Las Vegas has a new brewery/distillery, albeit on a very small scale. The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Downtown Las Vegas, commonly known as the Mob Museum, has opened The Underground. Named for its location in the Museum’s basement, the new wing is dedicated to educating visitors about the era of Prohibition, and included in the instruction are a working distillery and brewery. The distillery has a capacity of 60 gallons and can distill approximately 250 750ml bottles of 100% yellow corn moonshine per week, while the even smaller brewing apparatus holds only 20 gallons and will be able to produce about 15 gallons (about one keg) a week.
Overseeing both is Las Vegas Distillery Owner George Racz, who is training Lead Museum Educator Cole Miller to eventually take over both distilling and brewing duties. CraftHaus Co-head Brewer Steve Brockman has also been advising on recipes. Plans are to generate Prohibition-era pale ales, amber ales, porters and stouts. A speakeasy with full view of the brewing and distilling systems is where you can sample the brews and moonshine. The red-wallpapered room with leather banquettes is filled with artifacts and displays delineating the history of Prohibition, a working jukebox from the 1920s and a long wooden bar.
To access the speakeasy during daytime you must purchase a ticket to the museum, but after 5 p.m. no ticket purchase is required, but only those 21 or over are admitted and one will need to enter from a not-so-secret side door on the northeast corner of the building down a flight of stairs and say the password-of-the-week (posted on the Museum’s website and social media). The museum, located in a former federal courthouse built by the federal government during the 1920s and 1930s with Depression-era neoclassical architecture, has been doing quite well drawing guests in, with nearly a million visitors since opening in 2012. Now with these new additions we have more reasons to visit and check out the history of Prohibition while also imbibing the once illegal products of which the outlawing led to a storied part of our nation’s history.
Head Brewer Changes
Congrats to Erik Nielsen, who after working as assistant brewer at Chicago Brewing since early 2016, was recently promoted to the head brewer position. The native Las Vegan says, “I am super excited to take over a brewery with such a great history of awards, and hope that I can continue that tradition of making great beers. I very much enjoy making hoppy beers and also coffee beers. Since we make our own nitro cold brew in house, thanks to our partnership with (local coffee roaster) Desert Wind Roasters, it makes it a lot easier to have a roaster with a variety of beans that can roast those beans to my specifications for a beer I have in mind. In the future, you can expect more beers of both styles. I plan to help put Chicago back out there and increase production while doing so, and am very much looking forward to working with all the breweries in town and helping the Vegas beer scene grow.”
The Reno-based Brasserie Saint James, winner of the Best Mid-Size Brewpub and Best Midsize Brewpub Brewers award at the 2014 GABF, has a new head brewer. Madison Gurries has relocated to Idaho and taking over is Elijah Pasciak, whose resume includes brewing at Crooked Stave in Colorado. His barrel-aging experience will be put to good use, as he will be expanding Brasserie St. James’ barrel and seasonal program. Elijah says, “I am working with the intent to continue our barrel program by tasting through, blending and packaging the stock already aging off-site at the Saint, as well as starting a few new smaller projects which will be kept at the brewery.” He also relates their first batch will be an oak-fermented 100% lacto red farmhouse style beer with hibiscus, rose hips, orange peel, ginger, coriander and peppercorns.
Also, releasing in the next few weeks will be Rose—a farmhouse-style ale refermented with boysenberries and apricots in red wine barrels, followed by Framboise—a lambic-style beer aged on fresh raspberries. Regarding future releases, Elijah adds, “Our intent is to create a new portfolio of seasonal offerings while continuously releasing one-off experimental batches which are the results of our shared passions for the culinary arts, traditional beer styles, and new school brewing techniques.”
As always, great beer happens in Nevada!
Mob Museum — The Underground
300 Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101