Las Vegas Brewing News

By Bob Barnes

What’s Pouring This Month

Chicago Blueberry Mango Sour

Richard Lovelady tells me during June his Lovelady Brewing is releasing Brillifent, a 10% triple IPA hopped with El Dorado and Citra and Speedee Mart Gas Station Squeeze, a 6.9% West Coast IPA with tangerine, both available in 16 oz cans; and a 6.5% golden lager with chipotle peppers, pouring exclusively in the taproom.

On June 1, in celebration of Las Vegas businesses returning to 100% capacity, Erik Nielsen at Chicago Brewing released Capacity 100, a 4.8% Blueberry Mango Sour made with more than 200 pounds of blueberry and mango that should be perfect for the sourheads out there. He also has his 2019 GABF Gold Medal Winner Quad Damn It!, an 11.7% Belgian Quadruple; and Kellen’s Red, an 8.5% lightly hopped and very malty Imperial Irish Red.

Kyle Weniger, aka Juxta Nomad, expects his Smoke Wheat Every Day to be pouring by early June. This 8.2% smoked weizenbock is a collaboration with Bad Beat’s brewer Weston Barkley, and Kyle says they have been talking about brewing it since way back in the day when they worked together at Joseph James. The base beer is a very rich and bready German Style Wheat beer and the smoke character comes from Applewood and Beechwood malt that doesn’t overpower the beer but rather adds a delicious smokiness. It’s also Juxta Nomad’s first beer in cans and you can find it on draft and in cans at Bad Beat and a handful of bars and retailers around town. Kyle’s also got yet another house beer, this one made with Astronomy Aleworks exclusively for Berlin Bar in the Arts District. Called Buxta Move Berliner, it’s a 4% lightly tart, no-frills classic Berliner Weisse that will be paired with a rotating flight of traditional fruit and herb syrups including woodruff, raspberry and peach (just like they do in Germany) so you can choose your own adventure and customize to your ideal sweet and sour balance and depth of flavor. 

May 2021 – A Walking Tour of Craft Beer Destinations in the Las Vegas Arts District and Gateway District

In the past five years or so the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District and Gateway District have burgeoned into a beer lover’s paradise, with craft beer options in the area so plentiful that if you chose to visit one venue a night it would take more than a week to do so without repeating. Rather than devote several days, on a recent afternoon that turned into evening I ventured on a walking tour to see how many craft beer establishments could be visited during one session.

Able Baker

Able Baker patio

My guide for this beery adventure was Able Baker Brewing co-founder James Manos, whom I have come to enjoy spending time with ever since meeting him and his co-founder Randy Rohde in 2014 back when they were developing plans for their brewery via homebrew batches brewed in James’ garage. Naturally, Able Baker was our starting point, partly because at Wyoming and Main it is on the southern end of this craft brewing wonderland. After contract brewing at the (now closed) Joseph James Brewing for three years, Able Baker opened its own brewing facility in 2019, which in addition to brewing the brews one can find on tap and in cans throughout most retail locations around town, also sports several taps topped with the iconic yellow ducks pouring several brews you won’t find anywhere else. On this outing I was pleased to enjoy their barrel aged Honey Dip Imperial Stout. Other beers Able Baker has become known for are its Atomic Duck IPA and Chris Kael Impale’d Ale, a high ABV Imperial Brown Ale named for the Five Finger Death Punch bass player that James Manos once worked alongside.

The pub presents a cheerful environment, with a bright and open feel thanks to a high ceiling and ample natural light from garage doors that open up to the outdoor patio when weather permits. The name refers to Nevada’s atomic history, as the first two atomic bombs detonated at the Nevada Test Site were named “Able” and “Baker.”

Nevada Brew Works

Nevada Brew Works

After being fortified with a satisfying chicken sandwich at Able Baker’s Arts District Kitchen (serving a menu created by Van-Alan Nguyen, who for the past three years has been wowing us with his terrific offerings at his 595 Craft & Kitchen), we hoofed our way north a few blocks to the corner of Imperial and Main. There sits Nevada Brew Works and HUDL, two side-by-side breweries that both opened in the fall of 2020 during a trying time during the COVID pandemic. Both share a sizeable patio, but otherwise are separate operations.

Nevada Brew Works has a rustic feel with wood paneling and hanging Edison lights and is completely a family operation, with husband-and-wife Jason and Lauren Taylor running the operations and Lauren’s father, Ken Hallyburton, and Jason handling the brewing duties. Jason says they are “sticking to approachable, true to style beers, to capture people who have never tried craft beers and to offer lower ABV, introductory beers that won’t scare them off,” like the easy-drinking Kolsch we enjoyed. To accompany the brews, a small brick pizza oven churns out freshly baked pizzas and on the menu there are also burgers, wings, tenders, cheese curds and large pretzels.

