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Henderson ‘booze district’ a spot to sip, socialize — VIDEO

The beautiful weather makes this a great time of year to do some bar hopping (or crawling) outside of the controlled climate of the big casinos. And those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: an industrial park on Eastgate Road, just across I-515 from the Valley Auto Mall and a little south of Warm Springs Road.

Henderson’s “booze district” isn’t much to look at, and easy to miss without GPS. But it offers an amazing collection of locally made beer, wine and spirits within a five-minute walk of one another. The district’s makeup has changed over its eight-year history. Here’s an update on what you’ll find.

Las Vegas Distillery

Opened eight years ago this month by the late George Racz, the distillery was the first business making booze in this location.

“George had this idea of craftsmanship coming together: craft booze, craft beer, craft distilleries, craft wine,” his widow Katalin Racz explains. “That’s why he gathered all the people around him. He wanted a booze district where people can come and enjoy everybody’s flavors.”

Racz died in November at 51. But Katalin continues to cook up a collection of four white spirits, four to five whiskeys and about 10 flavored spirits. Organized tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday, and a tasting room is open for limited samplings from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. By the end of the summer, Racz is hoping to open a full bar with extended hours.

CraftHaus Brewery

While Racz created the booze district, it was CraftHaus’ Dave and Wyndee Forrest who made it a place to socialize. Before they lobbied the city of Henderson to change the laws, pricey tavern licenses included gaming.

“We were adamant about not having gaming, because again it defeats the purpose of building a community if your neighbor is not communicating with you,” Wyndee Forrest says.

They’ve build that community through events such as their recent open-entry chili contest, annual mac & cheese cook-offs, weekly Chillhaus beer slushies and new beer releases on most Fridays.

“It keeps our brewers engaged and passionate about what they’re doing,” she says of the frequent releases. “They can flex their creative muscles.”

Bad Beat Brewing

Weston Barkley has been the head brewer since Bad Beat opened its doors in July 2014. He says the place is at its best “throughout the day on Saturdays.” But don’t miss trivia night, which kicks off at 7 p.m. every Thursday.

Ask Barkley to recommend a signature beer, and it takes him a moment. But he finally decides on two.

“We’re definitely known for our hefeweizen, and that is just a very effervescent refreshing wheat ale that has flavors reminiscent of banana and clove, a little bit of vanilla, and bubblegum in there from the yeast strain that we use. And then we’re also know for just our West Coast IPA. It’s our best-seller. It’s called Hoppy Times.”

Vegas Valley Winery/Grape Expectations

What started as a winemaking school (Grape Expectations) has expanded into an on-premises winery and tasting room (Vegas Valley Winery). The result is that you can spend nine months making your own barrel of vino with co-owner and winemaker Mike Schoenbaechler, or you can just come in to sample his creations.

If you choose to do it yourself, Schoenbaechler will help you decide what varietal you want to make, order the grapes and guide you all the way to the bottling. For those who just want to drink the stuff, the winery usually has about seven wines being poured at any given time.

“You can come, sit down, relax, do a tasting of all seven,” he explains. “Or you can just order by the glass and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine.”

Astronomy Aleworks

The latest addition to the district has only been pouring for about seven months, meaning there aren’t many tried and true selections just yet.

“Almost everything we brew is new, because we just started,” president and co-brewer Matt Brady says. “So we’re brewing new styles all the time, or at least new to us. We’ve only repeated a couple of beers.”

Brady says they try to keep all 12 taps full, but sometimes they’re not as the team tries out numerous short runs. Nonetheless, they’ve hit on a few standouts, including the Hawking Hazy Pale.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini @reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

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