From Frank Sinatra and his ever-present Jack Daniel's to the proliferation of vodka-centric bottle service in Strip nightclubs, Las Vegas has long been associated with hard liquor. But that's changing.
The craft beer craze has been steadily growing in the United States and has hit Sin City in a major way. Bars and restaurants all over the Vegas Valley offer expanding selections of small-batch brews from across the globe, including an increasing number of breweries located in the Mojave Desert.
Here's some of the best spots on and off the Las Vegas Strip to satisfy your hops cravings.
Todd English P.U.B.
This modern spin on the traditional English pub as envisioned by James Beard award-winning Chef Todd English serves up a menu featuring gourmet interpretations of classic bar grub, but it's the international beer menu at this CityCenter bar and restaurant that truly shines. Although the selection changes both seasonally and daily, staples include the aromatic amber Speakeasy Prohibition from San Francisco, the full-bodied St. Bernardus ABT 12 abbey ale from Belgium, and the refreshing Einbecker Pilsner from Germany. In addition, Todd English P.U.B. offers Trappist beers, mead and handcrafted beer cocktails.
France might be better known for its wines than its beers, but BARDOT Brasserie at Aria Las Vegas is attempting to change that. Not only does the modern French bistro by Chef Michael Mina feature a selection of ales and ciders from around the world, including Switzerland's Brasserie de Franches-Montagnes and Belgium's Cantillon, but also Hors D'âge, a signature beer found only at BARDOT, brewed in the tiny French town of Esquelbecq in partnership with Stillwater Artisanal Ales.
Tucked away inside a nondescript shopping center just a few miles west of the Strip, Rebel Republic has become a go-to destination for hops lovers with 52 craft beers on draft, including selections from local breweries such as Bad Beat Brewing and Tenaya Creek Brewery. One standout is the Rogue Double Chocolate Stout, a hearty, 9 percent ABV brew that pairs well with beef and desserts.
Hop Nuts Brewing
Located in the heart of the 18b Arts District in downtown Las Vegas, Hop Nuts Brewing serves seven staple beers brewed on premises--including a golden ale, a hefeweizen, and a porter--as well as selections from other local breweries such as Joseph James, CraftHaus and Big Dog's. Owner Kevin Holder is particularly proud of Hop Nuts' Green Mamba Double IPA, a surprisingly smooth (and strong, at 7.8 percent ABV) ale at 120+ IBU.
Artisan Booze District
Las Vegas is no Portland or Denver, but small distilleries and breweries are becoming more common in Sin City, and nowhere is that more evident than along Eastgate Road in the city of Henderson, just southeast of Las Vegas. In just one block, beer aficionados can stop by the tasting rooms of several breweries (as well as Las Vegas Distillery), including Bad Beat Brewing, which offers Vegas-themed beers like the Ace in the Hole, a pale ale with a strong basil flavor, and CraftHaus Brewery, whose "traditional but tweaked" offerings include Evocation, a Belgian-style saison with notes of lemon and pepper.
Aces & Ales
This pair of suburban, 24-hour taverns claims to have "the best craft beers on tap in Las Vegas," and with selections like Firestone Walker's Pivo Pils, Modern Times' Blazing World and Hangar 24's Vinaceous, we're inclined to agree. In addition to the draft selections (20 at the Nellis location and 50 at Tenaya), Aces & Ales also offers dozens of domestic and import bottles, including hard-to-find Belgian brews such as Brasserie Dubuisson Frères SPRL's Scaldis Prestige.
--PJ Perez, Vegas Ninja