There’s peace in the Middle East — in the Middle Eastern food cart wars, that is.

The operators of the popular Halal Guys food stand and restaurant have beaten a knockoff food business that had been calling itself Halal Guys of New York.

The Halal Guys had argued in federal court last month that the counterfeit carts were trying to cash in on their hard work and reputation.

Their suit said the Halal Guys of New York had been brazenly moving in on their turf — operating one food cart near the Halal Guys’ longtime stand at Sixth Avenue and 53rd St., and another on 14th St., where the Halal Guys just opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Under the terms of the deal, Halal Guys of New York has five days to “dispose of any signs, banners, promotional or advertising items (including food containers and bags) that bear the mark the Halal Guys, or any colorable imitation.”

Halal Guys of New York’s lawyer, Ehab Moustafa, said his clients surrendered because they can’t afford to fight.

“My client doesn’t have the money,” he said. “He decided it’s not worth it for him to continue.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDavid Handschuh/New York Daily News The “”Halal Guys” offer their famed falafel at their restaurant.

On the other side, the original Halal Guys — Egyptian immigrants Mohamed Abouelenein and Abdelbaset Elsayed, who spent 20 years expanding from a single Midtown food cart to a freestanding restaurant downtown — are poised for international greatness.

Abouelenein, 59, and Elsayed, 51, opened their E. 14th St. restaurant in June — but are also working with the same franchise company that turned Five Guys Burgers and Fries into a nationwide chain. The goal is to license the Halal Guys name.

“For me, the (East Village restaurant) is not my aim,” Abouelenein told the Daily News earlier this summer. “This is just the first step. I am imagining something bigger than this.”

So does Dan Rowe, founder of Fransmart, who wants to expand Halal Guys.

“Halal food is going to become the new standard,” he told The News. “There are already a zillion burger brands.”


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Aug 31, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Beer and sun equal fun in Bolton

Lyrus Pond of Cabot held a Sip of Sunshine in his hand. It was his first beer of the day at about noon. The American IPA style beer was brewed by Lawson’s Finest Liquids of Warren.

Turns out Pond’s brew matched the day — sunny and smooth. Only a few clouds dotted the blue sky above him at the inaugural Hop Jam 2014 at Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton on Saturday.

An eclectic mix of bands matched the varied suds on tap. Bands played slope side as about 1,000 people from all over New England poured in throughout the day.

Featured music included JP Harris the Tough Choices, Soule Monde, Primate Fiasco, Spirit Family Reunion and the Alchemystics.

A tall white Abominable Snowman, the Vermont Adaptive yeti, entertained the masses, mostly by answering the question, “Aren’t you hot in that?”

The day started off with the Bolton Valley 5K to benefit Vermont Adaptive organized by Vermont Adaptive Northern Program Coordinator Amber Tierney of Bolton. She setup an information booth at the foot of the slopes with some of her adaptive ski equipment after the 5K.

“We provide sports and recreation equipment and opportunities for people year-round,” she said. “Every penny counts. We are always fundraising. Adaptive ski equipment is not cheap.”

The Woodbelly Pizza line was long, and people be-bopped to the music while they waited. Hop Jammers rested on the grass-covered hill to eat while taking in the sights and sounds. Most brought their own folding chairs and blankets.

Woodbelly’s Jonah Bourne of Cabot said he was prepared for the crowd. “We have all of our farm fresh ingredients ready,” he said. “We are psyched to be here. The music is great. And we love the hop head logo.”

The hop head logo Bourne referred to is a green hop named L’il Simcoe who jammed to music on T-shirts, signs, and lanyards at the event.

Simcoe is a variety of hop.

Bolton Valley Resort Marketing Director Josh Arneson said, “It’s a genius little logo. I hope that little guys stays with us for years to come.”

Arneson was busy selling season passes at the event. New this year is a Ski Bum pass for people ages 18 to 25. The pass is only $159, with no black-out dates, if it’s purchased before Oct. 31.

Arneson said the resort has never hosted an event as big as Hop Jam in the summer months. “This really adds a lot of energy to the resort this time of year,” he said. “We are getting the word out about our specials, and the resort is booked. We are sold out for tonight.”

Meg’s Events planner Meg Schultz of Moretown said just like wine has different varieties of grapes, beer has different varieties of hops. “That’s a big part of what makes one beer different from another,” she said. “A pinot grigio is a lot different than a merlot, it’s the same with beer.”

