Occidental Brewing Co. Takes Over High Sierra Brewing Space at Baldini’s Casino
The Portland, Oregon-based Occidental Brewing Co. has taken over the former High Sierra Brewing facility at Baldini’s Casino in Sparks (Reno area); after High Sierra closed in January the brewpub was rebranded Occidental Taphouse Grill. Occidental brought in beer from its Portland brewery and added some German items (such as schnitzel sandwich and sausages) to the food menu and kept the standard pub fare the restaurant served when it was High Sierra.
In February, brewing of its German-style lagers and ales began at the new location, making year-round beers similar to what is brewed in Oregon: Kölsch, Bavarian Hefe, Altbier, Dunkel and Bohemian-style Pilsner. High Sierra head brewer Tim Mason will remain and brew the Occidental lineup along with a handful of seasonals, including Belgian styles and some barrel-aged beers. Guest taps of local Northern Nevada breweries will also be poured.
Ben Engler, who co-founded Occidental with his uncle Dan Engler in 2011, says plans are in the works to upgrade the existing brewing equipment and increase fermentation capacity. Occidental produced approximately 3,000 barrels at its Portland brewery in 2017 and with this new location will have a capacity of an additional 1,800 barrels per year.
Astronomy Aleworks to Be First Southern Nevada Brewery to Open in Two Years
It’s been nearly two years since a new brewery has opened in Southern Nevada (Lovelady Brewing and PT’s Brewing opened in 2016), but that is about to change. The retro sci-fi themed Astronomy Aleworks received its 10-bbl Premiere Stainless brewing system in February and hopes to be open and pouring its beer by early April. Located at 7350 Eastgate Rd. in Henderson, it will bring the total of breweries in the unofficially named “Booze District” to three, joining CraftHaus and Bad Beat, along with the Las Vegas Distillery and Grape Expectations winery/wine school. Co-owner Matthew Brady and Brewer Allan Harrison will team up to create the brews, which will include five core beers: Blonde Ale, American Hefeweizen, Red Ale, IPA and Stout. The duo also plan on brewing a Gruit (an ancient beer containing herbs and spices for bittering rather than hops), which they claim will be the first to ever be brewed commercially in Southern Nevada, with honey, chamomile, lemongrass, coriander and jasmine flowers; and an 11% ABV Belgian-style Quad with figs, raisins, blackberries, blood orange, ginger, currants and spices.
Plans are for the tasting room décor to feature a bright red bar, blue tables and a silver wall to suggest the image of a spacecraft and retro 1960s Star Trek feel; and all of the beer names will be astronomy based, named after stellar objects such as constellations, planets, comets and satellites.
Nevada Wins Big (Again) at the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards
Once again Nevada breweries fared quite well at the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards, held in January in Bend, Ore., bringing home 9 medals, nearly equaling its impressive 11-medal tally in 2017. This time around all of the winners hailed from Northern Nevada, with IMBĪB Custom Brews cleaning up with five medals: gold medallions for its Huckleberry Nevada Weisse (Berliner-Style Weisse with Fruit or Flavor), Flanders Red Ale (Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin) and Abiogenesis #5 (Mixed-Culture Brett Beer or Wild Beer); silver for Nevada Weisse (Berliner-Weisse); and bronze for Black Currant Nevada Weisse (American-Style Fruit Beer). IMBĪB won the most medals of any single location, independent craft brewery in the US and has now medaled for its Nevada Weisse three years straight.
Other winners included Great Basin Brewing earning gold for its Wild Horse Alt (German-Style Altbier) and bronze for 39N Blonde Ale (Golden or Blonde Ale) and St. James Brasserie taking gold for its Lambic Grand Cru (Belgian-Style Lambic) and bronze for Santiago (American Origin Lager). This was the 5th year of the international beer competition with more than 2,000 entries judged; it now ranks as the third largest professional brewing competition in the US.
