Todd "Tebo" Thibault considers himself a "Culture Czar" of craft beer.
He's in charge of community outreach for the Colorado-based Breckenridge Brewery, and hosts their Breck Trek, in which the brewery travels across the United States to share their love of high-quality brews.
Breck Trek visited Las Vegas last week, and Tebo himself hosted a beer dinner at Robert Irvine's Public House. There, the brewery worked with the chef to pair their creations with a multi-course meal.
Tebo insists that the engagement isn't as stuffy as it sounds.
"Just because I have a certain taste and I like a certain thing doesn't mean another person has to have that same taste," he said. "It's okay to taste things differently."
First up on the menu was a family-style French onion fondue with toasted ciabatta bread, paired with Breckenridge's Agave Wheat. It's a familiar carbonated light brew with a touch of agave that adds subtle sweet notes. Think of it as a one step above pairing French onion soup with a cheap hefeweizen.
Next up was a salad, featuring grilled peaches, salt roasted beets, pale ale goat cheese puree, arugula, and topped with a Sherry and wild honey vinaigrette. The dish was served with a Mango Mosaic Pale Ale, which bolstered the fruitiness of the salad and added a touch of bitterness to the dish's sweetness.
BreckenVine Fish & Chips were up after the salad, which placed a fried fish on top of shoestring fries, malted curry aioli, bacon, green onions, and cabbage slaw. Paired with a hefty Autumn Ale, this was pub food at its finest.
Stone Fried Shepherds Pie was next, featuring ground lamb, onion, Enlish peas, and a mashed potato crust served inside a small cast-iron skillet. It was served with Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter, which is one of their more popular brews. One would expect the sweet vanilla notes to pair better with a dessert, though the flavor was subtle enough that it worked remarkably well with the meatiness of the shepherds pie.
Finally, for dessert, Public House presented their Cherry Crumble Cheesecake inside a coffee cup, made with macerated cherries, French cheesecake, and a crumble topping. The BA Imperial Cherry Stout had a surprisingly bold taste, with a great balance of wine and beer that kept the course from becoming too rich.
If you're interested in diving into the craft beer scene on your own, check out our 2017 Las Vegas Beer Calendar here. And take heed on the following advice from Breckenridge's Culture Czar:
"Don't be afraid of [craft beer]," said Tebo. "Just jump in. Cannonball into the pool. And it's okay if you don't like it - you don't have to like every craft beer. Just experiment and explore."