The boys of Banger Brewing don’t open their downtown craft beer brewery until noon during the week.
But Friday, they made an exception to entertain a special out-of-town guest.
At 9:35 a.m., Gov. Brian Sandoval strolled through the glass doors at Banger Brewing next to SlotZilla at the Fremont Street Experience. Sandoval swapped hearty handshakes with the five high school pals who began as busboys at the Bellagio, pooled their money for four years and recently launched their microbrew operations from a home garage to a contemporary-decorated space in the Neonopolis building next to Heart Attack Grill.
Sandoval told the fivesome that his favorite beer type is a hefeweizen, a brew with a lot of wheat flavor. And he said he loves spicy flavors.
Banger Brewing’s signature beer is a flavorful, award-winning brew named “El Hefe” — a jalepeño hefeweizen.
“You’re not working, are ya? Can you have a beer?” said one of the five Banger guys, Marc Longwith.
After hearing the governor mention that he likes hefs, as they’re called by beer fans, and spicy flavors, and knowing that Banger Brewing’s top beer is El Hefe, another Banger guy, Nick Fischella, chimed in to Sandoval, “Sounds like a match made in heaven. It’s a win-win.”
After the governor sampled the jalepeño-infused hefeweizen, the Banger Five took Sandoval on a tour of the brewing operations. The governor advised the 30-something brewers that they can apply for state small-business loans to expand the business for valleywide distribution and that he would love for them to connect with grain producers in Nevada so Banger beer products can be all state grown.
“I would love to get grains from Nevada,” Longwith told the governor.
Sandoval also praised the Banger crew for being part of a bigger trend of economic diversification, which has been the governor’s mantra.
“People are now coming for different experiences. Las Vegas will always be the entertainment center of the country. Now there are other things that they can come for that are organic,” Sandoval said. “There’s a younger demographic that wants these products. They don’t want homogeneous beers. They want unique products and experiences.”
The governor peppered the guys with questions about beermaking and how they came together as a business unit. Sandoval asked if Heart Attack Grill next-door asked to sell the beer, could Banger Brewing get the beer to them? He quizzed them on whether they recall that seminal moment when the five knew they wanted to open a microbrewery.
And he shared a lot of laughs with the guys — even without a pint of beer being consumed among them.
“I know it’s a cliché, but you guys are doing the American dream,” he told the five.
Besides Longwith and Fischella, the other Banger guys are Michael “Banger” Beaman, Roberto Mendoza and Eddy Quiogue. Longwith and Beaman work on brewing; Mendoza and Fischella handle operations, marketing and public relations; and Quiogue handles the financial end.
Sandoval appeared loose and relaxed, even cracking a few jokes amid his questions and advice about state resources.
With reality shows serving as a cottage industry in Las Vegas, Sandoval told the Banger members, “You guys should have a reality show.”
Fischella told the governor, “We’re working on it.”
Longwith then kidded the governor, “Do you feel like being on a reality show?”
A few moments later, Quiogue said to Sandoval, “Hey, do you want to work here?”
Sandoval joked, “Maybe after November.”
Fischella explained to Sandoval, “The job has a lot of perks.”
Then, Quiogue clarified that by quipping, “OK, maybe just one perk.”
The Banger boys gave Sandoval a parting gift: a couple of growlers, or beer bottles for fresh beer, filled with El Hefe and some pint glasses.
Sandoval told the guys to stop in anytime they get to Northern Nevada.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.