Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2017

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Guest Columnist:

Rich Johnson of Sin City Brewing Co: Las Vegas’ craft beer scene is on the rise


Erik Kabik/Retna/

Holly Madison at Sin City Brewing Co.

Sin City Brewing Co. at Harmon Corner

Sin City Brewing Co. at Harmon Corner on the Las Vegas Strip. Launch slideshow »

Laura Croft @Sin City Brewing Co.

Playboy Playmate Laura Croft at Sin City Brewing Co. in Planet Hollywood. Launch slideshow »

Holly Madison @Sin City Brewing Co.

Holly Madison at Sin City Brewing Co. Launch slideshow »

Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach settles into a Milan and Switzerland lifestyle before his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus, the Northern Italian Lake District this year — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Robin may well be drinking prosecco at this moment, but we continue today with Rich Johnson of Sin City Brewing Co.

I’m the owner and master brewer for Sin City Brewing Co. Las Vegas is amid an undeniable explosion in its craft beer scene, and it is not just beer aficionados sipping these small-batch-brewed suds. Foodies, beer geeks and normal Joes alike are taking notice of the great craft beer produced in our city.

Case and point: Las Vegas’ very own Sin City Brewing Co. recently opened its third bar on the Strip, becoming the first local craft beer to open a walk-in watering hole right on Las Vegas Boulevard at Harmon Corner.

I’ve been brewing beer for 25 years, since the first wave of the craft revolution. Craft beer in Las Vegas initially struggled to gain traction, as most restaurants and bars cared more about catering to the masses with a well-known brand label outside the bottle rather than the content inside. But as the public began to take notice of what craft beer had to offer through its variety of flavors and styles, so did the people selling it.

As a brewer, this meant that I had the opportunity to create more sophisticated and varying recipes — whether it’s an approachable, yet flavorful beer for a loyal domestic drinker, like our Sin City Light, or the hoppy Sin City IPA for the customer that’s a little more adventurous, or our most popular Sin City Amber, an Oktoberfest-style beer that appeals to many customers.

It’s been thrilling to see all demographics begin to engage with beer and even more exciting for me to come up with five styles of Sin City beer (and that’s not even counting our rotating seasonal brew) to accommodate these new audiences. One factor that really contributed to the craft beer boom in Las Vegas was the emergence of the city as a culinary destination thanks to celebrated chefs opening restaurants all across the Strip.

Additionally, I credit the change in the environmentalism movement that’s swept the nation and encouraged people to support local food and beverage businesses. The more people have cared about the food on their plate, the more they have cared about the beer in their glass.

It’s these savvy customers who’ve brought topics like seasonality and sourcing from the dinner table to the bar. This has opened the door for Sin City to even further diversify by creating five seasonal beers — Pilsner, Winter Bock, Steam Beer, Pale Ale and Double IPA — that rotate throughout the year.

The Las Vegas tourist’s tastes have evolved, and people have opened their eyes (and taste buds) to the great craft beer made in Las Vegas. This has allowed local breweries like Sin City, as well as Big Dog’s, Tenaya Creek, Ellis Island and Joseph James, to really take off.

Due to the boom of Las Vegas’ craft beer, we now have three Sin City locations at popular destinations on the Strip: our newest bar inside Harmon Corner, as well as in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian and at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

With the Harmon location being Sin City’s largest bar, it has allowed me to see more than ever before the thousands upon thousands of travelers who are now coming to Las Vegas to get a taste of our city’s craft beer. It is a sign of great things to come for the valley.

The future of Las Vegas’ beer scene continues to be as bright as its golden ales. So raise a glass and toast to the local brewers making Las Vegas’ mark on the world — one pint at a time.

Check out our other guest column today from “Pawn Stars” hero Rick Harrison and on Sunday blonde-bombshell beauty Sabina Kelley, restaurateur Sami Ladeki and “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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