Tonopah Brewing opens beer oasis in the middle of Nevada

Lance Jergensen, Tonopah Brewing

Lance Jergensen looks out through his hops. Lance is now the head brewer at Tonopah Brewing Company and Pigeon Head Brewery in Reno. Photo provided by Tonopah Brewing Co.

Take a quick weekend trip to Tonopah Brewing Co. for a strong collection of historically inspired beers and BBQ

Lance Jergensen loves making beer. That love took him to the newest beer oasis in the middle of Nevada. The head brewer of Pigeon Head Brewery and owner of Rebel Malting took a third job as head brewer at the new Tonopah Brewing Company in Tonopah making beers that represent Nevada’s early immigrant cultures.

“I’m a brewer, maltster, I love this stuff, I don’t care where I’m at,” Lance said. “I can start bouncing around and do different beers. Here we want to focus mostly on beers that are more in honor of the original workers who founded Tonopah and worked the mines.”

The opposite of Pigeon Head Brewery, Ukrainian and Irish workers inspired an Irish ale, a Baltic porter and a Ukrainian type lager with heavier body. Lance also made an Irish stout and a hefeweizen on tap now. And unlike most folks, he prefers a traditional English IPA, not an aggressive American west coast IPA.

“Literally, it’s like drinking straight tabasco sauce,” he said. “I could drink one but then I am done. What makes the traditional English IPA great is that all the hopping is in the dry hopping. It’s not an overly bitter beer. It just has an incredible hop presence on the finish.”

Lance said he probably has the greatest brewery in the state because of the technology and equipment and was glad Fred and Nancy Cline asked him to help them build Tonopah Brewing. The brewhouse is a custom-made system from Bavaria, Germany that allows decoction and step infusion used in traditional German brewing. The kettles resemble large copper pots instead of more modern cylinders.

Before the brewery, the Clines purchased the Mizpah Hotel, built in 1907, and restored it to its original grandeur. Tonopah is very close to their hearts and Nancy’s relatives founded the town. The Clines wanted to take Tonopah back to its original boomtown status and the Mizpah was the first step in that direction. They also own two wineries in Sonoma County, Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, so they aren’t strangers to the spirits business though Tonopah Brewing Co. is their first exploration into beer making.

“Fred is very particular when it comes to having things with his name on it,” said Jim Caroompas, marketing manager for the wineries and brewery. “He’s looking to make legendary beer here.”

While Lance works at the brewery in Tonopah, Eddie Silveira holds down the fort at Pigeon Head Brewery as he learns to become a brewmaster too. And at Rebel Malting, Lance’s father does most of the work now.

“My duty is to produce beer and keep the tap lines flowing,” Lance said. “I just work (in Tonopah) from six to nine and then go to the apartment and sleep. I’m actually enjoying the process down here. This is a beautiful brewery.”

For the near future, Tonopah Brewing Co. will not distribute outside of the brewpub. Eventually they want to start bottling the beers but it may be a while before the Reno area receives any bottles or kegs. With the Mizpah and brewery now in full swing, a weekend trip to the middle of the state for the latest and greatest brew is only four hours away.

Tonopah Brewing Co.

Where: 315 Main Street, Tonopah, NV  89049
Contact: 775-482-2000
Hours: 11 a.m. 9 p.m.
Online: Website with menu and Facebook

  • Half-Life Hefeweizen
  • Frail Sister Pilsner
  • Mucker Irish Red Ale
  • .999 IPA
  • 49-2-51 American Pale Ale

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.

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