Sometimes when you travel finding a source of great craft beer is a no-brainer, this is true if you go pretty much anywhere on the west coast of North America or say Belgium but sometimes if can be a little bit more challenging to locate your next beer fix.
Oddly enough the latter description applies to Sin City. Yeah I know it’s kinda ironic that the capital of overindulgence is not resplendent with gushing craft beer fountains and tap houses on every garish block but hey that’s what you’ve got me for right? The beer geek that plots her beer routes on the map before landing in the desert.
I always have a few beer priorities when I am travelling. First, finding a store that sells lots of great beer so I can stockpile bottles for my hotel room mini-fridge; second, locating a place I can go to grab a decent pint and third, staking out that oh-so-elusive eatery that allows me to both drink great beer and eat great food.
So what did I find in Vegas?
Probably the most important time-saver I can think of is to constantly repeat the mantra that the Strip is basically a giant corporate marketplace sponsored by the big macro-brewers – if you love Bud Light with Lime you’re golden otherwise you’re boned.
Granted you may find the odd craft beer sprinkled here and there at a Walgreens but if you are serious about having a decent bottle selection on hand head south my friends, head south (and don’t stop until you get to Town Square).
A quick cab ride from Mandalay Bay will get you to the local Whole Foods or as beer geeks know it Old Faithful. Here you will find all the craft beer your heart desires, at reasonable prices, and in sixes or twelves to boot!
Some highlights from my bottle line-up…
Brux Domesticated Wild Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Russian River Brewing Co. – Deep amber gold ale with lots of sediment and tons of stiff white head. Super yeasty and earthy on the nose with that barnyard element coming through on the nose, flavour and finish. Straight forward live beer with no flavour embellishments. This could be a challenging beer for some since bacteria-laden brews can be an acquired taste but I have to say this one worked for me.
Calico Amber Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company – Deep amber to brown in colour with a ton of cream coloured head. Quite hoppy on the nose, but well-balanced flavour wise with lots of malt coming through and a nice smooth mouthfeel. Very clean and smooth to drink. Not remarkable but a good beer all-in-all.
Table Beer from Stillwater Artisanal Ales- I love the concept; an analogue to a table wine this table beer is a blend of various styles to make a versatile go-with-anything brew. Very pale gold in colour, slightly cloudy with bright white head. Hoppy on the nose, bitter on the finish. Flavour wise I would say this is most comparable to a Pale Ale. Overall, I think they met their goal of making an accessible and easy beer that most anyone could drink.
Brett Beer from New Belgium Brewing Company and The Lost Abbey – “We got the funk”. Hoo boy, a cloudy gold coloured beer with lots of head, tons of sediment and that fresh-from-the-farm aroma. As the name suggests this is a bacteria bomb; a wild ale that is earthy and sour in flavour. Another challenging brew but if you are open to pushing beer boundaries this is one to try.
Hell’s Keep from Squatters Salt Lake Brewing – Deep golden colour, lots of bright white head and sweet malt on the nose. Fairly light-bodied beer, malt heavy in the profile with a bit of an earthy aftertaste. An easy drinker for a Belgian.
Other options include, getting growlers filled at local breweries like Tenaya Creek or Sin City Brewing Co. Or checking out Lee’s Discount liquor for a decent selection of craft beer (I did not get a chance to get there myself but the bartender at the Freakin’ Frog recommended it). The Freakin’ Frog will also sell you bottles out of their impressive fridge but you won’t be paying retail prices.