Two Atlantic City casino properties that have carved out niches in the craft-brewery craze are bringing back popular beer festivals Saturday, Sept. 16 — one earlier in the day on the Boardwalk at Resorts Casino Hotel, and the other later that evening in the marina district at Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
Resorts hosts its fifth annual Craft Beerfest 4 to 8 p.m. in the Ocean Ballroom, where guests can try more than 70 craft brews for a $30 ticket, and enjoy beer-inspired a la carte menu items priced from $5 to $9. Golden Nugget’s Craft Beer Festival returns for the seventh year and features nearly 100 selections and a buffet spread by for an all-inclusive $59 per-person fee from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom.
This year’s Golden Nugget event is placing more of an international emphasis on the breweries that visit the property. Seattle-based beer importer Mechant du Vin has representatives from nine of the oldest breweries in the world visiting Atlantic City on Saturday.
“We have some sensational craft breweries here in America, and I’m not sure they would all share this opinion, but when I look at these beers from Bavaria, Belgium, Scotland, England — these guys are the world’s original beers, and my gut instinct tells me that the craft breweries that we’re seeing throughout the United States would covet to be what these guys are,” says Scott Tarwater, corporate director of wine and special events for Landry’s Inc., Golden Nugget’s parent company. “These are 300- and 400-year-old breweries with incredible histories.”
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Traquair Brewery of Scotland is the oldest in Merchant du Vin’s portfolio, with origins dating back to 1107 AD and an unbroken family ownership history to 1491. Westmalle Brewery of Belgium was founded in 1794 by Trappist monks, who still oversee the brewing process there today. The flagship brewery in the portfolio is Samuel Smith’s, which was established in England in 1758, introduced to the U.S. market in 1978 by Merchant du Vin, and is credited with being the benchmark for the still-evolving U.S. craft beer movement.
“I’m a huge history nerd, and each one of these breweries has a special and historical meaning in our industry,” says Robert Watts, Merchant du Vin’s southwest regional manager. “The various Samuel Smith beer styles are the original styles so many of your American craft breweries try to emulate. In fact, it’s safe to say that Samuel Smith is the reason the American craft beer business is where it’s at today.”
Samuel Smith’s brewery will have three different beers at Golden Nugget. Among them is its organic chocolate stout that Tarwater says festival guests should mix with Lindeman’s raspberry lambic in a combination called a chocolate truffle.
“I guarantee if people do that they will fall in love with that combination,” Tarwater says.
Smith’s oatmeal stout has an interesting history dating back to 1858, according to Watts.
“That style was actually created for pregnant women and those nursing infants,” Watts says. “Theoretically, because the infant mortality rate was high back then and you didn’t have the pharmaceutical industry we have today, doctors used to tell women to drink stouts to help replace the iron deficiencies women tend to have during and after childbirth. Well, most women didn’t like stouts, so Samuel Smith added oatmeal malt to the beginning of the brewing process — which has a very silky, roasted oak-like texture to it — and women loved it. And along with helping to replenish a woman’s iron levels, it added iron to breast milk to help build the baby’s immune system, too.”
Golden Nugget will also have a Belgian brewery called Green’s represented at the event that produces gluten-free beers and ales.
“This is the most unique combination of breweries in our seven-year history, and I truly believe that our guests will have their eyebrows raised and gain a whole new appreciation for beers, old-world and new-world,” Tarwater says.
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Golden Nugget Executive Chef Bobby Hettmannsperger will prepare a buffet spread for the festival that includes artisan-flavored pepperonis and German sausages; Bavarian soft and hard pretzels with assorted dipping sauces, mustards and smoked gouda fondue; mini Philadelphia cheesesteaks; Coney Island hot dogs with sauerkraut and grain mustard; Buffalo chicken with blue-cheese drizzle; and Jersey corn and edamame quesadillas.
Meanwhile, the five-man rock band Seven Stone will provide the entertainment.
Resorts keeps it new
Resorts’ Vice President of Food and Beverage Edward Batten says that besides being affordable, the key to Resorts’ Craft Beerfest’s success over the past five years has been bringing in the latest brands that suds aficionados want to sample.
“We’ll be bringing back Dogfish Head pumpkin ale and others people love this time of year, but we always try to add new elements and switch things up from year to year,” Batten says. “And that includes every aspect of the event, not just the beers.”
The band that performed at Resorts’ inaugural festival is a somewhat offbeat ‘80s tribute combo called Weird Science — a foursome whose members go by twists on retro-star names such as Myndi Lauper, Willy Idol, LL Cool K and C.C. D’Skillz.
“People loved them the first year we did the festival, and the only reason we didn’t bring them back is because we wanted to switch things up,” Batten says. “But five years is long enough.”
Resorts’ Craft Beerfest food offerings will include $5 crabby fries, $8 pretzel cheesesteaks and $9 shaved prime rib sandwiches.
New brews at Resorts include Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Mo.; an IPA called Neon Gypsy from DuClaw Brewery of Baltimore, Md., and several others.
“We also have a newcomer from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla., called Jai Alai, which is a popular IPA down there with a citrusy, clean flavor to it,” Batten says. “They’ll also be bringing a Belgian-style white ale called Florida Cracker that has a spicy taste and is really good, too.”