Before a recent trip to Las Vegas I pondered “Is Las Vegas a Good Beer City?“, and now that I’ve returned I think I have an answer (or at least a better idea). The first time I went to Vegas 13 years ago, I noticed a lack of beer culture and even beer presence (it’s always been a cocktails first town), but I wondered if things had changed since the craft beer boom. I did a little research and was going to hit as many promising locations as time would allow, considering my other obligations while there.
As Vegas has a habit of doing, it distracted me. Whether I was drinking “Szechuan Button” cocktails that turned my face numb at The Chandelier Bar inside The Cosmopolitan, watching the world’s largest bidet go off in front of The Bellagio or getting reeled in by the Ellen slot machines, I wasn’t drinking beer. At some point I finally broke the trance of the neon lights and was able to drag myself to two beer bars and an actual brewery (reviews to follows).
While I wasn’t able to get to as many places as I would’ve liked, I did notice something about the places I didn’t go to. Places that didn’t even come up as great beer destinations in my research. They were advertising great beer selection. Big billboards for The Pub at Monte Carlo and Five50 Pizza Bar at Aria boasted hundreds of selections, and I took that as a good sign that Las Vegas was starting to view craft beer as an attraction. Also, there was craft beer offered at more locations than I expected as I traveled the city, which is another good sign.
The places I was able to get to (Banger Brewing, Public House at The Venetian and Tom’s Urban at New York New York) were all excellent, and obviously representative of a growing craft beer movement there. Make no mistake, cocktails are still King of the Desert, much like Carrot Top (and his 2 nightly shows at The Luxor) is still the King of Awkward Roid-Rage Comedy, but beer is not an infant there anymore, it’s growing up. Will it get past puberty and blossom into a lovely craft beer flower for all of us to enjoy? Time will tell, but the fact that it’s thriving even with foster parents like Barry Manilow and Chumlee from Pawn Stars gives me hope that Las Vegas can someday be quality beer destination.