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JUNE/JULY 2005 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST

Nevada Beer Nuggets
By Bob Barnes

Last issue I said it was the start of beer festival season in Nevada, and I wasn’t kidding. Three festivals are on the books for June, when the weather is warm but not yet hot.

The Eldorado Hotel & Casino in Reno, home of the Brew Brothers Brewpub, will kick off the start of the summer season with the 10th annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival on June 25. With Reno’s average June temperature being in the low 80s, it’s a good time to be outdoors and drink some quality suds. This is the largest and longest-running beer fest in the Silver State. All seven of Brewmaster Darren Whitcher’s brews will be featured, along with several from Las Vegas, California and Alaska. Brewers have the option of having their beer judged, with awards being given by style categories. Food will include grilled chicken, ribs and sausage, fresh from an outdoor charbroil grill, and live music will keep the place rocking.

The Eldorado knows a thing or two about promoting and selling beer. For the past five years, Brew Brothers has produced and sold more beer than any non-chain brewpub in the U.S. and has been dubbed “Best Brewpub in America” by Nightclub & Bar Magazine. Festival packages include a souvenir beer mug, tasting tokens and preferred seating for performances in the Eldorado Showroom. For more information, call 800-648-5966, or 775-786-5700 in Nevada, or go online at eldoradoreno.com.

"The summer heat in Vegas is bearable only as long as we have great beer to drink!"

Farther south, in North Las Vegas, June 17–18 will see a festival with nearly the same title: the Cannery Casino & Hotel’s third annual Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival. Admission is $5, and an additional $15 will get you a bottomless beer mug to sample from 24 different brews from New Belgium, St. Pauli Girl, Grolsch, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Spaten, Pyramid, Newcastle and possibly some local brewpubs. Local BBQ-oriented restaurants will be providing food at an additional cost. Another draw is the high-quality blues bands (five different groups) performing, with John Lee Hooker Jr. headlining. The festival will be held on the Cannery’s Club indoor/outdoor festival grounds. Hours on Friday are from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to midnight. The Cannery is located just west of I-15 at Craig and Losee Road. Call 702-507-5700 for more information.

Over at the Nevada/Utah border in Mesquite, Nev., the fourth annual CasaBrewski at the CasaBlanca Resort will feature food and beer from around the world. The fest takes place poolside on June 11 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., with the cost being only $25 for all the beer and food you care to taste. For more information, call 800-459-7529.

Chicago Brewing Company’s fifth anniversary celebration in April was well-received and attended, judging from the 15 kegs that were emptied by its appreciative patrons. The crowd-pleaser was definitely the Hawaiian Honey, made with 15% clover honey and packing quite a punch at 12% abv. Attendees were immediately given a taste of the islands, as they were presented at the door with a lei while Danny Escondido (the Hawaiian Cowboy) and his band provided live music and hula dancing throughout the evening.

Big Dog’s Brewing Company was the only Nevada brewery to take beer down to Phoenix for the Great Arizona Beer Festival. Brewers Dave Otto and Devin Greenman poured their Leglifter Light, Belgian White Ale, Seeing Double Doppel Weizenbock and War Dog IPA. Big Dog’s has just finished brewing its first lager, a hoppy pilsner featuring Czech Saaz and German Tettnang. This thirst-quencher will arrive just as the Vegas heat kicks in, with the first tapping expected by June 1. The summer heat in Vegas is bearable only as long as we have great beer to drink!

Since the closing of Brew and Beer Gear in October, Las Vegas has been without a local homebrew supply shop, and Vegas homebrewers were left with no choice but to mail order. Jon Griffin has come to the rescue by opening Nevada Brew and Wine Supply. Just steps from Freakin’ Frog and across from UNLV, it’s open noon to 7:00 p.m. daily. The store sponsors classes in beer, wine and coffee, as well as events featuring cooking and pairing food with beer and wine. Held in conjunction with the Freakin’ Frog, it will sponsor the first annual Beat the Freakin’ Heat Homebrew Competition on August 28. The AHA- and BJCP-sanctioned competition will be held at the Freakin’ Frog.

Speaking of Freakin’ Frog, the upstairs area is being converted to a whiskey bar that owner Adam Carmer claims will be the largest in the U.S. Set to open at the end of May and called the Whisky Attic, it’ll serve nothing but whiskey, with over 500 different selections of Scotch, bourbon, rye, Irish whiskey and Canadian whisky. The Frog still lays claim to having the largest beer selection in Nevada; its beer menu now lists 519 beers.

For those who like visiting the Las Vegas Strip, Wynn Las Vegas, the newest mega-resort to open in Vegas, serves some classy beers. Some of the finer selections are Chimay, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium Fat Tire and Kronenbourg 1664. In the last issue, I detailed the stellar beer choices at the bars and restaurants at the MGM Grand but neglected to mention the selection in the Hollywood Theater showroom. While attending the David Copperfield show I was happily surprised to find both Duvel and Chimay on the menu. Finding good beer in Vegas is no longer a daunting task. As always, good things happen in Vegas!

Bob Barnes is a native Las Vegan and a regional correspondent for the Celebrator Beer News. He welcomes your inquiries and is standing by to assist you in your Vegas beer quest. He can be reached via e-mail at LVBobB@juno.com.

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