The Great Vegas Festival of Beer is hopping along

Craft beer culture will be on full display Saturday, April 26, in downtown Las Vegas for the fourth annual Great Vegas Festival of Beer. Held for the first time in the Fremont East Entertainment District, this highly spirited event is featuring more than 80 breweries that will offer attendees more than 250 different brews to sample.

A couple at the Great Vegas Festival of Beer in 2011

At the Great Vegas Festival of Beer, attendees are given 5-ounce recyclable glasses for sampling. (Photo courtesy of Motley Brews)

“We want people to find and try beers they may not encounter otherwise, and then fall in love and seek them out after the festival,” said Brian Chapin, who is one of the founders of Motley Brews.

The Great Vegas Festival of Beer, which now attracts more than 5,000 guests, was launched in 2010 by Motley Brews. The company is dedicated to promoting craft beer awareness through festivals and other special events. Each fall for the past two years, Motley Brews has also put on the Downtown Brew Festival at the Clark County Amphitheater.

“The concept behind Motley Brews stems from a passion for local handcrafted beer, but it’s also about bringing more community-driven events to Las Vegas,” said Chapin, “and we want to help put Nevada on the map as a craft beer power.”

There will be a strong contingency from the state of Nevada at the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. In fact, several of the participating breweries produce their suds in and around Las Vegas. Among these are Big Dog’s Brewing Company, Tenaya Creek Brewery, Chicago Brewing Company and Joseph James Brewing Company. Expect to see lots of regional breweries at the festival as well, along with some from places as far away as Brazil, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

In addition to being a celebration of diverse beers and passionate brewers, the Great Vegas Festival of Beer has a few new experiences on tap this year, thanks to the vibrant urban atmosphere of downtown Las Vegas.

Nevada Craft Brewers Association at the 2013 Great Vegas Festival of Beer

The Nevada Craft Brewers Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, will serve specialty beers brewed just for the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. (Photo courtesy of Motley Brews)

“We’re using the streets along with the restaurants and bars that are located inside the footprint,” said Chapin about the festival grounds, which will be completely fenced off for the 21 and over crowd. “These venues will provide the setting for our VIP lounge, the BrewLogic instructional area and the Human Arcade. It’s a ‘next level’ thing that we’re trying to do this year to really give people an immersive craft beer experience.”

VIP ticket holders will have access to the Brewers Lounge housed in Commonwealth, a speakeasy-style bar on the corner of Fremont and Sixth streets. In addition to stunning rooftop views of the festival, guests will enjoy beer cocktails, reserve pours, a mixology bar and a selection of small plates (many utilizing beer as an ingredient) from Michael Morton’s nearby La Comida restaurant.

At BrewLogic, you can learn more about the world of craft beer through demos and talks by key figures – cicerones and brewmasters – in the industry.

The Human Arcade,  inside Fremont Country Club, has to be seen to be understood. Along with pub games like beer pong and a giant Jenga, Chapin is excited about the “silent disco.” At least three DJs will spin different types of music on different channels. Guests who want to participate will be given headphones.

“To anyone walking by and peeking in, it will look like a bunch of people are just dancing quietly,” said Chapin, “but they are hearing music in their headphones. It’s a really cool thing to do because you can tell which channel other people are on, and you can tell which DJ is doing your channel.”

A former running of the Great Vegas Festival of Beer at Tivoli Village

The Great Vegas Festival of Beer, held during its first two years at Tivoli Village, as shown above, is a social and interactive tasting event. (Photo by Fred Morledge)

Food is another major component of this year’s Great Vegas Festival of Beer. Motley Brews is working with several restaurants and food trucks to form a dedicated area called the Gastropub. It will be situated in an empty lot across from El Cortez. Attendees are sure to find something to whet their appetites from menus boasting at least one item inspired by beer.

Finally, two great jam bands – locally based Rusty Maples and the Crash Kings from Los Angeles – have been enlisted to provide the soundtrack at the festival.

With so much good stuff to be enjoyed on the streets and in the bars and restaurants, this event is sure become the toast of downtown Las Vegas.

“What we promise to breweries and patrons is a unique event that’s true to what the craft beer industry is – a collaborative local experience,” said Chapin.

The Great Vegas Festival of Beer will run from 3 – 8 p.m. All attendees must be at least 21 years old and bring a valid photo ID for admittance. Until April 19, tickets cost $35 (for entry at 4 p.m.), $45 (for early entry at 3 p.m.) and $75 (for the VIP experience that includes a commemorative glass along with early entry at 3 p.m.). From April 20 – 26, prices will go up to $40, $50 and $80, respectively. Designated driver tickets, which are significantly discounted, will be available at the door.

Note: If you can’t wait until April 26 to get your hand on a glass of craft beer, drop by one of these 10 breweries in Vegas to take a swig right now.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.