Find out what’s buzzing in the Las Vegas beer scene this month
This month’s Las Vegas beer news includes brewery management changes, local beer events, and other noteworthy brewery-related developments.
The Latest Brewer Updates
Andy Kohon has moved on from his assistant brewer position at Bad Beat Brewing to Head Brewer at Mojave Brewing. This is Andy’s first head brewer position after brewing for two years at Ellis Island with Eddie Leal and Michael Key and before brewing with Amanda Koeller at Bad Beat. He’s been at Mojave since December and I tried some of his creations recently.
Some of his most impressive brews are Blood Orange Wheat, which is made with 60 pounds of dehydrated oranges and blood oranges, a 100 percent all-natural beer that is not sweet and picks up bitterness from the peels; his Rye’D IPA, brewed with 75 pounds of rye, giving it a deeper spicy malt flavor; and his Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ale, an American Cream Ale that is dressed up with a rim dipped in a combination of salt, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, cinnamon, sugar and graham cracker supplied by Dress the Drink, a company created by Able Baker Co-Founder James Manos.
Andy is taking the head brewer reins from Co-Founder John “Griff” Griffith, who is stepping aside from his brewing duties to devote more time to running the business.
On his selection of Andy, Griff says, “We’ve known Andy for years and have enjoyed his friendship and his beers. He’s elevating our beer and I love what he’s done with the recipes I helped establish. This [hiring Andy] is the way Mohave is going to grow.”
The growth of the brewery includes shifting more into distribution, with more equipment and more on the way.
I recently reported on Amanda Koeller leaving Bad Beat to head the brewing program at Las Vegas Brewing and now I can share that Bad Beat’s new head brewer is Tom Harwood, who has left his head brewer post at Main Street Station’s Triple 7 Brewpub. Tom has proven himself over the years to be an excellent brewer, so I have no doubt Bad Beat will be in good hands. No word yet on who will be taking over at Triple 7.
Yet another brewer change with a Bad Beat connection is the return of Weston Barkley, another longtime local brewer who has excelled everywhere he’s brewed. After holding head brewer positions at Joseph James and Bad Beat, in 2021, Weston left to brew at Great Notion Brewing in Portland, OR, but now will become the first Head Outpost Brewer at BrewDog on the Vegas Strip.
Speaking about his move Weston says, “Saying goodbye to Great Notion was not and still is not easy for me. I’m honored to have been a part of their story. However, I am excited to be coming back home and brewing with one of the best views Vegas has to offer! My time at GNB has been very focused on the technical and/or mechanical part of my skill set. This position with BrewDog will be quite the opposite, as I’ll be focusing more on R&D.”
As the BrewDog Las Vegas system is a small 10-barrel system, it should be fun to taste what Weston comes up with.
Mark Your Calendar For These Beer Events
The Big Dog’s Brewing Annual Peace, Love & Hoppiness Festival will be held in the outdoor area of the Big Dog’s Draft House on April 22 from 3-8 p.m. This fest pays homage to hop-forward beers and will feature bold IPAs and double IPAs from Las Vegas and around the country. This pay-as-you-go event offers free admission, live music and over 45 brews on tap, more than half of which will be Nevada-brewed beers. For more info and to purchase a tasting package, click here.
On April 23, from noon to 3 p.m., CraftHaus Brewery will host its fourth annual StationHaus Red Lager release, a collaboration beer brewed with the Henderson Benevolent Firefighters Association to raise funds for Angel Fire (a non-profit organization created for kids who are sick or injured, terminally ill, their families, wounded warriors, military families, burn victims and fire departments).
This free family-friendly event will include: a chili cook-off competition with the chilis free to taste and voted on by attendees; a real fire truck to explore, fire safety activities; and craft soda for the kids. There will also be an opportunity to meet the firefighters who helped brew the beer with CraftHaus Head Brewer Cameron Fisher. For more information, click here.
On April 29, Aces & Ales will host a beer and bourbon dinner with a tap takeover at their Tenaya location. Bourbons that will be featured are from the Sazerac portfolio, along with beers from Firestone Walker, Fremont, Pizza Port, Beachwood and Pure Project. The dinner starts at 3 p.m. Guests may start earning drawing tickets up until the dinner at the Tenaya location for a chance to win giveaway prizes at the event by buying a Wheatley Vodka, Corazon Tequila or Buffalo Trace cocktail or shot. There are no details yet on the cost, pairings or prizes, but they are expected to be announced on their website in the coming weeks, so head over to acesandales.com/events-calendar.
For Star Wars Day (May 4), there will be a beer fest like no other. Beer Zombies will host the May the Fourth Be With You Beer Festival from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Fremont Country Club.
Founder Chris Jacobs promises this one will be more than just a beer drinking fest. The event includes performances by two Star Wars-themed live bands (Happy Campers and Divided by Stereo) plus DJ Tie Fighter. In between performances, there will be characters in full Star Wars regalia. It will also be smaller than most fests, limited to 800 attendees and 200 for VIP. General admission is priced at $50.
