Las Vegas Brewing News

By Bob Barnes

District Brewing Rebranding as Neon Desert Brewing

District Brewing, one of the eight breweries located in Brewery Row and the Arts District, will soon be completing its name change and is putting the finishing touches on its rebranding as Neon Desert Brewing. The grand opening date has not been confirmed but will likely be in early February. I promise to have more details next month, but in the meantime, you can check for updates at neondesertbrewing.com or stop in and try some of their seasonal brews, which this month will include Golden Milk Coffee Stout made with coffee from local Dark Moon Coffee Roasters, a bourbon barrel-aged chocolate stout and a pepper lager.

Tuscany Hosts Mojave Brewing Beer Dinner

Pub 365 beer cheese soup (photo by Joe Urcioli)

On Dec. 10 Tuscany Suites & Casino hosted a beer dinner featuring the beer and cider of local Mojave Brewing. The dinner was the first-ever beer dinner for Mojave and the evening was a casual, relaxed gathering with each course introduced by Pub 365 Beer Director Amber Tuttle and Mojave Co-owners/Brewers John (aka Griff) Griffin and Nate Carney. The dinner was prefaced with a reception and the pouring of Mojave Ruby Soho Cider made with grapefruit puree. Griff shared that Mojave is the only cider maker in Nevada that is distributing its ciders and one of the reasons they decided to make ciders was to offer a gluten-free (and delicious) option.

The first course paired a tomato avocado salad tossed with a citrus vinaigrette with the Blair Wit Project spiced with orange peel and sweet orange zest.

A bacon and beer cheddar cheese soup (my favorite of the night) was matched with Point Break, an American IPA. At this point I should point out, if you haven’t noticed already, Mojave’s beer and cider names are inspired by movies or ska music.

The protein course was NY strip with housemade bearnaise alongside Almost Famous, an American porter which Griff informed us years before the brewery opened was a homebrew contest winner held by Joseph James that Griff got to brew on their system and was entered in the GABF ProAm category. Furthermore, this experience was the spark that led to his decision to turn his homebrewing hobby into a profession and open Mojave Brewing.

The finale was chocolate layered cake with Kahlua and rum pudding backed up by the equally robust Nothing to F* With, a HUGE 17% ABV imperial stout that I had enjoyed a week prior at the inaugural Southern Nevada Brewers Guild Winter Wonderland (also held at Tuscany) and proclaimed it my absolute favorite of the beerfest. When discussing this beer with Nate he stated he’s 99% sure it’s the biggest stout in the Vegas Valley and added, “Once you taste it you’ll know why we named it that.”

The dinner concluded with the introduction of Bryan Giordano, who happens to be Pub 365’s new executive chef; the excellence of the dinner proves that Tuscany chose well in hiring him. Kudos to Amber as well for putting the dinner together, doing the pairings and always supporting our local breweries. In fact, the staff’s new shirts state “Drink Local” and include several logos of the local breweries that Pub 365 pours.

Pub 365 staff shirt

What’s Pouring in January

Lovelady Gas Station Hazy

Big Dog’s annual Winterfest beer and music festival will take place on January 29th at the Draft House outdoor area from 3-8 p.m. This fest offers free admission, live music and more than 50 local and regional brews. Three different tasting packages are available, which will save you some bucks as opposed to purchasing tasting tickets individually. For more information and to purchase a package, visit www.bigdogsbrews.com/festivals/winterfest.

Kyle Weniger, AKA Juxta Nomad, has brewed several unique beers to help us usher in the new year. He will be gifting us with several pastry stouts coming out between January and March, all of which are above 14% ABV and inspired by various desserts. First up, coming out in January, is Spumoni. Modeled after the Italian Neopolitan-esque gelato, this collaboration with HUDL is made with black cherry puree, toasted pistachios and real unfinished chocolate. It will be on draft at Aces & Ales, The Silver Stamp, 595, Tenaya Creek, Sand Dollar and most of the other craft beer bars in town and in cans adorned with artwork by local artist PrettyDone. There will also be a very limited cinnamon roll version pouring exclusively at HUDL.

