During the past holiday weekend, I got to spend some time in Las Vegas. While dodging the heavily crowded Las Vegas Strip, I managed to check out a handful of breweries around town. Breweries in Clark County tend to have a few things in common that make them stand out from the Southern Californian breweries that I have gotten used to. For the most part, the beers cost significantly less, with a few of the breweries charging less than a dollar per brew in a sampler flight. Some of the employees mentioned that the gambling and gaming helps them keep costs down. Also, most of the breweries operate as brewpubs, featuring a restaurant side with a full menu (as opposed to a lighter menu that has only appetizers and/or snacks). Many breweries also feature guest brews (beers made by other breweries), something that not many breweries in Southern California do, if at all. I had not visited Las Vegas since early 2014, and back then I only knew about Tenaya Creek Brewery (who had since moved from northwest Las Vegas to closer to downtown) and Sin City Brewing, the latter of which has a stronger hold on the beers poured along the strip. Since my last visit, I have looked up many more breweries to check out, so I made it a mission to visit as many of them as possible. A quick weekend did not provide enough time for me to get to all of them, so for those breweries that I missed, I will save them for a future visit.

I first visited Big Dog’s Brewing Company in Northwest Las Vegas. Walking in reminded me of the local watering hole that the locals love. I did not get any sense of craft beer enthusiasts here – I only encountered locals who simply love this place for everything it offers. Operating as a brewpub, Big Dog’s has a full menu, televisions, a full bar, video poker, a full bar, and they remain open 24/7. They provided me with a 5-beer sampler flight for $8. While off the beaten path, any craft beer fan will surely want to check out Big Dog’s Brewing Company.

I cruised down highway 95 to arrive at Chicago Brewing Company, another brewpub that remains open 24/7. The name confuses me and many others, but their brews sure do not confuse. Once inside, this place looks like a standard family restaurant. You walk in, see the host stand, and the dining area resides to your right. By entering the glass double doors to the left, you arrive at the bar area that has televisions and video poker. For those on a budget, you will want to check out what Chicago Brewing has to offer, as I received a 10-beer flight for only $9. The flight included their six house drafts, three seasonal brews, and a special cilantro-lime ale from the featured kegerator. As a bonus, I met the head brewer of Big Dog’s Brewing, Dave, here while he visited with his family. I got to chat with him for a bit and learn more about craft beer in Clark County.

Completing my crawl of westside, I end my afternoon at Old School Brewing Company, a brewpub that only opens for a handful of hours each day. Old School Brewing has their restaurant dining area to the right when you enter, and the bar area to the left. Unlike the previous two stops, I did not witness any video poker machines. Here at Old School Brewing, I got to sample four brews for $5. With such a small flight and not much to do or see here, I found myself finishing up quite fast.

I took a break until the evening, where I ended up heading towards the downtown area to find myself at Hop Nuts Brewing. Located in the Arts District between the Las Vegas Strip and downtown, this spacey brewery has a handful of their own brews on tap plus other guest brews. Hop Nuts does not have any gaming machines here, but looks more like that local dive bar that you take your friends to. They have a front patio for you to enjoy your brews and/or a smoke, and they have televisions and dart boards inside. I did not see any food, so I can wager that they do not serve food here. Thus at Hop Nuts Brewing, you get an actual brewery behind the bar that also serves spirits. I wanted to check out the other breweries around downtown, but for a night on a holiday weekend, I had no intention of driving around crowded streets and busy pedestrian areas.

The next day, I trekked out past Henderson to land at Boulder City where I found Boulder Dam Brewing Company. As the only brewery on the way to Hoover Dam from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, locals have made this place one of the premier watering holes of Boulder City. Small town charm pays off here, as everyone appeared to know each other and treated each other like family. You will not find any gaming machines here – you have a family-friendly family-owned brewpub serving up local brews and comfort food. While I may not speak of the beers here, I can highly recommend stopping by this place for the local legacy that this brewery has created.

For the last brewery I would visit this weekend, I end at Lovelady Brewing Company. Finally, I find an actual standalone brewery with no bells or whistles. Lovelady does not serve food, nor do they have gaming machines. Yes, Lovelady gives you just the microbrewery experience and nothing more, and sometimes, you need nothing more. Lovelady Brewing opened just three months ago, and has built up quite a name for themselves with their magnificently balanced brews. You can created your own sampler flight here, as you pay $2 for each sampler. As a bonus, the gentlemen here gave us a free tour of the brewing area in the back, showing up their (2-row) malt silo, kettle, sparge, and fermenters, among other things such as their walk-in cooler and keg storage area. I can honestly say that Lovelady Brewing had the best beers I drank all weekend, and I highly recommend that you check out Lovelady Brewing the next time you visit Las Vegas.

During this weekend trip, I missed Banger Brewing, Triple 7, and the new Tenaya Creek location in downtown, and CraftHaus Brewery, Bad Beat Brewing, and Barley’s in Henderson. I know that a few breweries exist near the strip, but I will likely avoid those as I do not want to put up with crowds and driving there unless I visit early enough in the day to avoid most traffic. Still, I like to see that the craft beer business has picked up in Las Vegas, a touristy place where big brands dominate over local business. I hope to visit Las Vegas again soon to complete the microbrewery circuit.


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