Las Vegas is proving to be a hot destination for beer lovers. Need evidence? The Motley Brews' Downtown Brew Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Las Vegas on October 22nd at the Clark County Government Amphitheater. It's a great opportunity to get familiar with the very best breweries Las Vegas has to offer and check out more than 200 craft beer samples -- but uh, not all at once! -- with local beer makers at the top of the list.
Can we talk about "Booze Yoga" -- where you twist and stretch into odd positions with a tall glass of beer at your side? It's just one of the many reasons CraftHaus has loyal fans. Founded by a husband and wife who were inspired by the craft beer culture in Europe, the brewery has a tap room that's bright, fun, and feels like a clubhouse. Weekly tours are offered on Saturdays, and the $10 price tag includes a flight of four beers. The Any Which Way IPA comes in two versions: a tamer white, and a double that's heavy on the hops as well as the alcohol.
This family-owned and -operated brewery has been around for 17 years, and recently moved into a new location Downtown, after outgrowing its previous facility in the northwest valley while launching a line of cans to help accelerate that expansion. It's not your typical Las Vegas watering hole: no gaming, smoking, or liquor, just great craft beer and a little bit of wine. There are 28 handles -- about half from Tenaya Creek and half from other highly regarded microbreweries. The staff is among the most knowledgeable you'll find in a brewpub, and at last check, the newest bartender has been around nine years. There are a few exceptions, but the beers are generally well-balanced and drinkable -- not super-hoppy, which is something of a rarity these days. Favorites include the Hauling Oats oatmeal stout, and the offline It Takes 702 to Mango, which packs some sweet heat.
While there are a few breweries in the Downtown area, Banger Brewing is the only one smack-dab in the middle of the Fremont Street Experience. Despite the location, the brewery and bar is a favorite of locals as well as a beloved detour for tourists. It doesn't hurt that it offers all-you-can-drink house draft beers for $30. Opened by a group of service-industry friends a few years ago, Banger Brewing is proving to be a great success story. Make sure you try the Blondie, Porterhouse, and El Heffe -- a hefeweizen with a jalapeño kick.
Originally opened as a family business, Joseph James was eventually sold to Miller International (no, not that Miller, but rather a western clothing company) and has been growing ever since. The brewery doesn't currently allow visitors, but is expanding into a new facility that will offer a tap room and restaurant. Widely available around Las Vegas, Joseph James now produces 4,000 barrels a year, including seven year-round beers, four seasonals, a barrel-aged series, and the newly released Suave Felon sour series. The first official creation for Joseph James was a root beer -- made while waiting on the brewing license -- that's still available today.
The newest brewery in Las Vegas is already making a big, sudsy splash -- despite being open less than a year. Built from the ground up in Downtown Henderson, the company was founded by four brothers (and yes, their last name is Lovelady) who got their start experimenting with at-home brewing back in their high school days. It made them popular at parties, and the love for producing beer was hard to shake. One of them is the former head brewer at Gordon Biersch in Las Vegas. Fun choices include a tangy pineapple sour and a porter made with beans from Mothership Coffee roasters.
Nathan Hall got into homebrewing on a whim. It started with a coupon for a five-gallon beer kit and quickly grew into a full-blown operation in his garage. Hall developed his own recipes and tested them out with friends during UFC viewing parties. He was encouraged to open his own brewery -- which finally happened after selling his house. Bad Beat is growing so fast, it actually won't be at the Downtown Brew Fest this time around, so make sure you visit the company's tap room. Sales have doubled since last year, thanks to five year-round beers (four of which are canned) and a knack for building demand for limited-edition specialties. The latest is the Big Baby Porter -- named after the head brewer's new baby -- and packs a 10.6% ABV, in honor of the baby's birthweight.
On the Strip
Launched back in 2003, when the craft beer community was far less busy than it is now, Sin City Brewing stands apart from the pack with a handful of locations on the Strip: the Grand Canal Shoppes, Harmon Corner, the Miracle Mile Shops, and a new location on the way at the Grand Bazaar Shops. It's also the only local brewery to follow a 1516 German beer purity law that states water, barley, and hops can be the only ingredients in the brewing process. The five signature house beers and one rotating seasonal are now made at the Lovelady facility (after previously renting space at Gordon Biersch) and produced in small batches of 72 kegs at a time, which creates more robust flavors and ensures the quality remains consistent.
Inside the Main Street Station casino, you'll find the Triple 7 restaurant and microbrewery, which offers up six of its own beer creations to wash down burgers, pizza, and other forms of comfort food (although the sushi bar does seem a bit out of place). It opened 20 years ago, making it the longest-running brewery Downtown. One tap is reserved for a rotating lineup of seasonal favorites, including the current Blackjacked milk stout with pumpkin pie spices and vanilla. If you're hungry, show up for the Express Lunch -- a special menu in which the food is free if it doesn't arrive in 20 minutes. That just means more money for beer.
