This month brings more local delights to the forefront of the Las Vegas beer scene.
For more installments of beer news and other dining happenings in Las Vegas, enjoy previous installments from Bob Barnes.
Beer News and December Events
On December 9 the Nevada Craft Brewers Association (NCBA) will provide an opportunity to taste 40+ beers from more than 20 Nevada breweries at its annual Brew Festivus beerfest.
Held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Lawn at Downtown Summerlin, the unlimited sampling will include rare beers, collaborations, specialties, one-offs and holiday-inspired beers; kombucha; and hard cider. The pet-friendly and somewhat pet-themed event will also include fire pits throughout the space to warm up to, music, food trucks and a dozen vendors selling crafts such as custom animal treats and animal apparel.
General admission tickets for admission at 1 p.m. and unlimited beer sampling are $40. VIP with early admission at noon, a custom logo tasting glass, giant warm soft pretzel with beer cheese from Big Dog’s, a 16 oz can of HopSwell sparkling hop water from CraftHaus and admittance to the Festivus VIP lounge are $65. Proceeds benefit the Nevada Craft Brewers Association and Michael’s Angel Paws, a local non-profit that provides dog training programs for service and therapy dogs.
For a list of breweries pouring beer and to purchase tickets, click here.
North 5th Brewing Comoany
North 5th Brewing Company will celebrate its 2nd anniversary on December 16 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the brewery at 60 West Mayflower Ave. in North Las Vegas.
There will be 23 North 5th beers pouring, including a handful of exclusive anniversary beer releases: Passionfruit Orange Guava Sour Ale; 2 Degrees North, a 10.2% Imperial Stout; Willie Nelson, a 7.2% Double Dry-Hopped West Coast IPA; and Japanese Rice Lager, a 5.3% collaboration with 595 Craft & Kitchen. There will also be a few food trucks selling menu items for purchase.
General admission for admission at 6 and unlimited pours is $45 and VIP for early admission at 5 and an anniversary glass are $65. To purchase tickets, click here.
595 Craft and Kitchen will host a tap takeover on December 21 at 5 p.m. dubbed the Second Chance North 5th Anniversary Party. On tap will be a Japanese Rice Lager that North 5th Brewing invited 595 in on and there will also be several other beers pouring exclusive to North 5th and 595 to honor the brewery’s anniversary.
Tenaya Creek Sale Update
Last month I reported on a well-founded rumor that Tenaya Creek, one of Las Vegas’ oldest breweries, had been sold, but couldn’t divulge details until the deal was completely finalized. Now I can confirm that Tenaya Creek was indeed sold to Chris Jacobs and the hugely popular Beer Zombies brand he founded in December 2013.
I met with Chris last month and learned that the Tenaya Creek brand, which has been going strong since opening in 1999, is not going anywhere. There will be no changes to the staff, including Head Brewer Anthony Gibson and his brew team, and the annual anniversary celebration will continue.
Changes will include brewing Beer Zombies beers at the brewery with gradual implementation until completely transitioned by the spring, a refresh and facelift to the Tenaya Creek branding and can designs, some minor recipe adjustments, the adding of four 30-barrel and three 15-barrel fermentation tanks and bringing in 50 barrels to allow for more aged beer. The expansion is necessary as Beer Zombies is currently distributed in 42 states and 20 countries and is expected to produce 4,000 barrels this year compared to Tenaya’s 3,000.
In addition, there will be more events added including monthly can releases, the May the Fourth Be With You Beer Festival, Free the Whales (in which some of the country’s best breweries are invited) and possibly some events during the Craft Brewers Conference taking place for the first time in Las Vegas in April.
Over the years Chris has taken some heat for brewing Beer Zombies out of state, with AleSmith in San Diego currently making the beer, but he pointed out that none of our local breweries had the volume to make his beers in addition to their own.
Commenting further on his historic move he said, “My plan was always to have a Las Vegas home for my brewery but I could never find the building that felt like it could be our home (until now). It needed to have enough space for what we need to do. This puts a local stamp on our beer and it will now be Las Vegas made.”
Chris also shared that he hopes to expand Tenaya’s presence into the markets Beer Zombies is already in. This move is huge and adds to the Beer Zombies empire that already includes three draft room/bottle shops in Las Vegas, one in Boulder City and one in Salt Lake City.
Phoenix Vacation Beer
Last month I chose the F1 weekend as a good time to get out of town and headed down to Phoenix to see some old friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades: Derek “Doc” Osborne.
I first met Doc when he was opening the Phoenix BJ’s in the early 2000s. He got his nickname while at BJ’s (all BJ’s brewers are given nicknames — it’s part of the BJ’s culture) because he was a chiropractor and gave up that career for one he loves more: brewing. In 2015 Doc moved on to become brewer/partner at Pedal Haus Brewery.
He brews out of a 30-barrel brewhouse which supplies beer for Pedal Haus taprooms in Chandler, Tempe and the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Core beers are lagers, including the best-selling Light Lager and Pilsner.
Anyone who knows brewing can attest lagers are the hardest styles to brew and after tasting his beers I can see that Doc is up to the task. He also excels in ales, and in fact, his Belgian Tripel is as good as any I’ve ever had, and I also greatly enjoyed his Vienna.
I had the pleasure of having dinner with Doc and his wife Melissa Osborn, who is a very talented brewer herself, and is the Innovation Manager at Four Peaks Brewing, one of the Phoenix area’s most accomplished and prolific breweries. Interestingly, Doc and Melissa met while brewing together at BJ’s.
We dined at Craft 64, which pours beers from several local breweries and contract brews its own beers using recipes formulated by Craft 64 Partner James Swann. The beers are brewed at Sunup by Uwe Boer, another old friend and an awesome brewer. I especially enjoyed his Sweet Lovin’, an Imperial Porter with coffee and toffee; and Hoperator, an unfiltered West Coast IPA with Nelson, Mosaic, Amarilla and Mandarina Bavaria hops.
I realized I had the good fortune to be sitting with two of the most noteworthy brewers in Phoenix (Doc and Melissa) while drinking beer made by a third (Uwe). Oh, and also, Craft 64, which has a location in Chandler and Scottsdale, happens to make phenomenal woodfired pizzas using mozzarella made fresh daily and was named one of the top 50 pizzerias in the US by 50 Top Pizza, a pizza evaluation website based in Italy. The best of both worlds: stellar pizza and beer! Can’t get much better than that.
In my column last month, in mentioning the new Las Vegas Brewing Co taproom opening next year in the Arts District, I incorrectly attributed being a 4th generation Las Vegas native to Las Vegas Brewing Co-owner Kyle Dolder. However, while Kyle is a 13-year resident by way of Minnesota, it’s his wife Jamie that is the 4th generation Las Vegan. My apologies for the error.