Las Vegas Brews Up Tasty Winners
If your interests run to the ace of hops rather than the ace of hearts, to the king of malt rather than the king of clubs, then pull up a bar stool. Las Vegas’ craft beer scene is ready to cash your chips for some tasty brews.
The Sin City area boasts a dozen breweries and brewpubs designed to do more than help unlucky gamblers drown their sorrows. There is some serious brewing going on in Las Vegas, and it's worth your while to take time away from the gaming tables for a taste of some well-balanced and inventive beers.
Whether you decide to hold ‘em or fold ‘em, here is a six-pack of area picks that are sure to deal you a winning hand (and maybe a throbbing head).
Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery
200 N. Main St., Las Vegas (702) 387-1896
Located in the Main Street Station complex, Triple 7 scores high with beer geeks for its creative spin on familiar flavors. Brewmaster Guy Bartmess brews beers that are sessionable like Black Chip Porter at 4.3% ABV, to whoppers like Monique 2.0 at 11% ABV and its famous Triple IPA at 11.3% ABV.
Triple 7's summer specialty, Hopped to High Heavens, is an American wheat beer brewed with Crystal and Amarillo hops. It offers a quick kick of grapefruit and citrus on the nose and palate, and at 6.2% ABV, is a safe bet for even seasoned beer lovers.
450 Fremont St., Las Vegas, (702) 456-2739
When four friends got tired of waiting tables and slinging salads at Las Vegas’ famed Bellagio Hotel and Resort they embraced their inner hopheads and, along with home brewer Michael “Banger” Beaman, combined forces and resources to start Banger Brewing with Beaman as its brewmaster.
What's on tap? How about some Sandia Watermelon Wheat Beer, an easy-drinking explosion of its namesake ingredients that is eminently quaffable at 4.3% alcohol by volume. For those who need more spark, try El Jeffe Jalapeno Hefeweizen, a 5.2% ABV blend of wheat and freshly roasted jalapeno and serrano peppers that delivers a vibrant aroma and subtle spice on the palate.
Fans of heartier brews can get their Vegas on with Knight “Rye”der Imperial Stout, a 7.8% ABV power-hitter that benefits from the spiciness of its rye base. Or sink a drink of More Cal-Bel Belgian IPA, a 7.3% ABV Belgian golden infused with Centennial and Cascade hops for a fruity profile with the much-coveted bubble gum aroma.
Tenaya Creek Brewery
3101 N. Tenaya Way, Las Vegas (702) 362-7335
Located some 20 miles from the bustle of the Las Vegas strip, Tenaya Creek Brewery is light on tourists and long on serious hopheads. A former fine dining restaurant that in 2010 remodeled and repositioned itself as a serious craft brewery, Tenaya Creek is making its mark on the craft beer scene and distributes its brands in 22-ounce bombers in four U.S. states and British Columbia.
Head brewer Anthony Gibson creates a line of whimsically named and occasionally potent brews as distinctive for their flavors as they are for their identities.
Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout has all the character of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in a bottle and at 5.7% ABV is eminently approachable. Hop Ride IPA combines Magnum and Summit hops for a spicy kick and Cascade for its floral qualities in a light-bodied yet potent dry-hopped brew at 7.2% ABV. Seasonal favorite God of Thunder Baltic Porter pours dark and clean, and with 9% ABV, will most certainly rattle your rafters.
Big Dog's Brewing Co.
4543 N. Rancho, Las Vegas (702) 645-1404
Holy Cow!, the city's first brewpub located where the Las Vegas strip meets Sahara Ave., was founded in 1993 by Tom Wiesner, a co-captain of the 1960 Rose Bowl-winning University of Wisconsin football team.
Wiesner, known as “Big Dog,” died in 2002 and Holy Cow! shuttered its doors. But the seeds were planted and a newer, larger brewery reopened on the city's northwest side named Big Dog in honor of Wiesner, who was also a prominent business owner, Clark County commissioner and member of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Board of Regents.
Current award-winning brewmaster Dave Otto holds court over a Wisconsin-themed brewpub lined with UW football and Green Bay Packer memorabilia. The beers range from Leglifter Light at 4% ABV to the NCBA Phool Me 2x Triple IPA at a scary 10.6% ABV. One of the most popular brews and the late founder's favorite is Big Dog's 38 Special, a blend of Holy Cow! Original Pale Ale and Red Hydrant Ale that boasts a manageable 5.6% ABV.
The award-winning beers can also be found at Big Dog's Bar & Grill, 1511 N. Nellis Blvd., and Big Dog's Café & Casino, 5390 W. Sahara Ave., both in Las Vegas.
Boulder Dam Brewing Co.
453 Nevada Highway, Boulder City, (702) 243 -2739
Day-trippers to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead can stop for a tall cool one at Boulder Dam Brewing Co. In addition to having a fine lineup of interesting beers, the brewpub serves food and, for those in need of an educational excuse, functions as an unofficial museum of the dam's construction.
Todd Cook, head brewer for the family-owned operation, produces a number of interesting beers, including Dam Brewtal IPA, a beer of 7.2% ABV and 60 International Bittering Units with a grain bill matched only by its seven-hop lineup, and E Clampus Vitus Fermentum Ritulis, a red ale with toasted malt, earthy hops and a hint of fruit.
But it's the blended drinks that set the brewery apart, including beer/cider blends Rattlesnake Bite and Irish Rattler, and Golden Cream, a mug of Oaked Black Canyon Stout topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!
Joseph James Brewing Co.
155 N. Gibson Road, Henderson (702) 454-2739
Head brewer Matt Marino creates a half-dozen interesting beers, including Fox Tail Pale Ale, one of a growing number of gluten-free beers. Brewed with a base of organic rice and solid hops infusion, Fox Tail at 5% ABV delivers on flavor for those who suffer from gluten intolerance.
The brewery does not have a public taproom, but its beer is available throughout the Las Vegas area. Watch for Citra Rye Pale Ale, a gold medal-winning blend of unique ingredients that delivers a powerful hops assault with 5.4% ABV and 55 IBUs.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the bar, Marino cranks up the odds with Hop Box Imperial IPA, an almost pungent, citrus-heavy beer with 9.3% ABV and 88 IBUs. Be careful if you play into this hand.
Also on tap in the Sin City area:
- Barley's Casino & Brewing Co., 4500 E. Sunset Road, Henderson, (702) 458-2739
- Camo Brewing Co., 3300 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, (702) 877-9812
- Chicago Brewing Co., 2201 S. Fort Apache Road, Las Vegas, (702) 254-3333Ellis Island Casino & Brewery, 4178 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, (702) 733-8901
- Gordon Biersch Brewery & Restaurant, with locations at 3987 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, (702) 312-5247, and 750 S. Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas-Boca Park, (702) 487-6263
- Sin City Brewing Co., 7935 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, (702) 809-4939