Lovelady Brewing Brewmaster/Owner Richard Lovelady has Zombie Sour, a 5% kettle sour with apricot, pomegranate, pineapple, passionfruit and lime; Gas Station Hazy (a Speedee Mart collaboration), a 7.3% hazy double IPA with Sabro and Lemon Peel; and Riviera (part of the Homage Series), a 7.5% double hazy IPA with cara cara orange.

December 2021

What’s Pouring in December

North 5th Brewing owners & brewers
North 5th Brewing owners & brewers (photo by Dave Canela)

On December 3, 2021, the Southern Nevada Brewers Guild will partner with Pub 365 at the Tuscany Suites & Casino to present the Winter Wonderland Beer Fest, featuring 60-plus beers from local breweries (including several collaboration and one-off brews), bottle shops and craft beer bars, along with holiday themed food available for purchase. General admission tickets for unlimited beer sampling from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. are $50 in advance and $65 at the door. VIP, which includes unlimited sampling from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., exclusive access to a VIP room with hand passed hors d’oeuvres, Winter Wonderland t-shirt and VIP-only beers, are $80 in advance and $95 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets visit here. In addition, those wishing to book a room for the night can receive a discounted rate and waived resort fee by visiting here and using the code WINTERBREW.

North 5th Brewing, the first-ever brewery to open in North Las Vegas, will be commemorating its opening with its Grand Opening Party on December 10, 2021, from 4 p.m.-9 p.m. The ticketed event was limited to 100, and it has already sold out. But show up after the 10th and check out our newest brewery, which due to COVID and shipping delays, has been more than three years in the making. The brewery is truly a family operation, as it is owned by siblings Amanda and Matt Payan, and the beers are brewed by brothers Patrick and Sam Tofte. They are planning to offer easy drinking beers and are starting off with an American-style Hefeweizen followed by other “crushable lagers and approachable IPAs,” and later full- bodied styles such as Imperial Stout. North 5th is located at 60 Mayflower Ave, off of Commerce south of Cheyenne. For more information visit north5thbrewingco.com.

Eddie Leal at Ellis Island has a Doppelbock, an Oatmeal Stout made with oat flakes, a Baltic Porter and their annual Ellis Family Holiday (egg) Nog (dairy-based beverage fortified with bourbon, rum and brandy). The Nog is a closely guarded family recipe, and this year marks the 19th year the Ellis family has shared this special family recipe with the public; plus, their Silver Reef beers (made in St. George, Utah) are now being distributed in northern Arizona.

HUDL head brewer Joe Couzzo tells me they are now offering their brews in cans, with the Nac Nac and Toasted Pecan Ale being the first to hit the shelves in local retail stores. The Nac Nac is a bold West Coast IPA and the Pecan Ale is a brown ale base flavored with toasted pecan with a hint of toasted marshmallow that should be a good fit to accompany holiday dinners.

Tenaya Creek, which just celebrated its 22nd anniversary with a rousing party last month pouring more than 30 of brewmaster Anthony Gibson’s masterpieces, brought out one of my all-time favorite beers, which was made even better after being aged in a bourbon barrel: B.B.A. Old Jackelope Barleywine. Show up at the brewery and you can grab a four-pack of this unique, full-flavored robust beer.

Able Baker, a brewery known to celebrate our nation and state’s history, has Infamy 2403, a hefty 12.7% ABV Imperial Porter, which co-owner James Manos tells me is named for FDR’s “A date that will live in infamy” speech delivered the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The number references the lives lost during the attack, which led directly to the US involvement in World War II and eventually to the atom bomb testing and research the brewery is named for. The Porter beer style is symbolic of the fact that the USS Arizona still leaks from 2 to 9 quarts of oil a day into Pearl Harbor, which veterans and locals refer to as “black tears” or the “tears of the Arizona.” This Imperial Porter was barrel-aged for more than a year and then rested on cocoa nibs and whole bean coffee. Here’s to enjoying a bit of history with every sip.

