Utah Beer News travels across state lines from time to time. When we do, we’ll provide dispatches from non-Beehive State beer establishments near and far. We call this: Beer Travels.
Las Vegas, the land of hopes and dreams. Where one-armed bandits and neon lights beckon the hopeful.
Living all but one of my 41 years in a state adjacent to Nevada, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Sin City. But only recently have I sought out fine craft beer from in-state breweries and hard-to-find (in Utah, at least) beers.
My wife and I traveled to Vegas for the Paul Simon Farewell Tour, but you know we enjoyed a few craft beers as well.
The show didn’t disappoint, and neither did the craft beers.
Beer Travels: Las Vegas
I’ll let you know upfront that I failed to make it to any local breweries. That could be a trip all in itself. I did, however, sample a couple local brews.
I enjoyed a pint of Hop Ride, an IPA from Tenaya Creek Brewery, while playing video blackjack at the Moneyline sportsbook.
The 7.2% ABV brew poured a pale yellow with an off-white, dissipating head. A subdued citrus (grapefruit) aroma led to a slightly more pronounced grapefruit flavor. Cascade hops add a bit of floral, while Summit and Magnum contribute to a decent bitterness (70 IBUs).
Big Dog’s Brewing Company, billing itself as “Las Vegas’ Original Brewery,” showcases an impressive array of awards on its website. The Las Vegas Craft Lager, which I tasted, didn’t make the list.
It is, however, crisp and clean, with a nice balance between hops and malt. I didn’t find anything especially special about the 5% AVB lager featuring Magnum and Liberty hops. But it’s a serviceable, easy-drinking brew to enjoy on a hot day.
Beer Travels: Tastings Beyond Nevada
The flight featured Joseph James Brewing Company Citra Rye, which I enjoyed for what I perceived to be some dank citrus flavors.
I continued with a classic — Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. My go-to as a journalism grad student, getting it on draft 15 years later is always a treat.
Next was another classic (albeit a couple decades newer). Fresh Squeezed from Deschutes Brewery is another one I drink on draft any time it’s available.
A nitro version of Rogue Ales’ Shakespeare Stout coated my tongue with silky smooth oatmeal, roasted grains, and a hint of smokiness at the end. No wonder it’s Rogue’s winningest beer.
Finally, it’s unfortunate I need to travel out of state to enjoy a delicious full-strength hometown brew on draft. Hop Rising, a wonderful caramel-y and toasted malt double IPA from Squatters Craft Beers rounded out my set and put me in perfect position to enjoy the legendary Paul Simon.
Post-concert, I enjoyed a nightcap of Swami IPA by Pizza Port Brewing Company.
A strong example of a true West Coast IPA, Swami melds citrus and pine seamlessly.
Beer Travels: Beer Park (by Budweiser)
A four-taster flight at Beer Park included no-new brews for me. But it never sucks tasting beers on a rooftop patio while on vacation.
I finished with the rarest of beers — an ice-cold Budweiser. I figured since Bud dumped a bunch of marketing dollars into sponsoring the Beer Park, I should at least try The King of Beers on-site. Lord knows I drank my share of Casino Coors Light this weekend.
It’s more robust than what we get in Utah, thanks to a slightly higher alcohol content. Crisp, refreshing, muted flavors. That’s about it.
Incidentally, our trip coincided with Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. We had a cool view of the arena from our hotel room, and we enjoyed watching Vegas transform into Hockey Town USA in support of the Golden Knights.
When money and time run out, Beer Travels by Utah Beer News must fly home. Though we only scratched the surface of craft beer in Las Vegas, we had a great time tasting a few brews.