Beer has been brewed in Nevada since before it was a state and now the beverage’s history in the Silver State has been consolidated into one book, Nevada Beer by The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional’s own Pat Evans. It’s the second book released by Evans, who released a book about the history of beer in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2015. Nevada Beer is available on Amazon and at local retailers. Evans will host a signing on February 9 from 1-3 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Summerlin, 8915 W. Charleston Blvd.
Why write this book?
I took it as a little bit of a challenge, but also a way to jump into the Nevada beer industry. Back in Michigan, I was deeply involved as a reporter in a city known nationally for beer. When I found out I was moving to Las Vegas in September 2017, I decided to let my publisher know and they wanted a Nevada beer book. Prior to my move, I had heard and read a lot about how lousy the Nevada beer scene is, and I didn’t feel like it was possible if it was true. So it was sort of a challenge to prove people outside of Nevada wrong and show there is good beer in the state. Plus, what better way to jump into the industry and get to know people. It’s full of a lot of great people.
Was there history to dig deep into?
Surprisingly more than I thought there would be. Knowing from previous research that beer was widely made across the country pre-Prohibition, I expected a good amount. It was all concentrated north of Las Vegas of course. Even aside from Carson City and Reno, which had significant operations, there were dozens of breweries in the mining towns. I loved how in-depth some of the newspapers used to go detailing the brewing process, and I got more out of those than I did with old West Michigan papers. It’s fun getting a look into the similarities and differences of how beer was made then versus now. I do wish I was able to find more information before I sent off to the publisher, but so it goes with writing about history, especially on a short and tight timeline.
What was surprising about the history?
Coming from the Midwest, I’ve long been enthralled with the old west, but who isn’t? You romanticize it, and as with most historical things, people generally take pop culture as gospel. Diving into the old west, you discover it wasn’t that rowdy and there were a lot of cosmopolitan aspects about life. These were great urban centers and exciting places to be, not because of train robberies, but because they brought in things from all over the world. In many ways, I felt early 1800s West Michigan was more old west than late 1800s Nevada.
What stands out to you in the modern Nevada beer industry?
Coming here and tasting some of the great beer made by longtime industry players like Big Dog’s and Great Basin made me smile. It was like, there’s great beer here. Sure, they’re not necessarily the flashiest breweries, but they’ve been around a long time and for me, I love consistency and don’t jump on trends quickly. If you’re making a good solid beer, you’re good with me. And I’d say a larger percentage of breweries in Nevada are just brewing good beer than some more well-known brewing states. It’s a lot like the state in general; people don’t seem to think much of Nevada outside the state, at least besides a crazy place to come for vacation. But you get here and you explore, it’s a beautiful state full of great aspects.
What do you view as the future of beer in Nevada?
I think there are a lot of positives. As I mentioned just having some major stalwarts like Great Basin, whose Tom Young (wrote the Nevada Beer foreword) is one of the industry’s great pioneers. His true passion and dedication to the beer industry is fantastic. But then you have new entries into the state making more trendy beers, like Revision and IMBIB and you have players standing out and making a name for Nevada’s beer industry. So as long as they’re starting to say, “Hey look at us,” and Great Basin and brewers like Dave Pascual at Big Dog’s keep showing well at national awards, people might take notice. I’ll also try to do my part writing nationally about the beer industry and continuing to tell the modern history through NevadaBrew.com.