November 2021

Cask Beer Alive and Well in Southern Nevada

Mojave Brewing beer engines

Cask ales, naturally fermented and served from the same vessel with no forced carbonation, are a type of beer usually only found in certain parts of Europe. These ales are considered “live” beer since they are unfiltered and have live yeast in the cask; the natural carbonation adds to a much gentler level of carbonation and a rounder mouthfeel, and since it is unfiltered, brings forth a slightly more complex flavor and aromatic profile.

Currently three beer venues in Southern Nevada are offering them periodically or full time. Mojave Brewing brewer/owner John “Griff” Griffin has a cask pulled from two beer engines (also known as a hand pump, a manually operated device for pumping beer from a cask) pouring at all times. Griff’s first taste of a cask beer was at the Hog’s Head pub in Denver and later, after enjoying plenty more while traveling in England, his love for cask was solidified so much that he decided that once he had his own brewery, he would make sure he had some cellar space to store the precious casks. With currently 20 firkins (vessels) holding 30 liters each, he plans to get more soon.

Some regular customers come in specifically for tastes of the cask ales while others see the beer engines in use, just have to ask what is happening and ultimately wind up trying it themselves. Typically, the beer is conditioned in the firkins for about three weeks, but some, like a high ABV barleywine, are aged for eight months. The beer brewed are classic British styles like pale ale and English Special Bitter (ESB), exemplified by one recently poured: “Gene’s Chaos,” made from the recipe of homebrewer Gene Lowe, who also helped brew it at Mojave, as his prize for winning the Best of Show award at the SNAFU Pro Am, a competition sponsored by Mojave Brewing seeking an exemplary beer to put on as a cask beer.

Trustworthy Brewing at The Venetian recently launched a cask ale program, with the first unveiled on September 9, 2021. Head brewer Zach Johnson tapped a small metal firkin that holds 40 pints and was emptied and enjoyed by eager beer lovers within hours of being tapped. The vessel had been filled with the brewery’s unfermented What Plane? Oatmeal Stout and after yeast, oak spirals and Tahitian vanilla beans were added, was aged in the cask for six months. The result was a beer markedly different from the What Plane? carbonated with CO2 on draft I compared it to, as the cask version had increased flavor pulled off from the oak and vanilla it was aged on and more roast, toffee and coffee characteristics. Although this initial version took six months to come to fruition, Johnson said most will only take a few weeks to develop in the firkins, of which the brewery has five of, and the cask ales will be offered from time to time.

The Silver Stamp co-owner Rose Signor tells me so far they have tapped Hofstetten Kubelbier, a zwickelbier style (naturally fermented unfiltered pilsner) from Austria in a wooden barrel that was tapped on a Sunday afternoon and kicked in only 28 minutes. Co-owner Andrew Smith poured a cask of Yorkshire Wuthering Stout at the recent Downtown Brew Festival and they have a few more casks currently en route from Europe. The plan is to eventually have a cask on all the time once the demand warrants doing so, and they will be doing something with Mojave soon as well. Also, worth noting is The Silver Stamp has extended its hours and is now open from 1 p.m.-1 a.m. daily.

What’s Pouring in November

CraftHaus Brewery Time & Oak

CraftHaus Brewery is offering Time & Oak, a 14% ABV English barleywine aged in a Heaven Hill Whiskey barrel for more than six months. Releasing November 8, 2021, in a 750 ml bottle and available online at crafthausbrewery.com for $19.99, these bottles typically sell out online, but if any are left they will be sold at the brewery and a limited amount will be available on draft at both the brewery and the Arts District taproom starting November 22nd.

Tenaya Creek Brewery will celebrate its 22 years of making great beer on November 20, 2021. Held at the brewery at 831 W. Bonanza Rd. from 5-10 p.m., there will be more than 30 beers (including exclusive event beers never tasted before), food trucks and live music. General admission tickets are $40 for unlimited pours and admission and VIP are $75 for early entry at 4 p.m., unlimited sampling and a 34 oz stainless steel growler filled with a beer of your choice to take home. To purchase tickets visit here.

