With more than 100 breweries, 400 craft beer selections and an estimated 5,000 thirsty beer drinkers, the fifth annual Great Vegas Festival of Beer attracted record participation Saturday.
The four-hour show in downtown Las Vegas, hosted and organized by Motley Brews, featured small independently owned breweries and nearly 4,500 participants from the valley.
The craft beer festival, which spanned three blocks on Fremont Street between Seventh and 10th streets, is the largest of its kind in Nevada, said Motley Brews founder Brian Chapin. It’s also one of the few to feature food vendors with menus designed especially for beer pairings.
“We want to make it an experience more than anything, and beer is obviously the focal point of that,” Chapin said.
Gordon Biersch, Hofbräuhaus and Banger Brewing were three of the 18 Las Vegas breweries serving draft samples of their beer. Some local brewers saw the event as a fun but necessary way to reach Las Vegas customers.
“We’re here to support the community, but it’s about getting local clientele in our brewery,” Gordon Biersch brewer Julio Lanzas said.
“There are people here that have never tried our beer,” said Tony Sinzger, vice president of Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, which opened in 2004. “And we want locals to realize we’re not just a tourist attraction.”
For the second year in a row, the festival featured a Gastropub area with 15 local restaurants serving beer-friendly food items. Among food merchants were DW Bistro, O-Face Doughnuts and Stack Restaurant and Bar.
Beer consumers prefer India Pale Ale beers with spicy foods, said DW Bistro manager Rudy Aguas, who served pork tacos, fried chicken and meatballs.
“It’s the high alcohol content of an IPA that goes well with the spicy flavor,” Aguas explained.
Stack chef Chris Conlon said festival participants were pairing his dishes, which included lobster poutine and a porchetta sandwich, with hard cider.
“It’s a match made in heaven.”
For local attendees, the festival’s variety of beer was its biggest draw. The warm weather didn’t hurt, either.
Chris Hwagen of Henderson, standing with an El Heffe Jalapeno wheat beer by Banger Brewing, said he, his wife and brother-in-law were planning on making the most of their $40 admission tickets.
“Beer, great day and great friends,” Hwagen said. “What more could you ask for?”