This ticket includes entry at 8 p.m. for unlimited sampling from 25 stellar breweries, such as Astronomy Aleworks, Juxta Nomad and Beer Zombies. VIP tickets cost $90 and include early admission at 7 p.m., a commemorative glass, a promo May the Fourth Be With You poster, a swag bag, and admittance to the Blue Milk Cantina Bar, which will be pouring the Star Wars-themed Blue Milk brewed by RaR Brewing. Food options will also be available for purchase from acclaimed Chef Marc Marrone. For more info and to purchase tickets, click here.
The Return of Sin City Brewing
Sin City Brewing was a casualty of the pandemic shutdown, but now the iconic brand is back, albeit under new ownership and with new recipes.
One of the new managing partners is Kevin Kress, who knows more than a thing or two about beer. He’s worked in the industry for years and previously served as VP of Sales and Marketing for Gordon Biersch Brewing.
Unlike Sin City’s previous iteration, which depended mainly on tourist sales and product sales, the current owners intend to cater to locals and showcase their beer. While the logo and name remain unchanged, all of the beers offered will be different and the contract brewery is now Neon Desert Brewing.
Amber Ale, a robust, lightly hopped, full-bodied malt-forward brew, and Pale Ale, a light, easy-drinking brew with a slight citrus, grapefruit note, were presented during the Best Brews beer festival last month. These beers are slated to be available in stores and on draft at select restaurants by mid-April. Sin City also plans to add a lager and an IPA, as well as eventually open their own brewery.
What’s Pouring in April
Big Dog’s Brewing is commemorating its 30th anniversary this year and its Draft House pub’s 35th year of operation. To celebrate, they are releasing four anniversary beers throughout 2023, with the second brew debuting at the Peace, Love & Hoppiness Festival.
Head Brewer and Director of Brewery Operations, Dave Pascual, tells me it’s a collaboration brew with 595 Craft Kitchen.
“We wanted to do something fun and yet traditional and decided to go with a Maibock/Helles Bock for the season,” Pascual says, “because you don’t come across many as of late and it is a fantastic style.”
He adds. “We went traditional by using all imported German malts, water profile and traditional bock yeast strain to ferment and then decided to put a spin on it using a fairly new hop called Nectaron, which provides tropical and citrus notes that include pineapple, peach, grapefruit and passionfruit. In the finished product, the beer will come out a clear light golden color with a toasty malt profile along with a balanced hop bitterness and flavor and will be named My Nect and Maibock.”
BrewDog, which opened its first Las Vegas location on the Strip in December, has attracted beer drinkers over the years by making some outlandish and world-record beers, such as the highest alcohol and most expensive beer. Now it wants to be known as the place with the most expensive beer on the Strip.
Its High-Roller will set you back $250 for a 16.9-ounce bottle, and is a 9 percent ABV chocolate dessert stout. The BrewDog Head of Production (head brewer for all of BrewDog), Steve McMillen, tells me only 40 bottles were brewed for this first batch at their Pilot Kit brewery in Ohio, and they can only be found at BrewDog location on the Vegas Strip.
He says that their goal was to make the most expensive beer in terms of the cost of ingredients. The unique ingredient list includes seven hops from seven different countries, malt sourced from six continents, five exotic ingredients (beluga caviar, Ethiopian coffee, emperor coconut, Madagascar vanilla and cacao nibs), water from an Icelandic glacier and edible flaked yellow and white gold. To top it all off, the beer was aged in three sustainably sourced woods—maple, oak and garapa—which had previously aged tequila.
Senate Bill 108
The Nevada Craft Brewers Association is asking for support for Senate Bill 108, which is being considered by the Nevada Legislature. The piece of legislation would allow brewpubs with multiple locations to transfer their beer from their brewpub to another location they control without having to buy back their own product from a distributor. It would also propose that breweries may transport to and engage as vendors, at a limited number of special events. If you agree with the proposal and wish to send your support to your legislators, you can do so by going to https://p2a.co/HudpE1t.
Shoutout: Las Vegas Beer Snob
While I write beer articles, Las Vegas Beer Snob Julio Bazan shines on social media platforms, especially Instagram. One of his claims to fame is his huge following and his commitment to supporting the local craft beer scene by showing up for openings and special events.
Beers have been named after him and feature his likeness on the label; the most recent of these is Vegas Red, an 8.8 percent hop-forward imperial red ale brewed by HUDL.
To find out more about the Las Vegas Beer Snob, follow his social media accounts @lasvegasbeersnob and look for the Vegas Red at HUDL, 595, Khoury’s, Servehzah, Liquor Lineup and Top Shelf. Beer aficionados may also listen to him on this episode of the Beer Freaks podcast.