If you listen closely, you can hear it. It’s subtle, but loud enough to be noticed. The craft beer scene in Northern Nevada is becoming more than just a conversation about pale ales and seasonals. It’s becoming a way of life for those who appreciate the diversity of beers that have been making their way into the bars, pubs, and bottle shops over the past couple of years.
When it comes to bottle shops, Reno used to be a dead zone for finding anything other than your typical craft 6pk for 22oz selection. However, places like Craft and Aloha Wine & Liquors (Carson City)are setting the bar for great beer selections. On a recent trip, I found Brother David’s Triple, Dogfish Head Squall IPA, and Du Ciel Peche Mortel just to name a few. In addition, both Total Wine and Whole Foods on the south end of town boast a variety of craft and hard-to-find imports that are worth seeking out.
After a long day of travel from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe to Reno, I was looking forward to walking the streets of Downtown Reno in search of some tasty libations. After checking into my hotel, I grabbed a cold can of Hop Ottin’ IPA from my trusty travel cooler and set upon the town in search of a new account called Jungle Vino that recently put Boont Amber on draft. I made my way down the corridors of abandoned casinos and loft apartments and found what locals refer to as “The Jungle”. It’s a hip spot with 4 draft handles, a rotating selection of bottles (on my visit they had Stone Ruination and Chimay) and a great wine list. I ordered a Boont Amber and quietly watched as the bartender 86’d a fairly drunk woman to the curb. A friendly patron helped carry her (literally, like wounded soldier style) out on to the streets. A few minutes later, one of the employees from their coffee shop next door said she was peeing in front of the surveillance camera. Ah. . .Reno.
After chatting with the bartender for a while , I headed out the back door through the Sierra Tap House and went over to check out Ole Bridge Pub. Chris and Mike are the proprietors of both locations and should be given a medal for what they’ve done to the downtown craft beer scene. They’re both very knowledgeable, craft savvy guys and pride themselves on their rotating draft line-up and killer bottle selection. They often host beer themed events and even a homebrew tasting/competition on their patio in the summertime.
I pulled up a seat and ordered a bottle of Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout and talked with them about how much the craft scene has changed over the past 2 years.
They’re attracting a wider array of customers who are seeking out more eccentric and unique beers that were previously unavailable in this market. “Everyone wants the next ‘new thing’…it’s hard to keep up at times” said Mike. Wholesale distributors in Reno used to be reluctant to take on these small, uber-specialty brands, but now that there’s an increased demand, you’re finding more of them making their way onto local beer menus.
As I finished my oatmeal stout, I took note of the time. It was still early in the evening, but I wanted to play a few hands of Texas Hold-em at my hotel before I retired for the evening. I closed out my tab, said my good-byes, and started walking back.
All in all, I had a great time that night and was really excited at how the craft scene has grown in such a short span of time. I mean, I even got a Lagunitas IPA at the cardroom! That was the highlight of my poker game, as my flopped flush was rivered by a full house and I was left broke. At least the beer was free…well, sort of. I’ll be heading back to Reno for the El Dorado Brews and Blues BBQ on June 24-25th. I look forward to sharing our Anderson Valley beers with the good of people of Reno, and hopefully making a few new friends as well. Bahl Hornin’!
Steve Miller is a home brewer and Anderson Valley Representative for the Sacramento, Reno, and Tahoe region.