Lovelady Brewing has the third offering in its Homage Series paying tribute to iconic Vegas casinos that no longer exist, with this one named for and honoring The Landmark. The casino hotel opened in 1969 across from the Convention Center and was demolished in 1995 (and happened to be a place I liked to take dates to as a teenager as it had an incredible view from the bar on the top floor). As for the beer, owner/brewer Richard Lovelady says it’s a 7.5% double hazy IPA brewed with barley, wheat, oats, lactose and Cashmere and Sabro Hops and was aged on soursop, a tropical fruit with a taste described as a combination of strawberry and apple with a hint of citrus.

Lovelady Brewing Landmark

New Brewery Update

North 5th Brewing, which will be the first brewery in North Las Vegas, now has its brewing equipment in place, has passed its inspections and will begin brewing beer in early November with an opening date expected for December. I promise to have much more info on the opening in this column next month.

October 2021

Three Las Vegas Breweries and One Northern Nevada Brewery Medals at GABF

Ellis Island Brewers Eddie Leal and Michael Key with Brewers Association President Bob Pease Receiving Gold Medal at GABF

Nevada breweries (three from Las Vegas and one from Carson City) fared quite well, garnering four medals at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival (GABF), held last month in Denver, Colorado. On the surface, four medals may not sound impressive until considering the number of breweries and number of entries—9,680 beers from 2,192 breweries, making it the largest beer competition in the world.

Earning a gold medal was Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery for its Smokin Barrel in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category. Head Brewer Michael Key said, “It’s our Rauchbier, a traditional German Smoked Lager recipe, aged in a Basil Hayden barrel for one year; it is available in limited supply in 375 ml bottles at (Ellis Island’s) Front Yard.” This was the first ever GABF win for the brewery, but not for the two head brewers: Michael Key previously earned a GABF gold while at Gordon Biersch, Eddie Leal won GABF gold, silver and bronze while at Steelhead and they both shared a bronze while brewing together at Steelhead. Michael says they plan on also entering the World Beer Cup competition in May 2022.

Earning a silver medallion was Shoe Tree Brewing for its Coco Burrito Porter in the Specialty Beer category brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla, peanuts and lactose, the fourth GABF the Carson City brewery has claimed. Commenting on the win, Owner/Brewmaster Jeff Young said, “It’s always been our goal to provide world-class beer to Carson City, Minden and Northern Nevada. These awards help validate to us that we are on the right track.”

Snagging a bronze medal was HUDL for its Chocolate Vanilla Oak in the chocolate beer category, its first GABF win out of the gate, having opened too late for the 2020 GABF; but the medal wasn’t the first for Brewmaster Joe Cuozzo, who previously had earned four GABF medals while working for other breweries. Joe said, “The medal means more than my other medals. Excited to win one for Vegas and also HUDL as a rookie brewery to get a medal year one is awesome.”

Tenaya Creek also won a bronze, for its The Dutch! in the Belgian-style Abbey Ale category, the brewery’s third GABF win. Head Brewer/Director of Brewing Operations Anthony Gibson said, “Well, a win in any category now is an honor as the competition has not been stiffer! We brew The Dutch! as true to style as we can, with no American twists. It’s light bodied, the esters are medium to low for the style and the 9% alcohol is well hidden.” Owner/Brewer Tim Etter added, “I think it’s a special win for us. Like Anthony said, it’s never been harder to win a medal with so many entrants now (there were 98 in the category we medaled in), and a win for a beer that’s only brewed seasonally is extra special. We’re not known for brewing Belgian styles, so it was a nice surprise.”

