Dubbed “the Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas offers a bevy of attractions and delights for more than 40 million visitors each year. Those treats recently expanded to include craft beer from more than a dozen breweries across the valley.
Las Vegas hasn’t yet caught up with the flourishing beer scenes in neighboring states’ big cities, but plenty of top-notch local beer is flowing from the gambling mecca’s taps, beer expert Michael Ian Borer says.
“Though it still lags behind the big beer cities in neighboring states, the local beer scene took off a few years ago when laws changed to allow alcohol to be brewed, served and consumed in the same place without the presence of gambling,” says Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociology professor and the author of Vegas Brews: Craft Beer and the Birth of a Local Scene. “With more than 2 million people living in the Las Vegas valley, many have used craft beer as a means for local pride and creating a local culture by locals and for locals. Tourists, though, are welcome and courted by breweries and beer bars.”
Below are Borer’s five favorites and his comments about each.
“Named after the first two atomic bombs detonated at the Nevada Test Site, Able and Baker, all of the brewery’s wares are connected to local history via the Atomic Age. The brewery offers a wide selection from a crisp pilsner to a bourbon barrel-aged barley wine. Honey Dip Stout is an imperial stout brewed with honey and Madagascar vanilla beans, then aged on American oak. It’s a must try for those who can handle this sweet, high-ABV elixir.”
“This space-themed brewery is all about experimentation. It’s not bound by any constraints on this planet or others which has led it to the uncharted territories of fruited sours. But Return of the Citra Rye IPA is the best way to launch your expedition.”
“The lifestyle brand-turned-taproom-turned-brewery brought the double dry-hopped hazy double IPA to Las Vegas for the living and the undead. Now, with multiple locations throughout the valley and in a few other states, the Beer Zombie invasion is in full effect.”
“With a nod to German beer culture, the folks at CraftHaus have gone beyond that tradition to supply Las Vegas with a wide variety of tasty beverages. If you find yourself in town in early February, Comrade Day is a must for lovers of Russian imperial stouts. The stouts are usually offered in four or five different variants for the adventurous drinker. If you’re there a few months earlier, be sure to find the fall seasonal Stratacaster Wet Hop IPA, brewed with wet hops sent straight from farm to brewery.”
“As one of the oldest breweries in Las Vegas, Tenaya Creek has gone through some changes that mirror those of the city. A few years ago, Tenaya Creek changed locations, moving from a brewery with a smoke-filled video poker bar to a vacant, yet refurbished, 1950s warehouse near the newly bustling downtown area. Fortunately, the beers remained highest quality, including their Old Jackalope Barleywine. Named after a mythical creature of the American West, this brew packs a malty punch. And, if you’re lucky, you might find some aged in Smoke Wagon whiskey barrels.”