You know Wyndee Forrest and her husband, Dave, as the brewmasters and owners behind CraftHaus Brewing, a regional favorite for local craft beer fans. But Wyndee’s work in the industry doesn’t end there. As the new president of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association executive board, Forrest says she hopes to “create one united voice” between the northern and southern regions in the state.
“I’m really honored that my fellow craft brewers trust me to be the uniting voice to represent them all,” Forrest tells the Weekly.
The Forrests first got the idea to open a brewery after they visited Europe a decade ago. “That’s what really opened our eyes that beer could be full-flavored and bring people together,” she says. After that trip, Dave started homebrewing, and the pair “went down the rabbit hole,” Wyndee says. The couple eventually opened CraftHaus, the name a nod to the Bavarian region of Germany that inspired it. The local brewery is celebrating its seventh year in Henderson, with a second location open in Downtown Las Vegas.
Forrest’s experience opening a brewery in Henderson helped to open doors for others, too. “We were integral in changing the City of Henderson’s licensing to be more craft-beer friendly,” she says. Before Crafthaus opened, a brewpub license cost $60,000, she says. Undeterred, Forrest lobbied for a year to get the licensing fee down to $10,000, and succeeded—and also managed to get a gaming requirement removed from the permitting process.
“The business model for independent brewers doesn’t typically involve gaming, and we were adamant about not having it at our brewery, because it detracts from people talking to their neighbors and building a community,” Forrest says. And while Forrest says the same business license costs just $1,000 in beer-friendly regions like San Diego County, these changes mark progress for Nevada.
“With Northern and Southern Nevada being disconnected geographically, it’s really important we have one message going out, and that’s that Nevada makes award-winning, world-class beers,” she says. “We don’t need to import everything.”
She’s got plenty of favorites on tap. For Las Vegas visitors who want some of that novel Sin City flair, Forrest suggests Big Dog’s Las Vegas Craft Lager, especially since it features the Welcome to Las Vegas sign right on the can. And sherecommends Lovelady Brewing for anything sour.
“They have a craft cocktail-inspired sour beer line, and those change seasonally,” she says. “Lovelady has been upping the sour game.”
For something more crowd-pleasing, Forrest points to Excited State, a German pilsner from Able Baker. And, of course, she’d be remiss not to plug something from CraftHaus, in this case its Silver State blonde ale. “It’s our go-to,” Forrest says. “It’s the brewers’ beer. It’s what [we] drink during the daytime.” And the can, emblazoned with an illustration of Sunrise Mountain, pays homage to CraftHaus’ Southern Nevada home.
Forrest is joined on the NCBA’s new board by vice president Tom Young (Great Basin), head of industry and development Linda Lovelady (Lovelady), head of marketing Paul Young (Shoe Tree), head of membership and events Christina Ellis (Ellis Island) and treasurer Rob Snyder (Big Dog’s).
Forrest hints at beer festivals and other gatherings on the horizon, along with a membership program for Nevada craft beer enthusiasts fans, which would grant early access to beer releases, events and more.
For more information, visit nvbeer.com.