Now I know you can carry open liquor pretty much anywhere in Las Vegas so add two-four to sippy cup and you are pretty much set but sometimes, just sometimes, you want to go to a place where everybody knows your name …oh, wait wrong train of thought.
Seriously though, sometimes you want to put down the plastic guitar filled with vodka slushie and enjoy both beer and atmosphere, somewhere you can commune with your fellow beer geeks, somewhere you can seek sage advice on what the local desert-dwellers drink.
So what did I find in Vegas?
Tenaya Creek Brewery
This brewpub is a little out of the way for those that solely dwell on the Strip but if you have a rental car (and a decent map of the side roads) it is no problem to track down Tenaya Creek. Allow me one caveat before I get into the details, there is not much else in this area, mostly medical related offices and corporate buildings, so I would not advise planning to spend a day visiting the area unless you plan to head to the Las Vegas Prime Outlets, the Neon Museum, or Fremont Street Experience and then you could keep heading north and west from there.
After navigating Guido (our rental Fiat) on a tour of the parts of Vegas most tourists never see we landed at the brewery. Pretty much your typical Las Vegas stucco building with a hint of neon for good measure but sadly the inside made the exterior seem fab. When you walk in the door prepare to be immersed in near-complete darkness and a vast haze of smoke. To be fair, it has been a long time since you could smoke indoors in Canadian spaces so perhaps it seemed overwhelming, but the dark, the smoke and the ambient din of video poker did not exactly scream sit, stay, imbibe. I don’t think they serve food but I probably would not have eaten there even if they did; however, we journeyed there for the beer and beer is what we did.
Reading the menu was a bit of a challenge given the aforementioned ambience so we just ordered a flight of whatever was on tap and headed back into the light aka the patio. First up, I have to say that I love their wrought iron glass holder, which is one of the most creative delivery methods I have seen.
In our taster sculpture we had the hefe, Pilsner, Brown, IPA, Stout and Double IPA. I quite liked the entire line-up; all the beers were very drinkable and well-balanced. I especially enjoyed their hefe, pils and brown. In that heat you naturally tend to gravitate towards the light and the hoppy.
The Freakin’ Frog
Much closer to the strip is the Freakin’ Frog, which caught my eye when I read they had a selection of over one thousand craft beers (not to mention a Whiskey Attic housing over six hundred bottles). Tucked away in a non-descript strip mall you really have to keep an eye out for this one.
Even more non-descript is the outside of the pub -windowless and marked by a red door. After we located the pub we were disappointed to see a hand-written note ‘class in-progress’ but undaunted, and spurred on by the epic heat, we tentatively made our way inside. After being greeted by thirty blank stares from the wine tasting class the bartender offered to seat us at the bar while the class wrapped up.
At the bar we were wondering how exactly they present this purported mammoth beer menu when the bartender cut to the chase and took us into their back fridge –this was motivated by my insistence that I needed to see everything they had before I could make an informed decision.
The Frog does have an impressive bottle collection, maybe not a thousand different beers, but a solid representation of many US craft breweries and a smattering of Belgian/European/Canadian beers.
After an indecisive lap around the fridge I decided to let the bartender make the choice for us. He recommended Ballast Point Sculpin IPA and New Belgium Tart Lychee Wild American Ale (on draught).
The Sculpin IPA was pale gold with a little bright white head, hoppy nose and hoppy flavour but not overwhelmingly so. A well-balanced IPA for a hot day. The Tart Lychee was pretty similar in appearance if a bit more effervescent. There is a yeasty nose with some fruitiness, a tart bite to the flavour and an earthy/malt quality with a very clean finish. This is an excellent hot weather beer and one I am going to seek out in bottle form.
Some other venues that I did not get to but are on my must-try list next Vegas trip include the Hofbrauhaus, German beer house in (relatively) walking distance from the strip and Sin City Brewing Company located in Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops and two other locations on the Strip.