HUDL

Bob Barnes and HUDL brewer Joe Cuozzo, Photo by Dave Canela

Just steps away we made our way to HUDL, where longtime accomplished head brewer Joe Cuozzo and co-owner Skip Norfolk shared beers with us. The name is a shortening of huddle, but is not a football reference, but rather denotes a community getting together to have a good time. The décor features a shiny epoxy floor and a silver and black color scheme. While there are several easy drinking beers like the popular Vanilla Oak Cream Ale, HUDL is quickly becoming known for its bold creations, like the GP Barleywine and 115 Barrel Aged 115° Imperial Stout. Skip summed up their brewing philosophy with an eloquently worded statement: “The great beer we make is our talisman. This is who we are; do that correctly and you can build on that.”

Servehzah Bottle Shop & Taproom

Servehzah Bottle Shop & Taproom, Photo by Dave Canela

Back on the street we made our way a few blocks to the north and east to Servehzah Bottle Shop & Taproom. This newly opened craft beer bar on Colorado between Main and Commerce has already built quite a following as a place that serves plenty of unique and high-quality craft. Longtime friends Tony Herrera, Jonathan Barboza and Tony Martinez created the bar, and the name is not a misspelling of cerveza, but rather is the owners’ play on the pronunciation of the word. All three were raised in Las Vegas, met in high school or college and, as Tony Herrera says, “wanted to create a place to incorporate our (Latin) culture.” Such is evident with Latin music playing; pics on the wall of iconic figures including Carlos Santana, Aniceto Molina and Vicente Fernandez; and Servehzah Nueva Esperanza, a Mexican-style lager made exclusively for the taproom by local gypsy brewer Kyle Weniger (aka Juxta Nomad).

Inside is a comfortable atmosphere with an epoxy floor; wood bar, tables and ceiling; and an outdoor patio with additional seating. Pouring from the 24 taps are several local and renowned regional brews like Big Dog’s Man’s Best Friend 004 Doppelbock and Reno-based Lead Dog Raspberry Chocula Stout. Your visit is not complete without checking out the “beer cave,” a refrigerated room where you can personally select from 140 rotating cans and bottles to take home or drink in the taproom (with a $1 pour fee). Although no food is served, there are food trucks scheduled daily and local bands perform every third Thursday.

The Silver Stamp

The Silver Stamp, Photo by Dave Canela

Next, we retraced our steps a bit and headed back to Imperial and a few blocks east to the spanking-new The Silver Stamp. This new craft beer bar is the brainchild of two much loved and respected members of the brewing community: Rose Signor and Andrew Smith. Rose managed Atomic Liquors when it first reopened nearly a decade ago and transformed the historic institution into a craft beer bar with one of the best selections in town. After deciding to open her own place with her boyfriend, Andrew, Rose took a sabbatical from Atomic and spent nine months traveling with Andrew throughout the U.S. and Eastern Europe, visiting Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Morocco. During this global journey the couple learned and appreciated what other beer traditions around the world have to offer and their revelations from that experience influenced the designing of the beer list at The Silver Stamp.

Upon entering you can’t miss the wall of old beer cans (Rose’s personal collection), along with vintage beer memorabilia, with various beer signs and logoed neon lights, as well as Christmas lights, a 1960s era TV, wood paneling, brick walls and a stuffed javelina adding to the kitschy (in a good way!) atmosphere.

As for the beer, here you’ll find an incredible selection of beers you won’t find anywhere else in town, such as the German Schneider Weisse Aventinus Cuvee Barrique Wheat Doppelbock aged in wine barrels, which to my palate tasted like a Flanders Red; the 2015 vintage JW Lee’s Harvest Ale, an English barleywine aged in sherry casks; and the Jester King Noble King, a Farmhouse Ale.

Rebar

For our next stop we headed back to Main and proceeded north a few blocks to a place I had not expected to be a bastion of local brew: Rebar. I had previously visited this local institution, known for its museum-like décor with every quirky knickknack in the place available for purchase, but had no idea how much love for local beer is shown here. A whole shelf features pretty much every local brewery that produces enough for outside accounts and during our visit pouring was Able Baker Atomic Duck IPA and Ellis Island Hefe on tap; and in cans, 7Five Training Day Ale, Astronomy Golden Ale, Bad Beat Amber Lager, Big Dog’s Craft Lager, Lovelady Paleo Porter and Tenaya Creek 702 Pale Ale and Bonanza Brown; and representing northern Nevada were beers from Reno’s 10 Tor, Great Basin and Revision.

CraftHaus CHAD

CraftHaus patio

Although I was Uber-ing home, my tank was beginning to run out of gas, but had enough energy for one more stop, so we headed over a few blocks east to Casino Center and on to California to the satellite taproom of CraftHaus Brewery, known as CHAD (CraftHaus Arts District). I was delighted to find one of my favorite beers of 2020 still pouring, the Big Boy Pants Barleywine!

