March Beer Festivals
Two fests are on tap for the month of March. First up is the Brews Best on March 14 from 1-6 p.m. Take note that it is relocating from Lake Las Vegas to Town Square. Tickets are $30 for unlimited sampling of nearly 100 local and regional beers, a beer mug, tasting guide, live music and access to dozens of restaurants within Town Square. Proceeds benefit New Vista Community, an organization that supports programs for intellectually challenged adults & children in the Las Vegas area. To purchase tickets and for a list of breweries, visit brewsbestlv.com.
On March 28 from 3-7 p.m. 1 p.m. entry for VIP is the Boulder City Beerfest, held at Wilbur Square Park in the heart of the historic city. The park is located just two blocks from Boulder Dam Brewing, which is where you can buy tickets in advance for $45 for VIP or $30 for general admission $45 at the door. The only beerfest currently held in Boulder City, it will have more than 20 breweries pouring close to 100 beers, live music, food for purchase from six gourmet food trucks, brewers games and homebrewing demonstrations. For more info, a list of breweries or to purchase tickets, visit bouldercitybeerfestival.com. Tickets are also being sold at Khoury’s in Henderson.
First Henderson Smack Down a Rousing Success
The first ever Henderson Smack Down, a tasting competition of Henderson breweries, was held at Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub on Jan. 22. It was fitting that it was held at Shakespeare’s as it has been one of the biggest supporters of local breweries. It turned out to be an extremely successful and popular event, drawing a crowd of 245, so large that after the inside was filled to capacity an overflow area in the Pub’s outdoor patio was also packed with beer fans. For only $5 participants got to taste nine different beers of varying beer styles from Bad Beat Brewing, CraftHaus and Joseph James. The scoring was quite simple; we were given a scoring sheet and rated each beer on a scale of 1 to 5 and also picked our top three. What was somewhat difficult was determining each beer’s style, as the tasting was completely blind. General Manager Jeff Urbanski and Co-owner Corey Coleman and all of the Shakespeare’s staff did a phenomenal job getting the nine samples out in a timely fashion to the gathered horde and tallying the results quickly. The overall winner was Joseph James, coming in first with its Milkshake Stout, which was fitting as this beer was a collaboration brew brewed with Jeff and Corey; Bad Beat took second with The Heater, a pepper spiced stout; third was Joseph James with Red Eye Coffee Stout; and fourth place went to CraftHaus for its Tweaked Resonate, a brett sour raspberry saison. To my knowledge, this is the first time an event of this type has taken place in Nevada since Great Basin and Holy Cow held a similar competition in the 1990s. Hopefully it’s the first of many and judging from the turnout, Southern Nevadans are hankering for more.
Two New Breweries Open in Las Vegas
Hop Nuts Brewing held its soft opening on New Year’s and word of mouth, social media and coverage from local media has been drawing in a steady stream of customers ever since. A lot of those enjoying the new brewpub are locals from the neighborhood. Hop Nuts is located in the 18b Las Vegas Arts District at 1120 Main St. just a block south of Charleston, which happens to be the very same one that 34-year-old Owner/Brewmaster Kevin Holder grew up in and where he has lived since 1992. Of course the beer is the main reason to show up here, and pouring during my visit were a 4.5% Golden Ale made with wheat and crystal malt, 6% 18b Pale Ale, 7.4% IPA and 8.5% Imperial Stout loaded with 75 IBUs and strong, bold notes of espresso, chocolate and roast. Kevin plans to have seven staples, three seasonal and will support the other local breweries by having rotating guest taps for local brews. Future styles will include a porter, hefeweizen and amber ale along with some barrel aged beers thrown into the mix.
Kevin honed his brewing skills as a homebrewer and won a Best of Show competition; apprenticed at Tahoe Mountain Brewing in Truckee, CA and at Migration Brewing and BridgePort Brewing in Portland, OR; and took classes on yeast at White Labs in San Diego. Kevin says the name of his brewpub has a double meaning: “We’re nuts about hops and hops look kind of like nuts.” In fact, Kevin says when designing his recipes he begins with the hop bill first and then thinks about which malts to use.
The place has a cool vibe with a long wood bar and windows from which you can spy the American-made 7-barrel Practical Fusion System; and while a kitchen is not in place yet, several restaurants in the area offer delivery. A chalkboard above the bar lists beers on tap with ABV and IBU strengths. Soon there will be monthly cask-beer events, weekly live music shows and brewery tours. Now with the ever-flowing good beer, Hop Nuts is giving us yet another reason to head downtown. Hop Nuts is open Sun.-Thur. 2 p.m.-2 a.m. and Fri. & Sat. 2 p.m.-4 a.m.
1120 S Main St #150, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Across town at Durango and Desert Inn across the street from Desert Breeze Park, Old School Brewing Company has taken over the former space of Graziano’s Pizza. Owner/Brewmaster Jim Wilson should be a familiar face to the beer community, as he was previously the brewmaster at Barley’s. When I visited in late January Jim’s beers had only been pouring for a few days. All are easy drinking sessionable beers and are clean and well done right out of the gate. During my visit I sampled Homeroom Hefeweizen Bavarian style, Pale Ale 101English style and Varsity Vanilla Porter malty sweet with Madascar bourbon vanilla beans. The name of the beers and pub suggest a school theme, but Jim says it also refers to his love of “old school” hot rods and the fact that both he and his son were home schooled. The brewery has a custom designed 15-barrel system with three primary fermenters and five serving tanks. Jim plans to rotate his beers constantly and says, “The only constant will be me and change. You’ll be able to come back in a month and find different beers and different items on the food menu.” Speaking of the food, comfort favorites with a twist are the norm, such as a Roasted Beet Grilled Cheese enriched with five different cheeses and Corn Dog made with bratwurst cooked in beer and tempura battered using Old School’s Pale Ale.
The atmosphere is as Jim intends it to be, a public house environment that is a relaxed and comfortable place to hang out with friends without loud music. Several windows provide natural lighting to help brighten the mood. There’s also plenty of room, with total seating of 190 including room for 83 in the pub. Old School is open any time you want to stop in, 24/7. Jim says this location is the first of four breweries he and his partners will be opening in the Vegas Valley.
8410 West Desert Inn, Las Vegas, NV 89117