Tasty brews were from Burlington Beer Co., Hill Farmstead, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Treehouse Brewing, Lost Nation Brewery, Lawson’s Finest, High Horse Brewing, Citizen Cider, Sixpoint Brewing, The Alchemist, Zero Gravity, Trillium Brewing, and Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Hop Jam is one of five beer festivals Schultz organized for this summer.

Honky tonk, funk-fusion, and blue grass were in the lineup. “People like a lot of diversity in their music, and in their beer, so that was my mission here,” Schultz said. “I wanted something for everybody. The variety really makes the event.”

Soule Monde drummer Russ Lawton of Middlebury said, “It’s a beautiful day and we get a chance to play without sliding down the mountain,” he said. “I’m a drummer. I don’t ski. I just entertain.”

Lagunitas Brewing Co. New England representative Chris Marzi said he didn’t know what to expect of the event. “We can’t wait to come back next year,” he said.

Contact Lynn Monty at and follow her on Twitter at

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Aug 31, 2014
Freddie Kitson

Lancaster Craft Beerfest: Around 3000 beer lovers expected

What: Lancaster Craft Beerfest

Where: 100 block of Queen Street, downtown Lancaster

When: Saturday, Sept. 6. Hours are 3 to 7:30 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 4 to 7:30 p.m. for general ticket holders.

Parking: With five parking garages within two blocks of the event, Yeager said that parking is not a problem.

Get tickets:

If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet you better hurry because they’re selling fast, Yeager said, with about 50 of them being sold each day.

Tickets are available online at and are available in three different tiers.

- VIP tickets, $55, allow you access a full hour before general admission and other perks

- General admission, $40

- Designated driver, $12, for those 21 and older who won’t be drinking at the festival. Drink root beer instead.

Downtown Lancaster becomes a tent city Saturday, Sept. 6 as thousands of people are expected to gather in one city block to guzzle beer at the second annual Lancaster Craft Beerfest.

Organizers designed this year’s event to be larger.

The City of Lancaster will cut off traffic on the 100 block of Queen Street for the festival. Beer vendors will set up tents on the Lancaster Square Side and live music can be heard coming from the event’s expansion into Binns Park, according to event organizer Jonathan Yeager.

There’s also more beer. Yeager expects around 50 breweries will attend this year’s festival, which is 16 more than the 34 featured last year.

Last year the festival sold out with about 2,100 attendees in just the Lancaster Square side of the block. This year Yeager is expecting about 3,000 people.

“It was quite crowded for that little space,” said Stephen Demczuk, founder and president of Raven Beer, of last year’s event.

Raven Beer, based in Baltimore, was a favorite brewery last year. All four of their kegs sold out before the festival’s end. Demczuk said he will call up York-based Ace Distributing, their distributor, to ask that more beer be brought this year.

Why Lancaster?

“There’s a lot of need for a large scale beer festival in Lancaster City,” Yeager said. “Me and two of my friends were talking about it and we just decided we were going to do it.”

A Tell Tale Heart IPA, a popular beer available at last years Lancaster Craft Beerfest, is served at Parts  Labor Butchery in Baltimore in this

So Joycat Events was born.

Yeager, founder and creative director of the Lancaster-based creative studio Wonderhead Collective, handles the marketing and design work. Adam Ozimek, who is a doctor of economics, handles logistics. Chris Trendler, a wine sommelier and a restaurant manager, handles presentation and organization.

“We tried to use that blend for an aesthetically pleasing and logistically pleasing beer fest,” Yeager said.

He said that when he returned home to Lancaster after living with brewers and attending beer festivals in Portland, Ore., he decided the beer festivals in this region needed to be bigger and better.

“The craft beer industry and the craft beer desire in Lancaster – or anywhere – is growing,” he said. “We wanted to create a way for a large event to celebrate the fact that there were so many craft beer drinkers.”

Tap into the scene

“It’s great for craft beers, it’s great for the breweries and it’s great for all the bars,” said Matt Kaz, the tap master of the Federal Taphouse, a restaurant and craft beer bar that is also a supporting partner in the festival.

That added exposure is good, said Federal Taphouse owner Corey Fogarty, because “craft beer is not a trend, I think it is here to stay.”

Through his various ventures in the craft beer world, Fogarty has seen rapid changes in the beers being made. Brewers, he said, are trying new things that weren’t on the horizon even five years ago like black IPAs and any beer that adds nontraditional ingredients.

Not only does it bring awareness to craft beer, he said, the festival also “brings something eclectic and entertaining to the city.”

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Aug 31, 2014
Kim Rivers

Meet Big Blue, UB’s first food truck

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