If a bottle of Bud is your beer of choice, then stop reading this right now. But if you’re the kind of person who finds the craft of beer making intoxicating, there are five fine microbreweries in Las Vegas that you’ll enjoy from the first sip. All of them churn out beers with unique flavors and bodies, appealing to seasoned drinkers and newbies alike.
Barley’s Casino & Brewing Company (4500 E. Sunset Road, Henderson, 702-458-2739) ― Take a short drive from the Strip to Henderson and you’ll find one of the area’s oldest brewpubs. Barley’s is home to brewmaster Jeff “Bubba” Amas and his “brew crew,” who pour their hearts into every beer. They have a number of unique creations – from the Black Mountain Beer, a dark lager inspired by Bavarian tradition, to the Blue Diamond Beer, a garden-style lager. Also notable is the full-bodied Red Rock Beer. It’s their signature Oktoberfest lager and boasts a beautiful amber color. Moreover, every day at happy hour, which runs from 3-7 p.m. and 11 p.m.-3 a.m., you can get drafts for $1 in the casino’s Brew Pub Lounge.
Big Dog’s Brewing Company ― Break away from the touristy Strip and head to one of three spirited establishments that make up Big Dog’s Brewing Company: Big Dog’s Draft House (4543 N. Rancho Dr., Las Vegas, 702-645-1404), Big Dog’s Cafe & Casino (6390 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, 702-876-3647) and Big Dog’s Bar & Grill (1511 N. Nellis Blvd., Las Vegas,702-459-1099). Brewing in Las Vegas since 1993, this company is known for its whimsical dog-inspired beer names. You’ll find seven signature brew styles on the menu at all times. Don’t pass over the Black Lab Stout for the lighter beers in the lineup. Made with nine different malts and hints of coffee and cocoa, it’s delicious anytime. The Red Hydrant Ale, a 2010 World Beer Cup gold medal winner, is also a perfect thirst-quencher thanks to its light taste. The atmosphere at any of the Big Dog’s joints is always friendly. You can sit back and mingle with locals or join in one of the year-round beer tastings, tapping parties and “Brewmaster Dinner” events.
Ellis Island Casino and Microbrewery (4178 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, 702-733-8901) ― Located a block east of the Strip just off Flamingo Road, this microbrewery was voted No. 1 in Nevada and No. 9 in the country by the National Brewers Association. You can actually book a free tour by calling brewmaster Joe Pickett (ext. 252) in advance of your visit. While the highlight is sure to be the beer sampling, you’ll also be intrigued by the maze of stainless steel tanks where four delicious concoctions are created: a light, dark, amber and hefe weiss (a beer with a cloudy appearance because the yeast is not filtered out). Plus, the Ellis Island Microbrewery is the only one in town that produces an old-fashioned, all-natural root beer.
Boulder Dam Brewing Company (453 Nevada Way, Boulder City, 702-243-2739) ― Todd Cook started making beer in 2002 with a home setup he’d received from a friend. His first few tries were bad, but then he triumphed with a porter, which is a dark sweet beer. A few years later, his dad asked what his dream career would be, and Cook answered that he’d like to run a small brewery. With his parents’ help, Cook opened the Boulder Dam Brewing Company in early 2007. It’s truly a family business now with his children and his sister’s family also pitching in. Located right in the heart of historic Boulder City, the décor reflects the area’s past. Along with ’30s-era artwork, Cook was able to acquire several pieces of equipment used during the construction of Hoover Dam. Generally, he makes six different beers at a time, ranging from rich stouts to pale ales – and there’s not an additive or preservative to be found in any of them. The most popular one is the hefeweizen (a wheat beer), which is served with an orange slice. New brews are tapped on Thursday nights and a “hoppy” hour runs weeknights from 4-6 p.m.
Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery (200 N. Main St., Las Vegas, 702-387-1896) ― Imagine discovering “beervana” in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. Located in Main Street Station, Triple 7 offers you an award-winning beer experience. Ingredients are hand-selected and the recipes have been developed with painstaking care over the years. The Hefeweizen, a refreshing German-style wheat beer spiced with bananas and clove, is always a treat. But don’t leave without tasting the Pumpkin Spice Ale. One of their most popular seasonal specials, this crisp ale is flavored with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice – so it’s just like drinking a pumpkin pie!