Hitting the Jackpot at Brasserie St. James in Reno, Nevada

Someone recently tried to tell me that craft beer would never make it in Reno, Nevada because everyone in town is into the big brands like Coors and Bud. Statements like that make me immediately doubt the credibility of the source and call “bullshit”. Just the week before, I visited Brasserie St. James in downtown Reno (walkable from the Peppermill Casino), a little brewery that is thriving in the shadow of the city’s casinos. In fact, this little high desert gem won an award for Best Mid-size Brewpub at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. Brewmaster Josh Watterson and sidekick Madison Gurries are making European-style beers that don’t require an overnight flight to Belgium to enjoy. In the historic Crystal Springs Ice and Water building, I met the brewery’s “Red Headed Stranger”, a toasted-toffee, lightly spiced ruby red ale that was hard to put down. But as beguiling as she was, I fell harder for “Daily Wages” a smooth 6.7 ABV, 24 IBU Farmhand Saison. RateBeer scores this hazy golden liquid cornucopia (my tasting notes mention that it’s brewed with three yeasts) a 97 overall. OMG, but it was good! As I finished a tulip of the wonderful Saison, a large party rolled out to the brewery’s patio and filled most of the tables. So if I had a lesson to share, it’s don’t listen to jokers who try to convince you that craft beer will never make it in a particular region or city. Want proof? The next time you are in “The Biggest Little City in the World”, be sure to roll the dice and visit Brasserie St. James… it’s a winner!

Enjoying Brasserie St. James’ upper deck with former brewmaster Josh Watterson (left) and current brewermaster Madison Gurries (right).

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