Beer is big business and craft beer — the brews made by smaller regional companies rather than the huge multi-national conglomerates — is taking a larger slice of the pie seemingly every year.
In fact, the Brewers Associations says craft breweries contributed nearly $68 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. Nevada’s own economy received a $434 million boost from the state’s craft breweries.
“Every year it gets better and better and it gets more lucrative for the people who are carrying the craft beers and the people who are making the craft beers,” says Jon Simmons, a regional sales representative for Henderson-based Joseph James Brewing Company. “I think it’s blowing up and it’s getting to the point that we’re going to be known as a craft beer state in the next few years.”
Citing the knack Nevadans have for blazing new trails and their taste for adventure, Great Basin Brewing Company Brewmaster Tom Young takes things a step further.
“Some of the beers coming out of Nevada are some of the best beers made on this planet and we need to stand up to that and say Nevada has some of the best, most exciting beers anywhere,” he says.
One large factor for the increased popularity and success for Nevada’s craft breweries was the signing of a bill by Gov. Brian Sandoval which raised the limit on how many barrels of beer a brewery can produce from 15,000 to 40,000 annually. One barrel is equal to two kegs in volume.
A second reason for Nevada’s craft beer growth is something that’s been successful for the state for much of its existence -- tourism.
According to the Brewers Association, beer tourism is a growing trend. Furthermore, the Nevada Craft Brewers Association points out that hundreds of thousands of people have taken tours or sampled beers at local breweries. These are facts that are not lost on Big Dog’s Brewing Company Brewer Amanda Koeller.
“Now a lot of the tourists are demanding local beer,” Koeller says. “That’s helping us.”
The Nevada Craft Brewers Association lists 38 registered craft breweries within the Silver State. Of those, 20 are in Northern Nevada including the state’s oldest operating brewery, Great Basin Brewing Company, in Sparks. Seventeen other breweries can be found within the borders of Clark County with one other brewery, the aptly-named Tonopah Brewing Company, located halfway up the state on Main Street in Tonopah.
Many of the state’s breweries including Tonopah Brewing Company, Great Basin Brewing Company, Big Dog’s Brewing Company and others distribute their brews to retailers in addition to having their own tap rooms.