Opened in 2019, some aspects of the brewery location in Henderson are repeated and celebrated, such as the cuckoo clock theme and lime green color scheme, but there are some unique differences. Co-owner Dave Forrest related that being in the Arts District, it was fitting that a local artist was brought in to contribute to the décor, which was Donovan Fitzgerald, who painted a beautiful mural of a Vegas showgirl. There’s also an increased number of taps (24), an outdoor beer garden patio and limited food offerings of several types of brats and charcuterie and cheese plates.

This walking tour scratches the surface of the sudsy options in the area and very worthy options we didn’t make it to include Hop Nuts, Mad Fermentist, Three Sheets and Beer District; and a short drive away Banger Brewing and Tenaya Creek — but we’ll have to save those visits for another time and another article.

April 2021

Spring has sprung and with the temps in Las Vegas getting better and warmer with each passing day, our local breweries have been hard at work to keep us well hydrated with our favorite beverage: beer!

Also, Bob Barnes appeared on the 4/9/21 episode of the Beer Freaks podcast to discuss the history of the Las Vegas beer scene. Listen to the episode on the Beer Freaks website.

Blueberry Vanilla BLAM! BLAM!

Able Baker co-founder James Manos tells me they have Blueberry Vanilla BLAM! BLAM!, a fruited sour beer that uses a magical yeast strain called Sourvisiae that produces a clean, bright, lactic acid character. This is balanced by blueberries to leave a “BLAM!” of residual sweetness followed by warming vanilla flavor.

> For more information, visit the Able Baker website.

Brewmaster Joe Cuozzo at HUDL in the Arts District has a South German Hefeweizen made with 50% German Heidelberg and 50% Best Malz Pale wheat, which should be quite a refreshing brew to enjoy as the desert temperatures rise.

> For more information, visit the HUDL website.

Richard Lovelady at Lovelady Brewing has Hatch Nites, a 5% golden lager with Hatch chile peppers. He also has Pinewood IPA, in celebration of the brewery’s 5th anniversary, made with Cascade, Centennial and Idaho7 hops and pinon pine branches; and Love Island, a collaboration with Ellis Island Brewing, which is a tart, hazy 7.5% IPA with pink guava.

> For more information, visit the Lovelady Brewing website.

Cameron Fisher at CraftHaus Brewery reports he has StationHaus Red Lager, which is brewed annually as a partnership with the Henderson Firefighters Benevolent Association, as members of the Association come to help brew the beer, and a portion of its sales are donated to charity. Befittingly, it’s a Franconian-style Rotbier—a red lager with a mild smoke character in the background.

> For more information, visit CraftHaus Brewery official website.

A way to check out the breweries, winery and distillery at the Henderson Artisan Booze District at a really good value is by purchasing its Passport. Priced at $20, the Passport includes flights of beer, wine, spirits and other offers and incentives to explore the Booze District businesses including Las Vegas Distillery, Bad Beat Brewing, CraftHaus Brewery, Grape Expectations, Astronomy Aleworks, Vegas Valley Winery and Ambros Whiskey. The offers in the Passport are good through June 15, 2021, and available for purchase at any of the Booze District businesses.

Anthony Gibson at Tenaya Creek has brewed KVEIKing IPA using a unique yeast strain called Norwegian Hornindal Kevik and high fermentation temperature (85+F) that produces nice, fruity esters. He also dry hopped it with Citiva and Rakau to add flavors and aromas of stone fruit, mango and a touch of pine spice. It’s available on draft only, so head over to the brewery taproom on Bonanza to experience it.

> For more information, visit Tenaya Creek official website.

Kyle Weniger, a.k.a. Juxta Nomad, continues to roam the Valley’s breweries as a gypsy brewer, but now has a bit of permanency. He’s purchased a 20 bbl fermenter and 20 bbl bright tank from Joseph James (the recently closed brewery at which he was director of brewing operations) and moved them into Astronomy Aleworks as part of an expansion partnership to help with capacity issues, so we can expect a lot more beers coming out of that facility in the near future. Craft beer pubs around town are taking note of Kyle’s outstanding brewing skills, as no less than four have contracted him to make house beers for them: the Nueva Esperanza Mexican lager made with Vienna malt and maize for Servehzah; the 365 Days of Beer, a light, easy-drinking brew to accompany Tuscany Casino’s Pub 365’s pub cuisine; for 595 Craft & Kitchen the Pilau Talk—a Southeast Asian-inspired rice ale made with three types of rice for subtle flavor contributions and an ultra-light body and color; and for Rollin’ Smoke, a lightly smoked amber ale with layers of rich malt and caramel made to pair with their killer BBQ.

> For more information, visit the Juxta Nomad website.