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The coming year could bring a craft brew explosion to Southern Nevada

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CraftHaus founders Dave and Wyndee Forrest are hoping to raise $20,000 by June 1 through a Kickstarter campaign so they can launch their proposed brewery.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

There’s already plenty to sample from Nevada’s steadily growing craft brewing scene, but it looks like 2013 could be the year of the beer in Southern Nevada. No less than four local companies are planning to start pouring this year. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

CraftHaus is the brainchild of Wyndee and Dave Forrest, who hope to open a 2,400-square-foot facility in Henderson this fall ... with your help. CraftHaus is launching a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the brewery at the Great Vegas Festival of Beer on April 27, where they’ll be serving samples from their extensive menu of beers, which includes Tantalus (hazelnut brown ale), Evocation (Belgian saison), Comrade (imperial Russian stout aged in Las Vegas Distillery whiskey barrels) and Saboteur (double IPA).

The Forrests envision CraftHaus as a big, open space to create a feeling of community between customers and brewers.

“There’s no walls; there’s no glass. You’ll be immersed right in the middle of the brewing action,” Wyndee says. “We want people actually conversing and getting to know their neighbors.”

Wyndee credits breweries in Orange and San Diego counties with the inspiration for CraftHaus, which won’t have food or gaming.

“We just love that concept where you can just relax and enjoy and get to know the faces behind the glass of the beer you’re drinking.”

If you’ve been wondering what happened to Banger Brewing, which planned to open on Fremont Street last year, don’t worry. Co-founder Nick Fischella says securing funding and permits delayed the project a bit, but the brewery is still on track to open in a 3,000-square-foot space at Neonopolis.

The Banger fivesome, which includes Eddie Quiogue, Marc Longwith, Roberto Mendoza and Michael “Banger” Beaman, plans to begin redesigning in late May, with a grand opening slated for October.

“The space will have kind of an industrial feel. It’s like a tap tasting room where you do flights of beer,” says Fischella, adding that they also hope to sell growlers, part of a licensing change awaiting city approval.

Like CraftHaus, the Banger team is working with Las Vegas Distillery owner George Racz on at least one product: a brown beer barrel-aged in Racz’s whiskey barrels. And Fischella promises rampant experimentation from Banger, which already has a stable of nearly 30 recipes. Wasabi lager, anyone?

Las Vegas local Aaron Luelling started home-brewing two years ago and quickly discovered he had a talent for the craft. He won a “Best In Show” award from the 25th annual Southern California Regional Homebrew Competition last year, and now Luelling is looking to take his skills out of the kitchen, seeking licensing and investors for Luelling Orchard Brewing Company.

Luelling has his eye on a 3,500-square-foot space in the Juhl property Downtown, and if his business becomes a reality, he’s sees it as “a cultural space for people to gather and learn about beer. ... Your demographic is what Tony Hsieh is bringing down there 25- to 35-year-olds who are very picky about what they drink.”

Luelling plans to have 15 taps, offering everything from his award-winning foreign extra stout to a Belgian double, an American stout and an Irish red. And all of his beers will be named after women. (That foreign stout? She’s Roxanne.)

If local beer experience is any indication of success, Jim Wilson should do very well. He ran brewing operations for Station Casinos for the past six years and is prepping to launch Old School Brewery in an existing building on the west side in September.

Old School will be the complete package: a family-friendly pub with a restaurant, even making its own cream soda for the kids.

“Our slogan is ‘Beer With Class,’ and we want people to learn about beer,” Wilson says, adding that even his food will be prepared with beer. Think bratwurst cooked in beer filled with a beer stuffing and drizzled with a sauce featuring—you guessed it—beer.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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