Blending brews: The Union opens this week as legislative bills unite breweries statewide

Bartender Neill Beurskens, left, hands drinks to server Kelson Powell during Monday night's soft opening at The Union.

Bartender Neill Beurskens, left, hands drinks to server Kelson Powell during Monday night's soft opening at The Union.

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Carson City’s latest restaurant, The Union, is preparing to open publicly on Thursday and the timing could not have been any more perfect, as Gov. Brian Sandoval signed two bills impacting breweries across the state.

Legislative and community members met Monday afternoon at 302 North Carson Street to celebrate the endorsement of Assembly Bill 431 and Senate Bill 199, both revising provisions ruling alcoholic beverages—the last two bills to sign for the 79th legislative session.

AB431 increases the amount of beer produced in the state to 40,000 barrels a year, from 15,000. The bill also authorizes a person to operate one or more brew pubs in Nevada.

Owner Mark Estee also is the owner of Liberty Food & Wine Exchange and chez louie at the Nevada Museum of Art. He also is the former owner of Reno’s Campo.

“Combining distilleries and local food makes in go hand-in-hand,” Estee said. “We’re aiming for simple cuisine — anything we can get out of the ground.”

Estee’s partner, Mark Trujillo, owner of Hub Coffee Roasters in Reno, also is serving his company’s coffee menu on the restaurant’s balcony, which is expected to complete by July 1.

“This building deserves love and care,” he said. “It needed personality and a different kind of life. We want to ensure everyone plays nice and satisfy a niche in Carson City.”

Sandoval said part of the essence of this bill is to expand and promote breweries in the area, by bringing more business and jobs across the state.

Products of breweries are gaining popularity; craft breweries made a $480 million annual impact in Nevada, according to lawmakers.

“This is an example of historic preservation, small business, and jobs,” he said. “It’s for customers to enjoy ourselves in these places. I am one that loves to visit the craft breweries and sample what they have to offer.”

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said the bill also creates more jobs.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to grow in the state of Nevada,” he said. “We’ve seen such growth within the craft breweries. People’s palates are changing and they like a little bit more variety.”

In the past, brewers could only operate one pub in one county. While AB431 allows to further expand pubs across the state, SB99 requires craft distilleries to be licensed, including the operations of an estate distillery, where at least 75 percent of agricultural raw material are manufactured within the state.

Sandoval said Nevada’s homegrown businesses will attract people internationally, especially if it’s located in historical buildings.

“Hopefully, we’ll have Clark County breweries expand to Northern Nevada, Washoe, and rural counties,” he said. “Agriculture is an important part of our state’s success. This bill is homegrown and made in Nevada.”

Tom Young, owner and brewmaster of Nevada’s oldest operating brewing company, Great Basin, said the journey has just begun for many local brewers.

“Nevada craft brewers have been working hard for many years to make it a better state, one pint at a time,” he said. “This bill allows us to offer more variety. We’re only going to move forward from here.”

Jeff Young, owner and brewmaster of Carson City’s Shoe Tree Brewery, said he is excited to work with Estee and is in full support.

Shoe Tree Brewery opened its doors in March, with a grand opening celebration set for June 17.

“I live downtown and its been deserted,” Young said. “I’m thrilled to be seeing this happen. We believe rising tides raises all tips, and if more breweries come together, it will give people more of a reason to visit downtown. We see it as divide and conquer.”

The Union hosted a soft opening for friends and family.

“We know Carson City is a small town and we want to earn its trust and do well in the community,” said General Manager Nick Meyer.

Along with Estee, Meyer, and Trujillo, Tanya McCaffrey, CEO and founder of Vast, a Reno-based financial services firm, teamed up with the group to open the restaurant.

Tommy Linnett is The Union’s executive chef, who Estee has worked with for 11 years.

Thursday’s grand opening ceremony is set for 11 a.m.

A preview of the menu can be seen at The Union’s website,


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