Beer and art drive Chris Jacobs’ career

Vegas Voices is a weekly question-and-answer series featuring notable Las Vegans.

Chris Jacobs is a longtime local bartender and creator of the Beer Zombies blog, which has reviews of beers (he rated Tombstone IPA from Tombstone Brewing of Arizona 4½ out of 5 zombie heads), a list of beers he’s trying to find, news from the craft-beer world and links to informational material such as The Roaming Pint’s Craft Beer Lovers’ Gift Guide.

Jacobs also has a line of Beer Zombies merchandise, including beard oil, glassware and T-shirts, and a Go Keg Flex growler he took on a hike to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

He also incorporates the Beer Zombies logo into his art, which includes murals in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

As for the name, it sort of evolved. “I’m a huge zombies fan, growing up in the genre of ’80s and ’90s B movies,” Jacobs said. When he started doing large-scale murals, he used the name We Are Zombies; Beer Zombies grew out of that.

A native of Redding, California, he moved to Las Vegas in the mid-’90s and has been a bartender at Blue Ribbon Sushi at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas since the resort opened in late 2010.

Review-Journal: How did you get interested in craft beer?

Chris Jacobs: I grew up in Northern California about 45 minutes away from the Sierra Nevada brewery, so a lot of industry and support and our local economy was just based on people who worked there. It’s something that’s been in my life for a long time.

RJ: What is the current state of the craft-beer scene in Las Vegas?

Jacobs: I’ve lived here since ’95 and for a long time it was a no-man’s land as far as that was concerned. The last few years we’re in this really exciting time, with different styles, and out-of-state breweries wanting to be here. Next month will be 20 years behind the bar for me. For the first 15 years, there weren’t craft-beer options. People who have a passion are getting to enjoy what other parts of the United States have for a long time.

RJ: How do you think Beer Zombies might further that?

Jacobs: I really try to use it as a catalyst to bring together people within the beer community. Vegas, for being 2 million people, is kind of spread out and small-townish. There wasn’t anybody who was writing about beer and seeking out beer and trying to do festivals. That’s my contribution to the beer scene.

RJ: What sort of large-scale art projects have you done?

Jacobs: I just came back from Honolulu, at Ravish, which used to be Morimoto. Before that, I was in San Francisco for a Pizza Rock. In Las Vegas I’ve done Pizza Rock Green Valley Ranch, Pizza Rock downtown, Banger Brewing and Park on Fremont. I actually got to do a live art piece at Alesmith in San Diego. They wanted me to be part of the community that was going on while people were drinking. It was fun, very interactive. I started when they opened and worked throughout the day.

RJ: Tell us about your beer glassware, etc.

Jacobs: I have merch, which is glassware, T-shirts, hats, bottle openers — all craft-beer oriented with the Beer Zombies logo on it (and available at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits at 9915 S. Eastern Ave., Top Shelf Wine & Spirits at 6415 S. Fort Apache Road and Liquor Lineup, 6462 Losee Road, North Las Vegas).

RJ: What do you have in mind for the future?

Jacobs: Right now I have a big festival coming up, which is downtown at Atomic Feb. 18. At that festival I’ll have two Beer Zombies collaboration beers that we’re working on (with Beer Zombies branding, made in cooperation with King’s Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Brujos Brewing in Whittier, California). I feel like Vegas-based people like to see you prove yourself. My next step, hopefully, is to do a really cool collaboration with a local brewery.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Find more of her stories at www.reviewjournal.com, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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