Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sin City Brewing Co.

Just sharing an article I dug from the Las Vegas Journal Review. I had a Sin City Amber, I think, last time I was in Vegas, and I wondered where it all came from.

Microbrewer Creates Beers with Distinctly Las Vegas Flavor

A hobby that began in college turned into a 20-year career for Richard Johnson.

And all he was trying to do was get free beer.

Now, Johnson hopes his beverages will become synonymous with a trip to Las Vegas.

Johnson, 46, created the Sin City Brewing Co. in 2003, inventing his own special beer brands and selling them on tap at Las Vegas bars and taverns.

Three years later, he opened a small bar inside what is now the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort where he sells his four custom brands of beer by the pint and offers a line of Sin City Brewing Co. logo apparel and other merchandise.

The 400-square-foot location has done well enough to warrant a second site, which is opening at the end of March at the Flamingo. The 900-square-foot bar will overlook the Flamingo's 15-acre pool area and wildlife complex and also offer an outdoor patio.

Johnson hopes the Flamingo outlet will lead to other Sin City Brewing Co. locations on the Strip.

"We needed a microbrewery that identified with Las Vegas," Johnson said. "People go into cities and the easiest way to get to know the town is to buy some of their products. Beer is definitely one of those ways to get to know the city. It makes you feel like you get a taste of the place."

Microbreweries have exploded across the nation in the past decade, many of which began like Johnson's, as someone's hobby. For three straight years, microbrewery beers have outpaced the sales of imported beers, the American Brewers Association reports.

Johnson creates four beers—Sin City Amber, Sin City Light, Sin City Stout and Sin City Weisse. He brews the beers in small batches (100 kegs at a time) at the Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. on Paradise Road. He helped build the brewery in the late 1990s when he worked for the company.

Johnson said he brews his beer using traditional methods, premium raw materials and a strict adherence to the Rheinheitsgebot, the 1516 German beer purity law.

Johnson employs five people at Sin City Brewing and he oversees production of the beer.

Popularity at the Miracle Mile Shops bar and the new location at the Flamingo means more of Sin City's beer needs to be directed toward the company-owned locations. Johnson has scaled back the bars and taverns to about 15 locations from a high of 50.

He has no plans to turn the microbrew bars into microbrew pubs that offer food service.

"For us, it's all about the beer," Johnson said.

Copyright (c) 2009, Las Vegas Review-Journal