Banger Brewing: A Unique Las Vegas Experience
Doesn't open until 5 p.m.
LAS VEGAS. “Thanks for making good beer.”
Those were the words I heard as I sat at the counter sampling Banger Brewing’s offerings one Saturday night. I’m not usually one to rave, but that one comment summed it up. Banger Brewing is new, but it may as well be the template for how to offer a great beer experience.
Where do I start with this gem located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas? First, it is the only brewery on Fremont Street and one of only a handful in the entire city. The staff is knowledgeable, the place is customer friendly, and the business has a laser focus on what it wants to do well: quality beer.
“We don’t want to be the place where people say, ‘Go to Banger Brewing for their wings.’ We want to be known for beer,” said Nick Fischella, one of the brewery’s owners.
That’s an admitted challenge for a state like Nevada, where tasting rooms are not the norm. But the tap room has a modern look, with stainless steel highlighting the décor, and a glass enclosure revealing the gas-fired three-barrel brewing system. Traffic is steady, but my observation reveals that there’s a considerable hang time for a Las Vegas spot. That may be in part because, according to Banger Brewing’s estimates, the crowd is majority local – a rarity in this town.
“The beauty of downtown (Las Vegas) is that people want to go check things out. We’re one of many choices, and the only microbrewery on Fremont Street,” Fischella said, noting Banger Brewing is not worried about carving out a niche in a crowded market place, as Banger is the only stopover of its kind in the area, one focused on beer instead of booze and food.
Banger Brewing is a comfortable hangout with a friendly atmosphere. The place is still figuring out what the market wants for standard taps, but it plans on offering some kind of variation of a pale ale, IPA, light and dark beers in addition to seasonal rotators. There are also guest beers on tap, as Fischella explained Banger Brewing wants to support building a local beer culture and “drinking local.”
Here’s Fischella explaining a little more about Banger Brewing.
Important Information for Banger Brewing
Location: 450 Fremont Street, Suite 135; Las Vegas, NV
Hours: Sun.-Thur. 5 p.m.-Midnight; Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
What about the beer? Isn’t that the most important part?
Sure it is, but it’s only part of the allure of a quality place. Banger offers sampler flights of four tasters for $7. The paddles are locally crafted. Before you taste the beer, Banger begins to set itself apart with education. The beer tenders are knowledgeable in beer, with at least one Certified Beer Server and one Certified Cicerone on staff. They take the time to find out what customers like, and they educate them about what they’re about to taste.
All the beers I tasted were of high quality, with clear coloring. Banger pays attention to use hops and yeast faithful to the styles it brews. For example, my first reaction to drinking the kolsch was, “This is definitely a kolsch,” instead of a flavorless imitator. The stout was not overly effervescent, and the weiss had a german feel.
One of the most interesting was the Jefe Weiss (5.2% ABV, 17 IBUs), a hefeweizen with peppers brewed in. It’s clear to see why it’s a local favorite. Banger Brewing assured me all ingredients were fresh, and they try to avoid adjuncts such as syrups in the mix.
The Black Eye P.A. Imperial IPA (8% ABV, 95 IBUs) was also a complex offering. There’s coffee on the nose, and it doesn’t quite taste like it has 95 IBUs, but it’s a solid offering nonetheless.
My favorite of the bunch was the DTB (downtown brown) English style ale (6% ABV, 17 IBUs). This surprised me, since I prefer beers with higher IBUs. Despite its taste as an English brown, co-owner Robert Mendoza told me Banger Brewing uses American yeast for the product.
“Our goal is to have a beer someone will like,” said Fischella.
Getting its start in friendship
Banger Brewing’s genesis is an interesting backstory, as the group of friends has worked together since most of them were in high school together in the 1990s. The owners of Banger Brewing have worked alongside each other in Las Vegas’ robust hospitality industry and continue to hold down side jobs in addition to running the operation on Fremont Street.
“When I was younger, if someone asked me, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up,’ I probably would have said, ‘I want to brew beer with my friends,’” said Fischella.
The team consists of Mendoza, Marc Longwith, Eddy Quiogue, Fischella, and Michael “Banger” Beamer. The brewery gets its name from Beamer, who has a reputation in the business for being the go-to guy who “bangs” things out (gets them done). He’s also the home brewer who helped start the journey.
As legend has it, Beamer would bring his brews on ski trips for the friends. They started brewing together, and as amateurs won a local brewing event three straight years. That’s when they knew they were on to something special.
The dream became reality when Banger Brewing opened its doors the last week of 2013. Does the group ever butt heads at meetings?
“We have the same vision. At the end of the day, we knew Banger Brewing was going to be the catalyst (for forward movement),” said Mendoza. “All our decisions are for the betterment of Banger Brewing.”
Tell them We Like Drinking sent you
If you’re in Las Vegas, be sure to stop by Banger Brewing. You’re likely to find something you like, and you’ll be supporting a local brewer that in turn will help foster a healthy beer culture in Las Vegas.