On October 1, Las Vegas suffered an unthinkable tragedy as a gunman fired upon attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, killing 58 and wounding nearly 500. Amid this act of pure evil were countless tales of heroism as first responders, concertgoers and members of the community aided victims. Afterward, an outpouring of help has flowed forth, and our local craft beer community is doing its part, as well.
One brewery decided to do what it does best: brew a beer to raise funds for the survivors and the families of victims. On October 20, Henderson-based Joseph James Brewing Company, two weeks after winning a gold medal at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival, created an American strong ale infused with chocolate, coffee and honey. It was dubbed Vegas Strong, so named to represent both the resiliency of the Las Vegas community and the strength of the brew, which, at 8.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume; 17 proof) is on the higher end of the spectrum.
“We were just so impressed with how the locals came together to help each other out, so much so that the blood banks were actually full,” says head brewer Kyle Weniger. “We felt that we needed to do something. At the very least we wanted to show support and release a beer that speaks for the strength of our city, but our industry friends all came together and helped us make this a great fundraising opportunity as well. What better way to raise money than to raise pints?” Director of brewing Matt Marino adds, “Beer is a good way to do this, for most everyone likes beer.”
The creation of Vegas Strong is not only the result of the efforts of Joseph James, but a partnership with other breweries and businesses throughout the Valley. The addition of chocolate to the beer comes courtesy of Hexx Kitchen + Bar; the coffee beans were provided by Mothership Coffee Roasters; and the honey from Pahrump Honey Company was paid for by Motley Brews, an organization that puts on bi-annual beer festivals in Southern Nevada. In addition, malt for the brew was donated by Brewers Supply Group and Tenaya Creek Brewery, and the hops were contributed by PT’s Brewing.
Joseph James will donate 100 percent of the expected $10,000–$12,000 proceeds from sales of the beer and will cover the cost of its labor and taxes, but the local support doesn’t end there: Nevada Beverage, Joseph James’ distributor, donated its normal margin; Life Is Beautiful will cover any outside costs and lend its social media resources; and the 20-barrel batch’s 36 15-gallon kegs were purchased at full price by area breweries and bars.
To make the beer, whole coffee beans and chocolate were added three days before kegging to obtain the optimum extraction of the ingredients’ essence. As for the beer’s flavor, Weniger opines, “With chocolate, honey and coffee, it will reach everyone and appeal to a lot of palates.” Marino adds, “It’s pretty easy-drinking, for as strong as it is.”
Vegas Strong will be unveiled on December 1, so be sure to enjoy a pint at one of the dozens of establishments across Southern Nevada that will be pouring it. While not a complete list, you will be able to find it at both Las Vegas Aces & Ales, Atomic Liquors, Banger Brewing, Bad Beat Brewing, Big Dog’s Brewing, Chicago Brewing, Commonwealth, CraftHaus Brewery, Due & Proper, both High Scores locations, Hop Nuts Brewing, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Lovelady Brewing, Park on Fremont, PT’s Brewing, Pub 365 and Tenaya Creek Brewery.
Here’s to drinking for a good cause!
To donate to the fund began by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak to support shooting victims and their families, visit gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund.