The Beer Factor


Las Vegas is a town about to have two water parks and two observation wheels. It’s still up in the air whether or not we need a stadium (or two), but after what I witnessed in Denver recently, I’m convinced that what we really need are a few more bars.

No, seriously! Bars, pubs, breweries, brewpubs. And, more importantly, we have to support them.

That’s key, and here’s why: Right now, Las Vegas has about the same chance of ever prying the annual Great American Beer Festival from the death grip of beer-fanatical Denver as it does of hosting the Winter Olympics.

And rightfully so: We’re simply not equipped. After nearly 50,000 hopsters stormed the Colorado Convention Center at last month’s three-day festival to sample more than 2,700 craft brews or die trying, they inundated downtown Denver’s countless pubs each night and were treated to some truly rare pours (check out our notebook from the festivities). And, like the Denver-made Stranahan’s whiskey I stocked up on while there, you simply can’t get many of these highly allocated rarities here in Las Vegas. Period. (Although each year we make inroads with more distributors.) Plus, much of the beauty of craft beer is the intrinsic homegrown nature of it. Craft breweries need their community’s support to stay alive as much as they need rabid fans in other markets. It’s all part of a maturation process the Vegas beer-and-bar scene will have to go through if we’re ever to compete with the Denvers of the world. And it will take awhile.