Get Outta Town!

Bob Barnes - Road tripping for some great small town beer.

The following is the third and final installment of my reporting on new breweries in Northern Nevada. This feature is a spotlight on four new breweries located in small towns in Northern Nevada that have all opened within the past year.

A trip to Reno is not complete without venturing out to the neighboring communities, three of which have new breweries. Heading south about a half hour drive is Virginia City Brewery & Taphouse, the first brewery in the historic city since 1985. 

Located on the main drag on 62 N. C St. in a building that began as a market in the 1850s, brewer Adam Lundy, who formerly brewed at Great Basin, is making American-style beers, such as an American Wheat, Honey Ale, Red Ale, IPA and Stout. Part of the fun of the brewpub is how close you are to the action, with the bar area separated from the brewing works by only a railing. The place has a real old time feel, with the original red brick walls and old artifacts scattered throughout the space, including old doorknobs that were found buried in the ground during excavation.

The state capital, Carson City, is about 40 minutes south of Reno. It once again has a brewpub, the Lake Tahoe Brewing Company, located right across from the Capitol Building at 302 N Carson St., Head Brewer Elijah Pasciak has 12 to 13 beers pouring in a wide range of styles, such as the Outsider IPA, made with barley grown in Nevada and hopped with Mosaic; Fireside Porter, an Imperial Smoked Baltic Porter brewed with thirteen grains, smoked malts and coconut palm nectar; and Wayfare Belgian White Ale, brewed with coriander, orange peel and chamomile. The aforementioned beers are now available in cans.

Elijah, who apprenticed at Crooked Stave in Fort Collins, was brought in to develop the brewery’s barrel program, which is about to take off exponentially. Nearly 100 barrels are on the way: a mix of tequila, bourbon, red wine, gin and Chardonnay and two 20-hectoliter foeders, which will be cellared at a newly acquired facility in Reno at 415 4th St. (next to The Depot) that will also house a production brewery next to it, equipped with a canning line. In addition, Lake Tahoe Brewing has opened a taphouse/restaurant in Fernley, Nev. and one in Truckee, Calif. will open in October. All three restaurants in Carson City, Fernley and Truckee serve artisanal Nepolitano pizzas baked in wood-fired brick ovens.

Heading over to Incline Village, the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe’s north shore, you’ll find Alibi Ale Works. Well, you’ll find it if you know where to look. 

A bit off the beaten track (at 204 E. Enterprise St.), it has evolved into a local hangout and true public house community space. Set in a building that was formerly an auto parts store and auto body shop, the décor is alpine mountain meets industrial, with repurposed materials such as tables made from reclaimed truss beams and wood paneling from warehouse palettes. There’s something for everyone here, with a tasting room (sans TVs or gaming machines), game room and newly opened outdoor beer garden with a mix of sand, grass, pine trees, thriving hop vines and comfortable chairs that combines for a relaxing, peaceful spot to enjoy a beer.

Open only since December, they’ve already expanded, bringing in a 10 bbl (300 gallon) oak fermenter and will further expand to become a production brewery with a 15 bbl 4-vessel brewing system with four 30 bbl tanks and a hybrid bottle and canning line arriving by Labor Day, a huge step up from its original 5 bbl system. Alibi’s trio of brewers—Co-owner Kevin Drake, Brian Borgmeier and Matt Garcia—say their brewery will be the only production brewery using Lake Tahoe water.

As you may have surmised from the oak fermenter reference, they are big on developing funky farmhouse flavors and during my visit I enjoyed a Plum Gose, Gose-Rita with lime zest and sea salt and an oak fermented Saison; and spotted eight Napa wine barrels full of aging beer. Dog lovers take note: The tap room and beer garden are dog friendly.

Smack dab in the middle of the state halfway between Reno and Las Vegas is Tonopah, where resides the TonopahBrewing Company, the historic mining town’s first brewery since the early 20th century. 

The city actually has a rich brewing history; the first permanent stone building in the town was the Wieland Brewery, built in 1901. Brewing journeyman Lance Jergensen got the brewery up and running (as he did for Pigeon Head Brewery in Reno a year ago) this past summer and after completing his contract has returned to his Rebel Malting Company in Reno and turned over the brewing reigns to Brian Sachs, a Wisconsin native and recent Siebel Institute graduate, and Richard Weathers, who does double duty as general manager. The duo are cranking out clean, easy drinking session beers, such as Half-Life Hefeweizen, Frail Sister Pils, .999 (an English-style IPA, the name refers to the grade of pure silver) and the best-selling Mucker Irish Red Ale. The brewhouse is a custom-made decoction and step infusion system from Bavaria. It’s also equipped with a bottling line and the beers are distributed in Reno, Las Vegas and Tonopah. The brewery is located on the US 95 highway in the middle of town, at 320 Veterans Memorial Hwy.

Be sure to check out the long wooden bar with embedded century-old silver dollars that dates back to the 1920s. You’ll also want to dig into some BBQ; Richard says his is the only establishment within 135 miles doing smoker-cooked BBQ. The menu was designed by Richard, who has more than 30 years experience in the restaurant business and honed his BBQ mastery while living for several years in the south. Succulent meats like baby back ribs, pulled pork and brisket are smoked over wine barrels and come with four accompanying sauces that are made by Richard. Kids are allowed in the restaurant and the outdoor patio is dog friendly.

While Nevada has not usually been known for its beer making, the brewery boom evidenced by the thriving ventures mentioned above is evidence that craft beer is becoming the Silver State’s liquid precious gem.

The Author:

Bob Barnes, a native Nevadan, is Editorial Director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, and has been writing for Celebrator Beer News since 1998. He welcomes your inquiries and is standing by to assist you in your Nevada beer quest. He can be reached via e-mail at

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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