Las Vegas Brewing News
Three Las Vegas Breweries and One Northern Nevada Brewery Medals 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.”
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.
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.
More Brewer Updates
Astronomy Aleworks has welcomed Marcos Lopez as its new Head Brewer, who comes in after Patrick Wong has moved on. Marcos has been brewing at Tenaya Creek for several years and some of his first brews for Astronomy will be an Imperial Stout and a Comet Hop Hazy IPA. Bad Beat has announced Andy Kohon as their new Assistant Brewer. Andy previously brewed at Ellis Island Brewing and Silver Reef Brewing.
Brewery Opening Update
North 5th, the first ever brewery to open in North Las Vegas, has been three years in the making and is just weeks from opening as I write this. Stay tuned for further news next month; better yet, go to north5thbrewingco.com and sign up for their newsletter.
Beer Zombies Opens 3rd Vegas Location
Chris Jacobs, owner/founder of Beer Zombies, has built quite a following, as over the years he has stood up for independent breweries by refusing to carry brews from any brewery that doesn’t earn the independent craft brewery seal. He’s also distinguished his brand by his ultra-creative artwork morphing into craft brewing and his new location in Downtown Summerlin continues this trend.
Situated next to Wetzel’s Pretzels and a few doors down from SkinnyFats, the small space features seating for 22, Edison lights, riveted sheet metal walls, manhole covers hanging from the ceiling, large screen TVs, a zombie-themed Big Buck Hunter target shooting video game and framed cans of the first ten Zombie beer releases. It’s also BZ’s first to have its own kitchen, and the menu is curated by Marc Marrone, who is known for his pizza and has instituted pies made with 3-day fermented dough, along with wings, salads, prime rib dip sandwich, pretzels with beer cheese and roasted spicy cauliflower.
Of course, the main focus is beer, with 16 rotating taps and 50-100 bottled and canned beers offered, all from independent craft breweries, such as the Beer Zombies Hopped Alive Imperial IPA and locally-brewed Able Baker Atomic Duck and Gamma Ray Burst, a Belgian tripel collaboration by Able Baker and Astronomy Aleworks. Jacobs wisely uses smaller kegs that are emptied within a day or two to keep the selection rotating and fresh, saying, “If you come in three times a week, I want you to be able to have a different beer each time.”
If your significant other is an oenophile and not into beer, not to worry, for Jacobs’ wife Raquel, a somm at The Palazzo’s Mott 32, has put together a small but first-class wine program.
Weekly special events include Big Beer Sunday, a bottle share hosted by bartender Aspen Walling during which, in addition to enjoying beers customers bring in, the vintage list is offered at a 20% discount; Tuesday Tap Takeover featuring 5-10 beers from a different brewery each week (follow @beerzombiesdts on Instagram to see who’s featured); and happy hour from 3-6 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. offering a beer of the day for $5 and half off all appetizers. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Triple 7 Reopening
At long last, the Victorian-themed Main Street Station in Downtown Las Vegas is reopening on September 8th, nearly 18 months after it closed during the shutdown in March 2020. That also means the Triple 7 Brewpub will be reopening and I’m happy to report that Tom Harwood, who in the interim has been brewing at Hop Nuts, will now resume his position as brewmaster at Triple 7. Of his return, Tom said, “I’m looking forward to getting 777 up and running again, welcoming guests and reconnecting with the returning team members as well as new ones. We’ve missed everyone. We will have some updated beer recipes to go along with a few of the classics. I can’t wait to have Carlsbad IPA back on our regular tap list!” I, for one, welcome Tom’s return and am looking forward to enjoying his brews again.
Ripple Effect of Brewer Changes
Last month, I reported on Weston Barkley leaving for Portland and Amanda Koeller leaving Big Dog’s to take Weston’s position at Bad Beat, and the month before shared about Patrick Tofte leaving Banger to become North 5th’s first head brewer. These moves have created a ripple effect, as several other brewers are playing musical chairs and changing their brewery hats.
So, take a deep breath and read on. Michael “Banger” Beaman has resumed his head brewer’s role at Banger. Jamie Roberts has left Scenic Brewing to join the brewing team at Big Dog’s, which in May also brought on Marshall Lytle, who came over from Barley’s. Sam Tofte has also left Barley’s to work alongside his brother Patrick at North 5th. With Tom Harwood returning to Triple 7, Hop Nuts owner Kevin Holder has been handling the brewing duties, but is bringing on a new brewer soon. It was initially rumored that the renowned Dave Otto, who made a name for himself over several years and earned several competition medals as the brewmaster at Holy Cow!/Big Dog’s, and then brewed at PT’s Brewing and more recently at Tonopah Brewing and Virginia City Brewing, would be coming over to Scenic. However, Dave has informed me he is actually going to be the first brewer for the new Las Vegas Brewing Company and the new brewery will be taking over the old PT’s Brewing facility where Dave headed the brewing operations before PT’s stopped brewing. I’ll be sure to share more details as they are released.
PKWY Tavern Opens New Location in Henderson
PKWY Tavern, known for its extensive craft beer selection, has opened its fifth location, at St. Rose and Las Vegas Blvd. across from the M Resort. Seating surrounds a long bar, and several large screen TVs lend to a sports bar atmosphere, and large windows provide natural light. The elevated bar food menu has some nice surprises like black pepper shrimp, blackened chicken alfredo, harvest salad and prime rib sliders. Rounding out the menu are wings, pizzas, buffalo cauliflower, street tacos, sandwiches & wraps and desserts such as chocolate lava cake and churro waffle. The beer list has about 150 choices with 50 taps offering several brews from local breweries Bad Beat, Big Dog’s, CraftHaus, HUDL, Lovelady and 7Five represented. Hours are 24/7 and a happy hour is 3-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and midnight-3 a.m. Sun.-Thurs.
For updated info on upcoming beerfests, scroll down to my August and July columns.