A&E

Tapping into Las Vegas’ ever-growing beer scene

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Photo: Wade Vandervort

We still enjoy beer, despite recent aspersions cast upon its character. We typically have one in hand at concerts and club shows; we order one with our spicy tacos or Thai noodles; we throw back a couple after work to take the edge of a day of bad news. Some of us are beer hunters; looking to try every handmade bock and pilsner; some are just dabblers, curious about microbrews but committed to our old favorites. Do we like beer? No, we love it—and no bad actors can take that away. And Las Vegas has something to offer everyone who’s ever hoisted a brew in friendship and genuine appreciation.

TRY THESE: A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE LOCAL BEERS RIGHT NOW

Able Baker’s Honey Dip Stout This American imperial stout from Vegas’ edgiest brewer is chocolatey with undertones of roasted malt—and it drinks easier than its 11.1 percent ABV might suggest.

Bad Beat Brewing’s Garbage Idea to Put a Team in the Desert! New England IPAs aren’t nearly the underdog the Knights were last season but that’s no reason not to root for this easy-drinking brew with the best packaging ever.

Banger Brewing’s Mole Olé This melding of Mexican mole-inspired flavors and American bourbon-barrel aging is a whiskey-forward imperial porter with pronounced toffee flavors—and a good argument against building the wall.

Big Dog’s Man’s Best Friend 002 Who says sequels aren’t better? The second rendition of Big Dog’s Man’s Best Friend series is aged in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels for more than five months, resulting in a scarily smooth Belgian dark strong ale with serious whiskey nose.

Crafthaus’ I Am Brut The next beer trend looks to be brut-style IPAs, and this incredibly named, dry representative of the style is a fine foil to fruity New England IPAs.

Ellis Island’s Oktoberfest For teetotalers, the root beer is outstanding. But for something more alcoholic, Ellis’ Märzen is a malty rendition of a seasonal favorite.

Joseph James Hop Raider IPA Sometimes you just want an easy-drinking IPA. For those times, look for a Hop Raider.

Hop Nuts’ MisbeHazin’ NE DIPA Sweetness overcomes hoppiness in an amalgam of two great beer trends.

Lovelady's Paleo Porter A peanut butter and chocolate coffee porter so good, the Lovelady clan transitioned the once-seasonal release to a year-round brew. To the victors go the spoils.

PT’s Brewing Company’s Boulder Stout Dave Otto’s Irish-style stout, available throughout the Valley’s Golden Entertainment bars, is a picturesque representative of the style, evidenced by its 2017 Great American Beer Festival bronze medal win.

Tenaya Creek Brewery’s The Dutch! Why trek to Western Europe when you can enjoy this approachable Belgian-style tripel from Tenaya’s patio, especially when it’s on nitro?

Triple 7’s Brewpub Black Cherry Porter This beer drinks like a chocolate-covered cherry in a glass. What’s not to like about that?

BELOVED VEGAS BREWERY BIG DOGS CELEBRATES ITS SILVER ANNIVERSARY

Craft beer might seem trendy, but Big Dog’s Brewing Company has been satisfying beer lovers since long before many of us could legally drink. The Las Vegas-based Brewing Company and Draft House (4543 N. Rancho Drive) is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of special barrel-aged brews.

“We’re achieving a tradition of doing classically styled beers and doing them right,” says head brewer David Pascual, who plans to release the final anniversary blend in time for Big Dog’s annual Dogtoberfest Beer Fest and Brat Party on October 27. Dubbed Year of the Dog, that brew will be a blend of six to eight recent barrel-aged beers, created to taste. “I wouldn’t say we’re shooting from the hip, but we kind of are,” he says. “We know the beers stand out on their own, so it’s just making sure they meld together well.”

Year of the Dog is the fifth and final anniversary beer for 2018. The previous installments: Sled Dog (a bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout), Dog Gone Saison (a tequila barrel-aged saison), Chien D’or (a Belgian blonde aged in red wine barrels) and Son of a Gun (a German doppelbock aged in smoke wagon distillery bourbon barrels).

Looking forward to the next quarter century, Pascual dreams of increasing brewing capacity with a larger space. “We are maximizing our facility, trying to squeeze as much as we can out of the brewery,” Pascual says. “The next step is opening an actual production brewery.” In addition to winning awards, including medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, the pack at Big Dog’s is proud of its long-held connection to Las Vegans. “We’re very community-driven, a very next door-type brewery” Pascual says. “We’re not here to take over the USA but to put our stamp on Las Vegas.”

ASTRONOMY ALEWORKS BECOMES THE BOOZE DISTRICT'S NEWEST SPOT

A new star shines in a not-so-distant galaxy known as the Henderson Booze District. Astronomy Aleworks offers craft beer drawn from nothing less than the power of the cosmos. The brews are named after planets (Mars Red); famous scientists (Hawking Hazy Pale); astronomical phenomena (Nova Stout, Perihelion Hefeweizen); and even interplanetary controversies (the West Coast and New England IPAs are named Pluto IS a Planet and Pluto IS NOT a Planet, respectively).

Founder/brewer Matt Brady loves both science and science fiction. So when it came time to pick a theme for the brewery he was opening with his father, Raymond, astronomy seemed like a perfect fit. “I’ve been a scientist at heart all my life,” says Brady, who chose the science of brewing over a career as a science-fiction author. He particularly loves the optimism of the original Star Trek and Star Wars series. “Also, star names are cool.”

The Gamma Ray Gruit will officially debut at the October 13 grand opening. It’s an old-style beer featuring herbs—rather than hops—as the primary bittering source. Aleworks’ Award-winning brewer, Allan Harrison, convinced Brady to make it. Suspicious at first, Brady came around: “It’s really a fantastic brew.” Astronomy has been open for the past month, and Brady says customer response so far has been strong. He thanks neighbors CraftHaus and Bad Beat Brewing, along with the local beer scene at large, for the gracious welcome. “They have been extraordinarily generous trying letting the community know that we exist; every single brewer in the Las Vegas area has been amazing.”

WHAT'S BREWING UP IN RENO

When they’re not busy making Tesla batteries or falling before our innately superior college basketball squad, our northern neighbors make beer—and they kinda rule at it. Here are a few Reno brewers to know.

Great Basin Brewing’s beloved Outlaw Milk Stout and Nevada Gold Kölsch are the product of a craft operation that’s been humming along for 25 years. Taste that experience at Beerhaus and beyond.

IMBĪB Custom Brews is known for its barrel-aged sours and for being fiercely experimental. Sample their smooth science at Atomic Liquors and Tacos & Beer.

Revision Brewing Company is in the IPA business, and business is booming. Go to Nevada Taste Site and try the Sparks brewery’s Disco Ninja N.E. Style Hazy IPA, or its Dr. Lupulin triple IPA.

WHAT IS SNAFU?

Meet the Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union, aka SNAFU, a club for local home brewers. “It’s a lot of guys who just have a passion for homebrewing,” says local beer enthusiast and sometime SNAFU member Kris Wilke. “They get together. They go over what they’ve made and how they’ve made it. They get feedback from each other.” Talented SNAFU members have gone on to become commercial brewers at some of the best local breweries. But don’t let that intimidate you; it’s a friendly group. Beer has a way of doing that. snafubrew.com

Tags: Featured, Drink, Beer
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