Vegas Breweries Get Ready for CBC

Nearly 10 years in the making, Las Vegas will be the host of the 2024 Craft Brewers Conference. Although Sin City is mostly known for “The Strip,” taking a look around the area, including the city’s Brewery Row in the Art’s District along with nearby Henderson is where a majority of the local beer is located.

“It remains an interesting sort of challenge for us. And I mean that in the best way,” said John Griffith of Mojave Brewing, located about 15 miles southeast of where the CBC will be taking place at The Venetian. “We’re excited to have the CBC here. It’s huge. However, to put our best foot forward is something that we need.

“You’d think that Vegas being an expo and a trade show kind of a town would have this lock, stock, and barrel. But being a small brewery, it’s going to be an interesting thing.”

Almost 10 years ago, going back as far as CBC Portland in 2015, brewery owners like Richard Lovelady said they have been in the Brewers Association’s ear about hosting in Nevada.

READ MORE: The Labor of Love for Lovelady

Current Nevada Craft Brewers Association president Wyndee Forrest from CraftHaus said it’s been a long-term goal since taking over leadership in 2020.

“We have the infrastructure, we are a tourist travel destination, it’s very easy to come and visit us. We have all the convention space that you could possibly need,” said said “But Paul (Gatza of the BA) said, you’re not where you need to be as far as craft beer culture.

“So we said, ‘Okay, so let’s work on it.’”

Both Lovelady and Forrest pointed to numerous medals at the GABF and other awards that are changing how Las Vegas beer is looked upon.

“You’d be surprised how many beer tourists we get coming in every day from around the country and around the world,” Lovelady said. “The beer travelers know about the breweries here, the beer industry doesn’t seem as much.”

Revitalizing the NCBA will have effects longer term than just CBC, Forest said. Changing brewpub laws and legislation has helped Henderson grow in terms of breweries, which helped push Las Vegas to open up as well and now a Brewery Row sits about two miles north of where the CBC will take place.

“I think it shows that the BA has confidence in our state that we’re producing great beers that are award-winning, that people seek out and travel to our state, and especially Las Vegas to seek out our breweries,” Forrest said. “Maybe they’re not really coming for the strip, there’s a lot of people who are burned out on the strip experience and they want something more unique and authentic. And that is exactly what Nevada craft beer embodies.”

Breweries like HUDL, Able Baker, Hop Nuts, Nevada Brew Works, and Tenaya Creek will look to benefit from being in closer proximity while some Henderson brewery owners, like Astronomy’s Matt Brady, are being optimistic, but pragmatic on what sort of benefit the CBC will bring to recognition of the local breweries. (Editor’s Note: Astronomy closed in early March. This story was compiled from interviews in November and written for the March/April print issue)

“I do hope it really works out for people like CraftHaus and Able Baker because that high tide … if it hits … will raise all boats,” Brady said. “All that will do for me is as they get exposure, somewhere else people will want to come out here. And when they come out here, they will check us out.

“So they can make a big show and whatever help they need, I volunteered because I am all about supporting our brewing community. But for us, I’m not putting any focus into it whatsoever.”

Joe Cuozzo of HUDL said he hopes that the local breweries will be able to get some economic benefit from it.

“It will be able to showcase our good products in a way that makes sense,” he said of the three-year-old brewery. “I think one of the keys for Vegas is to just get in the rotation. So the ability to make people happy … and say hey, Vegas put on a great show. We liked the beer. It was accessible for food, and entertainment after.

“I think as long as we can do that our goal has got to be to get people to come back and just get in the rotation. I don’t think it’s realistic anymore to get anything every four years. But you want to be in the running every six or seven years for it to come back. And that’s that’s what our goal should be.”

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