Speedee Mart Offering Expansive Craft Beer Selection
Those in the know already are aware, but it’s worth mentioning a chain of convenience stores offering a superb collection of craft beers: Speedee Mart. I spoke with VP of Operations Paul Orluske, who told me 16 of their 22 Southern Nevada locations offer an expansive beer selection with more than 100 craft beers. Paul worked in the beer distribution biz in Santa Barbara and San Diego before moving here in 1999. After noticing a void for craft beer selection, six years ago he made the move to offer a few shelves of craft beer at his stores. Now that has quadrupled to two full doors plus open air coolers keeping the beer fresh by storing and selling all of them cold (which is especially key for hoppy beers). Support for local beers is clearly evident, as the stores carry beers of all of the locals that distribute their brews. For the complete list of the 16 beer-centric locations, visit www.speedeemart.net/craft-beer.
Ellis Island The Front Yard Open for Business and Pouring Great Beer
Ellis Island has reopened and so has The Front Yard. The new two-story indoor/outdoor addition at the front of the building facing Koval Lane originally opened in late 2019. Thankfully, this was after Head Brewer Michael Keys and fellow Head Brewer Eddie Leal had completely transformed the beer offerings with their magnificent, flavorful creations that have become in this reporter’s opinion some of the best in town. The beers are pouring at the unbelievably low price of $3 for “The Classics” and $5 for “Specialties” for 20-oz imperial pints, which as far as I can determine make this the lowest price for quality beer in town. During my recent visit I found no less than 12 beers pouring, and I enjoyed all of them, but my favorites were the Belgian Triple, Coffee Stout, Koval Pilsner, Rauchbier (how many places can you find this unique beer style?!) and Golden Bock.
I also enjoyed the new food menu, crafted by Executive Chef John Alers, who is a SoCal transplant and longtime Vegas chef who most recently spent time in the kitchens of Gen 3 restaurants. After coming over to The Front Yard he redesigned the menu to feature a beer-friendly gastropub cuisine and put to good use the restaurant’s smoker. Prime examples are the Beer-Brined (smoked) Chicken Wings, Mac-N-Cheese with house-made bacon and beer cheddar sauce made with Ellis Island Koval Pilsner and Ol’ Smokey—a smoked brisket flatbread with caramelized onions and BBQ sauce. As he grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of Mexican influence, it is reflected in the menu, with items such as Shrimp Michelada (shrimp ceviche in a michelada cocktail sauce) and Elote Dip with sweet corn and spicy creamy sauce. I was advised to try the French Dip, which was incredibly good, as it’s made with roasted prime rib shaved thin with horseradish cream, provolone and side of au jus. And, while I’m not much of a dessert person, his Salted Caramel Bread Pudding with salted caramel ice cream topped with salted caramel sauce was the prefect caramel trifecta.
Hours are currently 4 p.m.-midnight, but beginning Sept. 5 the gastropub will launch a new brunch menu served Sat/Sun from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Check in on Yelp and you can get a free Buffalo Cauliflower (which I found delicious and wouldn’t have known it was made of cauliflower). Also, with several large screen TVs throughout (including an 18-foot), this is an optimal place to watch sporting events, such as the Vegas Golden Knights NHL Playoffs.
What’s on Tap
Big Dog’s Head Brewer/Director of Brewing Operations Dave Pascual tells me they’re releasing Cone of Shame West Coast IPA. Big Dog’s is known for coming up with fun dog-themed names and this one is no exception and also has a fun backstory. It was brewed and named for friend Nick Tribulato’s new pup Murphy, who Nick recently adopted and is scheduled to be neutered in the near future. Nick has a strong connection to the brewery, as he worked at Big Dog’s years ago, but is now Beer Portfolio Manager for Southern Glazer’s, Big Dog’s local distributor. Dave shared, “Nick is a good guy and is an integral part of our distribution, so we thought we could do something nice for someone who has always had our best interest at heart. This is a classic West Coast IPA using some old school hops—Citra and Mosaic to name a few—and sits at a crushable 6.8% ABV. Dave sums it up, saying, “Not too many bells and whistles on this one, just a good ol' dry and crisp IPA.” Also coming out this month to help us through the dog days of summer (pun intended) are Dog Pound Pilsner and Viener Dog Vienna Lager, both of which will be available in 16oz cans and on tap at the Draft House.
As always, great beer happens in Vegas!