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A Trip to Reno and Canfest 2012

In what is quickly becoming an annual tradition for me, this past weekend, the family and I packed the car and headed for Reno. The reason for the trip was a unique festival that focuses on craft beer served in cans. Yes, we were in the World Biggest Little City for the 4th Annual Canfest

The great thing about Canfest, at least for an out-of-towner like me, is that the weekend is about more than just a beer festival. Using the Silver Legacy as our home base, we got a chance to enjoy Reno as well as do some beer drinking.

Upon checking in, we were immediately in vacation mode as host card trickster Doc Cheathem greeted us at the front desk. Deck of cards in hand he wowed the children (an me as well to be honest) with one of his many tricks. We saw a lot of doc that weekend as he set up where the casino meets the hotel with cards and snake oil in hand.

After a long drive from the Bay Area, the adults in the group were in need of some refreshment and the first stop was the Silver Legacy’s Blender Bar. With a solid selection of bottled beer (craft and macro) a beer lover like me was satisfied, but we were there for the wife on this occasion. A wide selection of flavors were ready to serve these intoxicating frozen drinks. We had settled on the Piña Colada and the Passion Peach with an extra shot of Fireball Whiskey. The drinks were available in a variety of sizes with additional shots available to give drinks an extra kick. The show-stopper was a 100-ounce souvenir cup with the equivalent of 10-shots of liquor in it. I have to admit, we did end up going home with one of those cups.

After getting settled, it was back to Canfest business and to the Imperial Bar not far from the hotel. This was a small industry welcome for brewers and media and a nice way to get us out of the hotels for a minute. The weather was pleasant in the mountains and a quick walk downtown was a welcome escape from the flashing lights and ringing bells that mark your time in a casino.

The next morning we headed to a family favorite in Reno, Hash House A Go-Go. If you had seen the recap from last year’s trip to Reno, you would know the food is large and intimidating. We made certain to mix it up this time but were still impressed with the great comforting flavors served up as well as the eye-popping portions. The favorite of the day was a S’more inspired mocha, complete with toasted marshmallow topping.

With a fully belly it was time for Canfest to begin. An hour before general admission, the line outside was already impressive. People were excited about the festival and the beer selection on hand. Brewers from around the country, many of whom do not distribute to the West Coast, were on hand to share their beer with the craft loving public.

Notable beer offerings were Sun King of Indiana, pouring their new collaboration with Oskar Blues, a hoppy brown ale called “The Deuce,” Sixpoint of Brooklyn, pouring a full lineup including the seriously hopped-up Resin, and Santa Fe Brewing, pouring their Java Stout for the first time at Canfest as the beer moved into the year-round category.

The crowd was good with live music and entertainment offered in the form of raffles, beer pong and mini-bike races which were probably more entertaining to watch than to participate.

Food was provided at a long buffet-style table which kept tempting me with aromas of grilled meats. The nacho bar was also quite impressive, something others must have agreed with me on as it seemed to be the snack of choice at the tables around the ballroom.

After Canfest, with the night still young, we made a trip to Brew Brothers for some late night football, snacks and beers. Brew Brothers in located next to the Silver Legacy in the El Dorado hotel. My last visit I was impressed with the quality of the beer given the location and noted that the food was standard pub faire, but done well. This time around I had a slightly different experience.

The beer was still good, with the brewer’s specials being a Belgian Tripel and a Honey Wheat Ale, but what really caught my eye was the food. New menu items reminded me of trendy food trucks found around the Bay Area. Spicy Korean Pork Tacos and an adult Mac n Cheese complete with bacon immediately caught my eye. In the same vein as Hash House’s twisted farm food, the Grilled Cheese bacon burger was a bacon cheese burger smothered in a special sauce and onions but with grilled cheese sandwiches used as the bread. As interesting and tasty as these items were, the best Brew Brothers has to offer is still their amazing pizza. The crust is the key here as I was again blown away.

With our weekend coming to a close, we had one last meal to enjoy before heading home and found ourselves at Flavors in the Silver Legacy for a buffet. A buffet is an essential part of any trip to a casino and this one is a favorite of my older daughter Kaleigh. Custom omelets, a carving station, fresh fruit, pastries, whatever you may want for breakfast is available. The kids were excited at the prospect of a little frozen yogurt to finish off the meal. It’s a vacation, why not have ice cream for breakfast?

And with that we were back on the road. We want to thank everyone in Reno who made our trip so enjoyable. The Silver Legacy was an amazing host and I look forward to next year’s Canfest.

Get a better idea of all the happenings in Reno by checking out the Brewed For Thought Facebook page. Pictures of all the restaurants, breweries and festival can be found there. If you were at Canfest, see if you can find yourself in any of the pictures and please tag yourself and all your friends.