Nevada Spring Beer Events
The 8th annual Motley Brews Great Vegas Festival of Beer will return to the streets of Downtown Las Vegas on April 6 and 7. It is expected to draw 10,000 attendees over the two days and is Nevada’s largest craft beer festival in terms of amount of beers offered, pouring 500+ craft beers from more than 100 breweries. The Friday night event, the Mad Craft Experience from 7-10 p.m., will feature beer paired with culinary creations from some of the top establishments in the local culinary scene. The next day, The Great Vegas Grand Tasting will be held from 3-7 p.m. with early entry at 2 p.m. For more info and to purchase tickets visit greatvegasbeer.com.
The Big Dog’s Brewing 9th Annual Peace Love Hoppy-ness will be held in the outdoor area of the Draft House in northwest Las Vegas on April 21 from 3-9 p.m. As always, more than 40 local, regional and international beers will be poured, including several from the host brewery. As this is a celebration of hoppy beers, all hophounds will need to make plans to attend. To view the beer lineup visit bigdogsbrews.com/festivals/plh.
Revision Brewing will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a bash at its brewery in Sparks on May 19 from noon-10 p.m., with multiple live bands, anniversary glassware and two special IPA releases: one clear and one northeast-style hazy.
Also on May 19, across town in Reno will be the 5th annual Strange Brew Festival at The Brewer’s Cabinet. The tagline is “Expect the Unexpected,” a not-so-subtle hint that both local and regional breweries will bring some of the wackiest brews they do, most of which will only be available at this fest. Held in the back parking lot behind the brewpub from 3-7 p.m., there will be brews from 21 breweries—including nearly all of the Northern Nevada breweries—live music and food. Last year crazy ingredients included grasshoppers, rhubarb, tea, strawberry, PB&J, sundried tomato, peppercorn, pecan and lime peel. To purchase tickets and for a list of participating breweries visit strangebrewfestival.com.
Down south in Las Vegas, also on May 19, is the 9th annual Brews & Blues Festival at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve from 4-8 p.m. will have an array of local, regional, national and international beers and blues bands performing throughout. Tickets can be purchased at the Springs Preserve or at springspreserve.org.
What’s on Tap and Other News
Great Basin in Reno/Sparks will have the release of its three-time GABF gold medal-winning Cerveza Chilebeso on April 28, complete with strolling Mariachi players and taco bar at its Taps and Tanks location on S. Rock Blvd. A week later we can expect its annual Bitchin’ Berry—a blend of real raspberries, marionberries and blackberries—at pubs and retail stores.
The Union in Carson City is now pouring its beers, with its initial four beers being Happy Days IPAAAAA (Happy Days Fonz reference), Carson Blonde, Brickhouse Red and The Govena’ Hefeweizen—named in honor of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a big supporter of Nevada breweries who last year signed brewing legislation at The Union raising the state’s brewing cap from 15,000 to 40,000 barrels, and has mentioned Hefeweizen is his go-to beer.
Joseph James in Henderson will reprise its Passion Fruit & Guava Berliner Weisse, returning for the second year as a seasonal and one of at least three planned varieties of its seasonal Berliner Weisse releases. Also in the works are Who Dis IPA, a small batch experimental IPA using Mosaic and Ekuanot hops and cryogenically-separated Simcoe lupulin powder; and Suave Felon–002 Fetalisk Barnd, a tart and funky wild ale aged for over two years in a mix of chardonnay and merlot barrels, with apricot and peach purees added at finishing.
Revision Brewing in Sparks has begun its barrel-aging program and has acquired a handful of Evan Williams Whiskey barrels which are being used to age its Darkling-Imperial Stout and Finite Madness-Double Mashed Imperial Stout. During its first year of operation Revision produced 5,615 barrels, distributed across 10 states plus Australia and earned six medals at competitions including the 20th Annual IPA Festival at the Bistro, 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship, 2017 Brussels Beer Challenge and the 21st Annual Great International Beer, Cider, Mead & Sake Competition. How’s that for a successful first year!
As always, great beer happens in Nevada!
At the Booze District at 7350 Eastgate Rd., Suite 17
Henderson, NV 89011