Las Vegas Brewing News: May 2024

World Beer Cup Held in Las Vegas

The World Beer Cup (WBC), the world’s most prestigious international brewing competition, took place last month in Las Vegas for the first time. A total of 280 judges from 37 countries assessed 9,300 beers from 2,060 breweries in 50 countries submitted in 110 style categories. Needless to say, winning a WBC honor is quite an accomplishment, and Nevada can be very proud, as three of its breweries and a Vegas-affiliated brewery earned one gold, two silver, and two bronze awards.

Although technically not a Nevada brewery, a few years ago after outgrowing its Las Vegas brewery space, Ellis Island relocated its brewing operations to its Silver Reef Brewing production facility in St. George, UT, which now makes the beer served at Ellis Island and throughout Southern Nevada. Silver Reef/Ellis Island brewers have been excelling over the past decade in brewing outstanding Rauchbiers (smoked beer), so it’s not surprising that the gold in the Smoke Beer category went to Silver Reef for its Mas Fuego. It was brewed with beechwood-smoked malt bringing complex barbecue smoke aroma and flavor. A barrel-aged version of the same beer, Smokin’ Barrel, also brought home bronze in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category. It was aged 18 months in a one-time used Silver Reef Distillery Bourbon Barrel.

IMBĪB Custom Brews is no stranger to the winner’s stage, as it has been on quite a roll. The Reno-based brewery earned WBC honors for the third year in a row. This year its Abiogenesis #10 took silver in the Mixed-Culture Brett Beer category. Of the beer, Co-founder Matt Johnson says, “Abiogenesis is a beer series that showcases our most unique, wild, barrel-aged beer. Each version includes a custom blend of beers that have gone through extensive aging (2+ years minimum). Abiogenesis # 10 is a Spelt Saison aged in white wine barrels with mixed cultures with secondary aging on blueberries and boysenberries.

On the win, Matt added, “We are so honored to have received our third back-to-back award at the World Beer Cup. Every beer in the competition is world class so to win against the absolute best beers in the world is the highest compliment you can receive. We never expect to win, but when we do it much to our brand and we are proud to be part of the team of Nevada breweries that took home awards this year.

Another northern Nevada brewery also medaled: Shoe Tree Brewing (Carson City and Minden) earned a silver for its Lahontan Brown in the American-Style Brown Ale category. Shoe Tree also earned a bronze at last year’s WBC.

Las Vegas’ HUDL Brewing earned a bronze for its Sweet Chai O’ Mine in the Herb and Spice Beer category. The beer was a collaboration with HUDL and Kyle Weniger, our local roving brewer (AKA Juxta Nomad). Head Brewer Joe Cuozzo says, “It feels great to represent Vegas. The last time I was able to brew in a host city was 2004 in San Diego, and winning multiple WBC awards at home felt amazing. It means a ton to represent Las Vegas in general, but means so much more to win when we hosted the event in our city. I am proud of the whole brewing team, and how Kyle and I worked on this beer from the ground up; we both had a lot of faith in what we were doing from grain to glass.

Kyle added, “I’m grateful to HUDL for opening their doors and letting me be a small part of their team. This beer was a true collaboration from start to finish and I thank the whole crew for their hard work and dedication to quality. I have my GABF medals from years back and that’s awesome, but we had been chasing an international medal for years at Joseph James (where he was the head brewer before its closing) to no avail. This was the first beer I’ve ever entered into WBC as Juxta and I wasn’t entirely confident with the size of the category and the killer beers being produced across the globe. Being recognized in a competition of this size is reassuring that I’m in the right industry and couldn’t be more exited for what’s to come.”

What’s Pouring in May

Mojave Brewing does not serve food, but guests are free to order in food from neighboring restaurants in the Henderson Water Street District. The latest eatery to join the fold is the very popular Juan’s Flaming Fajitas, which is located a few blocks away on Water Street. Delivery is offered Thu from 4 to 8 p.m., Fri-Sat from 4 to 9 p.m. and Sun from noon to 6 p.m. To order, call Juan’s at 702-476-4647. While you’re at Mojave Brewing, Brewer Andy Kohon has some new brews to try this month, including a 5.5% Chocolate Blonde steeped on TCHO Ghana nibs (small pieces of crushed roasted cacao beans) and a 5.5% Pineapple Cider.

Able Baker has a handful of releases scheduled for the month of May. They include Lucky Duck, an 8% Hazy DIPA double dry hopped with Strata and Mosaic (May 13); Cherry Berry BANG! BANG! Fruited Sour with Oregon tart cherries, raspberries, and lemon zest (May 20); and Candy Bar Kiloton Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Ale with almond, chocolate, coconut, and cinnamon (May 27).

Brewer Musical Chairs

Longtime accomplished brewer Tom Harwood is now Lead Brewer at Nevada Brew Works. He’s taking over the majority of the brewing duties for Ken Hallyburton, who remains the Director of Brewing Operations. Tom will work closely in planning the brewing calendar with Ken and Co-owner Jason Taylor, and will also have some freedom for special releases, so he’ll be able to express some creativity while keeping year rounds and rotating seasonals flowing. Tom says, “It’s good to be back in the Arts District, and I love it down here.”

Tom is still the brewer for Bad Beat, which is relocating to the Arts District later this year, but is brewing at Nevada Brew Works in the interim to keep his brewing skills sharp. Speaking of his most recent brew, Tom says, “Finally tapped my first original IPA at Nevada Brew Works today. It’s called Tropical West Coast IPA and is hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Chinook. It’s medium bodied with a little wheat and rye.”

In other brewer news, Marcos Lopez, the former Head Brewer of the now closed Astronomy Aleworks, will be the first brewer at The Spot, located in the southwest on Desert Inn just east of Durango in Scenic Brewing’s former location. Although the restaurant is now open, the brewery is not on line yet, but will be in the coming weeks. Knowing the brewing skills of Marcos, I expect them to be of high quality. 

  • Silver Reef Brewing Team WBC courtesy of Brewers Association
  • Mojave Brewing Pineapple Cider courtesy of Mojave Brewing
  • Imbib Founders Matt Johnson and Jason Green WBC courtesy of Brewers Association
  • HUDL brew team WBC courtesy of Brewers Association
  • Able-Baker-Lucky-Duck courtesy of Able Baker
  • Able Baker Cherry Cherry Bang Bang courtesy of Able Baker
  • Able Baker Candy Bar Kiloton courtesy of Able Baker
  • Tom Harwood at Nevada Brew Works courtesy of Tom Harwood
  • Able Baker Cherry Cherry Bang Bang courtesy of Able Baker

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