Alibi Ale Works, the newest brewery at Lake Tahoe

alibi ale works

Matt Garcia and Kevin Drake fill the first kegs of Alibi Ale Works Pale Ale ever made. Photo by Mike Higdon

Alibi Ale Works, the first production brewery in the Lake Tahoe basin in several decades

Alibi Ale Works doesn’t need to advertise. Incline Village, Nev.’s newest brewery doesn’t need to distribute their beer yet either. It’s hard enough to keep all eight taps filled five days a week to meet demand. In fact, the first non-brewpub brewery in the Tahoe Basin doesn’t even need this story.  But we need them.

“Tahoe is behind the curve,” said Kevin Drake, owner of Alibi Ale Works. Debbie Brown, owner of Cold Water Brewery and Grill in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. echoed this in a separate conversation. Kevin said the transient, tourism economy, weather and Great Recession stalls businesses geared toward locals in the Lake Tahoe basin. But locals sustain small breweries, not visitors. Both agree that Tahoe could use more locally made craft beer and that now is only the beginning — nowhere near critical mass.

“We want to be the first production brewery in the Tahoe basin,” Kevin said. “I thought about doing a brewpub but restaurants are a pain to run.” Instead, they keep a food truck in the driveway three to four days a week.

Co-owner Rich Romo, assistant brewer Matt Garcia and Kevin opened Alibi Ale Works Dec. 13, 2014, making it the thirteenth brewing company in Northern Nevada. Last week they tapped their first pale ale and this week they put their porter back on tap. Alibi struggles to keep up with thirsty customers, a good but scary problem to have for a brewery.

Kevin, a Portlandian, considered opening the brewery for three years as the Great Recession faded away. They finally settled on the Incline Village location because the right building opened up — a former NAPA Autoparts and SOS Body Shop. Their renovation of the space completely transformed it into a cozy public house for locals.

Joey Rzeplinski helped source and build the interior fixtures out of reclaimed materials.

“I spent so many late nights here,” he said. For his hard work, Alibi rewarded Joey and friends with kegs for a 30-day trip to Grand Canyon.

Joey helped make wall trim from the fermenters’ refinished shipping crates. The bar tables are made from trusses of a burned down house. The wood paneling is made from warehouse palettes. The bathroom floor is layered with laminated pennies (don’t try to pick them up).

They also created a quiet “living room” area with 1960s-era lounge furniture. This room feels totally different from the public house vibe. Eventually it will feature moody lighting and a big-screen TV.

Alibi continues the trend of Nevada beers that resist the over-hopped West Coast IPA style established in California and Oregon. Instead, they focus on well-rounded flavors with a solid malt backbone, hop aroma and flavor. Alibi makes one-off beers in smaller bung kegs. For example, they filled a keg with chopped ginger roots and pale ale to make a ginger-infused pale ale. They also fill used wine barrels to make sour beers.

Alibi has plenty of space to grow into Tahoe’s next big brewery. It will begin to expand with new equipment this Spring and plan to start selling bottles and distributing kegs to keep up with the tourist-heavy Summer.

Alibi Ale Works

Where: 204 E Enterprise St., Incline Village, NV 89451

  • Mon: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Thu: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Fri: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sat: Noon – 10 p.m.
  • Sun: Noon – 8 p.m.

Online: Facebook 
Contact: 775-298-7001,