The dog — the BrewDog — has joined the Las Vegas skyline, the global brewpub’s logo (a running dog with upturned snout) humming in cadet blue during the day, glowing cadet blue after dark, across steel scaffolding atop a glass cube on a rooftop terrace high above the Strip, the posh precincts of Aria, Veer Towers and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas just across the street, the surround-sound views stretching up Strip, down Strip, all around the town.
And make no mistake.
“At nighttime, it just gets better,” said James Brown, a managing director of BrewDog, which has about 125 locations (current and planned) spanning four continents, with the majority in its native U.K.
The Las Vegas brewpub, which opens Dec. 2, stretches nearly 30,000 square feet, encompassing floor three and the top floor (with adjacent terrace) of Showcase Mall, next door to the MGM Grand. The Vegas BrewDog is the largest in the world, even larger than the Waterloo Station BrewDog in London.
That superlative dovetails with Vegas itself, a city of superlatives, and the reason BrewDog decided to hoist its logo here in the first place.
“We want iconic locations in the world’s leading cities: Paris, London, New York, Sydney, Las Vegas,” Brown said the other morning during an exclusive first-look inside BrewDog for the Review-Journal.
“We want to be part of the food and beverage culture in these cities. As we started to understand Las Vegas more, we understood we needed to do something showstopping.”
As in $17 million worth of showstopping for the build-out (plus a $1 million bar tab raffled on opening night).
Elvis Juice and a $500 stout
Exposed pipes and ductwork streak above strings of luminous Edison bulbs on the soaring main floor of BrewDog. At the Strip end of the room, a thicket of gleaming silver tanks makes up the 10-barrel microbrewery that will issue two releases every two weeks, beginning in about five weeks.
Besides house standards like Elvis Juice, an ostentatiously tart American IPA, the revolving beer list features one-off beers, seasonal beers and brews from local producers like Able Baker, Lovelady and North 5th breweries. On the main floor, 56 taps (spliced into ranks of 28) line the back bar formed from the wall of a shipping container (BrewDog has 96 taps total.)
And then there are the very-Vegas brews.
Like the Haus Always Wins, a collaboration with a Bavarian brewer. The beer is chilled until ice crystals form. Because water freezes at a higher temperature than alcohol, the crystals contain water, not alcohol. When they’re removed, a higher-alcohol beer remains. The Haus Always Wins is a brawny 27 percent alcohol by volume. The average beer? 5 percent.
Or consider the chocolate caviar stout. It’s about 9 percent ABV. But what the beer lacks in alcohol heft it makes up in hefty price. The stout comes in a 500 ml (17-ounce) bottle — for $500.
A burger with haggis
BrewDog features different menus for its different floors (with some overlap).
On the main floor menu, there are buffalo “wings” made from cauliflower florets and plant-based cheeseburgers or chicken sandwiches and sourdough pizzas emerging bubbled and blistered from a hulking wood-fire Neapolitan pizza oven.
The Flying Scotsman burger, a nod toward BrewDog’s Scottish roots, features a beef patty topped with haggis, the famed, nutty, savory Scottish dish made from chopped, cooked and seasoned sheep offal. Chef Chad Crooks, BrewDog’s director of global food, jabs the burger with a side of whisky peppercorn sauce.
“We might be the first place on the Strip for haggis,” Crooks said, laughing.
On the main floor, the chef also sends out a Lobster Chip Butty, a British sandwich (the butty) featuring steamed Maine lobster, house fries (the chips) and swipes of lobster sauce, all on brioche.
“It’s a bit of Britain, a bit of Vegas,” said Brown, the BrewDog managing director. Back home, Crooks added, a butty is much more modest. “It would be just chips, no lobster.”
Seafood, wagyu, truffles
Upstairs, the dining room and bar flow into the terrace, where there’s another bar, the cube (housing the elevator lobby and host stand), a fire feature, and a slew of seating that includes loungers covered in thick blue and white stripes, a sort of overscaled ticking.
“There is a lot of outside dining in Vegas but not necessarily a rooftop with a view,” said Martin Keith, BrewDog brand director. “We saw a gap in the market. There was a gap in Vegas for that kind of experience specific to beer. The terrace sold it for us.”
On the fourth-floor menu, the starters run to tear-apart Yorkshire puddings with roast chicken gravy, quenelles of dressed crab on toast and a jumbo shrimp cocktail (a Vegas classic) with Marie Rose sauce, a British condiment blending ketchup, house mayonnaise, Worcestershire, brandy and garlic.
“I like to think of retro dishes and give them a twist,” Crooks said.
Lobster mac and cheese convenes fresh Maine lobster, a binding lobster bisque and housemade half-size rigatoni, with a lobster claw stuck upright in the rich assemblage. The claw is sliced around its middle so the top can be pulled off for easier access to the sweet meat. A small round blade makes the cut.
“That’s a skill I learned in Vegas,” the chef said. “The smell of burning lobster claw in the morning.”
A $150 wagyu burger (including A5-grade trim and Périgord truffles) arrives in a treasure chest; when the chest is opened, the star burger appears from behind furls of smoke unleashed.
In Vegas, you always want to make an entrance.