14 drinkable stories that defined Nevada in 2014

2014 is Nevada’s year of spirits. Guess that puts a lot of pressure on 2015 now

This year was huge for Nevada’s drinking culture with new bars, distilleries and breweries opening in Sparks, Las Vegas and Reno. People who drink know these businesses influence our culture but maybe others don’t take it as seriously. Craft beer and craft liquor drive the cultivation of raw ingredients, state and federal taxation, consumer purchasing, entertainment, recreation and tons of snobby conversations between beer geeks, foodies and libationists.

Alcohol matters. The United States is in its largest resurgence of craft alcohol production since prohibition destroyed it (and probably for good reason) 90 years ago. Liquor is art — it’s the expression of an artist’s dream to make people happy. If you can’t get behind that, then you hate freedom.

So what were the most artistic expressions of liquor in Nevada this year?

1. Oregon and Colorado recognize Nevada as a craft state

Ninkasi Brewing

Back when the Truckee River had water in it

Ninkasi from Eugene, Ore. and Oskar Brews from Longmont, Colo. distribute in Nevada specifically because Reno’s demand for craft beer surpassed other cities in the region, including Las Vegas. Numerous others quietly jump on the Reno bandwagon.


2. The Booze District opens adjacent to Las Vegas

Suddenly Las Vegas gives a shit about culture…oh wait it’s in Henderson. Henderson craft beer, wine and liquor creators join forces to create the Booze District.


3. Las Vegas distillery releases first modern Nevada-made bourbon

Nevada 150 Bourbon

Promo shot of Nevada 150 straight bourbon. Photo provided by Las Vegas Distillery

For Nevada’s sesquicentennial, Las Vegas Distillery released an excellent four-year-old Nevada Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The myth of Kentucky-only bourbon crumbles. 100 years of false marketing and pride are dashed to bits.


4. High Sierra Brewing Co. closes in Carson City and reopens in Sparks

Some things just aren’t meant to be, like nice restaurants in Carson City, much to the chagrin of people who live there. High Sierra Brewing Co. reopens in Baldini’s Casino in Sparks, Nev. But don’t worry Carsonites, Lake Tahoe Brewing Co. will take its place before the end of January.


5. Frey Ranch Estate Distillery opens and releases vodka

Frey Ranch

Custom Frey Ranch Vendome still. Photo provided by Frey Ranch.

Let’s face it, vodka is boring. But not this one, it’s actually has character and tastes great. A lot of hard work results in a great Nevada spirit. Frey Ranch, Seven Troughs and Las Vegas Distillery are the catalyst for what’s looking like a new liquor industry in Nevada thanks to their hard work supporting the Craft Distillers Bill.


6. The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery opened right under the wire

The Depot

Brandon Wright, Chris Shanks and Justin Stafford, owners of The Depot Craft Provisions Co., stand on the first floor and discuss replacement beams for the remaining floors.

Three brave souls opened a brewery, distillery, restaurant inside the bones of an old train depot on New Years Eve. This will be the fifth distillery in the state and eleventh brewery in Reno. This is the most anticipated opening of the year according to all the daily traffic we received on our stories from Google searches.


7. Seven Troughs Distilling Co. releases their vodka for Reno Rodeo

Seven Troughs still

The pot still at Seven Troughs Distilling Co. sits atop a gas-powered brick stove. From 130 gallons, this still will produce a final 12 gallon batch.

Seven Troughs creates Reno Rodeo Legacy Vodka, where “partial proceeds from the sale of the vodka will go to the Reno Rodeo Legacy Project, a long-dreamed-about plan to replace the aging grandstands at the Reno Livestock Events Center and update the facility into a year-round special events and tourism venue, complete with a western heritage museum and other amenities,” according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.


8. America’s smallest distillery opens in Verdi

Verdi Local Distillery

Verdi Local Distillery Apple Cinnamon Whiskey. Verdi Local Distillery is the most recent distillery opened in Nevada nad possibly one of the smallest in the world. Photo by Mike Higdon

The 744 square-foot Verdi Local Distillery opens and applies for a Guinness Book of World Records. As far as we know, the next smallest is a 1,000 square-foot whisky distillery in Scotland. So for now, we’ll safely say it’s the smallest in America.


9. Lance Jergensen gives up sleep…

Lance Jergensen

He doesn’t look too tired. Photo by Tonopah Brewing

Lance Jergensen owns Rebel Malting and is the brewmaster at Pigeon Head Brewery and Tonopah Brewery in Tonopah (sometimes that shit isn’t obvious), two brand new breweries in Nevada that focus on European style lagers and other goodness.


10. Hops can grow in Nevada and may be a viable commodity crop

Hops planting

Chris Wall (Great Basin brewer) and Chad Kleidosty (College of Ag/Urban Roots AmeriCorps intern) digging holes and planting a row of new hops on the Urban Roots’ hop field. Photo by MJ Pickett (Urban Roots Program Director). These two and five others helped plant 1,000 hops bines at the Urban Roots High Desert Hops project on McCarran and Mill St. Saturday, May 10.

These crazy folks at Urban Roots decided to grow an acre of various hops to see what would work in Nevada. All of the first hops went to IMBĪB Custom Brews for testing, so I guess we’ll all find out the results when Matt Johnson invites everyone over for beer.


11. Great Basin Brewing Co. starts canning Icky beer

A great moment in history when Great Basin Brewing Co. starts selling 12-packs of cans for less than their 6-packs of bottles. It’s hard to find these in stores because they can’t crank them out fast enough. Better head to the brewpub for a pint.


12. Mt Rose Drinks discovers the secret to Bloody Mary in a bottle

Premixed bloody mary

Josh Damon, owner of Mt. Rose Drinks, holding his first premixed Bloody Mary and Pomegranate Martini drinks made with real vodka. Photo by Jahaziel Aguilar.

Josh Damon figured out how to make a real premixed Bloody Mary with real vodka, which surprisingly has never been done before in America. Day drinkers rejoiced when they realized they no longer need to wear pants on Sunday.


13. BrewChatter Homebrew store opened in Sparks

Brew Chatter

A look at the inside of Brew Chatter. Photo courtesy of R.J. Miller

A new homebrew store opened after a long time of only one consumer choice in Reno. This demonstrates the size of the homebrew community in the region, which is truly a force to be reckoned with.


14. Drinkable Reno hosts a 6-course, 6-brewery beer dinner and Great Reno Whiskey Hunt


Okay, so kind of creating our own news, but dammit, this was pretty awesome. Brought together six breweries for a never-before done six-course collaborative beer dinner. And it sold out! And then invented a new game for people to play by asking them to drink seven whiskeys in three weeks. Really had to twist their arms. Each bar sold about a case of each select whiskey.


In the year 2015

Look forward to Lake Tahoe Brewing Co. opening in Carson City, IMBĪB Custom Brews, new winery laws, changes to the distillery laws, more distilleries, breweries and bars and the first ever Reno Craft Beer Week coming to a Nevada near you.