What’s Pouring

Pink Boots Society

The local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, an organization of women who work in all fermented beverages (production, sales, bartending, etc.), recently received a grant from the National Honey Board to brew a beer for National Honey Month (September). The group partnered with Mojave Brewing to brew ‘Mo Honey, ‘Mo Problems, a 6.2% cream ale with mesquite honey, roasted hatch chiles, Warrior hops, extra pale malt, acidulated malt and flaked corn. The beer was brewed at Mojave Brewing by a group of 17 members: Katy Bozoian-Tenaya Creek, Ashlie Randolph-Duvel USA, Amanda Payan-North 5th Brewing Co, Teri Nicpon-Craft Beer Girls, Lindsay Malu Kido-Beer is for Everyone, Samantha Gemini Stevens-Artful Saucier/Bald Bitch Hot Sauce/Artful Spirits, Ruth Orabka-Tenaya Creek Brewery, Linda Lovelady-Lovelady Brewing Company, Ceci Moggia-Big Dog’s Brewing Company, Amanda Koeller-Bad Beat Brewing, Kayla Callahan-Able Baker Brewing, Gabriela Swider-currently unaffiliated, Heather Jennings-Mojave Brewing, Kim Prezbindowski-SNAFU, Becca Halpin-Bad Beat Brewing, Sylvie Van Zandycke-Lallemand and Katie Cruz-Beer District Brewing/Neon City Brewing.

The beer was released at Mojave Brewing on September 29th at which time representatives from the Honey Board provided education about honey and the Artful Saucier brought out complimentary snacks to pair with the beer. ‘Mo Honey, ‘Mo Problems is available at Mojave and select craft beer bars around town.

While at Mojave Brewing, be sure to try Brewer/Owner John “Griff” Griffin’s latest offerings. His Shotgun Wedding is based off of one of his old homebrew recipes (which medaled nationally) and is a 6.6% blonde ale base enlivened with raspberry pure concentrate alongside serrano pepper (added green with seeds to the fermenter) bringing clean heat and a clean finish. He also has Point Break IPA, a great example of a West Coast IPA balanced with light malts allowing the hops to come out and present itself without being piercing.

Lovelady Brewing has another collaboration with Speedee Mart, the Speedee Mart Triple Squeeze IPA. Richard Lovelady says it’s 10% and made with tangerine puree from Oregon fruit.

Brewmaster Joe Cuozzo at HUDL has Mosquito Bite, a Mexican lager with serrano pepper that was scorched on SoulBelly BBQ’s smoker next door, which he says has become so popular that it is now one of their core beers. I can see why, as it’s easy drinking with full on pepper flavor and a slight bit of heat. Also of note is the Just Do Wit, 5% true Belgian Witbier with Hoegaarden yeast and New Zealand Pacifica Jade hops and 50% unmalted wheat and 50% two row barley. Designed and brewed by five women—Ricci Underwood (a homebrewer who provided the recipe), Amber Tuttle (Pub 365 beer director), Ashley Navarrete (HUDL assistant brewer), Lynn Mendre (HUDL sales) and Aspen Walling (Beer Zombies Downtown Summerlin bartender)—a portion of the proceeds from its sales go to Project REAL, a local nonprofit that teaches students their rights and responsibilities under the law by providing real law experiences for free throughout Nevada.

Beerfest Updates

Due to recent surges in Covid cases, in the interest of safety the Southern Nevada Brewers Guild 1st Annual Water Street Oktoberfest Beer Festival fest scheduled for October 16th at the Henderson City Hall has been postponed and moved to another site (those who had purchased tickets will be sent a refund). The rescheduled fest, which will feature a lineup of local breweries with several collaborations, will now take place on December 3, 2021, at Tuscany Suites & Casino from 5-9 p.m. General admission tickets are $50 and VIP (which includes an after party with food, special beers and the opportunity to hang out with the brewers) is $95.

The Motley Brews Downtown Brew Festival at the Clark County Amphitheater is still on for October 16th but take note that all attendees must show proof of vaccination or show a negative test result from on or after October 13th. For full details visit downtownbrewfestival.com/fest/covid-event-protocol.

Big Dog’s annual DOG-tober festival will take place on October 30th at the Draft House outdoor area. This fest combines the great traditions of Oktoberfest celebrations with the charm of an Old Wisconsin brat cookout and is free admission, pay as you go with live music and more than 40 local and regional brews.