Few destinations offer an opportunity to get wild like Las Vegas does. But if your vice of choice is fancy craft beers—and for many of us these days, that’s certainly one of them—the major casinos on the Strip have long been a wasteland for getting wasted on fancy beer. Most casino bars tend to put the big, boring brands like Bud, Miller and Coors front and center.
But slowly, that’s starting to change—especially if you know where to go. Though you’ll still be hard-pressed to get a Pliny the Younger served to a Pai Gow Poker table, many casinos now have bars with solid beer selections hidden somewhere within their winding floorplans. And many of these bars are looking to please customers of any ilk. “We are in a perpetual state of trial and error, but that’s half the fun,” says Ryan Bambrough, General Manager of Holstein’s, located in The Cosmopolitan, discussing what it’s like trying to please Las Vegas guests. “At the end of the day it comes down to the front line staff. If they are well prepared and able to convey our message, then our beer program becomes easier to navigate whether you are the beer-geek or the macro-guy.”
Nick Barlow, a cicerone (it’s kind of like a sommelier for beer) and lead bartender at The Venetian’s Public House, agrees. He sees his gastropub as a place that can help grow Las Vegas’s overall beer scene. “Beer bars cannot create a great beer culture if every time someone orders a Bud Light a bartender just hands it to them with the check,” he says. “It is important to offer guests a new beer they have never tried.”
With that in mind, whether you are a devoted beer snob or simply someone who’s looking to escape from the homogeny of most casino beer selections, we’ve selected these spots that will turn any visit to the Strip into a bona fide craft beer adventure. Simply search for the one in the casino that’s closest to you, or follow our route up Las Vegas Boulevard for a craft beer crawl that doesn’t require you to venture off the beaten path.
SLICE OF VEGAS, MANDALAY BAY
Flying into McCarran International Airport leaves you at the south side of The Strip, so let’s work our way up from there. Snuck into The Shoppes at Mandalay Place not far from the Luxor, you’ll find an unassuming Italian restaurant with a surprisingly solid beer menu, including a healthy number of local brews from places like CraftHaus and Big Dog’s to get you started with some local flavor.
MICHAEL MINA PUB 1842, MGM
Crossing over Las Vegas Blvd and heading north, you’ll quickly land at the mighty MGM. Wind your way towards the back near the arena to find this pub from restauranteur Michael Mina, who named it for the year Pilsner beer was invented. The grub is straightforward pub, but the 32 tap lines and requisite bottle and can selection get a bit more adventurous, even offering up a few sours like a recent draft of New Belgium’s dry-hopped sour ale Le Terroir.
THE PUB, MONTE CARLO
Slipping back over The Strip, pop into The Pub over at Monte Carlo. With a name that indiscriminate, you know they had to establish themselves somehow, and it comes from the power of over 100 draft lines. A recent incarnation of their beer list featured plenty of local brews, including multiple selections from the very consistent Tenaya Creek, as well as more far-flung choices like Lindemans Cuvee Rene gueuze from Belgium.
TODD ENGLISH P.U.B., ARIA
Keeping the pub parade going, work your way up into the Shops at Crystals adjacent to the Aria and check out this celebrity chef-approved “Public Urban Bar.” Yes, that’s why “P.U.B.” is abbreviated, but don’t let that bullshit bother you: Instead, focus on their massive beer list with a significant international slant featuring breweries like Birra del Borgo and Thornbridge, as well as���gasp!—the occasional cask ale. Added bonus, if for some reason you can’t find anything you love at P.U.B. just head into the Aria. The casino’s signature beer is a “fine golden ale” called Cabaletta brewed by none other than Stillwater Artisanal.
HOLSTEIN’S SHAKES AND BUNS, THE COSMOPOLITAN
Since you’re super hip, it was only a matter of time before you landed at the Cosmopolitan. If your focus is solely on beer (though maybe at this point it shouldn’t be), push past all that casino floor chaos and head up to Holstein’s on level two. Though the burgers and boozy shakes are as good as advertised, the beer list also stays stocked with a constantly changing list of drafts and bottles that can include anything from world-class doppelbocks like Wasatch Devastator to a boozy pour of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. And here’s a casino rarity: If you’re really looking to get loose, they even fill growlers.
YARD HOUSE, THE LINQ
Okay, sure, we’ve all heard of the draft line-loving beer chain Yard House, but thanks to recent renovations that turned the old Imperial Palace property into the surprisingly inviting The Linq, the craft beer staple has a nice new location along the casino’s outdoor shopping drag. The beer list is what you’d expect—everything from Coors Light to Victory DirtWolf Double IPA—meaning if you can’t find something you like on their 146 taps, you’re probably too snobby to be in Las Vegas in the first place.
B & B BURGER & BEER, THE VENETIAN
Surprisingly, for craft beer lovers cruising The Strip, The Venetian is your mecca. If you’re just looking to grab something quick, the beer menu at B&B Burger & Beer, though not as huge as other places on the list, is as competent as you’d expect from a place where one of the “B’s” stands for Mario Batali. It’s also got a patio with a nice view overlooking the fake Venice waterways. But don’t linger too long: We have bigger fish to fry.
YARDBIRD SOUTHERN TABLE & BAR, THE VENETIAN
On the other side of The Venetian casino floor along the property’s restaurant row, you’ll find the Las Vegas outpost of this Miami Beach-based 2012 James Beard Award winner for Best New Restaurant. Of course, the food is phenomenal, but we’re here for beer and Yardbird earns praise for offering 16 draft lines all of which are dedicated to in-state Nevada beers. That alone makes this bar a worthy stop on The Strip.
PUBLIC HOUSE, THE VENETIAN
However, if simply sticking to a single state isn’t your style, and you really want to take in one of Las Vegas’s best beer selections, simply head next door to Public House. This gastropub maintains an ever-changing list of over 200 beers including 24 draft lines and, yes, even a regular promise of cask beers. And the tap list, though smaller than others we’ve discussed, tends to be the most outrageous, flying through names like Alpine, Evil Twin and Crooked Stave. Speaking of the latter, Public House’s sours selection is the best you’ll find in this part of town, flaunting bottles from Jolly Pumpkin, Boon and The Bruery. Yes, there’s plenty more of Las Vegas to see, but if your journey must end here, at least you’ll die in Las Vegas Strip beer heaven.