Las Vegas Breweries Score at Great American Beer Festival

1,552 breweries entered 6,647 beers and just 275 medals were awarded at this year’s GABF, the largest beer competition in the world, held Sept. 24-26 in Denver. Las Vegas breweries fared considerably well, earning three medallions, an excellent showing considering the city has only 14 breweries, of which approximately half entered beers.

Chicago Brewing Company brought home two medals, a gold for its Wild West Tripel in the Belgian-style Tripel category and a bronze for its Quad Damn It in the Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale category. Both beers had medaled previously: The Quad Damn It took a GABF silver in 2013 and the Wild West Tripel earned a GABF silver in 2011 and 2002; and a World Beer Cup gold in 2010 and a bronze in 2004, making this beer possibly the most medaled tripel in the US. These wins bring Chicago Brewing’s GABF medal count to 13, the most of any Vegas brewery. Repeating wins shows great consistency, and Brewmaster Dave Pascual is renowned for being masterful at brewing Belgian styles and has the medals to warrant respect, with these latest two adding to his collection of major competition medals that now totals 6 GABF plus 3 as assistant brewer and 2 WBC plus 1 as assistant brewer, making him the most medaled of any individual brewer in Nevada. Dave said, “I think it’s awesome that we are lucky enough to keep brewing beer that the judges love. I can’t say we do anything specific, I just brew beer I love to drink and I hope that others love it as well. Also, it is a great way to celebrate my 10 year anniversary at Chicago Brewing.”

As stated above, it’s quite a feat to medal multiple times with the same beer and Big Dog’s Brewing Company did so as well, earning a gold for its Red Hydrant Ale in the English-Style Brown Ale category. This year’s medal marks the third GABF medal for this brew, having claimed a bronze in 1994 and a silver in 2012; and gold at the World Beer Cup in 2006 and 2010. Big Dog’s tally now stands at nine GABF medals. “We are extremely excited to receive this award,” said Kurt Wiesner, Owner of Big Dog’s Brewing Company. “This award shines a bright spotlight on the great beers that are being made by our team of brewers who have been making great world-class beers here in Las Vegas for over 20 years.”

PT’s Opening a Brewery in Former Digs of Tenaya Creek

Last issue I reported that Tenaya Creek was selling its equipment as it moved to its much larger brewhouse on Bonanza Rd. near downtown. Now I can report that the former brewery on Tenaya Way in northwest Las Vegas has been sold to Golden Entertainment, owner of 46 taverns scattered throughout the Las Vegas Valley. The brewery, which will have an annual capacity of 3,000 barrels, will be called PT’s Brewing Company and will brew beers to supply its many PT’s, Sierra Gold and Sean Patrick’s outlets and pour at least seven beers at the brewery. Look for it to launch in the first quarter of 2016, possibly as soon as January. The new head brewer will be none other than Dave Otto, who is fresh off a GABF gold medal and has been brewing at Big Dog’s since it was known as Holy Cow! back in the 1990s. Big Dog’s Owner Kurt Weisner graciously said, “He is going to PT’s Brewing for a great new opportunity and we are all very excited for him and look forward to introducing our new brewer as he passes the torch to his great legacy.”

Vegas Beer Festivals

The 3rd annual Sour Saturday held at Atomic Liquors on Oct. 10 was an amazing collection of 56 sour beers from 31 breweries from around the world. I was impressed by the turnout of local breweries with Bad Beat, Big Dog’s, Chicago, Crafthaus and Joseph James which launched its sour beer series with six creations. I found my palate soon becoming numb, which in a way was a good thing, as it enabled me to pick out the real standouts, which included Joseph James Wild Raspberry aged 8 months in red wine barrels on brettanomyces and lactobacillus and the Belgian Van Honsebrouck St. Louis Kriek, a lambic made with 25% oblacinska cherries barrel aged for six months. Big kudos to Atomic Manager Rose Signor for putting together such a quality and unique event, and for providing us with an extremely detailed list of all the beers being served.

Up next is the Winter Brew’s Best Hand-Crafted Beer Festival on Dec. 5 from 1-6 at The Green at Town Square. The fest will feature more than 30 local and regional breweries and live entertainment. All proceeds will benefit New Vista, a local charity committed to providing equal opportunities and support to intellectually challenged people of all ages. Tickets are available at