Founded in the mid-'90s by the late Tom Wiesner at the old Holy Cow casino, Big Dog's (as it's now known) was the first-ever microbrewery in Las Vegas. It eventually moved north when the Holy Cow was demolished -- a Walgreens is currently in its place -- and led the way for the craft beer movement in Southern Nevada. Despite being ahead of the game, Big Dog's encourages friendly rivalries from other breweries, and has even produced collaborations with Tenaya Creek, Bad Beat, and Joseph James. Most of the beers are given a dog theme, with the Red Hydrant English Brown Ale and the Tripel Dog Dare Belgian Tripel scoring high in recent editions of the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery also has its own full-service restaurant -- modeled after a large barn -- that's designed to offer a little Midwest hospitality. If you're a Green Bay Packers fan, you'll be especially among friends.
A newcomer to the local brewing community, Hop Nuts has quickly become one of the best reasons to visit the growing Downtown Arts District. The name pays tribute to its Green Mamba Double IPA -- a hop-heavy West Coast-style DIPA that scores extremely high on the IBU scale. That's "International Bitterness Units," so consider yourself warned. Aside from the Golden Ale, most of the brews have something of a hoppy bite, including the limited-edition Imperial Espresso Stout -- made with beans from Makers & Finders Coffee next door.
Located on the eastern edge of Summerlin, the Chicago Brewing Company offers a little bit of everything for people living in the west Valley -- including an outdoor beer garden, cigar lounge, and menu loaded with bar food and 24-hour breakfast bites. The house brews come in six basic choices, with the nutty Old Town brown ale a good one to take home in one of the 64oz growlers.
Off the Strip
It may be near the Strip, but Ellis Island is mainly a locals' hangout -- with regular karaoke, tasty barbecue, and yes, its own microbrewery on the property. Things are kept simple with five basic choices: light, weiss, amber, IPA, and stout -- and a rotating lineup of seasonal choices. Ellis Island also brews its own all-natural root beer that comes in both "hard" or alcohol-free versions. Ask about the loaded lemonade as well.
Long known for its chain of locals-oriented bars, PT's recently got into the business of making its own beer, after taking over Tenaya Creek's former brewery. Most of the creations are given Vegas-centric names (like the Sahara Pale Ale and Rebel Red, in honor of UNLV's sports teams). The brews are shipped out to PT's pubs around the valley, including an Irish-style red for the Sean Patrick's Irish pub locations.
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1. CraftHaus Brewery7350 Eastgate Rd Ste 110, Henderson
2. Tenaya Creek Brewery831 W Bonanza Rd, Las Vegas
3. Banger Brewing450 Fremont St Ste 135, Las Vegas
4. Joseph James Brewery155 N Gibson Rd, Henderson
5. Lovelady Brewing Company20 S Water St, Henderson
6. Bad Beat Brewing7380 Eastgate Rd Ste 110, Henderson
7. Sin City Brewing Co.3663 Las Vegas Blvd S #504, The Strip
8. Triple 7 Restaurant & Brewery200 N Main St, Las Vegas
9. Big Dog’s Brewery4543 N Rancho Dr, Las Vegas
10. Hop Nuts Brewing1120 S Main St, Las Vegas
11. Chicago Brewing Company2201 S Fort Apache Rd, Las Vegas
12. Ellis Island Casino4178 Koval Ln, Las Vegas
13. PT's Brewing Company3101 N Tenaya Way, Las Vegas
A couple-owned, Kickstarter-birthed brewery and tasting room is changing the drinking game in Henderson, where you can observe the brewing process while sampling the final product, from citrus-sparked IPAs to peppery saisons, in a modern tasting room with couches, communal benches and pops of bright green, blue and orange. The house-made specialty brews can get freaky, and creative batches have featured glitter beer (as in, beer with glitter in it, if that wasn’t clear), while year-round favorites like the Belgard coffee stout keep people consistently coming back (and leaving with full growlers). Cheese and charcuterie plates come from The Nook nearby.
After outgrowng their original location, Tenaya Creek took things up a notch at this 13,000-square-foot Downtown location, all chrome, varnished steel and rustic woods, where 17 beers on tap are sipped (including two guest pours from neighboring breweries). While the brews are distributed in Nevada, Southern California, Arizona, Utah and Canada, when you come to the source the brewing facilities can be observed through floor-to-ceiling windows. Star seasonal variations include the Old Jackalope, a heavy-hitting (at 10.4 %), ruby-hued barleywine-style ale.
It’s all about beer, so don’t expect table service: just good suds, from light weisse to dark stouts. You’ll want to opt for a flight, with half-pints served in a custom mini wooden shelf. The proprietor favors the Jalapeño Hefeweizen, which packs a bit of a kick, but you can find your own favorite on the rotating tap list. Tours of the brewing facility take place every hour on the hour.
