All along the Vegas strip you’ll see advertising featuring buxom blondes luring you to a gun range to shoot a real machine gun. The advertisements work. The lineups are very long, it’s expensive and then they herd you through like cattle. That’s why the slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” also applies to the contents of your wallet. However, luck was on my side when the cab driver suggested an alternate gun range that’s a little farther away but cheaper and less crowded.
The walls were covered in every gun imaginable. The action-hero-like “range master” – that’s what he called himself and he’s armed to the teeth so I didn’t argue – walks you through how to safely hold each weapon, instructs you on what to expect then stays at your side the entire time for security and safety. He carried himself with a manliness that could land him a gig as a lumberjack or bare-knuckle boxer. This is the guy Chuck Norris calls if he has a problem. Range Master has fifteen Y-chromosomes and bleeds motor oil. A paper target of a human silhouette is wired down the shooting range lane and Range Master helps you cycle through a few machine guns obliterating that target to paper hell.
After the machine gun experience, I couldn’t fathom pointing it at another living thing. This year a squirrel had its way with every plant in my backyard and I still would never consider pointing a gun at it. The same squirrel could drain my bank accounts, steal my identity and get me evicted from my apartment and I might consider firing off a warning shot. But then I thought about it. While I was in Vegas I stumbled upon the Sin City Brewing Company’s Amber (Featured in Drinking Made Easy: Las Vegas) and liked the beer so much that if Mr. squirrel stole my pint, it would be the last thing that squirrel ever did. And you’d be reading how to pair beer with roasted squirrel.
Richard Johnson has been brewing beer since the beginning of the microbrewery revolution. In 2003, after decades in the business, he set out and opened the Sin City Brewing Co located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood with a series of beers that adhered to the 1516 German beer purity law. Known as the Reinheitsgebot, this German law dictated that beer could only be made with water, hops and barley. It predates Louis Pasteur’s 1857 discovery that yeast plays a key roll in the fermentation process. The law was eventually modified to the Provisional German Beer Law to include yeast and wheat malts.
Sin City Amber is brewed in small batches of 100 kegs at a time using the traditional methods from the Reinheitsgebot. The robust beer is essentially a lager made with specialty malts and balanced with German Hallertauer hops. However, don’t expect a challenging syrupy and malt-loaded amber. “Our Sin City Amber by design is a clean refreshing beer. Full bodied but not overwhelming. True to the Octoberfest style, it is a lager beer – lagers in general can be smoother than their Ale brethren.” explains Richard. “Traditional Octoberfest style beers are copper to ruby in color, they are malty in flavor profile with a subtle hop finish- that translates (from German) to; smoooooth with a nice crisp hop finish and aroma. It is a taste profile I explore in all my beers- whether it’s a Lager or an Ale.”
The brewer purposely looked to balance a traditional domestic style beer with one that would satisfy the beer connoisseur. After all, the Vegas surface of the sun hot climate calls for something refreshing and this amber answers that call with a beer that also fires off round after round of flavor. “I believe that there is a balance of malt, hops and alcohol that create clean, crisp beers that are true to their traditional styles and a hell of a good drink. I make beers I like to drink- as simple as that,” says Richard.
The cab driver guaranteed that you’d be juiced on adrenaline after firing a machine gun. Perhaps you would have a manly urge to chop wood, eat a four-inch thick steak or arm-wrestle the Range Master. You may want your own personal machine gun to ring in the New Year? For me the experience had a different effect. After finding a beer on the Vegas strip that was both delicious and refreshing enough to combat the hostile sun was the experience I was looking for. A peaceful experience a machine gun could never provide. Stress and anxiety drained away, I was calm and at peace with the world. Not juiced. A bug landed on my arm and shortly before, that would have been the last thing it did. Instead, outside in the hot sun, I took a sip of my Sin City Amber and gently brushed the bug away letting it get on with its day.