Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

Barley's Casino and Brewing Co. was ahead of its time — until it wasn't.

The neighborhood casino in Henderson, Nev., which is part of Station Casinos' Wildfire brand, has long had an in-house microbrewery to go with its slot machines, video poker, a sports book and a cafe. But as the interest in (obsession with?) craft brewing has exploded in recent years, Barley's has stuck with the same recipes. Instead of attracting bearded hipsters extolling the virtues of double IPAs, Barley's has drawn on a crowd less concerned with creative ales than cold beer and ample slots. As the local Las Vegas brewing scene has grown in size and sophistication, Barley's, the oldest brewpub in the valley, had been left behind.

Not anymore.

This spring, Barley's announced a partnership with Downtown Las Vegas-based Banger Brewing to refresh the casino's liquid offerings and entice new clientele.

"Barley's has had the same four to five beers for the last 20 years. With the brewing and beer scene being as popular as it is, we wanted to bring some new creativity to Barley's," said Jon Veltri, Barley's general manager. "We had a couple meetings with the guys from Banger. I saw their passion for what they do. So they've come in and taken over."

Banger, which opened its own brewery and pub on Fremont Street in 2013, is now running the production of beer inside Barley's, turning out a lineup of new ales exclusive to the brand, including Blue Diamond blonde, Red Rock red ale, High Hops IPA and Buzz! Buzz! coffee stout. Limited-edition seasonals, like a chile lime beer finished with sea salt pegged to Cinco de Mayo, will also be released throughout the year.

"When the brewers came in, we didn't really have a portfolio of beers from really light to really dark," Veltri said. "We've gone from four to five beers to nine beers. You want to have something for everyone."

Everyone, Barley's hopes, will include guests who might not have considered the casino in the past. Barley's is redoing its cafe menu and trying to establish the brewery as a destination independent of the attached gaming.

"The goal is to attract a whole new demographic to Barley's," Veltri said.

Station is also considering the opportunity to leverage its microbrewery elsewhere in the company portfolio. Already Barley's beers are on tap inside all Wildfire properties, Station Casinos is thinking about expanding to its other properties like Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch and the Palms.

Veltri said the brewery produced 900 barrels (about 1,800 kegs) last year, and its hoping to double that figure in 2017.

"The system we have was the Cadillac of systems back 20 years, and it's still a phenomenal system," he said. "Barley's was built to produce a lot of beer, but it definitely was before its time. We haven't really capitalized on what we had in the past, but we're looking to do that moving forward."


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