Joesph James Brewing is a growing leader in the Nevada craft scene, having made splashes with its popular Citra Rye Pale Ale and Fox Tail Gluten-Free Ale, catering to those with gluten allergies and aversions with a sud made from organic rice with a hoppy bitterness and pear esters. Tours of the Henderson brewery are conducted monthly, but you can sample the wares and seasonal brews year-round at many bars around town, just look for the distinctive tap handles, with a bright red fox perched on top.
People love Lovelady because the taproom, in addition to pouring their traditional and experimental suds (like Love Triangle red ale with a caramel finish or 9th Island pineapple sour with a tart flavor and pineapple puree) has a shuffleboard table and corn hole set-ups, because beer-drinkers also are game-lovers. Snacks like Bavarian pretzels are on offer, but since there’s no kitchen, you’re free to hit one of the food trucks that are reliably parked out front and bring food into to the 14000-square-foot bar or back patio.
Like the brewery it self, all of Bad Beat's brews derive their names from gambling lingo, but the beers themselves are not about luck. For years founder Nathan Hall worked out of his garage to create original recipes before taking a gamble and starting brewing professionally in 2014. They have five year round beers as well as seasonal, barrel aged, and small batch (like any respectable craft brewery) brews. Our favorites are the refreshing light and evenly spiced Bluffing Isn’t Weisse (year round hefeweizen) and the rich, smokey, coffee-forward Morning Payoff (seasonal imperial breakfast stout). They only distribute in Nevada, so we suggest you book a trip to Vegas sooner rather than later.
Sin City, established in 2003, was ahead of the American craft beer gold rush, but they still only brew small batch beers. While brewmaster Rich Johnson doesn’t sell or distribute his Sin City brews outside of Las Vegas, he draws his flavor inspiration from German lagers and English ales. There are five staple recipes, Sin City Amber, Light, Stout, Weisse, and IPA, that use traditional brewing methods (even some from Medieval times) to brew 100 kegs at a time. That’s craft. You can find these rare local favorites at Miracle Mile Shops, Grand Canal Shoppes, and Harmon Corner.
This Downtown Las Vegas microbrewery lives inside Main Street Casino and Hotel (look for the glowing marquee!), because this is Vegas and you can’t do much of anything more than a stone’s throw from a slot machine. The expansive joint, with six shining copper stills looming over the casual dining room, brews and pours five beer varieties, with a monthly special supplementing the standard lager, pale ales and porter. Garlic fries here have a following, plus pizzas, burgers and sushi. If you don’t hit it big at the casino, at least you can guarantee yourself a beer buzz.
Whether or not you want to bring your big dog and hang on the pooch-friendly patio, catch the latest Packers game, or unleash for a bit and try your luck in the casino, Big Dog’s Brewing is there with quality craft beer and friendly service. Like their cheese-forward menu, Big Dog aims for that midwestern comfort and kindness. Nothing says “Wisconsin” more than football, fried cheese curds, and bratwurst … except maybe one of the 30 plus trail-blazing brews on tap like Tripel Dog Dare and Tailwagger Wheat.
Hop Nuts, the first brewery in the Downtown Arts District, is absolutely hops-crazed (in the best way of course) and making one hell of a first impression. With hops-forward craft brews like the Harry Porter, a chocolaty, hoppy beer that is pleasantly robust, the Hopathon IPA, crafted to rival the best of the piney West Coast IPAs, and the 18b Pale Ale, made with 5 different malts and varieties of hops. Relax, beer in hand, in this saloon-meets-chic-warehouse to escape all the Vegas commotion—if only for a little while.
This Vegas microbrewery offers a handful of house beers as well as a selection from breweries across the nation. Housed inside an industrial-style space with brick walls, the team here gives you a taste of Chicago with its deep-dish pizzas, and cooks up plenty of appetizers (go for the pretzel bites and/or garlic knots), sandwiches, burgers, and entrees including salmon and steak. The best part? All-day breakfast. Throw it all back in the outdoor beer garden or upstairs in the cigar lounge.
This casino comes with its own excellent brewery, offering light, amber, IPA, weiss, stout, and seasonal specials. There's even house-brewed root beer, if you're one of the brave souls who avoids alcohol in a city like Vegas. Ellis Island's dinner is an equally solid bet, boasting some of the best ribs in Vegas.
With this branch of the PT pub chain, the company sticks its hands into the brewing business. Nine brews are offered on tap, including the citrusy Sunset Wit and coffee-tinged Boulder Stout. Tavern fare abounds, with a menu that is part American sports bar and part Italian restaurant, from a bacon & mushroom burger to penne pasta with sweet sausage.