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  • Writer's pictureMcGoo

Vegas Beercation: The Return

2 years, 111 days, 6 hours, 43 mins and 14 seconds and I’m finally back in Vegas! Not like I was counting or anything. That’s a long time for someone who's used to visiting Sin City 2-3 times a year. The last time I was in Vegas was January of 2020, and I had planned to return in March of that same year. I was mere hours from leaving for the airport in March when I opted to cancel the trip. If you can recall, there was a global pandemic that closed the US Canadian border and even some Vegas casinos. Let me say that again…and pause for effect… Las Vegas Casinos actually closed.

In those long two years I felt like Vegas and I started drifting apart. I found new interests in drinking my sorrows away with craft beer and Vegas gladly found other people to bleed dry of disposable income...pffff whatever. But once I picked up that phone and heard a warm recorded voice say "Caesars Palace Las Vegas" I felt like we instantly reconnected... to Nancy in room reservations. And when Vegas answered the call I just couldn't help expressing my emotions in Stevie Wonder lyrics:

"I just called to say I love you

I just called to say how much I care

I just called to say I love you

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart"

I put my heart out there, I desperately needed to know if Vegas still loves me as much as I love Vegas. There was a pause on the line that seemed to last a lifetime, then I finally hear "Do you prefer a queen or king bed?" I smiled, wiped away the tears and replied: "King Bed, non-smoking, high floor" A typical trip to Las Vegas for me consists of drinking and gambling 18 hours a day with a hot dog or two thrown in for sustenance. But now I had a new and exciting purpose, breweries! Surely I could carve out just an hour or two a day from the poker tables to explore the local craft beer scene. And boy did I ever, I was able to enjoy 9 breweries and 2 beer bars throughout the Strip, Downtown and even in the suburban community of Henderson.

There’s no way I can write about all those breweries and beer bars in one blog post, I mean you’re probably already bored. I’ll break it all up into three posts, with this post covering the Beer Park and the Front Yard at Ellis Island. Here’s all the breweries and beer bars I hit:

  • Beer Park

  • Front Yard at Ellis Island

  • Nevada Brew Works

  • Hop Nuts Brewing

  • Craft Haus Brewing

  • Abel Baker Brewing

  • Servehzah Bottleshop & Taproom

  • Banger Brewing

  • 777 Brewpub

  • Love Lady Brewing

  • Bad Beat Brewing

The Beer Park

After a couple cocktails at the Cosmopolitan it was time for that all important first beer to formally kick off this beercation. I stumbled across the Strip to the Beer Park located at the Paris Hotel and Casino, oh la la. There is nothing Parisian about the Budweiser Beer Park and it’s definitely not a brewery, but it has a huge tap list and some incredible views of LV Boulevard. You enter through the iron gates at the corner of LV Blvd and Paris Drive, up a flight of stairs to an expansive roof top patio. As I walked up the stairs I dreamt of sitting along the strip side ledge, being entranced by the dancing waters of the Bellagio whilst sipping craft beer and gawking at strip goers below.

Soon I found myself sitting along the strip, absolutely sweltering in the sun while the Bellagio fountains refrained from dancing as workers dismantled the NFL draft stage set up on lake Bellagio. The hostess warned me that the ledge seats were uncovered and can be hot, but as the only seat available…I accepted.

The majority of the tap list is domestic and the “craft” breweries are mostly those owned by conglomerate InBev, but there are some local brews scattered amongst the 30 different flavours of Budlight seltzer. For my flight I chose Revision Brewing Blonde, Lovelady Love Juice, Modern Times Orderville Hazy IPA and a Bud Light Pink Lemonade…. Sorry no, a Ninkasi Dawn of the Red IPA. A flight of 4 6oz samples will cost you $18 USD so you are definitely paying strip prices. They even tack on that sneaky 5% concession fee but the strip views are worth the mark up. This was my first visit to the Beer Park and although it wasn’t entirely what I imagined I would still happily visit again… at night! Use the > to peruse the gallery

Front Yard at Ellis Island

4178 Koval Lane, Las Vegas NV.

For many years I’ve been telling my low rolling friends to seek refuge from Strip prices just a block away at the Ellis Island Casino and Brewery. Ellis Island has long poured their own house made brews in their casino, bars and restaurants. Full pints of their fresh true to style beer could be had 24/7 for a mere $2.50, a truly unheard of price so close to the strip. It wasn’t until late 2019 that Ellis Island built a proper taproom to showcase their beer and start offering new seasonal and rotating styles. The Front Yard was a massive expansion for the small off strip casino and completely transformed and modernized the exterior and ethicists of the entire property. This new space is a two story indoor/outdoor taproom and restaurant that features two bars, bar top gaming, 18’ big screen TV and live entertainment…and no reason for me to ever leave.

I settled into a comfortable seat at the ground level bar and slipped a $20 into the bar top gaming machine…because degenerate. Most bar seats offer gaming where if you play a minimum per hand the drinks are on the house. Which sounds awesome until you’re enjoying that $100 'free' beer… not that I would know. Ellis Island is well known for their tasty and affordable all in house made food at the Village Pub and Ellis Island BBQ. The Front Yard offers a great menu of upscale pub favourites from which I ordered the brisket sandwich with fries. Thick tender slices of brisket topped with coleslaw and piled on a fresh bun with some of the best fries I’ve ever had.

To wash this incredible sandwich down I started off with their Let’s Get Hazy IPA and truthfully after travelling from Canada and afternoon of drinking I was already pretty hazy. For dessert I ordered their ‘Dark flight’ which included their Amber, Stout, Dubbel Trouble and Belgian Tripel. Overall I enjoyed the dark flight, all the beers were fresh and flavorful but nothing stood out to me as exceptional. But what is exceptional is the pricing with full pints priced at $4-6 or ‘free’ when gambling.

Service today was friendly but laughably bad as they assigned bar service to a brand new server. It took at least 20 mins to take my beer and food order and even longer just to get some silverware and my bill. The new server had no idea where anything was or how anything worked, honestly I felt bad for them. So here’s what I did… I just laughed about it, enjoyed my time and left a good tip, good karma!

Ellis Island has always been a favourite of mine and the addition of the Front Yard has given me more reasons to continue visiting Ellis Island….like I needed another reason to drink and gamble. See the gallery below for way more pics!

There's nothing quite like that first day in Vegas. It’s the anticipation, the plane touchdown, the first roll of the dice, the first beer, the second beer, the tenth beer… it feels great to be back in Vegas! As much as I loved the first day it was the next day I was most looking forward to! Stay tuned for my next adventure to the Las Vegas Brewery Row!

Stay Positive, drink good beer and gamble responsibly... unless you're on a heater.

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