By Tess Eyrich | October 22, 2015 | People
The Motley Brews founder and Vegas craft-brewing advocate answers a round of rapid-fire questions about his favorite beers and best-kept drinking secrets.
When Brian Chapin founded Motley Brews, a full-scale beer festival and event production company, in 2010, he helped introduce the Vegas community to an onslaught of small-batch craft beers and breweries, many of which were previously foreign to the valley. This weekend, Chapin’s Downtown Brew Festival—the more intimate counterpart to spring’s annual Great Vegas Festival of Beer—will set up shop in Downtown Vegas, showcasing more than 250 seasonally inspired craft beers from over 60 local, national, and international breweries, as well as live music and culinary offerings from Vegas restaurants like Mochiko Chicken and Itsy Bitsy: Ramen and Whiskey. Before then, though, we tapped Chapin to spill everything from his motivation for creating Motley Brews to his favorite under-the-radar spot to sip a beer in Vegas.
1. What initially inspired you to create Motley Brews? I fell in love with craft beer many years ago and noticed a missing niche for local festivals and events in Las Vegas; I combined the two, and Motley Brews was born.
2. How has craft brewing evolved since you first got started in the industry? Breweries have advanced their offerings beyond what I ever thought was possible—the styles and mass appeal have grown so exponentially in the four years we’ve been part of the craft beer world.
3. Why is Downtown Vegas such a great setting for the Downtown Brew Festival? The Clark County Amphitheater, near the Arts District, allows us to bring a very different feel than our sister event, the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. We import a lot of lighting and unique musical acts to create a backyard feel.
4. What’s one brewer we should be sure not to miss at the Downtown Brew Festival? Check out Founders Brewing Co., a hyper-popular brewery from Michigan that will be debuting at the Downtown Brew Festival before their launch this winter in Vegas.
5. What was the first beer you ever drank? It was a yellow, fizzy beer that will go unnamed. It wasn’t until 1997 that I had my first craft beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, when visiting Colorado. The flavor was explosive and different than any beer I had ever tasted.
6. What’s your favorite type of beer? Eight out of 10 times, you’ll find me drinking something hop-forward. West Coast-style IPAs with strong grapefruit and floral notes are some of my favorites.
8. Which area of the valley has the buzziest beer scene? Downtown Las Vegas and Henderson have both grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years.
9. What’s the hottest city in craft brewing today? San Diego. There are nearly 120 breweries alone in San Diego County, and craft beer is an imbedded part of the everyday culture.
10. If you could drink a beer at any brewery or bar in the world, what would it be? I’m looking forward to being one of the first patrons at the new Stone Brewery in Berlin when it opens in 2016.
11. If you could drink a beer with any person in the world, who would it be and which beer would you choose? With my brother Justin—not sure about the specific beer, but we’d definitely be jamming out and singing.
12. What are some of your top Vegas-produced beers? There’s too many to mention, but Citra Rye by Joseph James, Resinate IPA by CraftHaus, and War Dog IPA by Big Dog’s are always in my rotation.
13. What are three of your go-to beer and food pairings? A milk stout like Joseph James’ Milkshake goes well with a chocolate lava cake. I love pairing American IPA with spicy ethnic dishes as well. And a classic Ball Park hot dog with an American craft lager is always a winner.
14. What’s your favorite place to drink a beer in Vegas? You’ll find me at Atomic Liquors.
15. What’s your best-kept beer secret in Vegas? Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Henderson on a Wednesday night. It’s definitely a secret to craft-beer drinkers in the know and worth checking out.
16. What’s the most prevalent trend you can identify in the local beer scene right now? Breweries are creating more approachable beers. For a while, “the bigger the better” was the trend. I’m seeing a lot more play into “sessionable” beers with lower alcohol content so you can enjoy more than one without wrecking your palate.
17. What’s one major lesson you’ve learned from founding and developing Motley Brews? We focus a lot on innovation; it’s very easy to become complacent with success, but we’ve learned to always push the envelope on what’s possible with our festivals and create something new every time.
18. What’s been your proudest career moment? When we sold out the first-ever Great Vegas Festival of Beer in 2011.
19. How can we continue to support local brewers? Drink local brews and encourage your favorite restaurants and watering holes to put more your favorite Nevada breweries on tap. Beer is always freshest when it’s closest to the source.
20. Any predictions for the future of the Vegas beer scene? Local beer will continue to grow in leaps and bounds, thanks to our local innovative breweries. There’s been an influx of out-of-state breweries starting to recognize Las Vegas as a market primed for growth as well. The coming years will be exciting times for craft beer in Nevada.
The 2015 Downtown Brew Festival, presented by Motley Brews, takes over Downtown Las Vegas on October 24 from 5-9 p.m.; purchase tickets here.
PHOTOGRAPHY VIA FRED MORLEDGE (HEADSHOT); ROBERT DAHEY AND BIERGARDEN OF ENCINITAS (DOWNTOWN BREW FESTIVAL)