Beer Zombies Founder Takes an Artistic Approach to Beer

Chris Jacobs, an artist and longtime Las Vegas hospitality worker, opened Beer Zombies in 2013. It's since expanded its footprint, including opening a Salt Lake City location on New Year's Eve 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Jacobs
Chris Jacobs, an artist and longtime Las Vegas hospitality worker, opened Beer Zombies in 2013. It's since expanded its footprint, including opening a Salt Lake City location on New Year's Eve 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Jacobs

Chris Jacobs, the founder of Beer Zombies, grew up 45 minutes from Sierra Nevada Brewery in Northern California. He moved to Las Vegas in 1995 and immersed himself in the bar and cocktail scene on the Strip, working in various service industry positions.

Beer Zombies - Chris Jacobs

A few years passed and he started focusing on the craft beer aspect of Las Vegas, which proved to be minimal at the time. Jacobs began developing beer programs centered on higher-end beers and worked to educate Vegas beer drinkers on the merits of craft beer.

At the same time, Jacobs’ artistic venture — We Are Zombies — continued to thrive, as he painted murals and other pieces for casinos. One day, while working for a hotel client, he drew a hop beard on his existing zombie logo and voilà! Beer Zombies was born. Sort of.

“There was no game plan, no marketing. I didn’t write a business plan,” he says. “It was just an organic idea that turned into a company.”

It all happened relatively quickly.

“It’s literally one of those things,” Jacobs remembers. “I’d take a couple beer pictures and post them (to Instagram) and have a good time with it. I’m still running bars on the Strip, so it wasn’t like I could do eight hours a day on Beer Zombies. Maybe I’m going to a beer festival, so let me take some pictures. It was organic without any real structured direction. Just a dude taking beer pictures who likes beer.”

Beer Zombies, described as a “craft beer lifestyle brand, brewing project, and all-around craft beer ambassador,” hit Vegas in 2013. Since then the brand has expanded to include new brick and mortar bars, popular logo merchandise, and a soon-to-open brewery.

On New Year’s Eve 2019, it opened a location in downtown Salt Lake City.

Chris Jacobs: In His Own Words

BONUS: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our interview with Chris Jacobs, founder of Beer Zombies. In it, he discusses the history of the brand, a pair of beer releases that hit the Salt Lake market in October, and what Utah craft beer drinkers can expect to see in the future.

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Beer Zombies Salt Lake
Beer Zombies at HallPass in Salt Lake City prior to the grand opening in 2019.

Getting a HallPass

The Salt Lake Beer Zombies is located inside HallPass at The Gateway. While HallPass is open to all ages, Beer Zombies is a 21+ establishment.

The 11,000 square-foot complex is located street level on the south end of The Gateway, 153 S. Rio Grande Street (below the Megaplex Theaters where Happy Sumo used to be).

SkinnyFats, an award-winning Las Vegas eatery, is a big reason Beer Zombies invaded Salt Lake when it did. Originally, Jacobs teamed up with SkinnyFats in Vegas to open Beer Zombies seven years ago.

“They’ve become like family to me,” Jacobs says. “When (SkinnyFats) let me know they were going to Salt Lake to do a HallPass and SkinnyFats was going to be an anchor, it was a natural fit to have Beer Zombies be the alcohol anchor.”

Less than three months after opening in Salt Lake, Beer Zombies and countless other businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It put a damper on Jacobs’ first-year plans, one of which included chartering a bus to transport fans of the brand from Vegas to Salt Lake.

“We were calling it the Beer Zombies Invasion and the idea was to take 60 people (from Vegas) to every brewery (in Salt Lake) and end up at Beer Zombies,” Jacobs says. “Hopefully, like a snowball, we’d pick up people along the way and the 60 would be 120 by the end. That was going to kick it off. But we’ve got to wait. It will still happen.”

The Beer Zombies Beers

Chasen Mobley, beer director for SkinnyFATS, told Utah Beer News prior to its opening in 2019 that the Salt Lake spot planned to keep 16 or so rotating craft beers on tap with plenty more available in cans and bottles.

In October, Beer Zombies introduced a pair of beers it brewed at Mason Ale Works in San Marcos, Calif. (its temporary home while the Vegas-based brewery is under construction).

Wizards & Zombies, a 10.5% ABV triple hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with Brujos, features a metric ton of oats, Jacobs says. An all-Citra hops schedule and a dose of lactose help give the beer a bright, creamy character.

“That beer is dangerous,” Jacobs says. “I brought a case home and it lasted about four days. It’s super easy to drink.”

Galaxy Revenge is part of the brand’s single-hop “revenge” series. This one, as you’d expect, features a healthy helping of Galaxy hops. The 8% ABV hazy double IPA offers aromas and flavors of bright citrus and tropical fruits.

“We’re doing these about once a month, taking the same base and showcasing a single hop,” Jacobs says. “It’s an easy way to taste something that’s 100% and you’ll know right away whether you’ll like it.”

Most recently, Mosaic Revenge hit the market.

“The whole reason I started Beer Zombies was to drink good beer with good people,” says Chris Jacobs. “As long as we continue doing those kinds of things, I feel like Beer Zombies will keep moving forward and we’ll get through this.” Photo Credit: Chris Jacobs

About Beer Zombies

Beer Zombies is a “craft beer lifestyle brand, brewing project, and all-around craft beer ambassador.” It opened its doors in Las Vegas in 2013. A second location followed, with a third slated to open on Black Friday. A Dallas location should open by the end of 2020 and the company recently broke ground on a Las Vegas-based brewery.

Currently, Jacobs is brewing out of Mason Ale Works in San Marcos, Calif., and putting out a fresh beer or two each month.

The HallPass Food Hall at The Gateway is home to the Salt Lake location. Beer Zombies, along with its sister company SkinnyFATS, anchor the 11,000-square-foot eatery.

“Salt Lake City is such a rad town,” Jacobs says. “Being from Vegas, I go up there and people turn up their nose. I say, ‘you’re missing out.’ The vibe is good, the people are super-friendly, and the beer scene is great.”

  • Founded: 2013 (Salt Lake location, 2019)
  • Notable: Chris Jacobs, whose background is in art, operated a company called We Are Zombies. He’d often snap photos combining two passions — beer and art — and share them on social media. One night he sketched a hop beard onto his existing art company logo and called it Beer Zombies. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Website: https://beer-zombies.com/
  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Instagram (SLC)

A Video Conversation

Utah Beer News visited with Chris Jacobs via Zoom on Oct. 27, 2020.

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