Kansas City, where I've spent most of my holidays, is emerging as a good beer town (see post below). I can't say the same for Las Vegas, where I spent three days last week celebrating my best friend Todd's 40th birthday.
Yes, I know — there are other, overriding reasons that one goes to Vegas. And I indulged myself mightily in those reasons. Well okay, there were no naked chicks involved, but I hit the gambling end of things pretty hard. Even got fourth place in a 40-person poker tournament (good for $100)! For a fuller accounting, read M'Lady's write-up.
But if you're hunting good beer, well, I hope you had better luck than I. For the most part, the casinos make only token efforts at appeasing beer snobs. Most places had only one tap of anything good, and it generally seemed to be either Sam Adams Boston Lager or Newcastle.
Now perhaps I just wasn't looking in the right places. Maybe there are good brewpubs hiding off the strip. We found one such place that was at least trying, Ellis Island Casino & Brewery. I had a respectable, albeit unspectacular stout there. The real reason to visit is the atmosphere, just dripping with 1970s cheesiness — red vinyl booths, bad karaoke, and a $6.99 steak dinner! (See the photo above: l-r, that's Todd's friend Mikail, Todd, and me.) This was old-school Vegas, baby.
The only real beer bar we found was a nameless island bar inside the New York New York casino at which we stayed. If you go up on the second floor, across the casino floor from the registration desk, it's right at the top of the escalators next door to Coyote Ugly. It has a beautiful bartop made of glass and bright blue geode stones. Their selection almost made up for the lack thereof at the other places: Just off the top of my head, I remember taps of Sierra Nevada Celebration, Arrogant Bastard, Stone IPA, and some kind of coffee porter. I finally tried Alaskan Amber, which my dad has been hounding me to try since he went to Alaska last summer; ambers aren't usually at the top of my list, but it was quite good for the style. If I'd had time, I'd have also sampled the Alaskan ESB.
Maybe some other readers out there know of a good Vegas brew scene that I missed? Please let me know. As for casinos, I think they're making a mistake not offering more variety in their beer selections. After all, love of great beer is just another form of hedonism — and c'mon, Vegas is the nation's capital of that.
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